Finally, the 1st week of the games that count in the Big Ten. Sorry I couldn't put up a significant MSU preview like I usually do, life got in the way this week. Here we go:
Michigan State vs. Indiana
Man, IU looked bad in that Ball State loss. It's one thing to be the fourth best team in your state, it's another thing all together if that state is Indiana. However, one can never discount a team that has Kellen Davis and Greg Middleton. I fully expect Kellen Davis to have a few big plays in this game, even though MSU's secondary has improved significantly since the Cal game. However, IU's secondary has been brutalized more than MSU's has. The Hoosiers will be without three starters of their secondary. Ringer won't have as many carries as he's had in the previous weeks, simply because Brian Hoyer will feast on the secondary. If there was ever a time for Mark Dell to have a second 200 yard game this season, this is it. Indiana has playmakers on both sides of the ball, but signifcant deficiencies on both offense and defense will doom them.
Michigan State 38, Indiana 17
Northwestern vs. Iowa
Northwestern and Minnesota split for the title of "Most unimpressive 4-0 team in the Big Ten". Northwestern looks like the opposite of the Wildcat team from 2007, because the defense has mainly won games for them this year. C.J. Bacher hasn't looked like the same quarterback he was last year, is this the game he breaks out? Meanwhile, Iowa is coming off a tough loss to Pitt, and seems to have settled on Ricky Stanzi as starting quarterback. If Bacher doesn't come up with a few touchdowns, Northwestern's going to lose this game. I have a feeling he'll try....but Iowa's defensive line will carry the win for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa 24, Northwestern 17
Wisconsin vs. Michigan
Wisconsin holds the Big Ten's best win so far, @ Fresno State. It's been typical Wisconsin football so far - barrel into the defensive line with stout running back and score, or run until single coverage opens up downfield, throw football, score. Michigan's defense will look better this week, mainly because they won't have to defend horrible field position half the time. The Wolverines' offense will also be competent this week. However, competent won't cut it against the Badger defense.
Wisconsin 27, Michigan 16
Minnesota vs. Ohio State
Minnesota will probably claim the title of the Big Ten's most improved team this year, due to their 400% increase in wins to this point. This week, the Golden Gophers will face an opponent with a pulse as they face the Buckeyes. For as much as Minny's win total has improved, the defense has still allowed a lot of yards. Expect game two of the Terrelle Pryor era to be better than game one.
Ohio State 41, Minnesota 20
Purdue vs. Notre Dame
Jimmy Clausen looked like a competent quarterback last week against MSU, especially in the 3rd quarter, when he was completing 5-and-10 yard slants and running Notre Dame right down the field. He'll throw a pick or two (or three) in this game, though, and I expect Purdue to capitalize. Those interceptions will most likely be the difference in the game. As for Purdue, the Boilermaker fans might start to wonder (if they haven't already) if the best player on offense this year isn't Curtis Painter, but Kory Sheets.
Purdue 27, Notre Dame 24
Illinois vs. Penn State
Can Juice Williams and Areelie... Areellld... Benn pull the Illini to victory? It's definitely possible, but Penn State has definitely shown to be the most impressive Big Ten team to this point. Also, that game against Louisiana Lafayette has cast a lot of doubt on UI (seriously, who scores more points on Missouri than a 1-AA team?). This will be the Spread HD's first true test, and it should pass muster. It won't be as impressive as their previous games, but Penn State will decisively win.
Penn State 27, Illinois 13
Coming tomorrow: a live blog of the Indiana game.