Around the Big Ten: Week 4

Story posted September 21, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Gilliland

UAB (0-2) at No. 12 Ohio State (3-0)

Braxton Miller and company host the Blazers of UAB on Saturday for Ohio State’s final tune-up game before Big Ten play. Miller enters Saturday with 12 total touchdowns and almost 1,000 yards of offense. Facing a UAB defense that has allowed 44 points per game this season, Miller is bound to have another highlight reel performance. The Blazer passing attack is their only crutch to lean on against an underwhelming Buckeye secondary, as they have aired it out for 305 yards per game this season. This is the first ever meeting between the two programs.

 

UTEP (1-2) at Wisconsin (2-1)

After a dismal start to the season, the Badgers look to get back on track in Madison against the Miners of UTEP. Wisconsin sits at 2-1 heading into Saturday, but that record could easily be 0-3. Wisconsin quarterback Danny O’Brien has performed well below expectations in 2012, with only three touchdowns in three games. It won’t get any easier against a Miner defense that gave fourth-ranked Oklahoma fits in three weeks ago. Badger running back Montee Ball continues to impress on the ground, with 320 yards through three weeks. Look for most of the UTEP scoring to come from the passing attack, as the Miners boast two stud wideouts in Jordan Leslie and Autrey Golden.

 

Central Michigan (1-1) at Iowa (2-1)

As always, the Hawkeyes will rely on their top-notch defense to secure a win over the Chippewas on Saturday. Iowa boasts a defense that has allowed only 14 points per game through the third week, and a defense that has not allowed a single point in the fourth quarter all season. Central Michigan is coming off of a blowout loss to then-11th-ranked Michigan State on their home turf. If the Chippewas have any chance on the road Saturday to knock off the Hawkeyes, running back Zurlon Tipton needs to get the ground game in gear. Iowa has beaten Central Michigan in both of their previous meetings.
 

 

South Dakota (1-1) at Northwestern (3-0)

Northwestern is 3-0. No, that is not a typo. The Wildcats are making noise thus far with huge wins over Syracuse and Vanderbilt. Quarterback Kain Colter’s duel-threat attack is a big reason why Northwestern is undefeated. Colter has four total touchdowns on the year and he won’t have much of an obstacle to hurdle on Saturday against a South Dakota defense that has given up 56 total points to the likes of Montana and Colgate. Barring a miracle in Evanston, the resurgent Wildcats will be sitting at 4-0 heading into their Big Ten opener against Indiana next weekend.

 

Eastern Michigan (0-3) at No. 21 Michigan State (2-1)

Eastern Michigan, you have been warned. An angry and win-hungry Le’Veon Bell is heading your way. The 250-pound Spartan back is primed for an explosive bounce-back game against an Eagle rush defense that is the worst in the FBS. After getting bludgeoned by Notre Dame last weekend 20-3, expect the Spartans to rebound and cruise to a 3-1 record before Big Ten play rolls around. It’s important for Michigan State to get back on track before they host the Ohio State Buckeyes next weekend in East Lansing. The Spartans have won the last five matchups with Eastern Michigan at home by a score of 248-44.

 

Idaho State (1-1) at No. 25 Nebraska (2-1)

The Cornhuskers will go for their 12th straight non-conference home win on Saturday when they play host to FCS opponent Idaho State for the first time. The storyline here is the return of Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini after medical complications a week ago and star running back Rex Burkhead, who is coming off an MCL injury in the team's opener. The electric Cornhusker trifecta of Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and Burkhead should rout the Bengals before they welcome Wisconsin to Lincoln in their Big Ten home opener.

 

No. 18 Michigan (2-1) at No. 11 Notre Dame (3-0)

The 11th-ranked Fighting Irish look to improve to 4-0 for the first time in ten years as they welcome Big Blue to South Bend. A Notre Dame victory won’t come easy as Michigan has dominated the Irish as of late, winning the last three head-to-head matchups. The flow of the game will depend on Notre Dame’s ability or inability to stop Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson from going off. The Irish have allowed only 30 points in their first three games, including a complete shutdown of Michigan State last weekend. But the Michigan offense is a completely different animal. Robinson has already eclipsed 1,000 total yards this season and he is just getting started. Saturday’s primetime matchup has huge implications for both teams. A win for Michigan would get them back into the BCS Hunt, but a Notre Dame win would put them in the national title game discussion.

 

Syracuse (1-2) at Minnesota (3-0)

Who would have thought that only three Big Ten teams would be 3-0 after week three and that Minnesota would be one of them? The undefeated Golden Gophers are playing with a renewed vigor under head coach Jerry Kill and they look to continue their impressive start on Saturday against the Orange. Minnesota reserve quarterback Max Shortell has been a pleasant surprise filling in for the injured MarQueis Gray and his maturity under center is a sigh of relief for the Gophers. Syracuse hasn’t stopped anybody this season and if Shortell continues his solid play under center, this could be a long day for the Syracuse defense.

 

Louisiana Tech (2-0) at Illinois (2-1)

The Big Ten night cap features the third best scoring offense in the nation in Louisiana Tech and a Fighting Illini defense that claims to have the “best front seven in the country.” If Illinois wants to slow down a team that puts up 56 points a game and just over 600 yards of total offense, they better show up and put on a defensive clinic in Champaign. Louisiana Tech and senior quarterback Colby Cameron put up video game numbers on opposing defenses, but their defense has not done their part to back up the offense. The Bulldog defense allows an average of 43 points per game, which gives the struggling Illini offense a chance to discover their identity. If Illinois wants to go punch for punch with Lousiana Tech on Saturday night, quarterback Ryan O’Toole will need to build on his five touchdown performance from a week ago.

Alex Gilliland is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email ajg5371@psu.edu.