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B1G Leaders Week 7 Preview: IU at MSU, NU at Wisconsin, UofM at PSU

We’re coming off a great weekend for the B1G: Indiana pounced all over the Lions and shocked even Hoosiers fans for their first big win while Northwestern gave the Buckeyes trouble, cialis in a game that was never a lock for either team.  But in the end, the Wildcats couldn’t end OSU’s longest-winning streak.

Are we really halfway through the season though?  It’s going too fast.  I’m afraid to blink, the Ohio State/Michigan game will be here.

The Buckeyes have a weekend off – I’m not sure if that’s more needed for the team to get healthy or for the fans’ tickers to have a break.  That Northwestern game shortened a lot of lifespans.  Hopefully OSU will take that time to work on defense, especially against the passing game.  It had more holes than a Dunkin’ Donuts.  (Coach Meyer called it “alarming.”)  And Braxton, well, very disappointing.  Very.

Personally, I think Buckeye Nation should just enjoy another march toward another undefeated season, think about the Big Ten Championship game, and focus on getting to and winning the Rose Bowl.  No shame in that game.

The conference has some really good match-ups for us this weekend.  Here’s how to schedule your Saturday:

11:00 a.m. on ESPN2:  Indiana at Michigan State

Why you should care:   Guess who’s (Hoos) back?  Don’t say Slim Shady.  They snapped a 16-game losing streak against Penn State.  They scored 23 points in the 4th quarter against the Lions to win by 20.  They have the league’s best passing attack.  Doesn’t really sound like the Hoosiers does it?

Oh, but it is.  And if Indiana can beat the Spartans this weekend they will have proven to the country that they are really back.  Michigan State leads the nation in total defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense.  Let that sink in.  But…they can’t score points.  They finally did against Iowa last weekend however, showing a balanced offensive attack for the first time this season.

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld tops the Big Ten with 1,467 passing yards and 13 touchdowns.  The Hoosiers lead the conference with 535 yards per game and 346 passing yards per game.  But, their defense is questionable.  Depending on which Spartans team shows up, it may not matter.

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Part of the Hoosiers’ new success is playing a fast-paced game, passing a lot, and rushing between snaps to wear the defense down.  MSU’s defense is the toughest they have seen and will see all year.  The Spartans will be the true test as to how far the Hoosiers really have advanced.

Keep an eye on Indy running back Tevin Coleman, who had a 44-yard touchdown against Penn State and has an explosive breakaway ability.  He’s been compared to Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, and if he gets through an MSU hole?  He’s gone.

Michigan State isn’t walking into this match-up blind to Indy’s abilities – last year the Hoosiers collected 215 yards in the first five minutes of play, but the Spartans came back to win 31-27.

 

2:30pm on ABC/ESPN2:  #19 Northwestern at Wisconsin

 

Why you should care:   Northwestern Wildcats, hats off to you.  You did not surrender an offensive touchdown in the first half to Ohio State.  Your dual-threat QB Kain Colter completes 83% of his passes.  You gave the Buckeyes their first real challenge, you rattled Braxton Miller, and you nearly beat the team with the longest winning streak in the nation.  Now, can you do that to Wisconsin?

Really not trying to make it all about the Buckeyes here, but the last two teams to lose to them are facing off.  Wisconsin is rested after a bye week, healthy and won the last three meetings against the Wildcats in Camp Randall.  Northwestern is disappointed but by no means defeated after an excellent performance, if not a little worn out.

Nothing much changes from week 6 to week 7 in what to watch for Northwestern – beware RB/return man Venric Mark and triple-threat Kain Colter, the Wildcats wildly accurate quarterback who can also hit you with his feet AND line up at wide receiver when QB Trevor Siemian comes in, who may be a better passer.  Northwestern’s offense is complex, to say the least.

