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The Big Ten (11) Preview: Week Six

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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 coaches poll as provided by ESPN. All records are for conference play only. Week Six is as follows:

Overview of Week Five
Last week, the stupid Paul Bunyan rivalries threw me off. MSU beat UM and Minnesota lost to Wisconsin, both confusing me and destroying my picks. Likewise, Purdue startled me, as Purdue found out that it could be even worse than it already was. I went 3-3 for the horrible Week Five, and hope to turn that around this week.

Indiana (0-2) @ Virginia
At the beginning of the season, this would have seemed like an easy with for Virginia. However, after losing three games in a row (two to tiny, unranked teams), this game is now questionable for them. Indiana, on the other hand, has lost two games, but each to ranked teams. One of those, to Michigan, they should have won. Both teams have not been winning like they should have, but one team has been playing like they should. Indiana has the defense, and the offense, to put Virginia down. The Hoosiers have the power to run over, and the secondary to stop, anything the Cavaliers throw at them. Indiana 28, Virginia 17. The game will be at 3:30 P.M. on Saturday.

Michigan State (1-1) @ Illinois (0-2)
Michigan State has not been playing up to their preseason expectations. Having lost three games, they are looking to get back into the conversation. However, all three were close losses, and, they just beat their main rival (sorry Central Michigan, you no longer matter) in a trophy game, so they are fired up. Illinois, on the other hand, has lost three of their games in convincing fashion, and are just slumping this season. Not only are they slumping, but Illinois is having an issue with their defense. In the last game, they allowed 500+ yards, but only gained 400. MSU, however, allowed only 250 and gained 400+. In this game, we can expect to see plenty of yards gained, but the skills of MSU's secondary should prevail. MSU 35, Illinois 14. The game will be televised on BTN at 12 P.M. on Saturday.

Northwestern (1-1) vs. Miami University
Last week, Northwestern needed six turnovers, and 10 more minutes of possession, to beat Purdue by less than a touchdown. Miami, on the other hand, needed 20 more minutes of possession to lose to Cincinnati by 24 points. While this makes it seem as though Northwestern should win, a simple look at the two teams indicates otherwise. Northwestern relies too heavily on turnovers to stop the other team's offense, while Miami is able to do it with their secondary. Expect Northwestern to stagnate, and Miami to pick up their first win of the year. Northwestern 10, Miami University 21. The game will be televised on BTN at 12 P.M. on Saturday.

#8 The Ohio State University (2-0) vs. #25 Wisconsin (2-0)
As the only meeting of top-25 Big Ten teams this week, the OSU vs. Wisconsin game carries a lot of meaning. Not only is it pitting two powerhouses against each other, Saturday will mark the end of BCS hopes for one of the two teams. What is interesting about this game is the fact that both teams had the ball for the same amount of time and caused the same number of turnovers last week. While Wisconsin got more yardage, OSU allowed less. Basically, these are two equal caliber teams, and it should be a good game. However, there is one problem for the Buckeyes: quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be up against a strong defense, and I think that it will cause him to turn the ball over often. This will probably cost OSU the game (though I will never be happier to admit that I am wrong on this call). OSU 21, Wisconsin 28. The game will be televised on ABC at 3:30 P.M. on Saturday.

#12 Penn State (1-1) vs. Eastern Illinois
Seriously now, does Joe Pa try to find the worse teams to schedule? Temple, Akron, Syracuse, and now Eastern Illinois. That is like a C- strength for the 2009 schedule. Nothing much to say about this game, except that you should expect a runaway. Penn State 56, Eastern Illinois 9. The game will be televised on ESPN Classic at 12:00 P.M. on Saturday.

Purdue (0-1) @ Minnesota (1-1)
Purdue is a team that keeps on almost winning their games. Losing by a touchdown or less, the team just can not get enough points on the scoreboard. Minnesota is a team that has won three of their five games, but they have almost lost two of those three. In their game against Wisconsin, Minnesota got 300+ yards, and let 450 slip by them. Purdue, on the other hand, lost while getting 300+, and allowing less than 250 – turnovers will do that to you. So, we have one team that has a good defense (Purdue) against a team with a mediocre offense (Minnesota), which means that it should be a good game. Expect a close one, but turnovers by Purdue (six last week) will cost them the game. Purdue 14, Minnesota 24. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 12:00 P.M. on Saturday.

#14 Iowa (1-0) vs. University of Michigan (1-1)
The last time that Iowa was ranked higher than Michigan heading into their game was in 1985 (I was not yet born). That was also the last time that Iowa won their first six games. Looking at this factoid, it is clear that Iowa is going to be fired up, and running on all cylinders to clench this victory. Michigan, who finally lost, is looking to get back into the national picture after losing an overtime rivalry game. Another interesting fact: Michigan gained roughly the same yardage as Iowa allowed last week, and Iowa gained roughly the same that UM allowed; so, we should expect similar statistics to what each team had last week. Combine that with the home field advantage, and the Hawkeyes should continue the second-longest winning streak in the nation. Iowa 28, UM 20. The game will be televised on ABC at 8:05 P.M. this Saturday.

Overall, this will be an interesting week for the Big Ten. The longtime leader, OSU, will be knocked down by Wisconsin, and UM will discover its suckage again. There will be two out-of-conference victories, and one loss, which will be to a team that has yet to win this season. Overall, there will still be four teams that are ranked at the end of the week.

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About Robert M. Barga