Saturday, November 30, 2013
Big Ten primer: Week 14
By Josh Moyer
This is the final week of the regular season. So sit back, relax, enjoy -- and try not to think about just how long you'll have to wait until next year.
Minnesota (8-3, 4-3) at No. 11 Michigan State (10-1, 7-0), BTN: The Spartans will be in the Big Ten title game no matter what, but a loss eliminates their hope for an at-large BCS berth. Minnesota has been the biggest surprise in the conference this season, and a victory would cement its status as one of the bigger surprises in the BCS. But the Gophers' run-first offense could have quite a bit of trouble against Michigan State's top-ranked run defense.
No. 3 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) at Michigan (7-4, 3-4), ABC: This has not been a season to remember for the Wolverines -- but that's also what makes The Game so great. If Michigan can somehow pull off the upset, then you have to consider this year a success on some level. The Wolverines have twice knocked off a a heavily favored, undefeated OSU team in series history -- and Brady Hoke sure could use a landmark victory here. The Buckeyes have their sights set on a national title, though, and Braxton Miller will do everything possible to ensure his team a spot.
Penn State (6-5, 3-4) at No. 15 Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1), ESPN: The Badgers defense still remembers last season, when Zach Zwinak carried the ball 36 times and rumbled for 179 yards in a Penn State win -- and they want revenge. Gary Andersen's squad is a three-touchdown favorite, and Penn State's defense has struggled against running backs who like to bounce outside. Bill O'Brien is looking to build off something for the future, but he won't have an easy time at Camp Randall.
Purdue (1-10, 0-7) at Indiana (4-7, 2-5), BTN: There's not really a whole lot to play for here, outside of saving some embarrassment. The Boilermakers haven't beaten an FBS team for 53 weeks and, if they lose here, they will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst Big Ten teams of the 2000s. Indiana's uptempo offense has given something for fans in Bloomington to be excited about ... but the defense is among the worst in the country. Both of these teams have a lot of work to do during the offseason.
Northwestern (4-7, 0-7) at Illinois (4-7, 1-6), BTN: It seems like an eternity ago when Pat Fitzgerald's name graced national headlines and debates were circulating about whether the Wildcats had finally taken that step from good to great. The season started somewhat similarly in Illinois after a 3-1 start and finally looked like it had gone from punching bag to bowl contender. But the teams have combined for just one victory since October. Now, both teams are looking for something -- anything -- to build from before they head into the long offseason.
The season hasn't been kind to a lot of Big Ten teams, but the weather sure is cooperating for the last week of the regular season. It'll be especially nice in Bloomington, Ind., and Champaign, Ill., where it's mostly sunny with temperatures climbing to the mid-40s.
All the other Big Ten destinations will see similar weather -- some clouds with temperatures in the high-30s. No precipitation appears to be on its way to any home field today.
Top Week 14 stories
What to watch in the Big Ten | Predictions | Did you know?
Michigan State-Ohio State roundtable
Michigan AD defends Brady Hoke
One day, Bo will know Bo
Meyer's rivalry approach is 'over the top'
Buckeyes' Shazier in position for hardware
If needed, Dantonio will campaign for BCS
Andersen says Badgers are BCS worthy
Video: Penn State LB Mike Hull
Illinois' Steve Hull (!) going out with a bang