It’s week seven in B1G Legends’ land, ailment and I think we’ve seen enough to confidently say a few things about the division:
- Northwestern is good. They played Ohio State with no fear and full confidence, and it literally came down to the last play. The Wildcats dropped in the rankings, but I’m convinced that this is a team to be reckoned with.
- Michigan may be overrated, and I’m not really sure how they’re still ranked. They haven’t really played anybody, and the teams they did play were either overrated (Notre Dame) or inferior (Akron and UConn) and they barely beat them.
- It would be a shame if Ohio State was relegated to the Rose Bowl. Yeah, they’re in the other division, but I want to see the Buckeyes play against an SEC or Big 12 team. Aside from Stanford and Oregon, nothing in the Pac 12 impresses me; all of us B1G alums want to see how Ohio State stacks up against the best teams in the best conference.
Now, onto the games!
#19 Northwestern at Wisconsin, 2:30pm on ABC or ESPN2 (regional coverage)
Well, this one should be interesting. The nineteenth-ranked Wildcats are coming off a heartbreaking loss to stupid-good Ohio State at home on Homecoming. And Wisconsin is coming off a bye week with plenty of players resting up and preparing for a legit Wildcat team. This is the perfect recipe for the Cats to be feeling a Buckeye hangover and limping into this game against the Badgers with their tails between their legs (see what I did just there?). But their two-quarterback system and conference-leading takeaway defense could be how they steal a win in Madison.
Players who need to show up: This is the ideal week for pocket-passing quarterback Trevor Siemian to stretch his skills. Wisconsin’s secondary falls short against good teams, and he could have a field day. Though quarterback Kain Colter is effective with shorter passes and making plays happen with his feet, Siemian has more passing yards and passing touchdowns – 554 and three, respectively. And when both are on the field, that could spell trouble for the Badgers; though they only allow 173.2 passing yards per game, they haven’t faced anything that resembles this Northwestern offense.
Don’t forget about senior running back Venric Mark. He had 103 total yards last week – pretty good for his first week back after injury – and he’ll be integral in opening up the passing game against this stingy Badger front seven. Speaking of defense, Northwestern’s is anchored by linebacker Collin Ellis who has two interceptions and leads the team in pass breakups.
My take: Since this is in Madison, I’m going with the Badgers. Ranked or not, Wisconsin is one of the only teams that consistently shows up.
#18 Michigan at Penn State, 4:00pm on ESPN
The last time these two teams met was in 2010, and the Wolverines lost by 10 points. This time, they’re favored and they’ve finally found their footing on offense. Last week’s big win against Minnesota relied heavily on their rushing attack – mostly running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green. Offensively, the Wolverines have finally found some balance; for a while they were basically being carried by Devin Gardner. With a complete offense and decent weather, Michigan is the favorite to win. But then, there’s the defense…
Defensive woes: Bleacher Report put it nicely by saying Michigan’s defense is “vulnerable to intermediate and deep passes.” This is the equivalent to saying that the guy you spent 20 minutes talking to at the bar would be really hot if he wasn’t unemployed with a face tattoo. You can’t win your conference with a defense that makes so-so quarterbacks look like Peyton Manning. Michigan’s defense is basically one-dimensional; they can stop you at the line, but watch out for a quarterback with great weapons. And Penn State has just that in quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Allen Robinson, who is one of the best receivers in the conference.
My take: If you haven’t noticed, I’m really bad at picking outcomes. Which is probably the reason why I’m 1-4 in my fantasy league and second to last in the rankings. But anyway… as I peruse Penn State’s resume I see that they lost to Indiana by 20 points last week. What is this, basketball season? Who does that?
Around the division
Indiana at Michigan State, 11:00am on ESPN2
This is a classic “way better in basketball season” game. Hence, this is what came up when I Google Image searched this game. But good news for the Spartan football team, they finally found a quarterback in Connor Cook. Only took five weeks and season-changing win against Iowa! Yes, that was sarcasm.
On a totally different note, I love it when reporters (you know, real ones who conduct interviews and look up stats and stuff….I just have a few drinks, open up Word and hope for the best) act like Indiana is a threat. Pipe down, Detroit Free Press. Indiana’s not causing problems for Michigan State – especially since their defense is one of the best in the country.
Nebraska at Purdue, 11:00am on Big Ten Network
Hey remember that one time when Purdue was good? Me neither. But hey at least Nebraska is ranked. Wait…what? Oh…