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B1G Football Week 9 Preview

I'm still trying to catch my breath after last week. This week Northwestern looks to get on the board in the B1G; Iowa wants to beat someone with a winning record (and who isn't Minnesota); a Minnesota win would put them at 2-2 in the Legends Division, while Nebraska would have even more serious questions; Michigan State will try once again to use as little offense as possible, and Penn State travels to Columbus for a pretty big primetime match-up. Purdue is off...hooray!

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

12:00 PM Eastern

Northwestern at Iowa (BTN):

Northwestern really needs to get on the board in the B1G; falling to 0-3 was not part of the plan, and I think it's really taken a lot of us by surprise. Venric Mark isn't even on the depth chart for this game, and Kain Colter will probably miss yet another game. The Wildcats will need to get Trevor Siemian and some semblance of a running game going if they plan on walking out of Iowa City with a win. It's been a close series since 2000, with Northwestern going 6-5 against the Hawkeyes in that time (half of those wins happening at Iowa). But, with the way Iowa played against the Buckeyes, a long day could be in store for the Wildcats.

The Hawkeyes will need to bring a similar game plan as the one they brought against the Minnesota Golden Gophers: focus on the line play and win the game (they allowed only 3.2 yards per play defensively, and averaged 6.6 yards per play offensively), and/or what they did against Ohio State. It seems that Iowa and Northwestern are going in opposite directions this year, but even an Iowa victory doesn't say too much; I mean, who hasn't beaten Northwestern? (Black Heart Gold Pants has a very good piece on the history of Northwestern football).

Prediction: the absence of Kolter and Mark will be just too much on the road for NU, and Iowa has some confidence after controlling Ohio State for a half. Iowa 21 - Northwestern 13.

Nebraska at Minnesota (ESPN):

Nebraska had a bye last week, which is good, if for no other reason than it allowed them to catch their collective breath after beating Purdue 44-7. As of Monday, Taylor Martinez's status as the starting QB was still in question. After Tommy Armstrong, Jr.'s three interception day against the Boilermakers, the Huskers would probably be better off with Ron Kellogg III in as the starter. Ameer Abdullah has been carrying the team this year, with only one rushing effort under the century mark. The Husker offense will need to beware of a Minnesota defense that has actually played well against teams without a prolific quarterback.

The Gophers will need to figure out which QB gives them the best chance of winning. Philip Nelson or Mitch Leidner? Leidner looked terrible in his second start at Northwestern last week, and Nelson came in and looked like he was taking back the reins; going 8/11 for 112 yards was just enough to beat the Wildcats. No matter who starts, the Gophers will need to see almost perfect QB play if they want to beat the Cornhuskers and become bowl eligible. They have talent at the position, and David Cobb could have some confidence after going for 103 yards against the Wildcats. When you consider that Nebraska has allowed almost six yards per play this year, the Gophers may actually have a puncher's chance in Minneapolis. Good things have happened when Minnesota beats Nebraska.

Prediction: Although I believe that Minnesota may actually be okay in this game, they're just not good enough to beat Nebraska. Huskers 31 - Gophers 20.

3:30 PM Eastern

Michigan State at Illinois (ABC/ESPN2):

Remember that time when Michigan State scored only 14 points against a really, really, really bad Purdue team? Yeah, that was awesome...and last week. With the Illinois defense ranking higher than Purdue's (but still 98th in the country), I guess that means that Sparty will be able to perform better this week? I don't know what's going on with this team's offense. It's obvious that MSU can't rely on the quarterback position to get them through this, so they'll put the game on the legs of Jeremy Langford. The junior has gone for over one hundred yards in each of the last two games, and he had three touchdowns against Indiana. It's also obvious that the Spartan defense will probably continue its run as the dominant group in the league.

The Fighting Illini are in the midst of a slide that could conceivably continue until 11/23 when they play Purdue. This team's successes and failures are completely put on the shoulders of Nathan Scheelhaase, and that just isn't fair. Illinois is scoring an average of 35.3 points/game, yet they're still losing. The defense did hold Nebraska and Wisconsin to 186 and 189 passing yards respectively, so maybe they can use that to hold off the Spartan offense.

Prediction: these two teams are going to struggle, and we'll see a similar score to MSU's match-up with Purdue. Michigan State 14 - Illinois 7.

8:00 PM Eastern

Penn State at Ohio State (ABC):

The bye week will go down as either the best thing for PSU or the worst thing. Will it be the best because it allowed them to rest after that slugfest that was the Michigan game, and also allowed an extra week to prepare for the Buckeyes? Or will it be the worst because it didn't allow the Nittany Lions to just build on the momentum they had after the Michigan game? Much like the Minnesota/Nebraska game, I believe that Penn State actually has a chance. If Christian Hackenberg can have a similar performance as he did two weeks ago, Penn State could actually end up exploiting a suspect OSU secondary. Add to that the fact that Ohio State has been averaging only 9-point victories in the B1G, and Penn State could pull off another upset. Black Shoe Diaries has some good numbers on the match-up here.

As for Ohio State's offense, they just need to keep riding Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller. It's a simple game plan that has worked out quite well this season, and there's no reason to think that it won't work this week. Again, the questions for Ohio State are on defense.

Prediction: Penn State is going to pull an Iowa and put a scare into the Buckeye faithful for a half or so, but the Ohio State offense is going to prove to be too prolific to fall to the Nittany Lions. Ohio State 35 - Penn State 21.