Tony's Tip Sheet – Big Ten Edition
by Tony Gerdeman
Every Big Ten team is in action this week except for Maryland, which is too bad because that means that Rutgers is also in action, and that makes America sad. The game of the week is Michigan at Michigan State, and the way Nebraska and Northwestern are trending, this will probably decide the Legends Division.
In other, less important games, Wisconsin travels to Iowa, Minnesota visits Indiana, Illinois goes to Happy Valley, and Ohio State travels to West Lossfayette.
Saturday November 2
Teams: #24 Wisconsin (5-2) at Iowa (5-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
If you're a Buckeye fan you are now also a Badger fan. All this means is you'll want more stuff beer-battered and deep-fried than you already do, if such a thing is even possible. Ohio State needs Wisconsin to win out and continue to rise in the rankings because at this point, “Ohio State has yet to beat a top 15 team under Urban Meyer” is almost up there with “Urban Meyer has never had a 1,000-yard running back”. Ohio State ran the ball very well on Iowa, but I also think the Buckeyes have provided some teams a blueprint on how to slow down the Wisconsin running attack. I think the Hawkeyes will do a solid job of containing the Badgers, but that still probably means 230 yards rushing. I'll take the Badgers by two touchdowns, but I think that second touchdown will come late. Wisconsin 34 – Iowa 20
Teams: Temple (1-7) at Rutgers (4-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN3)
Cheer For: Rutgers
Rutgers is favored by two touchdowns in this game, which is pretty damning if you ask me because Temple is terrible. Sure, Rutgers is bad, but they should be more than two touchdowns better than terrible. Granted, Temple isn't horrible, they're just terrible, but they're still much worse than bad. Rutgers 38 – Temple 20
Teams: Illinois (3-4) at Penn State (4-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Penn State
I fully expect Penn State to bounce back just fine from last week's emphatic lesson in football dominance by the Buckeyes. Plus, it's always easier to bounce back against a team like Illinois. Christian Hackenberg's shoulder is fine, so he'll be slinging the football around all over the place. Bill Belton nearly rushed for 100 yards against the Buckeyes, so he should put up 130 on the Illini. And Zach Zwinak is probably still getting chased down by Bill O'Brien and getting yelled at. I assume O'Brien followed Zwinak to all of his classes this week and yelled at him from the other side of every classroom door. I bet lunches were the worst, however. Imagine sitting at a table at McDonald's with O'Brien in the seat across from you just angrily spitting in your face with expletives. Though if you're married, you can probably relate quite easily. Penn State 34 – Illinois 28
Teams: #21 Michigan (6-1) at #22 Michigan State (7-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Michigan State
This is the first time all season that Buckeye fans will actually be rooting against the Michigan Wolverines. As of now, a win over a 9-2 Michigan and then an 11-1 Michigan State would be better for the Buckeyes than a win over a 10-1 Michigan and then a 10-2 Michigan the following week. Yes, it is asking a lot for Buckeye fans to suddenly flip a switch and start rooting rooting against Michigan after pulling so hard for them over the first eight weeks. It might even take some fans a quarter or two to get the Maize and Blue to stop pumping through their Scarlet and Gray veins. As for the game itself, there are basically two ways that this thing is going to go down: 1) Michigan's offense is super conservative because they don't think they'll need a ton of points and they'll just run as much clock as possible; or 2) Michigan's offense is going to attack from the shotgun because they know that's the only way they'll actually be able to move the ball. I guess Michigan's offense will wait to see how Michigan's defense handles the Spartan offense. If Connor Cook is able to put some points on the board, then that will put pressure on Devin Gardner to make some plays. If Gardner doesn't turn the ball over, I see Michigan winning by 14 points. But is it even possible for him to not turn the ball over in this game? Will Al Borges protect him, or will he use him? The Spartans have given up some yards on the ground to running quarterbacks in the past – Braxton Miller rushed for 136 yards on them last year, Denard Robinson rushed for 96 yards, and Taylor Martinez rushed for 205 yards two weeks later, so Gardner could have a big day on the ground. I could go on and on about this game. Can the Michigan defense stop Jeremy Langford? He's rushed for over 100 yards each of the last three weeks. If they can't, then Michigan State will win. Can the Wolverines get to Connor Cook? He's completing 65% of his passes in Big Ten play. There are just so many variables. Oh wait, I just remembered that Brady Hoke is coaching this game on the road, so you can throw out every one of those variables. Michigan State 34 – Michigan 31
Teams: Northwestern (4-4) at Nebraska (5-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Nebraska
So Northwestern's season is pretty much over, having lost four games in a row, and all in Big Ten play. Pat Fitzgerald has pulled out all of the stops to end this recent stretch of misery, even having a water balloon fight a couple of weeks ago. Really, once you go to the water balloons, and it doesn't work, what else do you have? Maybe a donut eating contest? Coaches don't like to go to the donut well because if that doesn't work, then nothing will. For most coaches, it's a little too close to seeing their own mortality, which totally freaks them out. Nobody likes going to the donut eating contest, but at some point Fitzgerald is going to have to if he wants to right his currently sinking ship. Maybe a karaoke contest would be a good stop gap between now and the inevitable donut contest. Nebraska 27 – Northwestern 23
Teams: Minnesota (6-2) at Indiana (3-4)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Minnesota
Minnesota is on a roll right now, having won two games in a row over Northwestern and Nebraska. Jerry Kill is probably the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award, which would be the most typical Big Ten Coach of the Year Award thing ever. Unfortunately for Minnesota, I don't see them being able to keep up with the Indiana offense. If they can keep up, however, and even pull off the upset, then this would probably be their most impressive victory of the season. Indiana 41 – Minnesota 31
Teams: #4 Ohio State (8-0) at Purdue (1-6)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Ohio State
Ohio State and Purdue have had quite the history over the years. For whatever reason, nothing ever quite goes as easily as it should for the Buckeyes when the Boilermakers are involved. This week, however, things should be a bit different. Purdue's defense will attack the Buckeyes, which should allow for some home runs by Carlos Hyde and the receivers. The Purdue offense, on the other hand, is about as productive as an abandoned whiskey still – and all it has is memories. Urban Meyer is expecting another fast start, and considering the Buckeyes are averaging 28.5 points in the first quarter of their noon games this year, who are we to argue. By the way, congrats to Braxton Miller on his first career 300-yard passing game this weekend. Ohio State 56 – Purdue 7
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