Thursday, November 02, 2006

Week Ten - Get Gamm Previews ...
Indiana at Minnesota
Northwestern at Iowa
Ohio State at Illinois
Ball State at Michigan
Purdue at Michigan State
Penn State at Wisconsin (TIEBREAKER)

Indiana at Minnesota
I’m going to be honest with you. Back in July and August when I was making my predictions for this season, I didn’t have this circled as a game worth a glance let alone an extended look. After all, I had the Hoosiers going 4-5 and in the midst of a four game losing streak heading into this one. And Minnesota? I had the Gophers pegged at an even more brutal 3-6 (0-4).

Well, the Golden Gophers are making me look like a genius so far, but Indiana has me all twisted around. The Hoosiers lost to 1AA Southern Illinois and a so-so at best Connecticut team, but pulled off a comeback against Illinois, stunned Iowa, and pounded Michigan State and sit at 5-4 (3-2) and very much alive and kicking as far as a bowl berth is concerned. Well, this is the easiest remaining chance (Michigan and Purdue remain) to get to the magical six win mark and bring Indiana to a bowl for the first time since 1993.

To say that the Gophers are struggling would be an understatement. To say the Indiana is on cloud nine much of the same. The Lewis to Hardy combination is really clicking right now and I just don’t see Indiana getting derailed in its quest to go bowling. Minnesota puts up a fight, but Indiana celebrates what might be a ¼ full at best Metrodome. Indiana 31 – Minnesota 23.

andrewj1313 says … If only Minnesota was a decent team, this game would actually be worth watching. Indiana is a young team with a lot to build on, getting to a bowl would be the biggest building block they could hope for. Indiana is playing for a purpose and Minnesota is playing for pride, when these two meet, I’ll go with the former. Indiana has a good chance of becoming bowl eligible and I think they get there this week. Indiana 28 @ Minnesota 24

Northwestern at Iowa
This is a key game for the Hawkeyes. Drew Tate may or may not play (I say may not because why not let him rest and mend with the Mildcats coming to town) but it won’t matter. Northern Illinois provided a bigger test. True, Northwestern bounced back admirably after the biggest collapse in D1 history (MSU loss) by keeping it respectable in Ann Arbor, but folks, aside from Tyrell Sutton, this just isn’t a very good team.

Iowa is 6-3 and should wind up no worse than 8-4. The question is, will that be good enough to get the Hawkeyes bowling in Tampa (Outback) or will they be spending the holidays at the Alamo? Regardless, it will be better than being at home with perhaps one (at best) conference win and two overall. Northwestern will fight, because I wouldn’t expect anything less from Coach Fitzgerald. But Iowa should win, Tate or no Tate, and win easily. Iowa 33 – Northwestern 10.

andrewj1313 says … Northwestern is clearly not a good team, they escaped AA without getting totally embarrassed, which counts as a moral victory (I hate those). Iowa should have Tate back this week and that always makes this team better. Even though they are not the juggernaut they have been the past few years, Iowa is still good. Iowa rolls and gains a little ground on, gasp, Indiana and the loser of the Penn State/Wisconsin game. Northwestern 7 @ Iowa 28

Ohio State at Illinois
Another tune-up for the scarlet and gray … or is it? Ask Wisconsin what looking past the Illini can mean. Better yet, ask Michigan State or John L. Smith! Illinois isn’t all that good – yet – but is getting better all the time and sooner than later will pull an Indiana over Iowa type upset. Does that mean it will happen this week? Highly doubtful. In fact, I’d bet a million dollars against that happening. But it might be a better game than some expect.

The key is for Ohio State to keep its focus and to score early and often and put the game away by the half. Do that and OSU moves to 10-0 with one more scrimmage until the big game. Illinois can make this interesting by being opportunistic and playing to have fun. Strange things happen when teams don’t play tight and the Illini need a bevy of strange things to happen to win this game. Troy Smith adds to his Heisman credentials. Ohio State 38 – Illinois 7.

andrewj1313 says … Ohio State has had the benefit of seeing two perennial basement dwellers play great the week before their match-ups with OSU. This goes a long way in keeping OSU focused on the task at hand. First Indiana upset Iowa, which lead to no surprises in Columbus. Then Illinois looses late against a good Wisconsin team. Don’t look for Illinois to repeat their performance this week; OSU is just too good and well coached. All I want to see is if OSU can actually get that 45th point this week. Ohio State 45 @ Illinois 6

Ball State at Michigan
Really now, does more need to be said than “see OSU preview”? Michigan hasn’t exactly been putting teams away of late, what with Mario Manningham on the shelf, but Ball State is nothing more than a flashing yellow light on the road to an epic game in Columbus. The Big Ten is 14-1 against the MAC this season, 2-0 against Ball State. Rather than waste anymore breath… Michigan 34 – Ball State 0.

andrewj1313 says … I see Michigan has a bye week (sorry, BTSF). If Super Mario is indeed back this weekend, this could get ugly quick. Michigan slept a little last weekend, but I wouldn’t expect to see that happen again, Michigan will run away with this game and start putting in back-ups early in the second half. Ball State scores against second and third string. Ball State 3 @ Michigan 42

Purdue at Michigan State
Remember when these teams were capable of racking up 500-plus yards and 40-plus points per game … apiece?! Seems like eons ago. Instead you have Purdue limping in with three points scored in the past two games. Michigan State pulled off a miracle for the ages and then got hammered by Indiana and oh by the way, told its coach he has run out of time to turn it around. That begs the question, are Purdue fans going to start beating the same drum?

