Big Ten: B1G rivalry streaks 14

The Big Ten is rooted in historic rivalries, but some of these series have been lopsided in recent years. We're taking a closer look at these games and whether things will change or remain the same in 2014.

So far, you and I think the status quo will remain in series like Wisconsin-Minnesota, Michigan-Michigan State and Minnesota-Michigan. The final rivalry under the microscope has no trophy at stake because it doesn't need one. It goes by a simple title: The Game. Ohio State and Michigan. Enough said.

Lately, it has been all Buckeyes.

Let's dive in ...

Series: First meeting in 1897. Michigan leads 58-45-6. Since 1951, Ohio State leads 33-27-2.

Last meeting: Ohio State prevailed 42-41 on Nov. 30, 2013, at Michigan Stadium after snuffing out Michigan's potential game-winning two-point conversion attempt.

The streak: Ohio State has won consecutive matchups, and Michigan has only one win in the series since 2003. The Buckeyes' 2010 victory was vacated because of NCAA violations.


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Next meeting: Nov. 29 at Ohio Stadium

The skinny: Ohio State dominated Michigan during coach Jim Tressel's tenure, but the gap seems to be narrowing a bit since Brady Hoke took over the Wolverines' program. Hoke beat Ohio State in his first season, and his Wolverines nearly pulled an upset last year against a Buckeyes team that had won its first 23 games under Urban Meyer. Michigan's inconsistent offense found a rhythm against Ohio State, and Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon matched blow for blow with the dynamic Buckeye backfield of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde.

This year's game could come down to whether the Michigan offense or the Ohio State defense fixes its issues from 2013. Both units have new coaches, as coordinator Doug Nussmeier comes to Michigan, while Chris Ash and Larry Johnson take on key roles in Columbus. Ohio State and Michigan are in the same division for the first time, and The Game should have implications on who goes to Indianapolis. Michigan hasn't won at Ohio Stadium since 2000, a game that sealed John Cooper's fate as Buckeyes coach. Both teams return their quarterbacks and bring in decorated defensive recruits such as Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) and Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State).

The (very early) prediction: Hoke prepares Michigan well for The Game, and the Wolverines should be a bit steadier on offense. But I don't see Miller losing his final home game as a Buckeye, especially with postseason implications likely on the line. Miller rallies Ohio State late for a three-point win.
We're going streaking! OK, not us (thankfully for you), but certain Big Ten teams have held the edge in rivalry games in recent years. We're taking a closer look at these games and whether things will change or remain the same in 2014.

After examining the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, we'll stick with the Bunyan theme with Michigan-Michigan State, who play for this guy.

Series: First meeting in 1898. Michigan leads 68-33-5. The Wolverines hold a 35-24-2 edge when the Paul Bunyan Trophy is at stake (introduced in 1953).

Last meeting: Michigan State smashed Michigan 29-6 on Nov. 2, 2013, at Spartan Stadium in a game that wasn't as close as the score.

The streak: Although the teams have split the past two meetings, Michigan State has won five of the past six contests, including a team-record three straight at Spartan Stadium.

Next meeting: Oct. 25 at Spartan Stadium

The skinny: Last season's game epitomized the season for both teams. Michigan State's nationally ranked defense smothered Michigan, recording seven sacks and forcing eight punts. The Spartans exposed Michigan's offensive line and the Wolverines finished with minus-48 net rush yards, the lowest total in team history. MSU went on to win the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl, while Michigan finished 7-6. Michigan's offensive struggles in East Lansing suggested changes would be coming, and Brady Hoke replaced coordinator Al Borges with Doug Nussmeier after the season.


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Nussmeier must get Michigan's offense on track, especially the power run game Hoke wants. The Wolverines return pieces at quarterback, tight end, running back and interior line but need replacements at the tackle and wide receiver spots. This will be the ultimate test for Michigan, as Michigan State, despite losing All-America cornerback Darqueze Dennard and several other standout defenders, should remain a top-10 or top-15 defense. The Spartans return quarterback Connor Cook and more skill players on offense than Michigan, but like the Wolverines, they have some holes to fill up front.

Because of the Big Ten's expansion and the schedule reset that goes with it, MSU will host Michigan in consecutive years for the first time in the history of the rivalry. The rivals are still in the same division, and the winner of this game should have a good chance to reach Indianapolis. Michigan last won in East Lansing in 2007, prompting Mike Hart's "little brother" comment and Mark Dantonio's "pride comes before the fall" retort.

The (very early) prediction: Dantonio's approach to the Michigan game mirrors that of his mentor, Jim Tressel, who went 9-1 against Michigan as Ohio State's coach. The Wolverines will be a better team and a more cohesive offense under Nussmeier, but I have a hard time picking against the Spartans at home with Cook back under center and Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi on the sideline.
Borrowing an idea from our friends at the ACC blog, we're taking a look at some of the Big Ten's top rivalries and whether recent trends will continue or change during the 2014 season. The Big Ten has no shortage of rivalries, but we've identified several that have been rather one-sided in the last few seasons.

First up, two teams who play for a giant axe: Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Series: First meeting in 1890. Minnesota leads 58-57-8; Wisconsin leads 39-24-3 since Paul Bunyan's Axe was introduced in 1948.

Last meeting: Wisconsin beat Minnesota 20-7 on Nov. 23, 2013, at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis

The streak: Wisconsin has won the past 10 meetings, dating back to 2004. It's the longest win streak for either team in the series. Minnesota's last win was a 37-34 triumph in 2003 at the Metrodome. The Badgers have claimed 17 of the past 19 meetings.

Next meeting: Minnesota visits Wisconsin on Nov. 29

The skinny: The gap between the longtime rivals seems to be closing a bit as coach Jerry Kill has guided Minnesota to consecutive bowl appearances and a historic Big Ten win streak last season. Wisconsin isn't on the decline by any means, although the Badgers are replacing a lot of key pieces right now, including linebacker Chris Borland, the 2013 Big Ten defensive player of the year, and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Both teams have some competition at quarterback this spring, although it would be a surprise if Mitch Leidner doesn't get the nod at Minnesota. Joel Stave is by far Wisconsin's most experienced signal-caller, but he'll be pushed by Bart Houston and possibly Tanner McEvoy. Both teams also are reloading a bit in the defensive front seven, especially Wisconsin.


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Minnesota is looking more like Wisconsin under Kill, using an offense built around the power run. Both teams should be very strong at running back, as Wisconsin returns Heisman Trophy candidate Melvin Gordon and promising sophomore Corey Clement, while Minnesota should have four good ball-carrying options, including David Cobb, a 1,200-yard rusher in 2013 and decorated freshman Jeff Jones. The Badgers benefit from a favorable Big Ten schedule that doesn't include Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State. They could be playing for a West Division title when Minnesota visits Camp Randall Stadium. The Gophers, meanwhile, are fed up with their continued struggles in the series, as we saw in last season's chop-stop attempt at TCF Bank Stadium.

The (very early) prediction: We'll see another competitive game, but Minnesota's wait to end the streak will last another year. The Badgers will have more to play for, home-field advantage and the memory of last senior's senior day stinker in their minds. Both teams will run the ball well, but Gordon has a big day and scores the game-winning touchdown in the closing minutes in what likely will be his final home game as a Badger.