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NCAA Week 12 Preview: Big Ten Look-Around

November 19, 2016 • Jon Lowe • Big Ten, Front Page, Lists, NCAA, Predictions, Preview

Well, from last week I was finally right about Michigan State winning a game. But anybody who loses to Rutgers should fire their coach immediately.

I also predicted Penn State-Indiana to be the highest-scoring game, and I even predicted the exact amount of total points they would get. I also thought Penn State would marginally win on the road.

Minnesota also had a one-score loss to Nebraska on the road, just as I suspected, but they are also showing that they should be in the conversation in the future.

Maryland also got blown out by Ohio State, but it was worse than I thought.

I stated that Iowa had a good chance of beating Michigan, but then went on to give the Wolverines the benefit of the doubt. For some reason I thought Purdue could beat Northwestern at home, and instead they got blown out.

As for this week, it’s not a very good week as far as competition goes. Next week is when the real fun begins, but as far as this week goes, nothing really stands out.

This was supposed to be an Ohio State-Michigan State brawl, and it still could be, but the Spartans are 3-7, so this game lost its’ luster. We also have seven bowl-eligible teams, and three more that are 5-5 fighting for a chance. Those fighting teams are Maryland, Indiana and Northwestern. Oh, and if you are looking for the Purdue-Wisconsin game, I have that extensive preview in a separate article.

The Should-be Game

Ohio State is 6-1 in conference and 9-1 overall, ready for the two-week stretch of games against schools from Michigan. Everybody looks forward to these games on an annual basis, and this year, Michigan State heads into it as arguably college football’s biggest disappointment. After ending Notre Dame’s (apparently foolish) playoff hopes, the Spartans have not won a game since. I’d count Rutgers, but I have a bias on them actually being a real team, since they lost 49-0 to a 2-8 team. Ohio State, meanwhile, is right where they need to be, and winning out with a Penn State loss will get the Buckeyes into the Big Ten Championship. I think winning out is probable, and that includes here. Final score: Ohio State 47, Michigan State 24.

Did Speight Seal their Fate

Michigan went into Iowa undefeated last year, and now has a loss and an injured starting quarterback. Jim Harbaugh listed Speight as questionable, but a broken collarbone is pretty serious. Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo are examples of QBs who have suffered that particular injury. Meanwhile, Indiana is looking to get into a bowl game with a dynamic offense, and doesn’t want all of the pressure to be on the last week of the season, even though it is against Purdue. Michigan’s defense is their strength, so I don’t know how much Richard Lagow and company can do in Ann Arbor, but I think they can do enough to put up some points. And they have a fighter’s chance if Speight doesn’t go. I’m giving it to Michigan at home still, but this is a danger game for the Wolverines. Final score: Michigan 27, Indiana 21.

Another One

With the way that Penn State is playing this year, and the way that Rutgers has been playing, I think that this could be another shutout game for Rutgers, and one where Commissioner Jim Delany might need to seriously reconsider having Rutgers in the conference. A 10-0 shutout is a lot different than a 49-0 shutout, the 10-0 one shows a presence of defense. Rutgers, however, managed to lose at least 49-0 three times this season, and once was to a team that, going into the game, was 2-7 and on a seven game losing streak. Penn State might even be favored now with Michigan having to play in Columbus next week to win the Big Ten East, so I’m favoring a 50-point shutout here. I’ll make it clear-cut at 50. Final score: Penn State 50, Rutgers 0.

Hang in There

If Nebraska can win out, and Wisconsin loses to either Purdue or Minnesota, the Cornhuskers will win the Big Ten West and have a shot at the Big Ten Title. Due to how the Badgers have played, this seems unlikely, but all Nebraska can do is try to stay focused and take care of business this week. They are hosting a Maryland team that is one win away from a bowl game berth, but the pressure is likely not going to be on with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights still on the schedule. Both of these teams just need to hang in there and beat the teams they are supposed to, and they will get to where they need to be. I like Nebraska here. Final score: Nebraska 35, Maryland 13.

A Chance to Save the Season

Both Iowa and Illinois still have a chance to salvage their seasons and make it a success, although it is a much easier road for the Iowa Hawkeyes. For starters, Iowa has already beaten Michigan and hosts Nebraska next Friday, whereas Illinois hosts Iowa and travels to Northwestern. If either of these teams win out, I think that their fans can look at the way they closed out the season and have a feel for success. Should Iowa beat Illinois and Nebraska, they will finish 8-4 (6-3) with a few marquee wins. Should Illinois win out, they will have wins over Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern in Lovie Smith’s first season. I don’t think Illinois will win again, though, but both teams have that chance this weekend. Final score: Iowa 17, Illinois 9.

Game of the Week

I told you that this week was a bit of a weak schedule for the Big Ten, because the game of the week is Minnesota traveling to Northwestern. Minnesota has proven time and time again that they are competitive and better than every team they should be better than, but they can’t beat any meaningful competition. Meanwhile, Northwestern has had a roller coaster of a season, with a win at Iowa leading the way on the positive side, and a home loss against Illinois State on the negative side. Minnesota is already bowl-eligible, but Northwestern is not, and would like to get a win here to seal that fate. The way these teams look, you’d think they would have the opposite records, but that’s just how strength of schedule works. I don’t think Minnesota is better than the Wildcats, and despite them being at home, I think Northwestern wins. Final score: Northwestern 29, Minnesota 20.

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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