B1G Week Seven Preview: Legends vs Leaders

This week’s slate of B1G games features teams from the Legend’s division taking on teams from the Leader’s division. Both divisions are clearly different. The Legend’s division is a cluster and probably won’t be determined until the final game, whereas the Leader’s division is clearly Ohio State’s to lose. With most of the division pretty tight in terms of talent and win-loss records, pretty much every game matters for conference positioning and bowl eligibility. Every team, except Purdue and Penn State (bowl ban) have a shot at a bowl game. This makes for great football.

Indiana @ Michigan State

This game is all about the high-scoring spread attack offense of Indiana going against the suffocating Michigan State defense. These teams are basically polar opposites of one another. The Hoosiers win in high scoring fashion while Michigan State prefers to keep it low scoring and basically operate like a traditional B1G team. Indiana averages 346 passing yards per game (10th best in the FBS) and 44.4 points per game (12th overall). Michigan State is 7th overall in the FBS in points against, only allowing an average of 13.4 points per game. Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld should be able to score a couple of touchdowns against the Michigan State defense, but I don’t think enough to win the game. Home field is a key advantage for Michigan State and could really be the difference maker. I think Connor Cook and the Spartans offense will score enough against an average Indiana defense and pull off the victory at home.

Nebraska @ Purdue

Out of all the B1G games this is by far the worst of the bunch. Pretty much any team who plays Purdue from here on out that weekend will be the dud game of the week. Purdue is clearly the worst team in the conference. Nebraska is coming off one of its most encouraging performances this season as they had complete control in their win over Illinois. Quarterback Taylor Martinez’s status is still up in the air for the game, but it shouldn’t make much difference. Backup Tommy Armstrong proved he can step in and do well and would have no problem if he’s needed again against Purdue. I expect Martinez not to play since he isn’t really needed against Purdue and there is a bye on deck. Nebraska should win this game pretty easily.

#18 Michigan @ Penn State

If this game was taking place in Ann Arbor I would say Michigan wins this game by at least two possessions. But since it’s in Happy Valley it changes everything. Penn State is clearly a better team at home, especially since this is a night game. The Nittany Lion faithful should be extra loud for this one. Michigan is somehow still undefeated and I would argue this is their toughest test yet. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner had his first turnover free game last week against Minnesota and looks to continue this trend. On the flip side freshman Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is really starting to shine coming off a 300 yard performance with zero turnovers against Indiana. Both teams have a solid rushing attack that can look great and bad at times. With the offenses basically even I say this game comes down to the defenses. I think Penn State can ride the emotions of the home crowd and pull off the upset.

#19 Northwestern @ Wisconsin

Camp Randall Stadium

This game isn’t prime time like Michigan-Penn State, but it deserves to be. Both of these teams are coming off heartbreaking losses to the Buckeyes and really shouldn’t be ashamed about it. They looked great in both of their performances and took a more talented team to their limits. This game will determine who is the second best team in the conference. I know Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State have an argument too, but these two teams have proven more to me. The loser is pretty much eliminated from contending for the B1G Championship because Northwestern has no room for error in a tight Legends division and Wisconsin already needs Ohio State to lose twice to pass them in the division (which is high unlikely). So everything is on the line for both teams. Wisconsin has a great rushing attack, averaging 300.6 rushing yards per game (6th best in the FBS). People tend to overlook their stout defense, which is only giving up only 14.6 points per game. Northwestern got a much-needed boost on offense last week with the return of Venric Mark. He didn’t put up flashy numbers, but certainly made his presence felt. The quarterback duo of Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter put up great numbers against the Ohio State defense, combining for 25 of 31 passing for 343 yards and two touchdowns. You could pretty much flip a coin when picking the winner of this game. While Wisconsin is near unbeatable at home, Northwestern has the talent and coaching to pull off a rare road win in Madison.

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