There’s really only one thing to say about what’s about to happen this weekend: College Gameday is coming to Chicago!
No. 4 Ohio State at No. 16 Northwestern, buy 7:00pm ABC (national)
Back when I was in high school, I was a member of my school band as a clarinetist – stay with me here. Our band competed nationally in many competitions, and our school’s football games were basically a forced participation thing. Needless to say, we didn’t take them too seriously. I remember exactly two high school football games from my marching band days. The first one was my senior year when one of my friends won Homecoming queen at halftime. The second one was my freshman year Homecoming when it was 45 degrees and raining. We lost to Providence Catholic 48-0.
So what does my traumatic first-ever Homecoming experience have to do with the price of Cabernet in Lincoln Park? This: Northwestern has the potential to get a Providence Catholic-level beat down in their Homecoming.
Remember these names: With that said, the Cats actually have a great chance of pulling the upset at home against the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s defense is known to give up big plays and even bigger numbers; against Cal and Wisconsin, they allowed 766 passing yards and five touchdowns. With two quarterbacks with complimentary styles to content with – Trevor Siemian with pocket passing and Kain Colter with threats of both rushing and passing – the Buckeye defense will have its hands full.
And Siemian and Colter will have it a bit easier this week; Ohio State senior safety
Christian Bryant broke is ankle last week against Wisconsin and is out for the season. Look out for senior Corey Brown to take over for Bryant. Brown has the experience and the confidence to face a very complicated and explosive Wildcat offense.
Minnesota at No. 19 Michigan, 2:30pm ABC (regional)
In keeping with the unintentional theme this week, Michigan is also celebrating their Homecoming. And I honestly can’t believe they’re still ranked. That’s the thing about bye weeks; you can’t lose them. I know the Wolverines are undefeated, but that 4-0 record doesn’t tell the entire story. Shaky wins verses bottom feeders Akron and UConn along with a huge one against (potentially overrated?) Notre Dame means that Big Blue stays in the top 20. But this week is the start of conference play, and their first opponent is formidable. Maybe.
Minnesota lost to Iowa last week during Homecoming (I’m sensing a theme here!) in spectacular fashion: 23-7. And it wasn’t even that close; it was 17-0 at halftime. But if we’ve learned anything from this Michigan team, it’s that they struggle against teams they shouldn’t. And that’s mostly because their offensive line has struggled to protect quarterback Devin Gardner.
Remember these names: This past week, head coach Brady Hoke decided to do something about the ineffective offensive line; he’s switching out the center. Redshirt sophomore Graham Glasgow will replace Jack Miller at center, adding three inches and 13 more pounds of protection for Gardner.
Another set to keep on your radar is the matchup between Minnesota’s ineffective passing game and Michigan’s struggling secondary. Minnesota is 118th overall in passing yards; sophomore quarterback Phillip Nelson has twice as many interceptions as touchdowns this season (4 and 2 respectively) with a paltry 380 yards over five games. Michigan is ranked 69th in passing yards allowed which could partly be due to the ineffectiveness of the offensive line, but also their secondary.
Around the division
Michigan State at Iowa, 11:00am on ESPN2
This will be an ugly defensive battle. If you like smash-mouth, hard-nosed football, enjoy this. If not? Turn over to ESPNU for the next game…
Illinois at Nebraska, 11:00am on ESPNU
Senior quarterback Taylor Martinez will most likely play with his nagging foot injury (turf toe). My Illini aren’t completely incompetent this year, so this game will actually be kind of good – with or without Martinez.