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The Big Ten (11) Preview: Week Eleven

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Each week of the 2009 college football season, I will be examining all the games that a Big Ten team plays in. All kickoff times are ET and all poll numbers are from the BCS rankings as provided by ESPN. All records are for conference play only. Week Eleven is as follows:

Overview of Week Ten
Last week, the Big Ten was turned on its head. Iowa finally lost a game, after losing their starting quarterback, and they no longer have a shot at the BCS Championship Game. This loss was a tough one on my picks, as I had expected Iowa to shut out Northwestern. Then, Michigan State won their game, and Illinois beat Minnesota, making my predictions worthless. Two of the conference’s ranked teams lost, which only served to diminish the power in the eyes of the country. For my picks, and for the conference at large, Week Ten was bad.

#11 The Ohio State University (5-1) vs. #10 Iowa (5-1)
I figured that I should start with this game, as it is the most important one remaining this season in the entire Big Ten Conference. With both teams having a tiebreaker over Penn State, whoever wins on Saturday will be the Big Ten Champion, and get the automatic spot in the Rose Bowl. OSU is coming into Saturday’s game with the edge and momentum, as a strong victory over rival Penn State gave them hope for the season. Iowa is coming in slumping, as they lost their starting QB, Ricky Stanzi, for the season, and their game against Northwestern. Though the Hawkeyes are known for close games and comebacks, without Stanzi they don’t stand a chance in Columbus. Expect the Buckeyes to easily win this game, and take full control of the conference (for yet another year). OSU 38, Iowa 17. This game will be televised on ABC at 3:30 p.m.


With Stanzi out, Iowa doesn’t even stand a chance.

Indiana (1-5) @ #18 Penn State (4-2)
While Penn State might be coming off a heartbreaking loss, Indiana is coming off a three-game losing streak. Both teams have something to prove, and both are going to be hungry. Sure, the Nittany Lions might play poorly against good teams, but they easily handle the tiny teams that they play. Indiana is one of those teams. With a weak secondary, and after allowing 300 yards on the ground last game, Indiana will have to hope for a miracle to win this one. Indiana 10, Penn State 35. This game will be televised on BTN at 12:00 p.m.

University of Michigan (1-5) @ #20 Wisconsin (4-2)
This Saturday’s game might be the only hope left for Rich Rodriguez and Michigan. With no hope of beating the Buckeyes in their final game of the season, Rich needs to beat Wisconsin to even hope for a bowl game. With the way that Wisconsin has been playing of late, that probably will not be happening. Wisconsin is consistently racking up the yards, and easily beating their opponents. Expect John Clay and Montee Ball to run for more than 100 yards each as Wisconsin gets another 300+ rushing yards. Michigan 16, Wisconsin 28. This game will be televised on BTN at 12:00 p.m.

Purdue (3-3) vs. Michigan State (3-3)
For Purdue, who needs two more wins to be bowl eligible, this is a must win game. For Michigan State, who needs only one more win for eligibility, this is also a must win, as they face Penn State next week. With both teams desperately needing a victory, you can expect passions to be high, and the game to be close. Last week, Michigan State posted an amazing 600+ yards, though it was against lowly Western Michigan. Purdue, who was playing a Big Ten team, almost got 500, but allowed about the same. Clearly, both teams have a potent offense, but neither has a strong defense. With the lack of a good defense on either side of the ball, home field will rear its head and help the Boilermakers out. Purdue 30, Michigan State 27. This game will be televised on ESPN at 12:00 p.m.

Northwestern (3-3) @ Illinois (2-5)
Illinois should be heading into Saturday’s on an up note. They finally won another game (that makes two in a row), and they are heading into their rivalry game with this buzz. Northwestern, however, has more fire beneath their stove. They just knocked off one of the best teams in the conference, and effectively eliminated the chance for a Big Ten team to play in the BCS Championship Game. Last week, both teams were strong on defense, and kept powerful running games off of the board. Though they both are decent in pass defense, Northwestern has the edge in this regard. Expect Illinois to keep it close, but a stronger secondary from Northwestern should give them the brand new Land of Lincoln Trophy. Northwestern 21, Illinois 18. This game will be televised on ESPN Classic at 12:00 p.m.

Minnesota (3-4) vs South Dakota State(-)
There really isn’t much to say here. Minnesota should easily handle those pesky (and damned good, at their level) Jackrabbits from South Dakota State and become bowl eligible. Minnesota 47, SDSU 17. This game will be televised on BTN at 12:00 p.m.

Overall
Overall, this looks to be an interesting week for the conference. Two of their ranked teams will be going head-to-head, with the Rose Bowl on the line. This should be one of the highest viewed games of the day, and their champion should come out looking strong in the eyes of the nation. The conference has two other nationally televised games, though they should be close and not really raise awareness. Expect the Big Ten to enter Week Twelve still having four ranked teams.

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About Robert M. Barga