NCAA Week 11 Preview: Big Ten Look-Around

November 11, 2016 • Jon Lowe • Big Ten, Features, Front Page, NCAA, Predictions, Preview

In probably the easiest week of games to pick in the Big Ten this season, I went 6 for 7, with my only mistake being the mistake of a football program that Michigan State has become.

I got tricked yet again by Sparty, and they managed to fool me on a road game in Illinois with a loss that a lot of people still didn’t see coming. Now, a bowl game is impossible, and they will be battling for last place (more on that later).

I was right that Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan would win (obviously, although less so for the Badgers), and I did see Penn State staying strong and beating Iowa. Minnesota also proved again that they are indeed better than bad by beating Purdue at home, and Rutgers lost yet again.

So without further ado, here is this week’s slate of Big Ten games.

Battle For Last

Technically, this battle for last place is one that you will have to lose to win, and this week it is happening when Michigan State hosts Rutgers. In August, nobody saw this coming, a battle for last place involving Michigan State (I think it is safe to say that everybody had Rutgers there).I honestly believe that Mark Dantonio’s job might be on the line if they lose this game, or at least the hot seat will officially begin. Rutgers has embarrassed themselves this season, and if Michigan State loses in East Lansing to them, oh lord. Firing Dantonio after one bad year is an overreaction, but his seat will officially be warming up heading into next season. Oh, and even if they beat Rutgers, they have Ohio State at home and Penn State in State College, so 3-9 is best case scenario. I never pick Rutgers, so Michigan State wins 20-14.

Offense, Offense, Offense

Indiana hosts yet another top tier Big Ten team in Bloomington, and this week they will be hosting the Penn State Nittany Lions, who are slowly attempting to climb their way into the College Football Playoff. It’s a long shot for the Lions, but they have a chance to win out, especially with a win this weekend. This game could also reach a score that the Big 12 usually gets, somewhere in the 50-40 range with little defense at all. Normally, people associate the Big Ten with hard-nosed defense and running the football, but Indiana has consistently been breaking that trend. Running back Saquon Barkley leads the Big Ten in rushing for Penn State, and quarterback Richard Lagow is in second in passing (and missed almost a full game). He is only 200 yards behind Purdue’s David Blough, and has 95 less attempts. Look for a shootout here, but one Penn State should win. Final score, Penn State 41, Indiana 35.

Welcome Back to Earth

Minnesota, congratulations on going 7-2, struggling to beat the lowly Oregon State at home and a Maryland team that also took advantage of an easy schedule. Good job winning games that you should win. Now, the real tests continue, and I believe that this time you will be seen as not ready for big boy competition. This week, Minnesota travels to Nebraska, and although Nebraska has been proven overrated, they are no slouch, and can (and should) beat this Gophers’ team. That Tommy Armstrong Jr. play last weekend was crazy, but he might play and that should give Nebraska the victory. I like the direction the Gophers are going, but they aren’t ready to be taken seriously. Nebraska wins at home, with a final score of Nebraska 28, Minnesota 20.

The First Tune-Up

Yeah yeah, Maryland is 5-4, but time and time again, I have said that they have beaten only the worst of the worst so far this season. Congratulations on that, by the way. Beating Michigan State is no longer impressive (I think only the Wisconsin and Indiana wins over them remain impressive), and that’s all you really have going for you this season. Now, you got the Ohio State Buckeyes coming into town, trying to get ready for the end of season game hosting Michigan. You can bet that Urban is going to have them flexing all of their muscles in this game to try to show the voters that they deserve to be in the Playoff even with a loss, and there is almost no better place to do it than at Maryland. Ohio State should win easy, with a final score of Ohio State 55, Maryland 21.

Underrated Game

I don’t think a lot of people had Northwestern at 4-5 at this point in the season, and if you did, I’m going to say you are wrong.  They for sure were not supposed to lose an FCS game at this point, and then you throw in a few more losses to Western Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin and you have a team struggling to make a bowl game. This week at Purdue was supposed to be a gimme for Northwestern, but with the way the Boilermakers are throwing the football and the fact that Northwestern is under .500 gives me hesitation.  I like Northwestern, but this could be Purdue’s best chance to make a statement. I think they find a way to get the upset, with a final score of Purdue 35, Northwestern 30.

Game of the Week

This is what Iowa was supposed to be last year, and what Michigan was supposed to be next year, but this is how it is, and it is the game of the week almost by default. A lot of people are seeing No. 3 Michigan and thinking it will be a piece of cake for the Wolverines, but most forget that this Iowa team was ranked for a good portion of the season and projected by many to win the Big Ten West, which they did last year. I think this game should go to Michigan, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t, but Iowa has already lost three times in Iowa City. I don’t know how if it’s theoretically possible for them to lose that much at home, and losing to Wisconsin, Northwestern and North Dakota State there is not what Iowa fans expect. I’m giving it to Michigan based off of benefit of the doubt, but Iowa is a good team, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly by any means. Final score, Michigan 24, Iowa 14.

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

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