Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Get Gamm - Week Eight...
The Big Ten race really figures to crank up a level this weekend, despite only four head-to-head match-ups (three teams finish up their OOC slates). Illinois has a chance to stay in the race or start to fade to the pack when Michigan comes in for a prime time battle that will have Champaign rocking. Michigan State isn't in the race per se, but can upset the apple cart with an upset of No. 1 ranked Ohio State. Iowa is trying to fight for its bowl lives - needing three wins in five games to get there. The Hawkeyes' opponent - Purdue - desperately needs to get back to winning after two rather large duds in a row. Finally, Penn State travels to Indiana. While winning the league crown may be a long shot for either squad, a win would go a long way in the race to get to the more prominent bowl bids.

Out of conference, the MAC gets two more shots at the Big Ten and Minnesota has the unenviable task of taking on hungry and unbeaten 1-AA foe North Dakota State. Recall, the Bison nearly upset a much better Golden Gophers team last year and already dismantled one of the MAC leaders - Central Michigan - earlier this season.

All in all it makes for another interesting weekend. Seven teams are within one win of bowl eligibility. Another pair are two wins away. This weekend will go a long way in determining who goes somewhere for the holidays and who stays home...

Northwestern vs. Eastern Michigan (at Ford Field, Friday)
North Dakota State at Minnesota
Northern Illinois at Wisconsin
Michigan at Illinois
Penn State at Indiana
Iowa at Purdue
Michigan State at Ohio State (Tiebreaker)

Northwestern vs. Eastern Michigan (Ford Field, Friday 10/19)
Call this a pre-Motor City Bowl battle, although one team for sure won't be there (EMU). Still, it is being contested at Ford Field, on a day other than Saturday and pits the two tied-in conferences head to head. For Eastern, it is a chance to take a step up. For Northwestern it is a chance to get within a game of a bowl bid. It is one that the Wildcats can't take for granted, as EMU battled Michigan decently a few weeks ago. I like the way Bacher is playing. Maybe the defense can finally ratchet things up a notch... Northwestern 38 - Eastern Michigan 28.

St. Louis Jeff says ... After two thrilling victories, Northwestern can finally breathe a sigh of relief when they step on the field against Eastern Michigan. Northwestern's offense should have no trouble with Eastern in one of three very easy (should be) non-conference games for the Big Ten this week. C.J. will have a field day against a defense giving up an average of 30 PPG. Northwestern 48 - Eastern Michigan 21

North Dakota State at Minnesota
Hmmm, what to do, who to pick. Minnesota has been in a lot of games this year but simply cannot close the deal. NDSU is unbeaten, was a blocked field goal from the upset last year and has already knocked around a 1A foe (CMU). I really like the evolution of the Golden Gopher offense but the defense is not as good as the one my rocket football team fields. And, I don't like a coaching decision like the two-point conversion try before it was necessary in last week's loss. All of that adds up to another loss for the maroon and gold. North Dakota State 33 - Minnesota 31.

St. Louis Jeff says ... (See above about easy non-conference game) This is going to be a great game...oh wait, we're talking football aren't we? I thought this was a hockey game at first. Minny should have no problem with ND State. Minnesota 35 - NDSU 7

Northern Illinois at Wisconsin
This is an uncharacteristic down year for the NIU Huskies but you won't hear Wisconsin complaining. The Badgers are actually lucky to be 2-2 in the conference and only riding a two-game losing streak. Why? The Iowa and MSU wins could have easily gone the other way. This is a chance for the Badgers to get right and get back to winning. It helps that PJ Hill can get a rest when at home because Lance Smith - who isn't allowed to travel with the team due to off-field issues - is available. The Huskies hung with Iowa in the opener but that was a neutral site game against a far less imposing offense. Wisconsin 34 - Northern Illinois 10.

St. Louis Jeff says ... Wisconsin looks to right the ship after two games they prefer not to remember. It's good then that they have Northern Illinois coming into Madison this weekend. No contest in another easy non-conference game on the Big Ten schedule this week. Wisconsin 38 - Northern Illinois 10

Michigan at Illinois
My how far the Illini have come. Despite the loss to Iowa, the Illini are right in the Big Ten title mix and have a huge opportunity to score another epic home win. Michigan is the third straight ranked opponent to visit Champaign and a win would here would mean more to the program than the Penn State and Wisconsin wins - combined. The Wolverines seemed to have gotten back on track, and played their best game - by far - in a romp over Purdue last weekend. Still, there is a great chance that Mike Hart will have reduced effectiveness due to an ankle injury and there is the fact that Illinois fields a mobile QB. Illinois won't win the Big Ten this year, but it will win this game and be a factor in the race. Illinois 27 - Michigan 23.

