Is it just me or does everything seem a bit anti-climactic now? I mean, don't get me wrong, we have a couple of great races going on in the first year of division play within the Big Ten, but can there be a better all around football game than the one that Michigan State and Wisconsin battled in last week? That one had everything.
The good news is, we have some really good games on tap this weekend and plenty at stake. That alone means we are far from peak season in what is shaping up to be an exciting B1G race.
Northwestern at Indiana, Noon EDT (BTN)
My gut says BTN wishes they had a shot at MSU - Nebraska instead of this one. Indiana and the Chicago area will watch this one at least for a while, but other than alumni, is there any interest in this game? Northwestern is better than they've shown record-wise. Indiana may have found the future at QB in Iowa City. The Wildcats are more talented overall and have a team that can beat anyone on a given Saturday. The same cannot be said for IU. Persa is dinged up but I like the Wildcats to mix he and Colter well and pull away late on Homecoming in Bloomington. Northwestern 34 - Indiana 24.
Mayo says ... I really thought that Northwestern would be much better than they are right now. Dan Persa has had a tough go of it since his injury last year and although his backup Kain Colter seems to be pretty good running the offense, the defense looks like Michigan’s recent defenses (read non-existent). Indiana, whew something stinks in Bloomington. There are signs of a positive future, but it’s not going to be overnight. Northwestern 37 – Indiana 13
Purdue at Michigan, Noon EDT (ESPN2)
This could be an interesting game. Many are watching to see if another great start to the season + loss to Michigan State = Michigan collapse. I think this Michigan team is better than the last few, especially on defense. The Wolverines won't have a total collapse but are playing for bowl position now because the loss to MSU, coupled with games remaining against Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State more or less renders them an also ran in the Legends race. Purdue is two wins from a bowl game and starting to come together. The ground game and defense are underrated and with a blueprint on stopping DRob available courtesy of MSU, the Boilers will be ready. Still a week off to prepare and heal and a hunger to prove the pundits wrong puts Michigan over the top. Michigan 31 - Purdue 23
Mayo says ... Two up-and-comers with questions just about everywhere on the field, but both positioned for a post-season. A co-worker told me last February that Michigan wins 9 games this year. I scoffed at this thought, but now believe that might be at the high end of the year. Purdue needs to find some unbreakable players that can last a season to get where Hope wants them to be. Michigan 41 – Purdue 35
Michigan State at Nebraksa, Noon EDT (ESPN) - Game of the Week
Just like last week, this pits strength against strength. Nebraska is top ten in all of the key rushing categories. Michigan State is top ten in all of the key defensive categories. The Cornhuskers boast a mobile QB who can beat you with his savvy, including his decisions in the option game. The Spartans boast a front seven that gets after you because the back end is sound. So, what gives? Well, if the Spartans can contain T-Mart and force him to pass, this could go the way of the NU-UW game earlier this month. Nebraska needs to get pressure on Cousins and avoid the big play. The special teams are very evenly matched. Both teams have great tailbacks. But I keep going back to the one dimensional tendencies of Nebraska against a really good run D. The rule of thumb is keep Martinez from a run over 25 yards and you win (they are 9-0 when he has at least one 25-yard plus run a game). MSU is hungry to keep proving that what you see is real and holds on for it's first ever stretch of three straight wins over ranked opponents. Michigan State 27 - Nebraska 21
Mayo says ... Three weeks ago, I would have picked the Huskers hands down. Now, it’s not that easy. These Spartans that Dantonio has built are by far the most impressive team in the conference right now. Nebraska was greeted at Wisconsin very rudely and I expect Michigan State will not let up on the pedal this weekend in what will most likely be one of the best matches of the weekend. As a college football fan, I’d rather watch this than even LSU-Alabama. Michigan State 34 – Nebraska 30
Iowa at Minnesota, 3:30 EDT (BTN)
They are playing for the pig in Minnehaha. Iowa lost it last year and wants it back. They will probably get it back without much of a fight. I like that the Gophers made a statement and signed Coach Kill to a long term deal but that doesn't help in the now. He is a few good, solid recruiting classes away from having the horses to sniff six or seven wins. Makes me wonder why they ever fired Glen Mason, who if nothing else, got the maroon and gold bowling most years. Iowa is starting to find its stride and this is a good tune up going into a month that has them taking on MSU, Michigan and Nebraska. Iowa rolls. Iowa 45 - Minnesota 17
Mayo says ... Iowa takes a 3 hour bus ride, sits in a beautiful new stadium and runs a few sprints up and down the field, takes a shower and a bus ride home. Minnesota wakes up, wonders why nobody likes them, lays down like a beaten dog and accepts that maybe next year they can play with the rest of their friends. Iowa 56 – Minnesota 10
Illinois at Penn State, 3:30 EDT (ABC)
This is where the Penn State schedule gets interesting. Games remain with Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska after this one so a win is imperative in the race for the top of the Leaders division. Illinois is also at a crossroads. The offense is stagnant and the Illini are playing tight. The magic of the 6-0 start has been flushed and now the men in orange are tasked with a tough trip to State College to face a stout defense. While I am still not sold on the Penn State's offense to consistently stretch the field, Silas Redd is a stud and can be a one man wrecking crew. Illinois will come out inspired and ready, but Penn State staves off an Illinois rally and stays atop the Leaders. Penn State 23 - Illinois 20
Mayo says ... Oh how the Illini have fallen. Starting 6-0 I thought this was going to be the year they surprise some heavyweights. Well, not so much now. Penn State has been playing stellar defense and their only loss is a national champion caliber squad. Paterno can still coach at 134 years of age and brings his team another victory. Penn State 44 – Illinois 14
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 8pm EDT (ESPN)
This is a very intriguing game. Ohio State is coming off a bye week and a solid road win at Illinois. Wisconsin hits the road again as the opponent's biggest home tilt of the season. The million dollar question is - will the Badgers be caught licking their wounds from the devastating loss at Michigan State, mired in a shell-shocked hangover, or will they come out hungry to avenge the loss and regain a bead on the leaders in the Leaders? Ohio State is going to have to pass the ball more than four times to keep the Badgers honest. Wisconsin can keep a good Buckeyes defense off balance with the Wilson, Ball, Toon, Pedersen combo. After seeing Wilson first hand, I can attest, this guy is poised and mature beyond a typical senior QB. The crowd will be rabid and a win keeps the Buckeyes in this race. However, when push comes to shove, you have to pick the better team to win, even on the road. Wisconsin 24 - Ohio State 23.
Mayo says ... I remember back when this was a game I looked forward to watching every year. Maybe because it was the personification of the Big Ten style of football. Right now, Wisconsin might have to take a quarter to get back on track and Ohio State just wants a win to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately for Luke Fickell, his head coaching tenure appears to be completed at Ohio State by seasons end, this is one more step back. Ohio State 14 – Wisconsin 38