Saturday, November 3, 2012
Previewing the Big Ten 3:30 p.m. games
By Brian Bennett
It will be a busy afternoon in the Big Ten, with four games kicking off at 3:30 p.m. ET. Here's what to expect:
Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) at Michigan State (5-4, 2-3): Nebraska now controls the race for the Legends Division after last week's win over Michigan. But the Huskers have had their share of troubles on the road and must deal with a Michigan State team that is rejuvenated following a win at Wisconsin. This is a classic irresistible force versus immovable object clash, as the Huskers lead the Big Ten in scoring, total offense and rushing yards, while the Spartans are the best in the league in fewest points allowed, yards allowed and rushing defense. Michigan State needs a big game from Andrew Maxwell, and its defense -- particularly cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard -- will get a good test from Taylor Martinez and his weapons in the passing game, including Kenny Bell.
Penn State (5-3, 3-1) at Purdue (3-5, 0-4): Does Danny Hope need this win to keep his job? Purdue enters with a four-game losing streak and not much but apathy and anger from its fan base. Robert Marve makes his first start at quarterback since the opener, but he'll have to contend with a terrific Penn State defense led by Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges. Nittany Lions players said they might have been too geared up for last week's game against Ohio State, and the emotion cost them. They'll need to take a business-like attitude into this road trip, especially since there may not be much of an atmosphere inside Ross-Ade Stadium. Penn State tight end Kyle Carter is questionable.
Iowa (4-4, 2-2) at Indiana (3-5, 1-3): The Hawkeyes need to win to stay alive in the Legends race, while Indiana -- yes, Indiana -- can remain very much a factor in the Leaders chase for Indianapolis with a victory. Mark Weisman is doubtful for Iowa, but Damon Bullock ran for more than 100 yards last week at Northwestern. Could this be a game where James Vandenberg and the passing game break loose? Indiana's defense has been rather generous most of the year. Iowa will have to score some points, because the Hoosiers have been very consistent in their throwing the ball down field and finding the end zone with a strong group of skill players that includes Kofi Hughes, Shane Wynn and Stephen Houston. Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld competed for the IU starting quarterback job in practice this week.
Illinois (2-6, 0-4) at Ohio State (9-0, 5-0): Illinois coach Tim Beckman and Ohio State's Urban Meyer are friends and former co-workers, but the Illini will need more than congeniality to have a prayer in this one. This worst versus first matchup has all the makings of a potential blowout and one in which Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller can pad his Heisman-contending stats. The Ohio State defense has put together two solid efforts, which is bad timing for an Illinois squad averaging just 9.5 points in conference play. The Buckeyes should take a 10-0 record into next week's bye unless there's a miracle brewing for the Illini.