B1G Week Six Preview: Getting Into the Heart of Conference Play

This weekend’s slate of games are all B1G match-ups for the first time this season. It’s now starting to feel like the beginning of conference play and really when we start to distinguish the contenders and pretenders. I’m intrigued by this week’s games because each one appears close on paper. I could really see any of the teams pull off a victory in their respective games. So with this in mind let’s get to this weekend’s exciting match ups:

Penn State @ Indiana

Penn State comes into this game 3-1, with their only loss coming against Central Florida. Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg has been slowly getting better as the season has progressed and is helped by having a stable of solid running backs. Indiana is 2-2 on the season and coming off their first real test of the season against Missouri. They lost 45-28 in that game and looked lost at times. The Hoosiers appear to be a team that will need a lot of points out of its offense to win games because their defense looks suspect after letting a team like Missouri run all over them. I think this game will be close for the first three-quarters, but I think Penn State has enough defense to slow Indiana down and enough on offense to win the game.

Illinois @ Nebraska

Both teams enter the game 3-1, with both of each their losses coming to ranked PAC-12 teams. If you told me at the beginning of the season these two teams were going to be evenly matched on paper coming in, I would’ve laughed at you. Nebraska has been underwhelming, specifically on defense. Illinois has been playing better than expected, particularly on offense. New Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has seemed to do wonders, especially for quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase who is having a great season. I think this will be a high scoring affair and it could come down to the final possessions. I’m picking Illinois to pull off the minor upset and to continue outperforming expectations.

Michigan State @ Iowa

If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned B1G game where it comes down to the running game and the defenses, this is the game for you. Iowa is coming off an impressive performance against Minnesota, in which they ran the ball with ease and stopped the run pretty effectively too. Michigan State has a championship caliber defense, but a mediocre offense. The Spartans’ defense should be able to get a leash on Mark Weisman and the other Hawkeye running backs. Iowa’s defense should also have no problem stopping Michigan State’s offense. Don’t be surprised if the final score is in the low teens. I like Iowa to win this game because they clearly have a better quarterback situation and they’ve also proven to make big plays on special teams.

Minnesota @ #19 Michigan

The Little Brown Jug
(Picture Source: Russell42)

Why does Minnesota get to play for all of the cool rivalry trophies? Last week they played for the Floyd of Rosedale and this weekend is the Battle for the Little Brown Jug. The Golden Gophers were dominated by Iowa on both sides of the ball last weekend and looked exposed. So they clearly have no chance to win, right? We said this about each of the last two opponents Michigan faced and look what happened. The Wolverines should have lost both games. Minnesota has a solid enough defense to force Devin “Turnover Machine” Gardner to make some mistakes and keep this close. I can imagine this is an important game for Gardner because if he has another sloppy game the Michigan faithful might start calling for a quarterback change. I don’t see Fitzgerald Toussaint continuing to carry this team all season. I can’t predict a winner for this game, but I do predict this will go down to the final minutes. But will Minnesota be able to close the deal?

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