Friday, November 4, 2011

Remember when the Big Ten had games of the century?

B1G Preview: What Game of the Century?
Looking for a big game this week? Well, look elsewhere. The Big Ten has 5 very ho-hum games this week. So I’ll do a bonus Alabama, LSU pick just to keep it exciting.

I say that knowing that every conference game is important. However keep in mind that not everything always goes as planned. Big Ten road teams are 8-18 so far this season. Six of those wins have come at Indiana, Minnesota and Northwestern.

Remember that Nebraska beat Ohio State, who beat Wisconsin, who beat Nebraska. And Michigan State beat Wisconsin, who beat Nebraska, who beat Michigan State. Home has been a significant advantage this year.

Last week- 4-2. Which makes me 23-9, (19-7).

B1G GOTW- #13 Michigan 7-1, (3-1) at Iowa 5-3, (2-2). Noon. ESPN.

This is only the game of the week because every other favored team is at home this week. Still the Hawkeyes are 0-3 on the road and 5-0 at home. They remind me of Michigan circa 2009 and 2010. Offense is very capable and Defense is absolutely pathetic.

The Hawkeyes were embarrassed against Minnesota and there are calls for Kirk Ferentz to resign. They have short memories in Iowa City apparently, because this feels like Tom Davis 2.0. That worked out well for the basketball program, why not try it in football?

QB James Vandenberg has put up solid numbers and RB Marcus Coker rattled off 252 yards last week. (How do you lose when a player rushes for more than 250 yards?) WR Marvin McNutt is moving up the charts on Iowa’s receiving records.

The Hawkeyes are 108th in third down defense, 83rd in sacks, 83rd in interceptions 69th in rushing defense and 76th in total defense giving up over 400 yards per game. Simply there is no pass rush. That trickles down to things like sacks, third down defense, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think their backers or their backfield is all that good either.

Michigan can get to Indianapolis. Brady Hoke has done a pretty marvelous job returning a once proud program back to prominence so far. It starts with Denard Robinson at QB. He runs the Big Ten’s #2 offense which averages 34.8 ppg and averages 441 yards of offense each game.

Michigan has the Big Ten’s second best scoring defense and 6th best in the NCAA at 14.6 ppg. The Wolverines also have the nation’s top red zone defense.

Of Note: Iowa's 13-3 loss at Penn State marked the first Iowa loss by more than nine points in 48 games, dating back to a 31-6 loss at Purdue on Oct. 20, 2007. Iowa had not lost a game by more than a touchdown in 43 games, dating back to a 28-19 loss to Western Michigan on Nov. 17, 2007. Both streaks ranked as the longest in the nation.

The Line: Michigan by 4.

The Pick: It’s hard to put the previous week out of your mind on this one. How can a team that lost to Minnesota, compete against Michigan?

It probably starts with the fact that Michigan hasn’t played a grueling schedule so far. A Notre Dame game they were lucky to win and then Michigan State exposed them in East Lansing. That’s it.

Also reference the Big Ten road record above. Iowa hasn’t lost at home. Michigan’s only road win was in Evanston.

Michigan’s strength is Denard Robinson, which also makes them vulnerable. Michigan State successfully turned them into a one-dimensional team and it wasn’t pretty when he threw the ball.

However, Iowa’s struggles against these types of spread teams is well-documented. In the game against Iowa State, Steele Janz looked like superman. They did finally corral Dan Persa, but he had a good day even though they lost.

It’s close as Iowa doesn’t lose big typically (see the note above). In the end, I just think the Hawks are demoralized and the Wolverines are starting to believe. Robinson will have a big game. Michigan 35 Iowa 27.

Quick Slants-
Indiana 1-8, (0-5) at Ohio State 5-3, (2-2). Noon.Buckeyes seem to be hitting their stride. Ohio State 35 Indiana 3.

Minnesota 2-6, (1-3) at #15 Michigan State 6-2, (3-1). Noon.I’m sure they are playing for a trophy, but no one cares. Spartans 28 Gophers 10.

Purdue 4-4, (2-2) at #19 Wisconsin 6-2, (2-2). 3:30 p.m.You know who badly needs a win? The Badgers. Wisconsin 41 Purdue 10.

Northwestern 3-5, (1-4) at #9 Nebraska 7-1, (3-1).The battle for the true NU. It’s the Cornhuskers. Nebraska 38 Northwestern 27.

Drinking Beer: Illinois and #16 Penn State.
#2 LSU at #1 AlabamaLSU might be the more athletic team, but it’s in Alabama and I think that’s the difference. Roll Tide 28 Tigers 24.

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