Week 12 - Get Gamm Previews ...
Buffalo at Wisconsin
Illinois at Northwestern
Indiana at Purdue
Iowa at Minnesota
Michigan State at Penn State
Michigan at Ohio State (TIEBREAKER)
Purdue at Hawaii (11/25)
Buffalo at Wisconsin
Nothing like kicking off a week of this magnitude with a potential classic between MAC doormat Buffalo and sneaky good, second place guaranteed Wisconsin. For those who can’t sense it, that is sarcasm. Wisconsin still has an outside shot at a BCS bid, but a lot has to happen above them in order for the Badgers to get in position for an unprecedented third team from one conference to slide into the BCS picture. So, with virtually nothing on the line, and a trip to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl locked up, don’t expect this to provide much entertainment. Buffalo is not very good… at all. Wisconsin wins with little fanfare and goes a tremendous 11-1. Wisconsin 31 – Buffalo 10.
mayo170 says… I honestly think that if this were an NFL game (the Bills and the Packers) I would be more apt to watch this one, and I hate the NFL. Alas, Wisconsin rounds out their 12-game schedule with this match-up. I don’t see many teams that can keep up with this Wisconsin squad in the country right now, as they have been a very strong team, since losing the early conference game to Michigan. Whether or not Stocco plays, this will be over 10 minutes into the game. Buffalo 6 - Wisconsin 34
Illinois at Northwestern – Battle for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk
The battle to get out of the cellar ensues in Evanston this week. Both teams are young with potential, though Illinois might have more upside given that their quarterback situation is far more settled at this point in time. The Wildcats have been about as expected this year following the tragic death of Coach Randy Walker. Illinois looked to be ready to get to four, maybe five wins after upsetting Michigan State but promptly lost close games to Indiana and Ohio and with it a chance to parlay a big win into momentum. I like the short term future of Illinois more but something tells me the Wildcats will rise up in this one as a season ending tribute to “Walk”. In a classic rivalry battle… Northwestern 23 – Illinois 20.
mayo170 says … Illinois and Northwestern, each have quite a bit to look forward to in the future, as they are both playing pretty darn good football, albeit a little late for this season. I really like the way Illinois is coming around and given a couple more years, they could be a very dangerous team to deal with. Northwestern, and especially coach Fitzgerald, I tip my hat to whenever I get a chance. To go through what they have this year and to still have the tenacity to put everything into every game, says a lot. It might be one of the best games to watch this week. I’m giving the nod to Northwestern, only because they are at home, Illinois 24 at Northwestern 27.
Indiana at Purdue – Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket
I know writers aren’t supposed to take sides, but I have to say - no offense to the Boilermakers - I’d love to see Indiana win this and get back to a bowl game for the first time since 1993. In reality, as I’ve said for weeks, the Hoosiers should already be bowl eligible. Even a split with Southern Illinois and Connecticut would have Indiana at the six win mark. But alas, after the win over Michigan State, the cream and crimson got hammered at Minnesota and are now faced with having to win the Old Oaken Bucket to go bowling. Also going against IU is the fact that Purdue is actually starting to play decent football again. Since back to back losses to Wisconsin and Penn State, the Boilermakers have nipped the Spartans and handled Illinois. This could be a highly entertaining game, trouble is, it will go unnoticed in the Big Ten. Purdue 31 – Indiana 24.
mayo170 says … Purdue is a bit of a misnomer this year, I just haven’t been able to stomach watching them. There is just something missing there that I can’t figure out. I really think that Indiana, having so much to prove for the last decade, or two, or three, will pull this one out to get them to a bowl game and get a reward for something they truly deserve. This has been a great stepping-stone year for the program and the stock is rising for Hoeppner and his crew. Indiana 24 at Purdue 22
Iowa at Minnesota – Battle for Floyd of Rosedale
This game means more than you might think for both teams. Sure, Iowa is already bowl eligible, but Minnesota is riding a two game win streak and needs one more victory to go to its sixth bowl in seven years. The only trouble is, Iowa has held Floyd of Rosedale since 2001 and is looking to snap out of its current funk. A win here likely means a better trip this holiday season. A loss might relegate my preseason pick to win the Big Ten to the Insight or Champs Bowl. Something tells me that Minnesota, starving to win back this trophy to begin with, will come out with all guns a blazing. The Gophers ripped Indiana two weeks ago and survived some early issues in East Lansing to stomp the Spartans. Iowa is wounded and has just the trophy and maybe the Alamo Bowl to play for. I like the Golden Gophers to find a way to win their 39th in the series and sneak into a bowl game. Minnesota 28 – Iowa 21.
mayo170 says … This Iowa team is scary, they seem to me like they should be kicking some tail and be on Wisconsin’s tail in the league, but somehow, they just aren’t clicking. Minnesota on the other hand, is right about where I expected, basically rebuilding, losing more than winning, and just now finding a bit of a rhythm toward the end of the year. I just don’t believe that Iowa is going to leave the dome very happy with their performance this weekend. Iowa 16 at Minnesota 31
Michigan State at Penn State – Battle for the Land Grant Trophy
This is the newest of the Big Ten rivalry games, kicked off as a result of the two institutions being the first two Land Grant schools to be formed back in 1855. Penn State owns 10 wins in the rivalry series (to MSU’s 3) but the overall series is knotted at 11-11-1. The Spartans are playing for a lame duck coach with no bowl berth on the line and haven’t won at Penn State since 1965. We may have seen the last of Drew Stanton as well. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions are shooting for eight wins and a berth in the Outback Bowl. Coach Joe Paterno will coach from the Press Box after suffering a broken leg and torn ligaments at Wisconsin two weeks ago. The last time a lame duck Spartans squad came to Beaver Stadium, Larry Johnson ran for nearly 300 yards, IN THE FIRST HALF, en route to a 61-7 drubbing of the green and white. This Penn State team isn’t that good and believe it or not, this Spartan squad isn’t that bad either. Still, on Senior Day in State College… Penn State 38 – Michigan State 17.
