There aren't any national marquee matchups this week in the Big Ten, but that doesn't mean we can't still analyze them. As it sits right now the Big Ten, along with the entire nation, is eagerly awaiting November 18th when Ohio State and Michigan play, but the games in between now and then will go a long way in determining who goes to a New Years Day Bowl. Ohio State and Michigan and headed for a BCS bowl, so that leaves 4 teams (Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue, and Indiana) for the New Years' Day Bowls (Capital One & Outback).
Illinois @ Wisconsin
- The Illini are no longer the whipping boys of the Big Ten. They have beat Michigan State and put a pretty big scare into Penn State last week. True freshman quarterback Juice Williams will be a star in the future, but right now he still plays like a green freshman. The Badgers may be one of the most underrated teams in all of college football. Freshman PJ Hill is making a name for himself behind their stud offensive line. John Stocco (who seems to have been here for 10 years) does nothing flashy, but does get the job done. Madison is a tough place to play, especially for a young team. I think Illinois will have trouble mounting any kind of offense against the Badgers and PJ Hill will run for over 150 yards. Wisconsin 34-9.
Penn State @ Purdue
- The winner of this game will be in the drivers seat for at least one of the two New Years Day bowls. The Boilermakers are coming off being beat up by Wisconsin (who ironically is PSU's next opponent) and Penn State is coming off a game where the defense and special teams outscored the offense in their win against Illinois. This year Penn State has played their worst games on the road, always seeming to come out of the gate flat. They can't do that against this against Purdue because they can build a big lead with their passing game that the PSU offense might not be able to catch. Good thing for the Nittany Lions' offense is that Purdue is ranked dead last in team defense. I think Penn State's defense once again rises to the occasion to win this one. Penn State 27-13.
Northwestern @ Michigan
- I really don't think much has to be said about this game. Northwestern blew a huge lead in the fourth quarter to Michigan State last week. How much does Tyrell Sutton miss a productive passing game? Sutton who was the Big Ten freshman of the year last year, is struggling to find running room. The Wolverines are focused and ready to not let anything stand in their way to ruin their National Title hopes. Michigan will build a big early lead then pull their starters so no one gets hurt. Hart will rush for over 125 yards and Henne will have a 200 plus yard performance. Michigan 42-10.
Michigan State @ Indiana
- This is a very interesting matchup. Of course though, we never know which Michigan State team will show up. Indiana has been playing some inspired football as they took out Iowa two weeks ago. They got up early on Ohio State last week but then surrendered 41 straight points in a loss. I am going to make an educated guess and say that we will not see the Michigan State team we saw play Illinois and in the first 3 quarters of the Northwestern game. Drew Stanton has his team focused and hungry for a bowl game which they haven't been to in a few years. Michigan State 30-21.
Minnesota @ Ohio State
- Much like their rival, Ohio State just needs to stay focused on the task at hand. Let's be honest though, the Buckeye's could probably bring their C game and beat Minnesota. The Gophers have a good passing attack with Brian Cupito and Matt Spaeth with Amir Pinnix running the ball. I just don't think they have the horses on the lines to compete with Ohio State. Troy Smith will continue to put his mark on his Heisman campaign in this game and I also believe Antiono Pittman will run for over 100 yards. Ohio State 36-13.