St. Louis Jeff says ... In what should be one of the two best games in the Big Ten this week, Michigan looks to keep their momentum on the road in Champaign. After coming back to earth last week in it's loss to Iowa, Illinois has a very tough test at home this week. While Illinois has taken many steps in their recovery from the last few seasons, I think Michigan will squeak out a close one on the road. Michigan 28 - Illinois 24

Penn State at Indiana
In year's past, this would be a definite "so-what" game. Not this time. Both teams are 5-2, 2-2 and seeking to not only hang on in the Big Ten race (I still say 6-2 wins it) but are also looking to sew up bowl eligibility. Penn State is so different as a team away from Beaver Stadium than at home that it isn't even funny. Indiana is still trying to develop a home field edge. The Hoosiers got stung hard in East Lansing last weekend while the Nittany Lions trounced Wisconsin. The PSU defense is tough, the IU offense has a lot of weapons. It really comes down to who can make more plays. Sounds cliche, even sort of stupid, but that's what the game is about. I think Penn State will continue to struggle on the road in what will be an instant classic. Indiana 38 - Penn State 37.

St. Louis Jeff says ... Usually this one would fall under a blowout (easy prediction). Penn State has won two straight after their two close losses against Michigan and Illinois. They completely blew away Wisconsin up in Happy Valley, and while Indiana has stepped it up this year, I don't see them getting that magical sixth win this week. Penn State 31 - Indiana 21

Iowa at Purdue
The Hawkeyes got a much-needed shot in the arm last week with a late stand and upset win over Illinois (that just doesn't sound right). Purdue is reeling in all facets of the game after two straight duds against the big boys (OSU and U-M). Iowa has a rock solid defense and proved last week that it can stop a talented offense. Purdue is in a funk, but due to snap out of it ... at least I think they are. If the game was in Iowa City, I would lean towards the Hawkeyes. But I think the Boilermakers are ready to snap to and get back on track. Purdue 23 - Iowa 14.

St. Louis Jeff says ... Iowa comes to W. Lafayette this week hoping to keep it's momentum from their win over Illinois. Purdue is hoping to get things back on track after their games with Michigan and Ohio State. Being back at home should help Purdue get back on a winning streak. Purdue 38 - Iowa 17

Michigan State at Ohio State (tiebreaker)
I promise you this - MSU fans everywhere are hearkening back to two dates in history - 1974 and 1998. The commonality? Unranked Spartans teams stunned No. 1 rated Buckeye squads. MSU is playing with that "we're NOT the same 'ol Spartans" chip on its shoulder right now and has nothing to lose and everything to gain. But it isn't as if Tressel's team hasn't been here before. Ohio State has won 25-straight regular season contests and the 'shoe is one tough place to play. The key for MSU will be to have early success. The key for OSU is to continue to get other-worldly play from a defense that leads the nation. Big Ten's best O vs. Big Ten's best D. I like MSU's chances to score the upset, but when in doubt, defense wins games... Ohio State 24 - Michigan State 16.

St. Louis Jeff says ... In my humble un-biased opinion (GO GREEN!), easily the best game of the week. No one is going to give MSU a chance (except probably Andy!) to go into Columbus and upset the top-ranked Buckeyes. They did it before, and while it will be a great game, I think in the end, Ohio State and it's home fans will take home a win. I think MSU keeps it close throughout the game though, and don't see a blowout like some of the so-called experts may think. Ohio State 35 - Michigan State 31

1 comment:

AndrewJ1313 said...

Northwestern 48, Eastern Michigan 20; Northwestern’s getting better, but their D is still pretty bad. When Sutton returns, it might be a real shot in the arm for the team as a whole.
at Minnesota 31, North Dakota State 27; ND State might win this one, but lets see if Minnesota can stop someone for a change.
at Wisconsin 38, Northern Illinois 10; Good news, Wisconsin gets back into the win column, the bad news, they won’t get back into the to 25 this week.
Michigan 30, at Illinois 28; If Hart plays, Michigan wins, if Hart doesn’t, this could go either way.
Penn State 30, at Indiana 16; PSU’s D is better then MSU’s and Indiana must wait another week to become bowl eligible.
at Purdue 24, Iowa 14; This probably won’t be a very exciting game, but Purdue gets a much needed W.
at Ohio State 32, Michigan State 13. MSU isn’t bad, but Ohio State is just that much better.