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The Big Ten (11) Preview: Week Eight

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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 Eight is as follows:

Overview of Week Seven
Wow, just wow: that is all that I can think of when I consider OSU’s loss to Purdue. Not only did it screw up my predictions, but the loss exposed how horrific OSU’s offensive line is, and that Terrelle Pryor is exceptionally overrated. The loss also altered the BCS picture, and really gave Iowa the all-clear for winning the conference, and maybe making it into the BCS National Championship. Last week was interesting and surprising, and this week will be too.

#6 Iowa (3-0) @ Michigan State (3-1)
This season, Iowa has their destiny in their own hands. As long as they keep on winning, they should be heading to the BCS National Championship, potentially giving the Hawkeyes their first NC since 1958. To make it there, however, the Hawkeyes first need to get past a tough Michigan State Team. The Spartans have been controlling the ball well as of late, and they are definitely holding onto it. Their defense, though having a porous secondary, is easily stopping the rushing game. In years past, that might have been a problem for Iowa, but it no longer is. Though Iowa traditionally is a rush first team, lately they have been airing the ball out. Against MSU, expect Iowa to throw the ball often, and use that to win the game. Iowa 28, Michigan State 10. This game will be shown on BTN at 7:00 p.m.

Illinois (0-4) @ Purdue (1-2)
Last Saturday, Purdue did the unthinkable and took out Ohio State. The win not only shook up the standings, but it also showed that Purdue is a decent team this season. Not only did they beat a highly ranked opponent, but most of their losses came by a touchdown or less, all of which were caused by turnovers. Clearly, Purdue is a good team, when they hold onto the ball. The Boilermakers have nothing to fear from Illinois’ defense, as the Fighting Illini don’t cause that many turnovers. Look for a strong showing from Purdue, with few mistakes, as they easily handle Illinois. Illinois 17, Purdue 35. This game will be shown on ESPN 2 at 12 p.m.

#13 Penn State (2-1) @ Michigan (1-2)
Now this, this will be a fun game to watch. Both teams are vying for spots this postseason, and both are playing very well. Sure, they both lost to Iowa, but, well, Iowa is dominating this year. If Penn State wins at Michigan, they will probably get a bump in the polls, and will cement their position for the Rose Bowl (assuming Iowa goes to the BCS National Championship). If Michigan wins, however, they will jump into the BCS rankings, and the Big Ten will be an interesting conference come November. With both team’s hopes resting on this game, it will surly be a fun, and tough one. With both teams about equal, and Michigan being the home team, watch for them to barely pass Penn State for the win. Penn State 28, Michigan 31. This game will be shown on ABC at 3:30 p.m.

Can Tate Forcier lead Michigan to victory over Penn State?

Northwestern (1-2) vs. Indiana (1-2)
I hate to say it, but who really cares about this game? Except for diehard fans, everybody knows that this doesn’t matter one bit. Sure, there are some bragging rights, but both teams are near the bottom of the conference, so bragging doesn't mean a thing. With both teams roughly equal in total yards and turnovers, this should be a very boring game. If either team sprouts a defense, then they would probably win. As I don’t expect this too happen, I am betting on the home team. Northwestern 21, Indiana 14. This game will be shown on BTN at 12 p.m.

#19 The Ohio State University (3-1) vs. Minnesota (2-2)
This has to be a rebound week for one of these two teams (thankfully you cannot tie in college football, unlike the NFL). OSU is coming off a humiliating loss at Purdue, where Terrelle Pryor played like a high-schooler. Minnesota is coming off a shutout by Penn State, where they simply couldn’t run, pass, or play defense. Both teams need a win this week to keep their season alive, and both will be fighting hard for it. If you look at the lost games, however, you notice that OSU has a problem only when they turn the ball over often. Whenever they hold onto it, they simply dominate. Minnesota also has this problem, and that costs them. That said, however, Minnesota doesn’t have a defense that forces many turnovers, whereas OSU’s simply seems to like stealing the ball. I expect this to be the fundamental decider in Saturday’s game, and the Buckeyes have the edge. OSU 35, Minnesota 17. This game will be shown on ESPN at 12:00 p.m.

How many turnovers will Pryor have this week?

#21 Wisconsin (2-2) has a bye this week

Overall, it looks like an interesting week for the Big Ten. While there will be an upset, their main team Iowa (who would have thought that) will continue trucking along. At the end of the week, five teams will be in the BCS rankings. This, combined with the three nationally shown games, should help to bring the opinion of the conference up.

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About Robert M. Barga