Big Ten: week 13 preview

Big Ten Week 13 preview

November, 19, 2012
It's the last week before the Big Ten championship game, which means this is the last game before bowl season for some teams and the last game until next year for others. Let's look at the story lines for Week 13:


No. 14 Nebraska (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) at Iowa (4-7, 2-5), Noon, ABC: In the second installment of the Heroes Game, Iowa will need a heroic effort to pull off the upset, even at home. The Hawkeyes have lost five straight, while Nebraska comes in riding a five-game winning streak and just needing to take care of business here to win the Legends Division. It's hard to imagine the Huskers slipping up now, but as we saw this past weekend, sometimes crazy stuff happens.


No. 19 Michigan (8-3, 6-1) at Ohio State (11-0, 7-0), Noon, ABC: Perhaps you've heard that these two schools have a little bit of a rivalry going on. The Game is always a big deal, and this year's edition looks like the biggest one since 2006. The Buckeyes are looking to finish off a perfect season, while the Wolverines would not only love to ruin that but need it to stay alive for a division title and for an outside shot at a BCS at-large bid. The Devin Gardner/Denard Robinson combo gives Michigan some crazy explosiveness, while Braxton Miller will try to rebound from his first subpar game of the season at Wisconsin. And it's Urban Meyer's first entry into this rivalry as head coach. Is it Saturday yet?

Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3) at Penn State (7-4, 5-2), 3:30 p.m., ESPN2: This game is meaningless in the big picture, but it won't feel that way for the Nittany Lions' seniors who have created a unique legacy. The Badgers no longer have a division title to play for and are going to Indianapolis regardless. Still, Wisconsin can help its bowl placement with a win and doesn't want to go into the Big Ten title game on a two-game losing streak. Montee Ball needs one more touchdown to break a tie with Travis Prentice for the NCAA career record.

Michigan State (5-6, 2-5) at Minnesota (6-5, 2-5), 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network: It's still a little hard to believe that the Spartans have to win their finale just to go bowling, but that's the predicament they put themselves in. At least they're on the road and not at home, where they went winless in Big Ten play. Will any Michigan State fan even want to travel to watch this team play another game? Minnesota could make that a moot point by winning on senior day and getting to seven wins, which would be a great achievement in Jerry Kill's second year. The Gophers' home finale could be overshadowed by the A.J. Barker controversy this week, however.

Indiana (4-7, 2-5) at Purdue (5-6, 2-5), Noon, BTN: The Old Oaken Bucket game takes on real meaning as Purdue needs to win to reach its second straight bowl. Indiana saw its bowl hopes end last year, but the Hoosiers will be fired up for this rivalry and would love to keep the Boilermakers home. Danny Hope could be coaching for his job. Purdue has won eight of the last 10 meetings between these two, but Indiana came out on top the last time they met in West Lafayette in 2010.

Illinois (2-9, 0-7) at Northwestern (8-3, 4-3), Noon, BTN: Northwestern can wrap up a pretty impressive nine-win season and extend the misery of its top rival. The health of Kain Colter and Venric Mark will be the main angle to watch this week. Illinois coach Tim Beckman hasn't done much if anything to endear himself to Illini fans this season, but a win here could be a small step in that direction. His team is really thin, though, after enduring several more injuries last week. What are the chances Daniel Day-Lewis can show up in character to present the Land of Lincoln Trophy?

Big Ten Week 13 preview

November, 21, 2011
Only one week left before the bowls for all but two teams. One game will decide who plays Michigan State in the Dec. 3 Big Ten title game, while there are other things on the line elsewhere. Let's take a look at what's on tap:


Iowa (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) at No. 21 Nebraska (8-3, 4-3), Noon, ABC: There's not a whole lot at stake in the first "Heroes Game," but this figures to develop into one of the better rivalries in the Big Ten. Plus, you'll just be emerging out of your turkey coma in time to watch some football on Friday. The Huskers need to protect home turf to avoid finishing 8-4 in what would be a disappointing first season in the Big Ten.


No. 19 Penn State (9-2, 6-1) at No. 16 Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2), 3:30 p.m., ESPN: One game for all the (Leaders Division) marbles. It's a classic matchup of a powerful offense (Wisconsin) versus a hard-hitting defense (Penn State). The Badgers figure to have the edge at home, but the Nittany Lions played well on the road at Ohio State and will have all kinds of emotions swirling. How will Wisconsin block Devon Still up front, especially if center Peter Konz is still out with his ankle injury?

Ohio State (6-5, 3-4) at No. 15 Michigan (9-2, 5-2), Noon, ABC: The game has no impact on the division races, but it's still The Game. And Michigan actually looks like it has a chance to break its infuriating seven-game losing streak to the Buckeyes. Plus, a win puts the Wolverines at 10-2 and in pretty good position for an at-large BCS berth. Keeping the streak alive is arguably even more important to Ohio State than whatever middling bowl game it goes to this season.

Purdue (5-6, 3-4) at Indiana (1-10, 0-7), 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network: The Boilermakers simply must win the Old Oaken Bucket if they want to go to a bowl game this year. But nothing is guaranteed in a rivalry game as Purdue well knows after losing at home to Indiana last year. This is the Hoosiers' last chance to record a win over an FBS opponent this season.

No. 14 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) at Northwestern (6-5, 3-4), Noon, BTN: The Spartans could miss their plane to Chicago and still go the Big Ten title game. But a victory gives them back-to-back 10-win season for the first time ever. Northwestern wants to enhance its bowl profile and end the year on a five-game winning streak. Michigan State fell behind 17-0 in Evanston last year before rallying.

Illinois (6-5, 2-5) at Minnesota (2-9, 1-6), 3:30 p.m., BTN: Can Illinois stop the hemorrhaging, or will it go from 6-0 to 6-6 in one of the worst collapses in recent memory? Ron Zook's job probably hangs in the balance, if it isn't already dangling there. Minnesota ended last year with a win over Iowa at home and would like something to build on for 2012.