Tony's Tip Sheet – B1G Edition
by Tony Gerdeman
We have reached the second half of the Big Ten football season, and the division races might already be over. Don't worry, though, because we have the consolation Big Ten Championship Game this weekend between Penn State and Minnesota. You should probably get the entire family together to watch that one. Then, while they're all together, you can make sure that none of you watch the Iowa at Purdue game, because you love your family, don't you?
The Buckeyes are off this week, so expect them to get passed by Baylor because Baylor's win over Oklahoma on Thursday night will be more impressive than OSU's win over nobody this week.
Saturday November 9
Teams: Penn State (5-3) at Minnesota (7-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Penn State
It's the matchup that the nation has been pointing to since it was first announced back in 2010. It led SportsCenter for a solid week straight back then. We lived in a world that hasn't been able to breathe while waiting for this game, but at 12:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, there will be a global exhalation that may actually alter the Earth's axis a bit. Sometimes big games are dangerous like that. That's probably what killed the dinosaurs. Last week I said there was no way that Minnesota was going to go into Bloomington and come away with a win, but they did it. I have avoided the Gopher bandwagon very well all season long because I don't think they're very good, and the sad part is that I'm finally going to be proven right in a week that I side with Minnesota. I'll go with David Cobb and the Minnesota running game this week, sadly. Minnesota 31 – Penn State 27
Teams: Iowa (5-4) at Purdue (1-7)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Iowa
Purdue hasn't been in the redzone since September, but I think that streak of horror will finally end this weekend. It may only be one trip, but something has to give. Quarterback Danny Etling will eventually be a good quarterback, but he's not there yet. Iowa, meanwhile, has lost three of their last four games, though those losses have been to the three best teams in the conference. They're better than Purdue (which is one of the seven most-unnecessary sentences ever typed), even on the road. Iowa 31 – Purdue 7
Teams: BYU (6-2) at #24 Wisconsin (6-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
There are only two teams in the nation who have two players averaging over 100 yards rushing per game, and those two teams will meet up Saturday afternoon in Madison, Wisconsin. The Badgers have Melvin Gordon (134.3) and James White (100.5), and BYU has quarterback Taysom Hill (105.1) and tailback Jamaal Williams (104.7), and it would seem that the team that runs the ball best will get the win in this one. Wisconsin has a better defense than BYU, but Hill's ability on the read option will make things a bit tougher on the Badgers. Perhaps under Bret Bielema I would have taken BYU and the upset, but I have too much confidence in Gary Andersen's non-Bielema-ity to do so here. Wisconsin 34 – BYU 24
Teams: Syracuse (4-4) at Maryland (5-3)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN3)
Cheer For: Maryland
We have reached my weekly least-favorite part of the Big Ten Tip Sheet – the Maryland game. I was actually surprised to see that the Terps were 5-3 this season. Maybe I should pay better attention, but this season is a dry run anyway, and I don't have to actually care until next year. And even then, I can only care so much. How much can anybody care about a team coached by Randy Edsall? Even he probably doesn't even go to work everyday. “Who cares about Maryland football?” he asks himself. His wife then tells him to shut up because she's watching her stories. Then he remembers that he hates being at home and that maybe he'll just go to the office and watch some film instead. Maryland 28 – Syracuse 24
Teams: Illinois (3-5) at Indiana (3-5)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Indiana
Illinois is 0-4 in conference play, and they have yet to win a Big Ten game under Tim Beckman. They took Penn State to overtime last week, but as Michigan has shown us, you don't really have to be that good to take Penn State to overtime. Coincidentally, Indiana's lone win in Big Ten play is a 44-24 win over Penn State, so based on common opponents, this looks like a Hoosier win. When you add in the home-field advantage, nothing really changes because there is no home-field advantage in Bloomington. It's basically like adding a zero. Sure, it's a number, but the result doesn't change. I'll take Indiana's defense over Illinois' defense, since that's really what this game is going to come down to. Illinois' offense is fake good, so the Hoosier defense should be fine. Indiana 41 – Illinois 27
Teams: Nebraska (6-2) at Michigan (6-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Michigan
You're back to cheering for Michigan, which I'm sure makes everything right in your world again. UM quarterback Devin Gardner took an absolute beating last week, and if Nebraska has any defensive ability at all, they will attack the Wolverines' offensive line with as much disruption as they can bring. Michigan's offense was lost last week, but Nebraska's generally porous defense could end up showing them the way again. When given time, Gardner can find open receivers, and Nebraska is pretty good about giving quarterbacks time. I'm very interested to see how Michigan's defense handles running back Ameer Abdullah, because this will be the first time they actually face a running back who is better than average. The difference in the game, however, will likely be the Huskers' terrible quarterbacks, as Taylor Martinez won't play. Michigan's defense is smart enough to make a bad quarterback look even worse, and I think that's what we'll see here this weekend. Expect Nebraska to turn the ball over, which will limit Abdullah's impact. Devin Gardner should bounce back, but I'll be interested to see how safe he is with the ball. Michigan 34 – Nebraska 21
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