Around the Big Ten: Week Thirteen
The Big Ten takes center stage heading into the final week of college football’s regular season. Currently owning two of the top four spots and four of the top seven overall, the final slate of games this weekend promises to have significant impact on not only the Big Ten championship game, but the College Football Playoff (CFP) in general. The marquee matchup has been obvious for weeks, with No. 3 Michigan traveling to Columbus to take on its arch rivals, No. 2 Ohio State for the 113th meeting of “The Game”. If the Buckeyes come away with the win, all eyes will turn to No. 7 Penn State, who hosts Michigan State, and will win the Big Ten East outright with a win of its own. While No. 6 Wisconsin has clinched the Big Ten West, the aforementioned games will decide the Big Ten East and will help clarify the CFP picture. Let’s take a look at the full slate of games heading into the final week of the regular season.
No. 16 Nebraska (9-2, 6-2 B1G) vs. Iowa (7-4, 5-3 B1G), Fri, Nov. 25, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Once considered a pivotal game in the Big Ten West race, this “Heroes Game” matchup has declined in importance with Nebraska no longer controlling its own destiny. They will need an unlikely slip-up from No. 6 Wisconsin, who will play Minnesota. The Cornhuskers continue to deal with quarterback issues as the status of Tommy Armstrong remains unclear. For the Hawkeyes, they have the chance to salvage their season with an 8-4 record.
Prediction: Iowa 27, Nebraska 21
No. 3 Michigan (10-1, 7-1 B1G) vs. No. 2 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 B1G), 12 p.m. ET, ABC
Ah, the game that has been circled on everybody’s calendar for a long time. A lot more than bragging rights are on the table this season as the loser of this game can say goodbye to their CFP hopes. For Michigan, they simply need to win and they are heading to Indianapolis. For Ohio State, they will need help with a win and Penn State loss clinching them the Big Ten East title. John O’Korn will lead the Wolverines into Columbus where they have not beat the Buckeyes since 2000. It would also be their first win in the series since 2011.
Prediction: Ohio State 30, Michigan 26
Illinois (3-8, 2-6 B1G) vs. Northwestern (5-6, 4-4 B1G), 12 p.m. ET, BTN
This battle for the “Land of Lincoln” Trophy is somewhat of a barnburner this season. In the 110th meeting of this rivalry, Lovie Smith would love nothing more than to spoil Northwestern’s chances at bowl eligibility. The Wildcats rallied after a horrendous start to the season, but have lost three of their last four games. On the other side, the Illini still face issues at quarterback and on the defensive side of the ball as a whole.
Prediction: Northwestern 38, Illinois 27
Rutgers (2-9, 0-8 B1G) vs. Maryland (5-6, 2-6 B1G), 12 p.m. ET, ESPNEWS
Certainly not the most “appealing” game on the Big Ten slate this weekend but surely enough the two newest members of the Big Ten will suit up and play each other at Maryland Stadium on Saturday. Both teams have looked absolutely horrendous in recent weeks. The Scarlet Knights have been shut out two weeks in a row, while the Terrapins have lost their last four games, while putting up only 13 points in their last three games. Something has to give in this “Battle for the Basement” as both are tied for last place in the Big Ten East.
Prediction: Maryland 34, Rutgers 17
Purdue (3-8, 1-7 B1G) vs. Indiana (5-6, 3-5 B1G), 12 p.m ET, ESPNU
This battle for the “Old Oaken Bucket” also pits two teams who have struggled mightily in recent weeks. The Boilermakers have lost their last six games, most of which have been lost under interim coach Gerad Parker. Indiana has won the last three games in this rivalry as they look to become bowl-eligible against their longtime in-state rival. While both teams have struggled mightily down the stretch, either side would love to notch a rivalry win to end their season.
Prediction: Indiana 37, Purdue 17
Michigan State (3-8, 1-7 B1G) vs. No. 7 Penn State (9-2, 7-1 B1G), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
This game could either decide the Big Ten East or merely propel Penn State to its first double-digit win season since 2009. This battle for the “Land Grant Trophy” brings the Spartans into Happy Valley on a down year, but one where they can play spoiler for the Nittany Lions. James Franklin would love to have this win and if nothing else, beat Mark Dantonio for the first time in three tries. On the other side, Michigan State has had James Franklin’s number since his tenure began and would love to end its season with a win in this rivalry, in what has been an otherwise lost cause.
Prediction: Penn State 33, Michigan State 20
Minnesota (8-3, 5-3 B1G) vs. No. 6 Wisconsin (9-2, 6-2 B1G), 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Perhaps the most interesting trophy to come out of rivalry week, these two long-time foes will compete for the 126th time in the “Battle of Paul Bunyan’s Axe”. Minnesota could spoil the Badgers season with a win, which would be their first in the series since 2003. As if the odds weren’t high enough, the Golden Gophers have not won in Madison since 1994. Both teams are bowl-eligible, and with a Wisconsin win, the Badgers will clinch the Big Ten West title.
Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Minnesota 17
Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. Reach out to him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.