B1G Football Week 11 Preview

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There are four conference games this weekend, and Wisconsin has a rare late-season out of conference match-up with BYU.

12:00 PM Eastern

Penn State at Minnesota (ESPN2):

The Nittany Lions are good, then they're bad, then they're meh, back to good. The one consistent thing with this team is Allen Robinson; he's averaging 130.3 yards receiving (through all games), and is clearly their best player. Christian Hackenberg is throwing for 280.5 yards in B1G play, and has his ups and downs. Bill Belton has come on in recent weeks and has increased his rushing totals each week: 31, 85, 98, and 201. He did so well against Illinois that he was named the B1G Co-Offensive Player of the Week...a distinction shared with Minnesota QB Philip Nelson.

You may have noticed that the Gophers are on a hot streak the likes of which haven't been seen in Minneapolis in a very long time. Just how improved has this team become in B1G play? Well, they're 3-2 after starting 0-2. David Cobb has become the best back on the team, and has gone for 803 yards this season, with a good chance to hit 1,000 yards. Philip Nelson is coming off the best game of his career (298 yards/4 TDs), and this team is on a roll. Matt Limegrover (OC) and Tracy Claeys (DC/acting head coach) are doing a helluva job with Jerry Kill recovering in the wings. Jeffrick at The Daily Gopher has more on the improvements made by the Gophers.

Inaccurate prediction: a hot Minnesota team playing a Penn State team that has been all over the place, and playing 'em in Minneapolis will lead to a Gophers victory. Minnesota 20 - Penn State 17.

Iowa at Purdue (BTN):

I still want to see if Iowa can actually beat someone. The best win on their record at this point is the win against Minnesota (not a bad win, now), and they needed OT to beat the lowly Northwestern Wildcats. It looks like they have some talent, but the coaching is what is holding them back. I'll again refer to last week's punt from Wisconsin's 34 yard line...with the wind at their backs. Smooth.

Purdue sucks. Sorry, Boilers, you have no chance...even against Iowa.

Inaccurate prediction: Iowa will win, but Purdue will be able to score a few points. Hawkeyes 27 - Purdue 13.

3:30 PM Eastern

Illinois at Indiana (BTN):

I feel bad for Nathan Scheelhaase. He has talent, but the talent hasn't always been around him, and the coaching has been downright awful. That being said, he's completing almost 65% of his passes. His leading receiver is his running back, Josh Ferguson; that's not a good recipe for winning. In fact, the Illini are 7.5 underdogs on the road this weekend. Also consider that Illinois has allowed 580 rushing yards in the 3rd quarter this year, at a pace of 6.5 YPC and six TDs. Still in the 3rd quarter, they've allowed 626 passing yards and seven TDs.

Indiana is scoring 42 points per game, Illinois is allowing 32.5; guess what's going to happen on Saturday. Tevin Coleman had more yards against Minnesota (108/7.7 YPC) than he has since the Bowling Green game (129/6.7 YPC). The Illini haven't allowed less than 250 rushing yards to any team in the B1G. If Coleman can get something going for the second weekend in a row, it's going to be a long day for the Illinois defense.

Inaccurate prediction: Throw another tire on the fire, Illinois. Indiana 56 - Illinois 30.

BYU at Wisconsin (ESPN):

The Cougars are 6-2, but they have a very bad loss to the 2-7 Virginia Cavaliers. They've also beaten decent Georgia Tech and Huston teams. The Cougars' rushing numbers are comparable to UW's at 258 yards per game, to Wisconsin's 287. On the ground, QB Taysom Hill is the team's leading rusher, averaging 105 yards per game on 5.92 YPC. Sophomore RB, Jamaal Williams, is close behind Hill's rushing numbers with 104 yards per game on 5.0 YPC. Hill has been throwing for 252 yards per game, and has 12 TDs, but the Wisconsin pass defense has held most opponents to no more than 198 yards (the exceptions: Arizona State--352 and Illinois--319) and only six passing TDs.

Wisconsin will be playing at home for the first time since the October 12 game against Northwestern, where they hope the friendly confines of Camp Randall will get them another victory closer to an at-large bid to a BCS bowl game. The rushing attack has been written about a great deal, but it's obviously the most important part of what they do; their running game is like Michigan State's defense--what else is there to talk about? Joel Stave has been okay, but he may be without the team's leading receiver, Jared Abbrederis. Abby is the guy everyone keys in on (yet he still catches damn near everything), so his absence may make Jacob Pedersen the main target.

Inaccurate prediction: Wisconsin will be able to get their seventh win, but a win against BYU won't be enough to make them jump up too far in the polls. Wisconsin 28 - BYU 27.

Nebraska at Michigan (ABC):

Although the Cornhuskers are 6-2 and bowl eligible, their position seems to be just as tenuous as Michigan's. They've played some poor defense since the start of the season, and they needed that Hail Mary against a foundering Northwestern team. With Taylor Martinez missing yet another game, the Huskers will be starting Tommy Armstrong (yeah, the guy who has thrown six interceptions in his last two games). Ameer Abdullah's 138 rushing yards per game is the one positive consistency with this Nebraska team.

Michigan is undefeated at home under Brady Hoke, and they were able to destroy the Huskers at home a couple years ago. The Nebraska pass defense is allowing just over seven yards per pass, and their rushing defense is allowing 4.5 yards per carry. This situation could set us up for a very good game for Devin Gardner's passing, and maybe something a little more respectable out of Fitzgerald Toussaint.

Inaccurate prediction: Michigan continues its home streak under Hoke and takes advantage of the struggling Husker defense. A great day from Devin Gardner and Devin Funchess will be the story in the victory for the Wolverines. Michigan 42 - Nebraska 23.

For more on the Nebraska/Michigan match-up, check out our story stream...

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