Around the Big Ten: Week 11

Story posted November 8, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Phil Constantino

No. 24 Northwestern (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) at Michigan (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten)

Northwestern is back in the rankings despite being idle last week. The Wildcats beat Iowa in their most recent game. Michigan, meanwhile, rebounded last week with a 35-13 win over Minnesota. A right elbow injury keeps quarterback Denard Robinson sidelined, so junior Devin Gardner will get the nod from head coach Brady Hoke again. Gardner threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns last week. Both teams are looking to improve their position in the conference and give themselves a chance to play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) at Indiana (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten)

Wisconsin, despite a rough start to the season, is still the favorite to win the Leaders Division because of the sanctions on Penn State and Ohio State. However, a loss to Michigan State two weeks ago has many questioning the Badgers. Indiana comes into the game having surprised with its play, especially a 24-21 win over Iowa last week. The winner of this game controls its own destiny in the Leaders division.

Purdue (3-6, 0-5 Big Ten) at Iowa (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten)

Purdue remains winless in Big Ten play after dropping a home game to Penn State last week. Going into the season, they were considered a contender for the Big Ten title game. But with this performance, the Boilermakers are one of the conference's biggest disappointments, and head coach Danny Hope is definitively on the hot seat. Iowa is in a rebuilding year, but even so, it has been a disappointing season. Quarterback James Vandenberg has just four touchdowns and six interceptions. Head coach Kirk Ferentz, like Hope, is also hearing criticism in his 14th season as head coach.

Minnesota (5-4, 1-4 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-7, 0-5 Big Ten)

Minnesota finally earned their first Big Ten win against Purdue two weeks ago, but followed it up with a 35-13 loss to Michigan last Saturday. Even more deflating was the way in which Michigan’s backup quarterback Devin Gardner gashed the Gophers starting defense. Like Purdue, many thought this was Minnesota’s year to make the jump to the top. After a (5-0) start, the Golden Gophers have been brought back down to earth.

Minnesota finally earned its first Big Ten win two weeks ago against Purdue, but followed it up with a 35-13 loss to Michigan last Saturday. Even more deflating was the Gophers' inability to stop a backup quarterback in Devin Gardner. After a 4-0 start, Minnesota has come back to earth. Illinois, meanwhile, is still looking for its first Big Ten win. A home game against an average Minnesota team could be its best opportunity.

Phil Constantino is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email pvc5105@psu.edu.