The Wildcats should beware Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis.  This guy is unstoppable, and one-half of quarterback Joel Stave’s touchdown passes.  Ohio State shut down star running backs Melvin Gordon and James White, the Mick Jagger and David Bowie of B1G football.  But Abbrederis caught 10 passes for a career-high 207 yards and a touchdown in that game.  No other receiver that night had more than 39 yards.   Wisconsin is averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground.  NU needs to figure out how to stuff the run.

As always, watch Badgers linebacker Chris Borland.  He’s recorded 46 tackles, 26 of them by himself.

This game is the Big Ten’s marquee match-up and should be a great one; neither team wants a conference loss and the road to the Big Ten title game could be closed for the loser.

4:00pm on ABC:  #18 Michigan at Penn State  

Why you should care One of my favorite stories from my time spent living in PA is from a few days before Michigan was coming to Happy Valley to play the Lions a few years ago.  I was talking Big Ten with a few Penn State fans in a bar, and they knew clearly, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was a Buckeye.

PSU Fan:  “Oh my God, Kristin, do you have any idea how much we HATE Michigan??  Any idea?  We despise them.”

Me: “Errrr, yeah.  I’m pretty sure I do.  And I’m pretty sure I’ve got you beat and….”

PSU Fan: “No.  No, you don’t.  You have no idea.  We HATE them.  They’re our biggest rivals. Seriously, no one was happier than we were after Appalachian State.”

Me: “Ummm.  Do you guys know anything at all about our conference??”

End scene.

This pretty much sums up my experience with Penn State fans’ awareness about anything outside of themselves.

However with that said, you may think UM is the better team and that hey, PSU just got their asses handed to them by Indiana, but one thing I have learned is that that hate will definitely help even the playing field and spur the Lions and their fans on.  I would not want to be in a driven, bitter, angry, we-want-our-scholarships-back Beaver Stadium on Saturday evening.  Unh, unh.  No, I’d rather be in a seal costume in great white-infested waters on the West Coast.

Michigan has been rather exposed of late, after their over-inflated, mediocre win against Notre Dame they have struggled and/or nearly lost to Akron and UConn.  (Seriously, Blue??)

The Wolverines are coming in with confidence after a solid win against Minnesota (0-2 in conference play) where quarterback Devin Gardner finally was able to make better decisions.  He has a tendency to force throws, which has led to eight picks in five games.  He remained calm in the pocket and completed his very first turnover-free game, and will need to do so against the Lions.  Watch for him to connect with strong running backs Fitz Toussaint and Derrick Green.

Penn State just lost to the Hoosiers, 24-44.  While Indy is a pretty darn good team this year, that stings.  In their meet-ups, Michigan is 10-6 against Penn State.  Ow.  The Lions need to channel all of that into sending an undefeated Wolverine team home with a loss.

True freshman QB Christian Hackenberg will need to stay calm (this is his first really big match-up in the B1G) and get the ball to his receivers.  Michigan’s secondary is soft and vulnerable this year.  While PSU has some issues, their offense is probably the toughest Michigan’s defense has faced this year.  And Hackenberg’s absolutely got to use Robinson.  Star wide receiver Allen Robinson is going to be a key in this game and one of the best WRs in the conference with 38 receptions for 321 yards and 5 touchdowns in five games.

In some ways this match-up is pretty even overall, especially considering the amount of youth, development and rebuilding each is working with – no wonder the spread is just 2.5 points.

Gawd this is a brutal game to have to write about.  Which shade of blue here makes me retch more?  Whichever one wins will be an insufferable nightmare…well, more of one.  I’ll leave it at this, may the best team win.  *insert Big Ten chant here*

Category: NCAA

About the author: Kristin Conrad is a college football-loving graduate of Ohio State – she bleeds Scarlet & Gray and considers the Varsity Club hallowed ground. A PR pro who just moved back to Columbus from Manhattan Beach, Chicago and NYC, she’s been happy to find that some of her favorite friends ever are from schools she used to hate and that nothing brings people together like sports does.

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