Get Gamm - Week 11
Time flies when basketball and football seasons start to blend. I still owe you some hoops predictions, but first thing's first - the chase for the Big Ten football crown.
Dan gets to pick with me for an unprecedented fourth time this season and it'll be a mad dash to the finish. The difference maker for the week may be the game between our schools... but more on that below.
If you want the Big Ten.org preview for the weekend, go here. Otherwise, read on...
Illinois vs. Western Michigan (Ford Field)
I hope Illinois was paying attention last year when Iowa took one on the chin in the season finale vs. the Broncos. The MAC can play football. Ask Indiana or Michigan. Western is 7-2 and with a MAC West title unlikely (behind CMU and Ball State) this is perhaps the biggest game on their slate. Illinois needs this win, big time. The Illini are one win from bowl eligibility and two from total bowl security. With Ohio State and Northwestern left on the slate, that makes this a must win. On one hand, I would not put it was WMU to pull off the upset. On the other, Illinois has too much to play for and has some momentum after beating Iowa. In a close one... Illinois 31 - Western Michigan 27
Dan Meyer says ... ILLINOIS 27 at Western Michigan 17--Wish I knew more about the Broncos, though they appear not to be a big threat to Central MI and Ball State. Illini have been erratic on alternate weeks; I would not be surprised to see this game still close some distance into the fourth quarter. Illini, like the Badgers, need this for bowl position and even eligibility so I think they avoid the overlook trap and hold on.
Ohio State at Northwestern
The biggest game in Evanston in some time. The Wildcats have an opportunity to make a statement against an elite program, but will have to do so without Sutton and Conteh. OSU has had a chance to rest and recover and hopefully for Buckeyes fans, regroup, for the stretch run. It is going to take a near perfect game from the banged up 'cats to get this W - paired with a sub par effort from the scarlet and gray. I just don't see it happening. Ohio State 33 - Northwestern 13.
Dan Meyer says ... OHIO STATE 31 at Northwestern 17--Fitzgerald is a legitimate candidate for COY and the Wildcats have done their fans proud so far. Suspect that Bacher will start in spite of a spectacular running performance by the backup last week. Buckeyes are one fumble away from leading the Big 10/11 and still have excellent BCS bowl possibilities. Net result: both offenses have talent, but stronger Buckeye D prevails.
Michigan at Minnesota
The Battle for the Little Brown Jug has very little luster this year. Michigan is playing for respect and nothing else, since the Wolverines are in last place and officially bowl dead. Minnesota is trying to get a rare win over their rival and in the process, stay in line for a New Year's Day bowl berth. The Wolverines have lost in all sorts of fashion during this five-game losing streak and have to be due to snap to. The trouble is, I think the team may have officially lost all desire after the heartbreaker at Purdue. Michigan has yet to play a complete game all season and that doesn't change in Minny. Minnesota 34 - Michigan 30.
Dan Meyer says ... Michigan 13 at MINNESOTA 21--Oh, the glory in the land of 10,000+ lakes as the Little Brown Jug returns. Weber and Gopher special teams recover from last week's miscues and even a good game by Minor can't save it for the "Woe"verines.
Wisconsin at Indiana
This game is HUGE for both teams. Wisconsin needs to rebound from the debacle in East Lansing, Indiana from another home loss to a MAC squad. Both teams need wins - and fast - to become bowl eligible. Indiana needs three in three games (highly unlikely with a trip to PSU in the middle). Wisconsin needs at least two, preferably three because Cal Poly will be a FCS foe. Indiana, I feel, is better than the 3-6 record but has been devastated by injury. Wisconsin is MUCH better than 4-5, but that loss at Michigan and then the following week at home vs. Ohio State sent this team into a chasm. Hill and Clay should be able to run wild. Wisconsin 41 - Indiana 20.
Dan Meyer says ... WISCONSIN 24 at Indiana 17--Possible upset special, the Hoosiers have played the Badgers surprisingly tough over the past decade and Bucky has been a big disappointment. Nevertheless, this is a must win for the Badgers to go bowling and I think that they JUST prevail.
Purdue at Michigan State
This game is more important than it might seem at first glance. Purdue needs to win out to get a shot at a bowl. Michigan State needs to win to stay in line for not only a New Year's Day bowl berth, but also a share of the Big Ten title. The Boilers found their stride last weekend against Michigan. Then again, who hasn't this year (with apologies to Wisconsin)? Michigan State squeaked one out and must play better on Senior Day to avoid an upset. I like Ringer to run wild, the MSU receivers to catch the ball much better and for Purdue to move the ball but struggle to score. On a rainy, cold, windy day... Michigan State 30 - Purdue 17.
Dan Meyer says ... Purdue 14 at MICHIGAN STATE 28--Forget Obama, the love affair at West Lafayette is with Justin Siller; though Painter may still start if healthy. I have no illusions that last week showed anything other than Michigan's defensive shortcomings; still, it was fun. Spartans have momentum from dodging a bullet last week and, as above, the Spartan D is more consistent than Purdue's. Ringer, then, almost is overkill as the green and white prevail.
Penn State at Iowa
The Hawkeyes have lost four games by a total of 12 points this season. Will that razor thin margin give Iowa hope that it can beat Penn State? Or provide final proof that the black and gold can't seal the deal this year? Penn State might show a little early rust and some stress from squarely wearing the target, but not even a world-class effort by Shon Greene can overcome the overall talent gap that exists. Penn State is on a mission and though this will be a close game, Penn State pulls away late for victory number 10. Penn State 27 - Iowa 17.
Dan Meyer says ... PENN STATE 27 at Iowa 16--Could be interesting (and informative to Dantonio later) to see how Greene does against the Lions D. Nevertheless, JoePa is on a big-time rush and should welcome the Spartans later with a perfect record. Iowa makes it competitive at Kinnick, but the roadies prevail.