Monday, September 19, 2011
Big Ten Week 4 preview
By Brian Bennett
Ten Big Ten teams will play in Week 4, the final week before conference play begins. Might as well call this the calm before the storm, because there's not much excitement to be found in these matchups -- at least on paper.
I usually list the games in order of interest/importance, but with this slate I'll just give you the schedule by kickoff times (all times ET):
San Diego State at No. 22 Michigan (Big Ten Network): Probably the best in a sorry lot of games. The Aztecs bring a 3-0 record into the Big House, and of course the Brady Hoke angle will be played up throughout the week.
Central Michigan at Michigan State (ESPNU): The Spartans just lost to Brian Kelly's new team, Notre Dame. Now they'll face one of his old teams. Central Michigan coach Dan Enos played and coached for Michigan State.
Eastern Michigan at Penn State (ESPN2): If you enjoyed watching the Eagles lose 31-3 to Michigan on Saturday and were hoping they'd play another Big Ten team, you're in luck. This might be a good chance for the Nittany Lions to gain some confidence on offense.
Louisiana-Monroe at Iowa (BTN): The 1-2 Warhawks are one of those teams that's unafraid to take on the big boys, having already played at Florida State and TCU this season. Kirk Ferentz will probably remind his team that ULM once beat Alabama. Of course, that was four years ago.
Colorado at Ohio State (ABC regional/ESPN2): The 1-2 Buffaloes are coming off a two-touchdown win against rival Colorado State. Which means they're feeling about 1 million times better about themselves right now than the Buckeyes are after that embarrassing showing in Miami. Ohio State looks weird without a number next to its name, doesn't it?
Western Michigan at No. 24 Illinois (BTN): The Broncos lost 34-10 at Michigan in the opener, but we'll never know if they could have pulled off some miraculous fourth-quarter rally. They've averaged 41 points in their two games since, although that came against Nicholls State and Central Michigan. The main worry here for the Illini is whether this is a trap game, coming off the nice upset of Arizona State and one week before the start of league play versus rival Northwestern.
South Dakota at No. 6 Wisconsin (BTN): Wisconsin is averaging 45 points per game and might get that in the first half against the FCS Coyotes. South Dakota is an experienced team, with 19 starters back, and perhaps the Badgers will be looking ahead to Nebraska and just maybe ... nah.
North Dakota State at Minnesota (BTN): It was great to see the Gophers get their first win with Jerry Kill back this weekend. They'd better not look past the Bison, however. NDSU is ranked in the Top 10 of the FCS and beat Kansas last season.
Indiana at North Texas (ESPN3.com): This is as close to a guaranteed win against an FBS team as you can get, as North Texas is 0-3 this season, has been outscored 130-39 and ranks near the bottom of every major statistical category. Even on the road, the Hoosiers have few excuses for not taking care of business here.
No. 9 Nebraska at Wyoming (Versus): The Cowboys are off to a 3-0 start, thanks to a soft early schedule. They've done so despite starting true freshman quarterback Brett Smith. This might be a good time for the Blackshirts to assert themselves in the final tuneup before Big Ten play begins.
Byes: Northwestern and Purdue