Monday, October 31, 2011
Big Ten Week 10 preview
By Brian Bennett
There are weeks in the Big Ten where the top contenders go head to head, creating buzz not just in the conference but also nationally.
This is not one of those weeks.
But, hey, after Minnesota beat Iowa, we know not to take too much for granted on Saturdays. And with the league race so tight right now, every game in November is important. Here's your preview of Week 10 in the Big Ten:
Noon ET games
No. 15 Michigan (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) at Iowa (5-3, 2-2), ESPN: The Wolverines have their next two games on the road (they're at Illinois on Nov. 12) before ending up with Nebraska and Ohio State at home. They showed last week against Purdue that they may have what it takes to finish strong. Iowa has to get up off the mat after the embarrassing loss to Minnesota, but the Hawkeyes' struggling defense will have its hands full with Denard Robinson.
Minnesota (2-6, 1-3) at No. 17 Michigan State (6-2, 3-1), Big Ten Network: The Spartans have the most advantageous November schedule of any Big Ten contender, but they'd better take care of business. The Gophers are technically still alive for a bowl bid, as hard as that is to believe. Can Jerry Kill's crew build off the emotional win over Iowa, or did they spend themselves fighting for Floyd?
Indiana (1-8, 0-5) at Ohio State (5-3, 2-2), BTN: The Buckeyes have new life after beating Illinois and Wisconsin in back-to-back games, and this is a program that is typically strong in November. Playing the scuffling Hoosiers should help get the month off to a rousing start.
3:30 p.m. ET games
Purdue (4-4, 2-2) at No. 20 Wisconsin (6-2, 2-2), ABC regional/ESPN2: Raise your hand if you thought the Boilers and Badgers would be tied in the conference standings at this point. Purdue is still mathematically alive in the Leaders Division race, though it remains a major uphill climb. How does Wisconsin respond from two gut-wrenching losses? If Caleb TerBush throws a long pass in the waning seconds to win the game, we'll know something truly weird is afoot.
Northwestern (3-5, 1-4) at No. 10 Nebraska (7-1, 3-1), BTN: The Cornhuskers rediscovered their defensive mojo against Michigan State, and they'll have to hope that continues against Dan Persa and a Wildcats offense that hung 59 points against Indiana last week. Of course, the lousy Northwestern defense could be hopelessly outclassed by Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead and friends.
Byes: Penn State, Illinois