mayo170 says … My wife of 12 years, a truly Go Green, Go White woman, said before the year started that MSU was going to be 4-8. I scoffed and thought there’d be no way (7-5 or 8-4). Well, the Spartans seem to want to prove a point to me… Don’t argue with your wife, she’s always right! I guess I should have said “Yes Dear” and left it at that. Penn State, as battered as their leader is, and in a bit of a rebuilding season, has shown they have a solid foundation yet again this year. I like their defense and soon enough they’ll be in the running for a Big Ten championship. Michigan State 13 at Penn State 22
Michigan at Ohio State
Funny how the best rivalry of them all doesn’t have a trophy on the line. Then again, this game doesn’t need any extra motivation. The rivalry between the states dates back to before football was played, manifested from the historical tension of the Toledo War between Ohio and the Michigan Territory. It is debatable who won that battle (Ohio got Toledo, Michigan what is now the Upper Peninsula) but there will be little debate who wins this year by about 7:15 Saturday night.
Michigan leads the series 57-39-6, 45-39-4 in conference play. However, over the last 50 years, the true test of the rivalry, it is all even at 24-24-2. It surely has its ebbs and flow, but this is the best rivalry game in college football. Auburn-Alabama has more bitterness, but rarely does a rivalry game anywhere else have as much on the line as this one. The pair have only met as unbeatens five games before this contest, and only twice where it was the last regular season game. The 1970 game was won by the Buckeyes, the 1973 game was a 10-10 tie. After going 8-2-1 from 1990 through 2000, Michigan has been on the short end of the stick in four of the last five meetings.
Enough with the history and on to the game. This is to college football what Duke vs. North Carolina is to college hoops. The best of the best, going head to head, in a hard fought but respectful battle. Each school boasts its heroes and legendary coaches. But throw that all out the window. This is for the Big Ten title, bragging rights and oh, by the way, a berth in the National Title game. The scarlet and gray have been No. 1 all season long, while Michigan has moved up steadily since week one. These are truly the two best teams in college football this year. And the tough part when it comes to game analysis? They are nearly dead ringers for one another – from top to bottom.
The difference maker? Michigan’s typical big game tendency to “turtle up” and a guy by the name of Troy Smith. In an epic battle, an ESPN classic, and a game to be talked about until we are all long gone… Ohio State 21 – Michigan 20.
mayo170 says … Ahh, The Game. Perhaps the greatest of this storied series. I don’t know how all the maize and blue and scarlet and grey can contain themselves this week. I absolutely love watching this one, regardless of whether it’s on TV, at Michigan Stadium with my dad, or rehashing some of the great showings on ESPN Classic. Picking this one is pretty difficult since they both have pretty explosive passing games, great running backs, smart QB’s, solid and hard-hitting defenses and the freakin’ history and tradition. For all the reasons that I think Ohio State has a great shot at winning with their offense, Michigan’s defense has been flat-out dominating this year. Michigan’s offense, still a very efficient unit, seems to be light-years ahead of what we witnessed last year. This game will come down to the trenches and special teams. I have a feeling that Woodley is going to take it upon himself to get in Troy Smith’s face more than the camera man zooming from the end zone. The linebackers at Ohio State baffle me, how can they be this good, after losing the guys they had last year? And how Pittman is so overshadowed by the receivers is beyond me. This game has all the makings of a game of the century.
If I were gambler, I’d put my money on OSU at home. But I tend to listen to the voices in my head sometimes, and this is going to be one of them. I’m going to put my money on Michigan for one reason: The success that Tressel has had against Carr. Say what you want, but I really think that the winged helmets are going to come out and actually hold the lead this year. They have been awful close these last few years with some quick starts, but then fizzling out during the second half of the game. Granted, Troy Smith is the best QB in the country and had a lot to do with the Ohio State dominance over Michigan since he’s been the starter, but this year’s Michigan defense has really buckled down and I think it’s their year. This game should be one of the classic chess matches that Woody and Bo were famous for. To be honest, I’m pretty dang glad that I’m alive to witness this game. Michigan 19 at Ohio State 17
Purdue at Hawaii (Nov. 25)
One day, Big Ten teams will learn that this game is nothing but trouble. Just ask the Spartans. They so deplored the way their game was called and how they were treated that they bagged a trip in 2008. Purdue has nothing to gain in this game and Hawaii is actually pretty good. The Warriors will get some home town calls and pass to a win. Hawaii 35 – Purdue 28.
mayo170 says … Oh wait! We have one last game to visit on the agenda. This year Purdue gets to go to Honolulu and take on the Rainbow Warriors in paradise. Well, I have no idea what this Hawaii team is all about, and after looking at their site, they are quite a bit better this year than I had expected. Purdue seems to be playing a totally different brand of football than Tiller brought to West Lafayette 10 years ago and perhaps that’s why it’s so tough to watch for me this year. Although bowl eligible, I don’t know that I have a whole lot of confidence in them holding up against Hawaii. I’m just going to believe long enough that Purdue is going to do the Big Ten proud and take care of business out there. Purdue 31 at Hawaii 23