Around the Big Ten: Football – Week 12

Audio/Story posted November 16, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Josh Portney

Host Matt Noah and analysts John Murphy, Josh Portney and Dale Ostrander talk about the latest from around the Big Ten college football world including the big upset of Penn State and looking forward to games this week with major implications in the Big Ten standing and bowl implications: 

Penn State’s untimely loss to Minnesota just shook up the race for the Big Ten East, where Ohio State took the top spot with a 73-14 win over Maryland. Despite Minnesota’s big win, the Big Ten West’s ticket to Indianapolis is far from decided. For most of the Big Ten, this is a sleepy week, but be ready for some upsets. There still are some big matchups though, especially for Penn State and Minnesota.

Michigan State (4-5, 2-4) at No. 15 Michigan (7-2, 4-2)

The 112th battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy with the two Michigan collegiate powerhouses may not be very competitive. Michigan is trying to skate its way back into the conversation, while Michigan State is just looking to end the season and save face.

The Spartans had a somewhat promising start, winning four of its first five easy games including a takedown of Indiana, but then the big tests came and they failed. Michigan State has not won a football game since the end of September, and they couldn’t even hold off Illinois

On the other hand, Michigan has something to prove. Critics thought that the Wolverines were finished when they fell to Wisconsin and then lost again to Penn State, but they actually still have an opportunity to move up in the rankings. Expect the Wolverines to restart their revenge tour as they cover the spread of 13.5 in an easy home victory against the Spartans, then travel to Indiana for a Big Ten East matchup and, finally, Ohio State.

No. 7 Minnesota (9-0, 6-0) at No. 20 Iowa (6-3, 3-3)

The Hawkeyes unfortunately don’t have much room to get back into playoff contention, as they play Illinois and Rutgers after this home afternoon special with Minnesota, but they always love to spoil other teams’ playoff hopes. For Minnesota, this is uncharted territory; the Gophers haven’t been in the top-10 since 1962.

Iowa’s Nate Stanley and the Iowa offense average nearly 382 yards per game with a nice range of three key running-back options, all who average more than 4.5 yards per carry. Minnesota counters with the duo of quarterback Tanner Morgan and running-back Rodney Smith, who have lead the offense to average 430 yards per game. 

No. 14 Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2) at Nebraska (4-5, 2-4)

The Badgers are trying to salvage their season. They kissed their playoff hopes goodbye as James McCourt from the Fighting Illini kicked a 39-yard field goal to lead Illinois to an incredible upset. Wisconsin had a chance to rebound with a matchup against Ohio State, but they failed the test again and fell to the back of the rankings.

This game will be a snooze-fest but one that Wisconsin must win, especially because the Badgers then face Minnesota on the road for what will be a season-defining game. Nebraska has been dealing with a quarterback rotation that hasn’t resulted in a standout star yet. Adrian Martinez will likely get the start for the Cornhuskers, but with the Badgers defense that is the second best in the country, it’s doubtful that he’ll get anywhere. The Badgers will definitely win by more than the spread of 14.5.

No. 2 Ohio State (9-0, 6-0) at Rutgers (2-7, 0-6)

Ohio State is seemingly unstoppable however, much like Alabama before the LSU game, the Buckeyes haven’t really faced a good opponent yet. The Buckeyes’ only wins against ranked opponents have come against a weakened Wisconsin squad that lost to Illinois and a then-ranked Michigan State team that is now 4-5.

Rutgers is another weak opponent, so a win here does absolutely nothing to help Ohio State’s résumé, especially with a Rutgers defense that lets up an average of 431.2 yards per game. Expect the Buckeyes to walk all over the Scarlet Knights in a defeat that will model the Maryland game. 

Indiana (7-2, 4-2) at No. 9 Penn State (8-1, 5-1)

Ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since Bill Clinton was president, the Hoosiers have been on a roll. The CFP did not include them in the top 25 this past week, but that was likely due to Indiana’s weak strength of schedule.

The Hoosiers are a pretty good team this year; their quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. averages 8.7 yards per completion and there’s a few good running-backs for him to work with. Indiana averages 446 yards per game, but that average will not work against Penn State’s explosive defense.

Penn State’s defense, while largely absent in last week’s game in Minnesota, has a good reason to rebound and reestablish themselves. Sean Clifford was quick to put the blame on himself and he will certainly want to use the Indiana game to correct the mistakes of last week’s loss. Expect the Nittany Lions to win. 

Other Big Ten games in Week 11:

UMass at Northwestern

 

 

Josh Portney is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jxp776@psu.edu.