Michigan is off this week, buy viagra but we have to talk about what they did last Saturday. They beat Indiana in one helluva game. Seriously, the ending score was something like 189-143. It was offensive awesomeness and several Wolverines broke records.
Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon had 14 passes (a career best) for 369 yards and was named offensive player of the week. And he now owns the Michigan and B1G record for single-game receiving yards. Quarterback Devin Gardner had a total of 546 yards which was yet another Michigan single-game record. Good job Wolverines, and kudos to Indiana. That was fun to watch. Now onto the games.
Northwestern at Iowa, 11:00am on Big Ten Network
I’m going to stop talking sh!t about Iowa. A little because they’re favored by four points, but mostly because they’ve showed up to play against solid teams. Last week, they put up a respectable fight against #4 Ohio State hanging onto a seven-point lead until the Buckeyes came back and won by ten. That classifies as a moral victory.
Side note: They should add those to standings. Four wins, two losses, and one moral victory. The BCS is already messier and more flawed than Paula Deen’s judgement (she wanted to have “tap-dancing slaves” at her brother’s wedding) (yes, I thought that was both insulting and hilarious), why not add the moral victory wrinkle into the fray. Hey, if we did that last year, we probably wouldn’t have had to watch Bama annihilate Notre Dame. Just sayin’.
But back to the facts. This game will come down to two major things: Northwestern’s agile quarterbacks and Iowa’s ability to run on a below-average Wildcat rush defense.
Wildcat players to watch: Iowa is showing up to play and Northwestern is slowly melting down. They’re on a three-game losing streak and remain winless in the conference. Quarterback Kain Colter is adamant about playing Saturday, but head coach Pat Fitzgerald maintains that he is “day-by-day.” Since they play a bizarre yet functional two-quarterback system, Trevor Siemian will be handling most of the snaps; he’s had an impressive seven touchdowns on 1,313 yards thus far. But don’t expect Colter to be sidelined; with him just on the field, it’ll make Iowa’s defense have to play for multiple rushers in Colter and running back Venric Mark as well as a solid arm in Siemian.
Iowa’s biggest advantage: Speaking of the ground game, the biggest
advantage that Iowa has is their rushing attack. The Cats are ranked 72nd in the nation in run defense allowing 168.9 yards per game. Running backs Mark Weisman and LeShun Daniels are names that you will hear a lot this Saturday. They’re both power backs who consistently collect yards after contact. Those two along with running backs Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock will help open up the passing game for first-year quarterback Jake Rudock.
My take: I’m pretty much wrong every week. It’s almost like a game at this point. How off the mark can I be? But I can tell you this, while Northwestern’s offense is more on the explosive side – Colter and Mark both can make some primetime-worthy plays – Iowa has something less exciting but more valuable: balance. It’ll be interesting to see what wins out.
No. 24 Nebraska at Minnesota, 11:00am on ESPN
Welcome back to national prominence Huskers! It’s crazy how a 37 point win
over Purdue (yes, Purdue) and a bye week can get you in the top 25. It’s really that easy kids! The Gophers are a 10.5 point underdog in this one which is pretty steep considering that they’re at home and Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is listed as questionable (turf toe). With or without Martinez, though, Nebraska has got some serious offense power.
Who to watch for: Martinez has been practicing this week, which spells all kinds of trouble Minnesota. But there are a few other names to keep in mind. Running back Ameer Abdullah has carried the load this season with six touchdowns and 816 yards. His backup, Imani Cross, has contributed 330 yards and eight touchdowns. To rub salt in Minnesota’s wounds, it really doesn’t matter who is under center because the Cornhuskers average a whopping 47.2 points per game.
And then we have Minnesota: I’m not completely counting out the Gophers
here. They did beat Northwestern last week in Evanston. Most of that was due to their defense that forced three turnovers. Since Minnesota’s quarterback issues have become so severe that even the Vikings have been hit hard (seriously you guys it’s like herpes – the worst never-ending outbreak of bad quarterbacking ever), nobody really knows who is going to start. So there’s that. But you know it’s really bad when Bleacher Report says one of your keys to win is “taking advantage of the home field” which is clearly not a strategy.
My take: I just compared Minnesota’s quarterback situation to an STI. I guess I have to pick Nebraska.
Around the division
Michigan State at Illinois, 2:30pm on ABC (regional)
I’m surprised. Michigan State is bowl eligible (6-1) and my Illini are right at .500 with both 3 wins and losses. This is surprising because Illinois ranks last in pass efficiency defense, sacks and interceptions. So, we’ll see what happens.