Every week we at Maize n Brew giv out a helping hand to the football addicted by offering a brief preview of every game on the conference slate. It doesn't matter if the teams are ranked or not (because most of them aren't), we'll preview their games. This week we're faced with a dilemma. Michigan State is ranked 5th in the BCS standings, but doesn't have another tough game on their schedule after this week. Ohio State is ranked 11th, but still has to play Iowa. Michigan get's Penn State and Illinois tries to show us they're a legitimate football program. If Iowa wins, it's chaos for the BCS and the Big Ten title race. Will we have an outright champ this year or will we have chaos? guess which way I'm leaning?
On to the previews!
#5 Michigan State at #18 Iowa - Well... this basically determines the Big Ten season. If Michigan State wins this game they most likely end up the defacto Big Ten Champion. If Iowa wins, it throws the entire Big Ten conference race into Chaos. Between State and Chaos, I'll take CHAOS! As Off tackle Empire remarked earlier this week Michigan State reminds us of Iowa last season. They're basically interchangeable on paper, but on the field it's a different story. Michigan State won games based on TWO special teams fakes and a single convincing win over a higher quality opponent (Wisc). I'm just not buying them. On the flip side, I'm prejudiced, and let's face it, the Spartans kicked the ever living ---t out of Wisconsin. They've got an opportunistic secondary and the best linebackers in the conference (and arguably the country).
Turning to Iowa, I'm not sure how they win this one. I actually mean that. The Spartans stuffed John Clay and made Scott Tolzien look like Steven Threet, and those two duded just walked out of Iowa city with a win. By the transitive property, Iowa's in trouble. Still, this is Sparty's first true road test, and they didn't fair too well in Evanston regardless of the score. I really like Iowa's offensive line and defensive line. Iowa's defense is generally pretty stout (ranking near the top of the country in total defense), but the last two weeks they've gotten shredded. I've got a funny feeling about this game. I hate to say it, but I think State wins this game. Iowa's been incredibly unimpressive the last few games; State's running and passing game is executing better than anyone's in the Big Ten; and, weird things just seem to happen when they get on the field. I'm taking State by a field goal.... sigh....
#11 Ohio State at Minnesota - Yikes. Our weekly bloodbath. Ohio State stomps Minnesota by 20. The emotional highs and lows for the Gophers aren't going to subside until next year.
Michigan at Penn State - It's a sad day when neither of these teams are ranked going into this match up. But them's the breaks. Penn State sits a 4-3 (1-2) and Michigan at 5-1 (1-2), and both teams could really, really use a win. Between the two though, Michigan needs this win worse. According to Scout's Penn State site, back up quarterback Pat MyGroin.. er... Matt McGloin will start against the Wolverines on Saturdaydue to starting quarterback Robert Bolden suffering from a concussion and second string Kevin Newsome being injured (and generally being horrible). We profiled McGloin on Wednesday, so that'll get you up to speed on Penn State's ginger quarterback. Not only will Penn State be starting a back up QB, both defensive ends are back ups, their starting free safety is a back up, and all their linebackers are first year starters.
So, yeah, Michigan needs this win. Not just because they want to be bowl eligible for the first time under Rodriguez' tenure, but because this is a game (on paper at least) that they should win. Regardless, weird things happen under the lights. Penn State currently sports the 31st ranked national defensewhile Michigan's is 104th. Michigan's had two weeks to prepare for this game and Penn State's coming in limping. Michigan makes McGloin look like Tom Brady but still eeks out a 31-24 win.
Purdue at Illinois - This one is interesting. Purdue got molested by Ohio State last weekend. Illinois just thumped Indiana. Still, Purdue has proved frisky all season long and is very surprisingly above .500 on the year and in conference play. Here's the thing, Illinois is starting to look really good. Their offense is clicking and their defense is finally living up to Zook's recruiting (and unfortunately, not living up to his coaching). I think this is another blow out for the Illini, and Illinois moves to 5-3 (3-2) in conference. Despite how game Purdue may be, they're simply outmanned on Saturday due to injuries and a huge on-field talent disparity.
Northwestern at Indiana- The Cats really let one slip away last week in Evanston and now they go on the road in an attempt to right the ship. What they have waiting for them is an anemic defense and an offense that can light up Cincinnati. Indiana's not having the best start to the conference season, but that doesn't mean they can't pull the upset. Northwestern is the type of team that should win this one handily, but it doesn't mean they will. Northwestern's already dropped a game they shouldn't have to Purdue, and this one reeeeeeks of
Who knows. I think Northwestern keeps it uncomfortably close but somehow manages to win this one on a Stefan Demos field goal where Demos' leg finally separates from his body and sails over the cross bar, a la, Anton Lubchenko.