Monday, April 2, 2012
Ultimate Big Ten 2012 road trip: Week 9
By Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg
We've been plotting out our ultimate Big Ten itinerary for the 2012 season. While we don't actually get to pick our game assignments for each week, it's fun to fantasize about what we'd choose if we did. And maybe our editors will be influenced by reading this.
Week 9, which falls on the weekend of Oct. 27, brings our toughest decisions yet as the schedule is loaded with intriguing games. Let's take a look at the options:
Week 9 games:
Indiana at Illinois
Ohio State at Penn State
Michigan State at Wisconsin
Michigan at Nebraska
Purdue at Minnesota
Iowa at Northwestern
Brian's pick: Michigan at Nebraska
Whew. This slate of games makes me glad we have two bloggers covering the league, because we'll need to keep our heads on a swivel. Michigan State-Wisconsin has only been the most exciting new rivalry in the Big Ten, with the teams staging two of the best games in the country last year. Hard to believe I didn't pick that one. Then you've got Ohio State-Penn State, which should be huge in its own regard.
But I can't resist the storyline of Michigan visiting Nebraska for the first time since 1911. Maybe it's because we just rehashed the 1997 Wolverines-Huskers debate in the champions tournament. Or maybe it's just because these should be two of the best teams in the league, and Nebraska will be hungry for revenge after getting blown out in Ann Arbor last year. Either way, it should be a whole lot of fun with potentially two of the best offenses in the conference going head to head. I know the Sea of Red will be out in force. I'm happy to dive right in.
Adam's pick: Michigan State at Wisconsin
What a week! You really can't go wrong with Michigan-Nebraska, and Ohio State-Penn State really intrigues me as well. I nearly took the scenic route and went to State College, but I have a feeling the other two games will have more bearing on the division races. Although Michigan State-Wisconsin is a cross-division game, both teams could be the front-runners to meet once again in Indianapolis. And after attending both Spartans-Badgers matchups in 2011, I'm coming back for more.
Michigan State has tormented Wisconsin in East Lansing as of late, but the Spartans will be put to the test in this trip to Madison, where they've dropped five of their past six meetings. Arguably the Big Ten's best defense goes up against the league's top running back in Montee Ball. The game marks an important test for Spartans first-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell, while Wisconsin could be sending Danny O'Brien against William Gholston and the MSU defense. Special teams played a huge role in the teams' two meetings last season, and it'll be interesting to see who has the edge this time around.
No Big Ten road trip is complete without at least one weekend in Madison. Save me a brat (or three).
Previously on the road trip ...
Week 1: Adam at Boise State-Michigan State, Brian at Michigan-Alabama
Week 2: Brian at Penn State-Virginia, Adam at Nebraska-UCLA
Week 3: Adam at Notre Dame-Michigan State, Brian at Cal-Ohio State
Week 4: Brian at Michigan-Notre Dame, Adam at Michigan-Notre Dame
Week 5: Adam at Wisconsin-Nebraska, Brian at Ohio State-Michigan State
Week 6: Brian at Nebraska-Ohio State, Adam at Nebraska-Ohio State
Week 7: Brian at Iowa-Michigan State, Adam at Wisconsin-Purdue
Week 8: Adam at Michigan State-Michigan, Brian at Michigan State-Michigan