Friday, March 15, 2013
Ultimate Big Ten 2013 road trip: Week 5
By Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg
We're back with our picks on which Big Ten games we would attend in 2013 if we had an unlimited travel budget and total control over what we cover. A magical world, if you will.
We're limiting ourselves to one game per week and trying to diversify among the teams and between both bloggers. Here's where we'd like to be in Week 5.
Miami (Ohio) at Illinois
Iowa at Minnesota
Wisconsin at Ohio State
Northern Illinois at Purdue
Bye week: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State
Brian Bennett's pick: Wisconsin at Ohio State
With so many Big Ten teams idle on Sept. 28 -- are they all meeting in Chicago for a party or something? -- this pick becomes pretty easy. While I'd love to see a Floyd of Rosedale game between the Hawkeyes and Gophers, it just can't compare to the juicy matchup of Wisconsin and Ohio State.
With Penn State ineligible, the winner of this game automatically is in the driver's seat in the Leaders Division. Ohio State has won the past two meetings in dramatic fashion, beating the Badgers on a Braxton Miller miracle in 2011 and then prevailing in overtime last year in Madison. This is becoming a pretty good rivalry, and it will be Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen's introduction to it. He is no stranger to Urban Meyer, however, as he used to work for Meyer at Utah.
We'll have Miller trying to go 3-0 against the Badgers and facing probably another underrated Wisconsin defense. Andersen's team will test Ohio State's young defensive front with its offensive line beef and stout running game. I'll be surprised if this is not a night game in the 'Shoe, and the atmosphere should be intense. Who knows? Ohio State might even be ranked No. 1 by then. I know there's nowhere else I'd rather be that day.
Adam Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin at Ohio State
Yikes. Looks like the double-bye this season has bitten the Big Ten in Week 5. Although I'm tempted to check out Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois against Purdue, the Badgers-Buckeyes game has to be the pick here. I've attended the teams' past three games, including the previous contest in Columbus, where Miller and Devin Smith provided the drama.
You make a good point about the Leaders division, as Wisconsin seems like the only legitimate threat to Ohio State this season. Ohio State remains a heavy favorite to reach Indianapolis, but the Buckeyes won't face much of a test until this game. Few teams defended Miller in 2012 better than Wisconsin, which held the Ohio State star to 97 pass yards (on 10 of 18 attempts) and 48 rush yards. Chris Borland and the Andersen-led defense need a similar performance this time around.
It'll also be interesting to see how Wisconsin's offense fares against an Ohio State defense replacing so much in the front seven. Although both units are going through some changes, I think the early season game favors Wisconsin's offense as it might take some time for Ohio State to find the right combinations of personnel. Wisconsin needs to get running backs James White and Melvin Gordon going, control the clock and keep Miller off the field. Should be a fun one. You'll buy the beers on High Street.
Week 1: Adam at Northwestern-Cal, Brian at Purdue-Cincinnati
Week 2: Brian and Adam at Notre Dame-Michigan
Week 3: Brian at UCLA-Nebraska, Adam at Wisconsin-Arizona State
Week 4: Adam at Michigan State-Notre Dame, Brian at Purdue-Wisconsin