This is an interesting game for a million reasons. Neither team plays much defense, both teams have offenses that are potent but have gone AWOL, each is still fighting to get a bowl berth (Purdue has four games to get two wins, MSU has three games to get two), and there is the little thing going on in East Lansing called a search for a new coach. On paper, the teams are very evenly matched. It all comes down to how Michigan State reacts to the firing of John L. Smith. Do the players rally and send him out a winner? Do they flush the toilet on the season? Or to the latter point, did they actually do that last week in Bloomington? No matter what, the coaches and players can relax knowing the fate of the Smith. The fans can show up and support the team rather than boycott to send a message. I want to pick State to lose big and win big at the same time. Time to flip a coin… heads, MSU wins, tails they lose… tails. Purdue 38 – Michigan State 37.

andrewj1313 says … At the start of the season, this game looked like it would be a great one, now – not so much. Purdue has looked okay at times and down right bad at others. Michigan State has…well…we’ll leave that one alone. Perhaps the firing/resignation will spark something in Sparty, but I’m not looking for it. One thing I am looking forward to is seeing if JLS lets everything loose. When teams and coaches have nothing to lose, games become very interesting and entertaining. Something to keep in mind, the Boilers were shutout for the first time in Tillers tenure last weekend and I think that will be the motivation that drives this weeks winner. Purdue 24 @ Michigan State 21

Penn State at Wisconsin
Easily the Game of the Week in the Big Ten. This one decides who goes to Orlando for New Years Day and who goes to Tampa. Penn State has found new life with Paul Posluszny back in the lineup and is getting it done with fantastic work from its defensive front seven. Wisconsin has managed to quietly march out to an 8-1 record despite coming into the season with no proven playmakers on offense outside of quarterback John Stocco. These are two teams that are doing it the old fashioned way this season – on the ground and with fierce defense.

P.J. Hill got banged up against Illinois and if he goes out early in this game there will be big trouble for the Badgers. Penn State doesn’t exactly strike fear in opposing defensive units when it has the ball, but there are enough playmakers there to get it done. In recent weeks both have struggled at home against Illinois and dominated Purdue on the road. Penn State has played a tougher slate but Wisconsin has the Camp Randall crazies on its side. This should be a fantastic game. Wisconsin 20 – Penn State 14 in OT.

andrewj1313 says … This is one of the best match-ups in college football this week outside of Louisville/WVU (again, sorry BTSF, Ball St. /Michigan is not). Penn St. is not the team they were last year, but they are still a good Big Ten opponent with a great defense. Wisconsin had a scare last week, but pulled out the win. Will this week be the same? I can’t wait to see how Hill matches-up against PSU’s defense. A bruising back against a hard nosed D; ah, college football is the greatest. Wisconsin pulls out the win with some last minute heroics at home. A side note: if Penn St. does indeed lose and Indiana wins at Minnesota, Indiana will move into fourth place in the Big Ten! Penn State 17 @ Wisconsin 20


A.G. said...

Good take on possible choices to succeed Smith. I also hear the name of Georgia Tech's DC as well as the Texas DC. Of course Butch Davis is another.

Hell, what about Saban? He's seeing life isn't all that rosy in the NFL with Miami... could they get him to come back?!

A.G. said...

And still some other names being tossed out there...

Ty Willingham, Gene Chizik (Texas DC), David Cutcliff (Tennessee OC)

mayo170 said...

I don't want to offend any of the regulars here, but something I've been wondering about since MSU fired Williams is this:

Will MSU be pressured by Joel Ferguson so far as to feel that they need to absolutely hire an African American coach?

Ferguson made such a big deal out of it when JLS was hired that I would think he'll try and undermine the search quite a bit to get his point across.

My gut tells me that Lou Anna Simon feels very obligated to bring in a name that has a proven record and wants to start winning by the 2008 season. At this point Mason seems almost a figurehead because of her presence.

My father-in-law e-mailed Mason a few weeks ago about getting rid of Smith and his reply was "...we don't evaluate our coaches until the end of the season." My father-in-law replied to him "I guess Bobby Williams wasn't aware of that."

As ridiculous as that seemed at the time, it doesn't appear that Mason is really getting the job done as Simon sees it. She appears to really want to get things straightened around, period.

Something to think about I guess. I'd just hate State to get someone that's not going to produce again, and like you referred to Andy, they need a coach that they believe in enough to keep him around long-term.

Bigby said...

A lot of people rethinking their Michigan and OSU "bye-week" predictions at this point, eh?