Thursday, October 20, 2011

The B1G Preview. October 22nd Edition.


The Big 10, where we won’t watch the World Series, because it’s not on our network. In all seriousness, I finally subscribed to the Network. It may replace ESPN as the start channel for my TV. Who knew that Nebraska-Minnesota volleyball could be so compelling?
Here’s the recap from last week.

My record: 17-4 (13-2).

I’ve previewed everyone but Purdue and Indiana. And I’ve got to be honest, there is almost no chance we will discuss the Old Oaken Bucket game. So we will now follow the game that impacts the race for the Big 10 title the most every week. This week there is no doubt who the winner is.
GOTW: #4 Wisconsin 6-0, (2-0) at #15 Michigan State 5-1, (2-0). 7 p.m. ESPN

Happy Homecoming in East Lansing. You present: a visit from the nation’s #4 team and ESPN’s Gameday crew. This could be a possible preview of the Big Ten Championship game in December.

The Spartan defense rose to the challenge last week holding Michigan to 82 yards on the ground. They rank 2nd in the nation in total defense, first in pass D and 3rd in rush defense. Needless to say they will face their stiffest challenge on Saturday.

Sophomore DE William Gholston and Lombardi candidate Jerel Worthy lead the front 4. Linebackers Max Bullough, Denicos Allen and Chris Norman lead the team in tackles and Thorpe candidate Trenton Robinson runs the backend.

QB Kirk Cousins will be the winningest QB in Spartan history with his next win. Cousins hasn’t been dominate. He won last week on a windy day by managing the game. He has 1,300+ passing yards, 8 TDS and 4 INTs.

Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker are the running backs. The Spartans average 142 yards per game on the ground. SR wide out B.J. Cunningham is second in the B1G in catches and receiving yards per game.

We last saw Wisconsin at home shellacking Nebraska. This is the Badgers first true road game. Last year the Badgers came in to East Lansing undefeated and were upended 34-24.

QB Russell Wilson is the difference maker for a Wisconsin offense that does the same thing they always do. Run the ball down your throat. Wisconsin leads the nation in scoring offense and averages 523 yards per game, 250 of it on the ground. Monte Ball and James White make sure the feature back is never tired.

Wilson is third in the nation in completion percentage. Senior 6-3 WR Nick Toon is his favorite target and the deep threat. He is fourth in the B1G in receiving yards per game and has 6 touchdown catches. Sophomore WR Jared Abbrederis is a walk-on with 20 catches for 450+ yards and two TDs.

Meanwhile Wisconsin is first in the nation in scoring defense and 3rd in total defense. Linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor are on the Butkus Award watch list. Senior CB Antonio Fenelus is on the Thorpe Award list. He and FS Aaron Henry have combined for a pick in both conference games. The Badgers have had 9 players combine for 14 sacks this year.

Of Note: Wisconsin is the only team in the country averaging at least 240.0 yards rushing and receiving this season. UW has 1,594 passing yards and 1,545 rushing yards this season.

The Line: Wisconsin by 9.

The Pick: The thing that makes me nervous is that this is Wisconsin’s first true road game. It’s just different in the B1G on the road. Michigan State has a good defense. Kirk Cousins is finding a way to win. This has all the earmarks of a possible upset.

Except that Wisconsin is not just winning, they are crushing their opponents. They can run, they can pass. They are playing great defense. This has the feel of a very special team. It’s hard to bet against a team that is leading the nation in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

Michigan State keeps it close for awhile. But, Wisconsin 35 Michigan State 17.

Quick Slants.

#23 Illinois 6-1, (2-1) at Purdue 3-3, (1-1)
Illinois has a one-dimensional offense, an average defense and are on the road in West Lafayette. Fortunately for them that is where Purdue is located. Illinois 28 Purdue 20.

Indiana 1-6, (0-3) at Iowa 4-2, (1-0)
Iowa favored by 23. The Hawkeyes barely survived in 2010 with an 18-13 win. They had to come back from down 14 to win in 2009 in Iowa City. Yes, Indiana is bad, but Iowa does not typically blow out Big Ten opponents. Iowa 31 Indiana 21.

#13 Nebraska 5-1, (1-1) at Minnesota 1-5, (0-2)
This is on ABC? Why? Nebraska is a 25-point favorite and I think they cover. Nebraska 42 Minnesota 10.

Penn State 6-1, (3-0) at Northwestern 2-4, (0-3).
Intriguing game for two teams headed in the opposite direction. Intriguing because Northwestern can score, but doesn’t play defense. Penn State can’t score, but has a good defense. It’s in Evanston. 4 point spread and the money is 50-50. Northwestern 22 Penn State 21.

Drinking Beer: Ohio State and Michigan.

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