Thursday, October 13, 2011

B1G Preview- October 15th

The Big 10, where we are so confident in our conference we can tell a begging Missouri, “No Big 10 Network for you, go to the SEC.”

Here’s the recap from last week.

My record: 14-2 (10-0).

I have gotten every Big 10 game right so far. But all good things will (probably) come to an end. Several tough games that could go either way this weekend. So hop aboard, as we get ready for Week 3 in the Big Ten.

GOTW: #11 Michigan 6-0, (2-0) at #23 Michigan State 4-1, (1-0)- 11 a.m. CST ESPN
The battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy means so much more this year. It’s a measuring stick for two programs who are not quite sure how good they are. The winner will have sole possession of first place in the Legends Division. More importantly maybe, will be bragging rights in the State of Michigan for 365 days.

QB Kirk Cousins and six others return for a Spartan offense which is averaging nearly 400 yards per game. Cousins hasn’t been as dominate as you might have expect a Senior to be. 1,200 yards, 6 TDS, 4 INTs.

Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker are the running backs. The Spartans average 128 yards on the ground per game. SR wide out B.J. Cunningham is second in the B1G in catches and receiving yards per game.

The Spartan defense is stout. They rank 1st in the nation in total defense, 2nd in total pass D and 3rd in rush defense. Sophomore DE William Gholston and Lombardi candidate Jerel Worthy pace the front 4. JR LB Chris Norman backs them up. Senior S and Thorpe candidate Trenton Robinson runs the backend.

Michigan counters with QB Denard Robinson, who ranks 1st in the B1G and 9th in the nation in rushing. He’s completed 57 percent of his passes with 10 TDs and 9 INTs.

The Maize and Blue returned four offensive line starters from a year ago. WR Junior Hemingway is the big play threat with 7 plays for 20+ yards. RB Vincent Smith runs when Robinson gets tired.

The Defense was the question in Ann Arbor all summer long. It has seen improvement giving up only 12.5 ppg, but still 357 ypg. A bend but don’t break. Which was better than the Greg Robinson era of bend and then break.

New coach Brady Hoke brought in Greg Mattison of Baltimore Ravens fame as the Defensive Coordinator. He brings a bit of a gamblers streak. A key to this game is how well Cousins recognizes and executes against the blitz.

9 starters from a year ago returned to the revamped unit. CB JT Floyd, LB Kenny Demens and S Jordan Kovacs lead the team.

Of Note: The team with the most productive ground attack has won 38 of the last 41 games. Michigan State will be wearing Nike Combat uniforms that have bronze in them, like their Spartan namesakes.
The Line: State by 3.

The Pick: Michigan State has won three straight against the Wolverines and they are at home. Michigan and the big play ability of Denard Robinson is going to help them win a lot of games. My gut tells me that Michigan State’s defense can turn this into a one-dimensional offense and that Michigan’s defense is still giving up yards by the bushel basket. Close game though, Michigan State 31 Michigan 24.

Quick Slants.
Purdue 3-2, (1-0) at Penn State 5-1, (2-0)
Penn State by 12.5? Not a chance. Penn State will be lucky to score 12 points. Purdue’s opportunity to show they can play with the big boys. I say no. Penn St. 14 Purdue 7.

Indiana 1-5, (0-2) at #4 Wisconsin 5-0, (1-0)
Yeah, Wisconsin is favored by 40. I can’t decide whether that’s not enough or too much. I’ll say not enough. Wisconsin 55 Indiana 3.

Ohio State 3-3, (0-2) at #16 Illinois 6-0, (2-0)
The battle for the Illibuck Trophy. Ohio State got up big last week and then lost Braxton Miller. He may or may not be back this week. The Buckeyes stand a much better chance if he plays. I think he does, but not at 100%. Illinois 27 Ohio State 20.

Northwestern 2-3, (0-2) at Iowa 3-2, (0-1)
Iowa favored by a touchdown. No way. Hawks have lost 4 of the last 5 to the Wildcats. They cannot stop a mobile quarterback. The only positive is that they are in Kinnick. Northwestern 28 Iowa 24.

Drinking Beer: Minnesota and #14 Nebraska.

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