As we inch closer to the release of the BCS rankings, there I can only hope that someone in the B1G will join the #4 Buckeyes in the national media spotlight and join the mix. Until then, sales we’ve got to face reality.
Both Northwestern and Michigan have dropped out of the top 25 after losses on the road last week. Minnesota got another quarterback that you’ve never heard of. Nebraska is on a much-needed bye before facing a banged up Wildcat team next week. And Iowa is somehow two wins away from bowl eligibility. The B1G: where amazing happens. On to the games!
Minnesota at Northwestern, thumb 11:00am on ESPN2
Both of these teams are 4-2 on the season coming into week seven of play, and unfortunately both of those losses come from conference play. Northwestern lost a
heartbreaker to No. 4 Ohio State two weeks ago and followed that up with a near-thirty point loss in Madison last weekend. This two-game skid comes in the worst possible time; conference play is a big factor in BCS rankings, and both the Wildcats and the Gophers are in need of a win here. Minnesota is coming off of a bye week, but the previous two were abysmal. They lost big to Iowa at home (shameful) and got mauled by the Wolverines two weeks ago.
Key matchups: The one to watch this game is Northwestern’s red zone (inside the 20-yard-line) offense against Minnesota’s red zone defense. The Wildcats rank first in red zone offense, putting points on the board 96.2 percent of the time. The Gophers are ranked 21st in the nation in red zone defense; they’ve both intercepted opponents and forced turnovers on downs twice.
Another name to watch out for is redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner; he’ll be starting at quarterback this weekend after putting up decent (read: better than quarterback Phillip Nelson) numbers against San Jose State and Michigan. Nelson rushed for a loss of 18 yards on nine carries in that killer loss against Iowa with twice as many interceptions (2) as touchdowns. Hopefully Leidner will be better. But who are we kidding? None of the Minnesota teams can seem to find their quarterback footing. Even the Vikings are on their third starter (Josh Freeman) and he just got to Minneapolis like five minutes ago. I’m so bored with them. All of them. Moving on.
Injury issues: Both teams are limping into this game. Northwestern’s two best offensive players, quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark, are both day-to-day with
ankle injuries. On a more serious note, Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill is taking time off to deal with some health issues after suffering a second seizure during a game. All of us here at Sports Divas wish him a quick recovery!
My take: Northwestern wins, but we’ve all got to do something about the state of Minnesota quarterback situation. Maybe we should burn sage?
Iowa at No. 4 Ohio State, 2:30pm on ABC (regional coverage)
Oh gawd. I’m already embarrassed for all involved. Does this really need to be on ABC? I’m sure USA is probably just showing NCIS or SVU reruns again; they could cut into that for 2.5 hours for this.It’s not like you can’t see that on Hulu+ minus the commercials. Just a thought. Instead of telling you hard facts about this (I’ll leave that to Kristin), I’m going to just ponder a few things:
Maybe Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer grows a soul and rests his starters in the second half when they’re up 38-3. I mean, why run up the score at home on a clearly inferior opponent. He would never do that. Oh wait…
- Iowa had a bye last week and plays Northwestern at home this week. Why don’t they just rest their starters, chalk this up as a loss (since it will be on anyway) and go for a big win against the Wildcats? No one gets hurt, the second team gets reps, and you’re fresh and ready for a fairer fight. It’s almost like a double bye week. Do they hire “common sense” consultants in football? I should totally be one!
- I recently had a nightmare that the Whole Foods by my house both changed their
layout and stopped making my favorite tuna and cranberry wrap. Guys, it was awful. But nothing can come to this: your other Big Ten game at 2:30pm this Saturday is Indiana at Michigan. Why does the universe hate us?
Around the division
Purdue at Michigan State, 11:00am on Big Ten Network
The one-win Boilermakers are headed to East Lansing to play the five-win Spartans. This game sucks and you still need $35 to get in the stadium. Pro tip: take that money, go to brunch and get day drunk on unlimited mimosas. This game will be way better with blurred vision.
Indiana at Michigan, 2:30pm on Big Ten Network
Michigan is coming off a four overtime loss to Penn State and leads this series 52-9. This is going to get ugly real fast.