Around The Big Ten Week 6
ComRadio's own John McHugh, Dan Correa and Dave Correll break down this week's matchup around the Big Ten and share their overall thoughts on the conference.
Following a week with many close, intriguing match ups, the Big Ten’s Week 6 slate looks to be a bit more predictable, but nevertheless exciting. While there were no major upsets last week in the Big Ten, teams like Indiana, Purdue and Iowa are looking to carry over momentum from strong showings. On the other hand, Ohio State and Michigan State are out to prove that last week’s close games were nothing more than bumps in the road.
Maryland @ #1 Ohio State – 12 p.m., BTN
Ohio State has had a habit of playing down to their opponents in the past few years, and that’s exactly what we saw against Indiana last week, but the top-ranked Buckeyes rode Ezekiel Elliott’s stellar performance to the victory.
This week will be a bit easier for Ohio State, as a reeling Maryland team travels to Columbus for this noon matchup. Maryland’s defense has been abysmal this year, allowing over 30 points per game. Compare that to a Buckeye offense averaging that many points, and you have a sure-fire win for Ohio State. Watch out for Ezekiel Elliott to have a field day with that Terrapin defense while the Buckeyes justify the 33-point spread.
Illinois @ Iowa – 12 p.m., ESPNU
Iowa is one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten right now, as they sit at 5-0 for the first time since 2009. Illinois is also outperforming expectations at 4-1; even after a head coaching change just a week before the season.
Both the Illini and the Hawkeyes are finding success through their defenses so far this year, as both are allowing less than 19 points per game.
Iowa had their first true test last week, winning a grind-it-out game against Wisconsin, 10-6, and Illinois barely edged out a struggling Nebraska team by a score of 14-13.
Given that Illinois was beaten so badly by the only legitimate offense they’ve encountered so far this year (a 48-14 loss to UNC), this is Iowa’s game to lose. If the Hawkeye defense keeps up its pace, it will be a long day in Iowa City for the Illini.
No. 13 Northwestern @ No. 18 Michigan – 3:30 p.m., BTN
Northwestern will travel to the Ann Arbor this weekend for the most intriguing matchup in the Big Ten this week.
Northwestern is 5-0 for the first time in three years, and has already equaled their win total from each of their last two seasons.
Michigan is also having a resurgent year at 4-1, as Jim Harbaugh has turned around the Wolverines quicker than anyone could have expected.
On paper, these teams could not be more even. Both are averaging around 26 points scored per game while allowing less than 10 on defense.
Aside from their Week One victory over Stanford, Northwestern has yet to be tested. The nation will find out of the Wildcats are for real this week. If they can maintain their defensive play against Jake Rudock and the Michigan offense in the Big House, Northwestern will win not only the game, but also the respect and attention of the country.
Wisconsin @ Nebraska – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Usually, the annual matchup between Wisconsin and Nebraska decides who will represent the Big Ten West in the conference championship game, but that’s not the case this year.
Both the Badgers and the Huskers are struggling this year, but for different reasons.
Nebraska is still trying to figure out life after Bo Pelini, as first year head coach Mike Riley has the Cornhuskers off to their worst start through five games since 1961. While Riley could still turn the season around, things don’t look to promising in Lincoln, as the Nebraska defense is allowing over 400 yards per game.
Wisconsin is also off to an uncharacteristically slow start, but their two losses have come at the hands of legitimate opponents Alabama and Iowa.
The only thing Nebraska has going for them this week is their home-field advantage at Memorial Stadium. Aside from that, this game will be all Wisconsin. The Badger defense is allowing less than 10 points and 200 yards per game, and will be the difference in this one.
Minnesota @ Purdue – 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
In one of the weeks lesser matchups, Minnesota will be in West Lafayette to take on a Purdue team who turned a lot of heads last week against Michigan State.
While the Boilermakers weren’t able to pull of the upset in East Lansing, they came closer to knocking off the Spartans than any team has this year.
Minnesota is coming off of a completely different kind of game, as they were shut out at Northwestern.
The Golden Gopher’s only shot at winning this game comes from their offense. Both Purdue’s defense and Minnesota’s offense have struggled this year, but if the latter can exploit the former, Minnesota has a chance on Saturday.
If not, this game could be all Purdue. Watch for Purdue’s Markell Jones to run all over the Minnesota defense.
No. 4 Michigan State @ Rutgers – 8 p.m., BTN
The Big Ten’s only primetime matchup this week will see Michigan State trying to win back the voters against Rutgers after a close game last week.
Rutgers’ looks good on paper, but they’ve struggled against the two legitimate teams they’ve faced in their losses against Penn State and Washington State.
Before last week, this game would be a no-brainer in favor of Michigan State, but last week’s close victory over Purdue makes this one tougher to call. However, as long as Michigan State can finish strong (which they weren’t able to do last week) against Rutgers, this one should be all Spartans.
Connor Cook can easily continue his stellar season against the weak Rutgers defense, and the Spartan defense has the tools to shut down Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano.
John McHugh is a junior studying broadcast journalism. You can contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.