Around the Big Ten: Week Eleven
David Arroyo, George Stockburger, Will Desautelle and Eric Ohlson tell you everything you need to know about this week's matchups around the Big Ten.
The Big Ten is gearing up for an interesting finish. Entering week 11, there are currently five top 25 teams; No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 10 Penn State and No. 19 Nebraska. All teams have intriguing matchups this week that could shake up the rankings and the Big Ten Championship participants. Let’s take a look around the Big Ten:
Rutgers (2-7, 0-6 B1G) at Michigan State (2-7, 0-6 B1G), 12 p.m. ET, BTN
Disappointing is an understatement for Mark Dantonio and his squad. The Spartans, who began the season at No. 12, have fallen to last in the Big Ten East tied with Rutgers. Michigan State is trying as best as it can to pull its season together. Neither team is bowl eligible, so the game’s outcome is a matter of bragging rights. Michigan State has been able to score points but its defense has regressed significantly, allowing more than 30 points per game. The Scarlet Knights failed to overcome expectations this year. Their defense is in the same boat as Michigan State’s, but they are most vulnerable when opponents rush the ball. Michigan State’s sophomore running back L.J. Scott should have a field day against Rutgers and the Spartans defense will be able to hold down the Scarlet Knights’ nonexistent offense.
Prediction: Michigan State 34, Rutgers 10
No. 10 Penn State (7-2, 5-1 B1G) at Indiana (5-4, 3-3 B1G), 12 p.m. ET, ABC
Penn State is on fire right now and has not looked back since the loss at Michigan. The Nittany Lions are playing with intensity and having fun at the same time. Penn State draws an intriguing matchup against a respectable Indiana Hoosiers team. The Hoosiers have a good offense and run a spread air attack on offense behind junior quarterback Richard Lagow. The Nittany Lions will be tested on defense as they allowed the Purdue Boilermakers and Iowa Hawkeyes to throw the ball well back-to-back weeks. Penn State’s offense can definitely outscore Indiana’s behind sophomore running back Saquon Barkley.
Prediction: Penn State 41, Indiana 34
Northwestern (4-5, 3-3 B1G) at Purdue (3-6, 1-5 B1G), 12 p.m. ET, BTN
This game is very important for each school, but it is more important to Purdue because the Boilermakers could become ineligible for the bowl season with one more loss. Northwestern knows how to run the table with their three-headed monster on offense. Sophomore quarterback Clayton Thorson, junior running back Justin Jackson and senior Austin Carr are an incredible trio accounting for a majority of the Wildcats’ offensive production. Purdue is awful on defense, particularly defending against the run. Jackson can turn in one of the greatest performances of his career if the game plan goes through him. Expect the Wildcats to light up the scoreboard and be one game closer to bowl eligibility, while knocking Purdue and their interim head coach Gerad Parker out of the postseason.
Prediction: Northwestern 35, Purdue 17
Illinois (3-6, 2-4 B1G) at No. 7 Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2 B1G), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 2
Wisconsin is the same program of old, but since their philosophy is not broken, why change it? The Badgers run the rock effectively and play defense like no other team in the country, only allowing less than 14 points per game. Lovie Smith and his Fighting Illini still have a shot at a bowl game, but their trip to Wisconsin will be a tough one. Senior running back and former transfer Corey Clement has solidified himself in the long line of good Badger running backs. The Badgers will do what they do best: force turnovers and grind down the clock on offense.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Illinois 3
No. 5 Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 B1G) at Maryland (5-4, 2-4 B1G), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Maryland got off to a hot start jumping out to a 4-0 record before losing its first game at Penn State. The Terrapins have lost their identity and consecutive games against Michigan and Ohio State do not bode well for the up-and-coming program. Maryland is still fighting for the bowl berth, while Ohio State is trying to recover from their upset loss at Penn State and find its way back into the College Football Playoffs. The Terrapins have struggled to find consistency at quarterback, which will limit them against a stout Buckeye defense. The Buckeyes will use their motivation and beat up on the Terrapins in an attempt to reenter the top four.
Prediction: Ohio State 49, Maryland 7
Minnesota (7-2, 4-2 B1G) at No. 19 Nebraska (7-2, 4-2 B1G), 7:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Minnesota has silently been a very good football team. The Golden Gophers are sitting at 7-2 and looking to make their presence felt against the Cornhuskers. In a 62-3 loss at Ohio State, starting senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. lost consciousness briefly after landing on his head after being tackle. Armstrong is in the concussion protocol, but has not been ruled out for the game against Minnesota. Nebraska has been underwhelming for a ranked team. They are 1-2 against ranked opponents with the lone win coming against a bad Oregon team early in the season. Behind sophomore running back Rodney Smith, Minnesota could make a statement and challenge Wisconsin for a spot in the Big Ten Championship. Smith runs hard and has scored 13 times on the ground. Nebraska is not the team that the ranking shows. The uncertainty of Armstrong puts even more pressure on the Cornhuskers. While the Cornhuskers have home field advantage, they are going to be tested by a talented Minnesota squad.
Prediction: Minnesota 31, Nebraska 21
No. 3 Michigan (9-0, 6-0 B1G) at Iowa (5-4, 3-3 B1G), 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Michigan and Iowa bring two very good defenses to the field. Iowa’s comes into question after its embarrassing 41-14 loss against Penn State. The Hawkeyes would like nothing more than upsetting the No. 3 team in the country, but the Wolverines do not go down so easily. Junior transfer quarterback Wilton Speight rarely makes mistakes and has only thrown three interceptions entering week 11. Michigan really dominates at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Wolverine offensive line can pave the way for any of their running backs from De’Veon Smith to Ty Isaac. The defensive line is so extremely talented that head coach Jim Harbaugh can rush the front four and still garner immense pressure on the opposing quarterback. Let’s also not forget the three-way star in Jabrill Peppers who is a freak at running back, safety and on kick returns. Iowa is not the team they were a year ago and does not match up well against the perennial National Championship contenders. Senior quarterback C.J. Beathard has been the face of a team that plays similarly to Wisconsin with the ground-and-pound and great defense mentality. Iowa’s secondary is a liability on the defense even with senior cornerback Desmond King roaming around. The Wolverines will destroy yet another opponent and stay in the hunt for the College Football Playoffs.
Prediction: Michigan 45, Iowa 9
Zach Seyko is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in communication arts & sciences. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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