Thursday, October 6, 2011

The B1G Preview- Week 6

Ah, October. It’s when we separate the men from the boys in the Big Ten Conference. Already that sorting has begun. We now know that Nebraska is not ready for Wisconsin. We know that Illinois is a little better than Northwestern. We know that Minnesota is awful. Michigan State could be for real. Ohio State could be in a free fall. We still don’t know what Penn State is….except that, They ARE Penn State.

So let’s get back to the fun.

Last week-
You can read about last week’s results here.
My record: 9-2; (5-0).

B1G GOTW- Iowa 3-1 at Penn State 4-1, (1-0). 2:30 p.m. CST

Sorry, I can’t do Nebraska- Ohio State. I know it’s on national TV, but we've profiled them both recently. Plus this is a game about respect. Whoever wins, will be a dark horse in their respective division.

Iowa got beat by in-state rival Iowa State in 3OT because they could not stop a mobile quarterback. They then came back from 21 points to beat Pitt. They are, as the song says, living on the edge.

James Vandenberg is the new QB. You may remember him from the Iowa-Ohio State game in 2009 when he was forced to start as a freshman because of an injury to Ricky Stanzi. He could well be the next in a long-line of good pro-style QBs at Iowa. So far he’s thrown for over a thousand yards with 10 touchdowns and 1 Int.

Marcus Coker is the RB. You may remember him from the Insight Bowl last season when he shredded Missouri for over 200 yards. He has not found that success in this season. He does have a 4.4 ypr average coming into the game, but has not gone off...yet.

WR Marvin McNutt is the main playmaker on offense, with help from wideouts Keenan Davis and Martin-Kevon Manley. The Offensive Line has improved, but its still not operating at full steam.

The defense has been dreadful giving up 385 yards per game, including 132 on the ground. Yikes! Freshman Linebacker James Morris leads the team in tackles and is followed closely by fellow backer Christian Kirksey. Micah Hyde and Jordan Bernstein are trying to help a still young Iowa secondary.

The defensive line is the main difference. There is no dominating rusher. Iowa’s defense is predicated on the front four getting pressure and dropping the other 7. That isn’t happening.

For Penn State, it’s the opposite problem. The defense is just fine, but the offense, well...

They are still playing musical chairs at Quarterback. Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin have split time all year. Neither has played bad enough or well enough to win or lose the job. The Nittany Lions have problems in Red Zone. Last week, they visited it 5 times, kicked 3 field goals and turned the ball over twice.

On the outside, Derek Moye and Devon Smith are capable wide outs. The Lions want to run the ball though. RB Silas Redd is the feature back in an offense that features 144 yards rushing per game.

On defense, Penn State welcomes 7 starters back from 2010. SR Devon Still and JR Jordan Hill anchor the D-line. S Drew Astorino and CD D’Anton Lynn anchor the backend. This is a good defense that ranks number 5 in total defense and in the top 10 in several other categories.

Of Note: Iowa has won 8 of the last 9.

The Line: Penn State by 3.

The Pick: Iowa has had Penn State’s number as of late. Even when Penn State was ranked #1, their only loss came in Iowa City in 2008.

Penn State has not looked good all year. Neither has Iowa. Iowa’s only chance is to come out throwing the ball and opening up their attack. You cannot pound this defense into submission. If you know Iowa, you know that its more likely they come out in pink uniforms.

Penn State needs its defense to give it good field position to shorten drives. I think that’s more likely. This will be ugly Big Ten football; don’t forget that these two had a final score of 6-4 in 2004! I hope it won’t be that bad.

This game will be about field position and turnovers. In that battle, I am going to go with the better defense and the 106,000 screaming fans. Penn State 21 Iowa 17.

Quick Slants-
Minnesota 1-4, (0-1) at Purdue (2-2). 11 a.m. CSTWill they make criminals watch this game for punishment? They should. Minnesota was humiliated last week. Purdue lost at home to Notre Dame. When in doubt, go with the home team. Purdue 17 Minnesota 7.

#19 Illinois 5-0, (1-0) at Indiana 1-4, (0-1) 1:30 p.m. CSTI would not put it past Illinois to try and stub their toe here. But I can’t get the Indiana loss to N. Texas State out of my head. Plus, the Illini believe. Illinois 38 Indiana 10.

#12 Michigan 5-0, (1-0) at Northwestern 2-2, (0-1) 6 p.m. CSTShootout? Maybe. Depends on if the Michigan defense really is better. With Dan Persa and Denard Robinson running their offenses it should be entertaining. Keep in mind that Northwestern led Illinois until its defense fell apart. Michigan 31 Northwestern 30.

Ohio State 3-2, (0-1) at #14 Nebraska 4-1, (0-1) 7 p.m. CSTOn ABC. Good news for the Huskers? You’ve played the toughest game the Big Ten has to offer already. The bad news- Ohio State still has very good athletes. However, it’s clear that Ohio State does not have a passing game. Low-scoring and ugly here as well. Nebraska 17 Ohio State 10.

Drinking Beer. Wisconsin (5-0, 1-0) and Michigan State (4-1, 1-0).

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