Cold November has gripped the land, and with it, the cold water bucket of reality is splashing all of our fanbases. This is the last weekend of byes in Big Ten Land; all fourteen teams will be in action during the final two weeks of the regular season. There are some true gems about to be unearthed, but before we get there, let’s look at last week’s action.
Illinois at Michigan State
I said Illinois 24, MSU 17; actual score, Illinois 37, MSU 34
100% chance Mark Dantonio is already talking to BTN about his role in their coverage next season.
Penn State at Minnesota
I said Penn State 42, Minnesota 24; actual score, Minnesota 31, Penn State 26
Okay, anyone left doubting the Gophers at this point is engaging in wishful thinking.
Purdue at Northwestern
I said Purdue 17, jNWU 3; actual score, Purdue 24, jNWU 22
Typical of our two most hated rivals to steal the score of our game.
Maryland at Ohio State
I said OSU 58, Maryland 7; actual score, OSU 73, Maryland 14
Still didn’t help the Buckeyes in the polls.
Iowa at Wisconsin
I said Wisconsin 24, Iowa 13; actual score, Wisconsin 24, Iowa 22
If you expect the worst, all your surprises are pleasant. They just aren’t pleasant enough sometimes.
Hoo boy. I wish I wasn’t right about that last one. And, as you’ll see down the road … nah, let’s not foreshadow, let’s just do this.
MICHIGAN STATE (4-5) AT #15 MICHIGAN (7-2) (11 am CDT, FOX)
Jeffrey Smoker was a more-than-serviceable quarterback for the Spartans in the pre-Dantonio era. He had some issues but making plays wasn’t one of them. The Spartans have always been a place that could develop an NFL backup, if not a starter, but it seems like Brian Lewerke isn’t progressing, and that’s at least part of Sparty’s troubles. There are others. Worst of all is that this is a very blah Michigan team which is about to put the Spartans on the bowl ropes, though it must be said that MSU’s final two games are against Rutgers and Maryland, so I guess 6-6 is a lock. What happens to Michigan? Lost in the sauce with at least two better teams in their own division. The Wolverines should look pretty good here, though.
Ann Arbor 34, On-Air Bore 20
#14 WISCONSIN (7-2) AT NEBRASKA (4-5) (11 am CDT, BTN)
Epstein’s mother didn’t have as many screwball excuses as Nebraska fans have had for the team’s decades-long downturn and Scott Frost’s failure to fix seemingly anything in what was supposed to be his breakout season. Here’s the problem: Coaches like Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne are tough to find and a school like Nebraska was incredibly lucky to find two of them in a row. Nothing lasts forever, and the Nebraska dynasty is just about dead. Wisconsin plods along, changing nothing and never dazzling, but slowly gobbling up wins over opponents who swear they’re not overmatched. Like Nebraska fans want to think they aren’t. No worries, the Blackshirts will make Jack Coan look like Peyton freakin’ Manning. They bring out the best in opposing QBs.
Fourth President 44, Sixteenth President 19
MASSACHUSETTS (1-9) AT NORTHWESTERN (1-8) (11 am CDT, BTN)
Did you ever wonder if it’s possible for a TV broadcast to get a negative rating? Like, not only did no one watch it, but people actually threw their televisions out the window in order to avoid accidentally seeing it?
Why do I bring that up, you ask? No reason, really.
Spew Gas 20, UMass 6
INDIANA (7-2) AT #9 PENN STATE (8-1) (11 am CDT, ABC)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Penn State has never satisfactorily proven its resilience under James Franklin, and Indiana has always been Team Chaos, so the potential for wackiness here is pretty high. But there is a considerable talent gap between these two squads, and it’s going to show. Of course, that’s what I thought last week too when Penn State played Minnesota, and look how well that turned out. Still, I’ll go with Penn State here. I may be a masochist.
Nittany Lions Lately? 34, Hoosier Daddy 24
#2 OHIO STATE (9-0) AT RUTGERS (2-7) (2:30 pm, BTN)
Kill me if you have to, but this game just calls for this video:
Day-licious 66, Schia-NO! 0
#8 MINNESOTA (9-0) AT #20 IOWA (6-3) (3:00 PM, FOX)
Himself a surprising hire a couple seasons back, I have come to the conclusion that P.J. Fleck is the man who will end the Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa. Not because I think he’s going to beat Iowa more often than not (though I think he is), but because he’s going to prove that the Iowa schemes have been figured out and can be defeated with something other than forcing errors. This Minnesota team is too well-equipped to attack what I think is one of Iowa’s lesser secondaries. It’s really a shame, because we are not used to seeing iowa teams being let down by their defenses, but I truly expect Minnesota to get the better of Iowa’s defense here. The Gophers are just too battle-tested for that not to happen -- and, unlike Iowa, they’ve passed all the tests.
Flecktacular 38, Makes No Diff-Ferentz 20
Last week: 4-1 (.800)
Season: 67-18 (.788)