Tony's Tip Sheet – Big Ten Edition
by Tony Gerdeman
It's not a great week of Big Ten games, but at least we'll get to see Michigan's shenanigans (Michinanigans?) again, and that's always entertaining.
There are really only two interesting Big Ten games this weekend, and that's assuming that the Hoosiers don't completely collapse in Ann Arbor. The other big game in the conference is Iowa at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes are favored by 17 points.
Okay, maybe it's an even worse week than I initially led you to believe.
Saturday October 19
Teams: Minnesota (4-2) at Northwestern (4-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Northwestern
I'm interested to see if Northwestern has bounced back from the losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin. Fortunately for them, when it comes to bouncing back after losses, Minnesota is essentially a trampoline in a backyard of flubber. Northwestern 34 – Minnesota 20
Teams: Purdue (1-5) at Michigan State (5-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Michigan State
You have no choice but to feel bad for Purdue right now because we all like Darrell Hazell, and he inherited a Florida-After-Urban-Meyer level of dilapidation in West Lafayette. The cupboards are so bare at Purdue that even the canned pears have been eaten. THE CANNED PEARS! We're talking post-apocalyptic shortages here. I'm pretty sure that Michigan State could win this game by double digits without an offensive touchdown. However, I like the way Connor Cook has taken over the MSU offense of late. There's nothing great about the offense as a whole, but it's no longer stabbing you in the eyes with an icepick of incompetence. It's more of a dull poke with the middle finger of mediocrity. Michigan State 31 – Purdue 3
Teams: Maryland (5-1) at Wake Forest (3-3)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Maryland
It takes an army of people to televise a game, and during the Wisconsin – Ohio State game a few weeks ago, many of that army couldn't care less about the magnitude of the job they were fortunate enough to be experiencing. In fact, most weren't even watching. I guess it's easy to get that way when you also have to do games like this one. Maryland 38 – Wake Forest 21
Teams: Indiana (3-3) at Michigan (5-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Michigan
Brady Hoke said this week that the Michigan offense won't be changing anything they're doing, which should be music to every Buckeye fans' ears. Like some nice Josh Groban professing his love to you type of music. I expect the Hoosiers to be able to stop the non-Devin Gardner running game, for the most part. However, Gardner will still get plenty of yards on the ground, and probably upward of 150. Despite their problems on offense, Michigan is going to score, as they have all year long. They haven't faced an offense like Indiana's yet, as the Hoosiers will push the pace as much as they can, and Michigan's defense hates that. I think the Hoosiers will make it interesting, but probably won't ever be closer than a touchdown when it matters. Michigan 41 – Indiana 31
Teams: #25 Wisconsin (4-2) at Illinois (3-2)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
Illinois is going to be little more than a speed bump when it comes to stopping Wisconsin's running game. Melvin Gordon will break a couple of long ones, and I will be cheering from the Ohio State press box as Mel-Gor (as I call him) leads Team Awesome to yet another league championship. Meanwhile, the Illini will try to throw the ball around, but they'll get beat up routinely. There will not be a single Illini player left with any lunch money after this game, and several may have wedgie-related injuries. This is not going to be pretty. Wisconsin 41 – Illinois 24
Teams: Iowa (4-2) at #4 Ohio State (6-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN2/ABC)
Cheer For: Ohio State
Braxton Miller has a chance for a breakout game this week. It's not because Iowa's defense isn't good, but it's because they may be very focused on stopping the run up the middle. If that's the case, it will leave Miller a little more free to run on the read option, or the QB power and counter. Also, Iowa's defense has given up some big plays through the air, and the Buckeyes are certainly going to try to replicate that. Iowa has a solid defense that is normally in position to capitalize on mistakes, but as long as there are no glaring mistakes from Miller, the Buckeye offense should be fine. Defensively, Urban Meyer expects Iowa to come out throwing, much like Wisconsin did against them. The Hawkeyes don't have the same offensive threats to make that an apples-to-apples comparison, however. Given how well the front four has played for the Buckeyes, I don't think Iowa will be able to get Mark Weisman going on the ground. Perhaps the player to watch for will be his backup, Damon Bullock. Bullock is used more on the outside and in the passing game. Perhaps he will be able to leak out into the flats, or on a wheel route or two. This one won't be easy for the Buckeyes, but I don't really expect it to be close. Consider this one of those “Jim Tressel blowouts”, where a 10-point lead feels like 21. Ohio State 27 – Iowa 10
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