Saturday, September 29, 2012
Previewing the B1G afternoon games
By Adam Rittenberg
Let's see what's on tap this afternoon in the Big Ten ...
Marshall (2-2) at Purdue (2-1), 3:15 p.m. ET: After an open week, Purdue returns to the field and closes out non-league play against the Thundering Herd. It'll be strength versus strength as Marshall's offense, which leads the nation in passing (383.5 ypg) and seventh in total yards (561 ypg), faces off against a Purdue defense ranked in the top 20 nationally in points allowed, yards allowed, pass efficiency and sacks. Boilers defensive end Ryan Russell returns after sustaining an MCL sprain Sept. 15 against Eastern Michigan, and alongside defensive tackle Kawann Short, he'll try to pressure Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato. Purdue's offense put up 54 points against Eastern Michigan and should have another big day, particularly on the ground, against a Marshall defense that ranks near the bottom of the FBS in points allowed (42.8 ppg), rush yards allowed (243.8 ypg) and total yards allowed (509 ypg).
No. 14 Ohio State (4-0) at No. 20 Michigan State (3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET: Just one of two Week 5 matchups pairing ranked teams around the country, the Big Ten's featured game of the day takes place at Spartan Stadium. It features the league's most dynamic quarterback in Ohio State sophomore Braxton Miller (754 pass yards, 441 rush yards, 14 total touchdowns) against the league's most productive running back in Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell (610 rush yards, 5 touchdowns, nation-leading 117 carries). Both men are looking for more help around them, whether it's Ohio State's running backs supplementing Miller or Michigan State's wide receivers deciding to show up for the first time this season. The defensive matchup also is intriguing, as Michigan State has been very sound but lacking game-changing plays, while Ohio State is heavy on highlights but far too prone to breakdowns, which is why it ranks last in the Big Ten in total defense (394.8 ypg). Ohio State has won three consecutive games at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State's last home win in the series came on Nov. 6, 1999.