Around the Big Ten: Week Eight

Story posted October 21, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Dan Cronin

Indiana (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) at Iowa (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten)

It has been a struggle all season for Indiana and Iowa will be another tough challenge for the Hoosiers this week. Last season’s closely contested battle between these two teams ended with Indiana receiver Demarlo Belcher dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown. Belcher will miss this game with a knee injury, and center Will Matte will likely miss the game as well. Meanwhile, Iowa has rediscovered its offense after putting up 41 points on Northwestern last week. Indiana’s defense will not be much of a challenge for the Hawkeyes. Expect big games from Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg and running back Marcus Coker. Iowa won last year’s matchup 18-13.

No. 23 Illinois (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) at Purdue (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten)

Illinois hits the road trying to bounce back from their first loss of the season last week in a letdown against Ohio State. The Illini will look to sure up their offensive unit, which gave up three critical turnovers last week, leading to 14 points for the Buckeyes in a 17-7 final. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase struggled, throwing two interceptions, and wide receiver AJ Jenkins had a big fumble. Purdue, meanwhile, is coming off of a close loss at Penn State in which their defense played a solid game. Kicker Carson Wiggs struggled, missing a field goal and an extra point in the windy Happy Valley. They will look to build upon solid play by running back Ralph Bolden, who had 97 yards against the Nittany Lions. Illinois won the most recent game between these two teams 44-10 last year, but lost five games prior to that. They also have not won at Purdue since 2003.

No. 13 Nebraska (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) at Minnesota (1-5, 0-2 Big Ten)

Nebraska hasn’t had the smooth start they were hoping for in their first season in the Big Ten, but they will have an opportunity to build a winning streak this Saturday against the struggling Minnesota Gophers. It will be the Cornhuskers’ first game without All-American defensive tackle Jared Crick, a blow to their already struggling defense. Nebraska will continue to rely heavily on their powerful offense that has averaged 37.0 points per game. It was their offense that helped them come back to defeat Ohio State in their last game. The team will look to tune up in Minneapolis this week, with a tough conference game against Michigan State looming next Saturday. The Gophers, meanwhile, are hoping to just stay in the game. They have been outscored 103-17 in their last two games. Quarterback MarQuies Gray has struggled, completing less than 50 percent of his passes while throwing just three touchdowns with four interceptions. The two teams have not played since 1990, but Nebraska has won 14 straight against Minnesota.

No. 6 Wisconsin (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at No. 16 Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten)

The game of the week in the Big Ten pits Wisconsin against Michigan State in what could be a preview of the Big Ten Championship. Wisconsin enters 6-0, their best start since they started 9-0 in 2004, and represents the conference’s only national championship contender. The trip to East Lansing, their first road game of the season, could conjure up memories of frustrating losses for the Badgers, who have not won at Michigan State since 2002. Meanwhile, Michigan State enters having rattled off four straight wins, including a victory over rival Michigan last week. Both defenses have been spectacular so far this season and have been a big part of wins over ranked opponents such as Nebraska and Michigan. Last season, Michigan State defeated Wisconsin 28-14 in East Lansing.

 

Dan Cronin is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism he can be reached at djc5353@psu.edu.