Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Big Ten Finale

And here we are.

The curtain is about to come down on the season for some Big Ten teams (hello, Indiana!), while others will wait for word on their corporate sponsored bowl destination. Michigan State will find out who its dance partner will be in Indianapolis next week. Rivalries will be renewed and in some cases (Iowa and Nebraska) born.

Let’s get ready for the final week of Big Ten play.

My Record: 29-15, (24-12).

B1G GOTW- #20 Penn State 9-2, (6-1) at #15 Wisconsin 9-2, (5-2). 3:30 p.m. ESPN.The winner goes to Indianapolis. The loser goes to a lesser bowl. That noise you hear is Jim Delaney nervously pacing and hoping that it’s not Penn State. Bad for TV ratings the corporate boys say. I say its hooey. BTW, how much different would this game be if the whole Sandusky thing hadn’t been discovered yet? The whole nation would be rooting for JoePa. Sexual Assault has a funny way of changing perspectives.

You know the drill. Wisconsin runs the ball with Montee Ball and then Russell Wilson throws it deep to Nick Toon. Badgers have a big line. They average 44 points and 480 yards of offense per game.

Wisconsin is sixth in the country in scoring defense averaging 15.9 ppg. The Badgers have won 15 straight at home and are 7th in the country in turnover margin. Their Achilles heel appears to be long Hail Mary passes at the end of the game.

Penn State has been the surprise of the Big Ten off and on the field. They are 106th in scoring offense, 89th in total offense. The rushing offense is 45th with Silas Redd averaging over 5 yards a tout so there’s that.

The defense is better. They are third in the nation in scoring and eighth in total defense. DT Devon Still leads a unit that has been very, very good this year. The Lions are banking on the adage that defense wins championships.

Of Note: Wisconsin is 18-2 in regular-season games played after Nov. 1 under head coach Bret Bielema.

The Line: Wisconsin by 15.

The Pick: I haven’t been a Penn State believer since I watched them beat Iowa at home by 10. Their offense is awful. They have done nothing since to make me believe they are a Big Ten title team.

Wisconsin on the other hand suffered back-to-back losses on the road on last minute passes. They could easily be undefeated.

The game is in Madison where the Badgers have been lights out. Penn State showed something by going to Columbus and winning last week. But, if Wisconsin gets rolling early this will get ugly.

Wisconsin 38 Penn State 10.

Quick Slants-
Iowa 7-4, (4-3) at #22 Nebraska, 8-3, (4-3). Friday, Noon. ABC.
Want a fun exercise? Check out Iowa and Nebraska’s wins in the Big Ten. Everyone Iowa beat, Nebraska lost too and vice versa. Game is in Lincoln and Huskers are smarting. That’s all I need to know. Nebraska 30 Iowa 17.

#11 Michigan State 9-2, (6-1) at Northwestern 6-5, (3-4). Noon.This is how you spell trap. A game that means nothing for the Spartans. Wildcats at home. I’d be very, very nervous if I were in East Lansing right now. Michigan State 31 Northwestern 30.

Ohio State 6-5, (3-4) at #17 Michigan 9-2, (5-2). Noon. ABC.Brady Hoke keeps asking his assistants, is it time yet? Is it time yet? Dude wants to win this game and break the streak. Easier said than done. Ohio State won’t go down without a fight, but goes down none-the-less. Michigan 24 Ohio State 17.

Purdue 5-6, (3-4) at Indiana 1-10, (0-7). 3:30 p.m.Purdue is only a 7 point favorite. One team is playing for bowl eligibility. The other is playing for an Old Oaken Bucket. Unless this is a bigger rivalry than I think, Purdue is going to beat the spread. Purdue 28 Indiana 14.

Illinois 6-5, (2-5) at Minnesota 2-9, (1-6). Who cares?Illinois by 10? Not a chance. Gophers have improved and will play well at home. Illinois is reeling and Ron Zook may not last the day. Minnesota 27 Illinois 25. Strange I know.

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