Around The Big Ten: Week 12
Its crunch time for several Big Ten contenders as we enter the penultimate weekend of conference play. There are 13 teams are in action on Saturday, while Nebraska has a late bye week. The slate of games is headlined by two ranked showdowns and the Big Ten Championship matchup could be decided by the end of play.
No. 9 Michigan State (9-1 overall, 5-1 B1G) vs No. 3 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0)
Both teams enter this top 10 showdown with College Football Playoff aspirations still intact and each controls its own destiny to represent the East Division in Indianapolis two weeks from now. The Spartans look to exact revenge after Ohio State beat them down in primetime last year in a game with very similar stakes in East Lansing. Urban Meyer will try to continue his perfect record in Big Ten regular season play (currently 30-0) and set the Buckeyes up nicely for a showdown with Michigan next week. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will suit up in this game despite a minor injury and he will need to be brilliant for the 13-point underdogs to pull the upset in the Horseshoe. J.T. Barrett will start for Ohio State in his first home game since an alcohol-related suspension earlier this month.
No. 12 Michigan (8-2, 5-1) vs Penn State (7-3, 4-2)
The lesser of the two major Eastern matchups still has much on the line. Penn State will hold its White Out game on Senior Day, and they will say goodbye to seniors Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel, and possibly Christian Hackenberg as the junior will likely enter NFL Draft. Both teams still hold outside chances to reach Indianapolis but each will need to win out and needs some help (Michigan needs a Michigan State loss and Penn State needs two Ohio State losses). Expect a low scoring battle as these two old-school teams bring some of the best defenses in the country into this game, both surrendering under 18 points per game. The Wolverines look to lean on wideouts Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh while Penn State’s explosive running back Saquon Barkley should expect several touches if the Lions want to pull off the upset.
Purdue (2-8, 1-5) vs 5 Iowa (10-0, 6-0)
The Hawkeyes remain one of the most surprising teams in the country thus far. They find themselves sitting at 10-0 after the best start in school history, and they are knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff. However, a potential showdown with Ohio State, a team currently in the playoff picture, is looming in the Big Ten Championship. Iowa should have no trouble against Big Ten bottom feeder Purdue, and can officially clinch a spot in Indianapolis with a win or a Wisconsin loss. Senior running back Jordan Canzeri will start for the Hawkeyes despite dealing with a sprained ankle.
20 Northwestern (8-2, 4-2) vs No. 25 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1)
While this game may not be surrounded by the usual fanfare brought on by a top 25 matchup, both teams can still secure a very nice win and perhaps weasel its way into one of the New Year’s Six bowls. Wisconsin has played well since an early October loss to Iowa and they look to tally their first win against a ranked team this season behind the powerful legs of running back Corey Clement. Northwestern, on the other hand, will lean on freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson to have a strong performance both through the air and on the ground if they expect to walk out of Camp Randall Stadium on top.
Indiana (4-6, 0-6) vs Maryland (2-8, 0-6)
Illinois (5-5, 2-4) vs Minnesota (4-6, 1-5)
Rutgers (3-7, 1-6) vs Army (2-8)
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at email@example.com