There are six Big Ten games this weekend, but only 11 teams in action as the Wolverines get the extra week to figure out what went wrong in South Bend. Hint: I’m pretty sure it was the turnovers. Purdue’s league debut is pushed back as it takes on Marshall this week. As an added bonus to this final weekend in September, the College GameDay crew will be headed to East Lansing as Michigan State hosts Ohio State.
Game of the Week
The MSU-OSU game is just one of two games between all ranked teams this week. This match up can also do something to restore a little bit of luster for the league if it turns out to be a great game on the national stage. A Michigan State win (who is not on probation) will probably be best for the league. The fact that both teams are very physical should mean lots of loud and hard hits.
Why is Purdue out of conference still? The only interesting thing about the Purdue vs. Marshall game is its historic base…slightly. Read on to find out why.
The Upset-er: Iowa has lost two straight to Minnesota and hasn’t lost this game in Iowa City since 1999. That should give enough of an incentive to motivate this team, but there is the added humiliation of last week. If the players are as steaming mad as the fans, then they’ll want to crush the undefeated Gophers.
The Upset-ee: We saw a lot of Big Ten team’s look past their final OOC foe last week as they were mentally ready for the challenges of league play. Considering they host Michigan next week, it is possible Purdue could be elsewhere between the ears if they aren’t careful.
I’m going with the upset of Michigan State over Ohio State. For that to be possible, Le’Veon Bell will have to put on his hard hat. Considering he was called upon 36 times last week and gave his team over 250 yards, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll factor into that game in a big way.
Time to look back at my preseason picks and either keep or update them now that the season is underway.
Preseason: Illinois 14, Penn State 28
Illinois’ defense has been reeling, while Matt McGloin has been on a mission the last two weeks from the QB position. Even with his hot streak, this Nittany Lion team really hasn’t had the scoreboard spinning like a slot machine, so 28 points sounds about right.
Preseason: Indiana 21, Northwestern 42
Another preseason pick I really like. IU has to go to a red-hot Northwestern team and have to rely on their back up QB. This thing could be over quickly.
Preseason: Iowa 28, Minnesota 14
Ah, the offseason when Iowa fans were strutting around with their chests puffed out because of an easy schedule. The Gopher defense has improved a ton over the last month and its performance against Syracuse was a real gem. The team has some injury issues on offense which will affect the Hawkeyes, especially since Iowa’s defense has had some nice stretches.
Update: Minnesota, 17-13
Preseason: Michigan State 17, Ohio State 10
Man, another pick from a month ago that still looks great on paper. I think MSU atones for the Notre Dame game and gets the upset on its home field. In order for this to happen, it’ll have to be a low-scoring game played on the Spartans own terms. If MSU’s pass rush can’t get to Braxton Miller, no one in the Big Ten will be able too. For the sake of my sanity, please let them knock him around.
Preseason: Nebraska 24, Wisconsin 21
The Badgers played better in that UTEP game, but Nebraska is firing on all cylinders. Martinez is having his best passing season and Burkhead is back healthy. This team will be up for this one since it’s the league opener against a team that embarrassed them a year ago.
Update: Nebraska, 35-17
Preseason: Purdue 38, Marshall 31
The Herd has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. They gave up 69 points to West Virginia, lost at home to Ohio and needed overtime to beat Rice (they gave up over 50 points in that game). Purdue has looked good this year and could have been undefeated if not for late game heroics by Notre Dame in South Bend.
Update: Purdue, 41-21
Marshall and Purdue have never faced each other. This seems strange to me since the Boilermakers’ program dates back to 1887 and Marshall’s to 1895. This means in nearly 120 years of football, neither team made the six-hour drive to the other’s campus? If I had more time, I would like to research the closest universities (Division I) to each other that have never met in football. I think six hours is a good bench mark.