B1G Week 10 Preview: The Battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy

Looking at the B1G schedule for week 10, its pretty obvious what game stands out and is the must see thriller for B1G fans. I’m talking of course about the Ohio State-Purdue game! Everyone has been circling this game on their calendar for months. But in all seriousness the game that actually stands out is Michigan @ Michigan State. The winner will undoubtedly have an advantage in the Legend’s division race. The loser will face a much tougher road if they hope to reach Indianapolis. Before we go any further let’s talk about the other match ups around the conference.

Illinois @ Penn State

Talk about the battle of beaten down teams. These two teams are coming off absolute nightmare games, in which each were dominated. Penn State was handed its worst loss in over a century by Ohio State and Illinois was steamrolled by the Michigan State defense. Both are ready to put last weekend behind them and couldn’t get to Saturday soon enough. The game being at Happy Valley is pretty big for Penn State because they’ve been beaten soundly at both of their road games this season. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg is coming off his worst game of his career. He threw for only 112 yards, two interceptions and was pulled out of the game in the second half. A normally solid Penn State rushing attack only got 120 yards on the ground and zero touchdowns. Illinois had very similar numbers offensively last weekend. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase only threw for 103 yards and an interception. The Fighting Illini only mustered 25 rushing yards. To me this game comes down to who can respond best from a beat down and can actually apply what they learned from it to make themselves better. I think Penn State responds best and thrives off their home field advantage, cruising to an easy victory behind star receiver Allen Robinson.

Minnesota @ Indiana

Indiana is a high-scoring team with a bad defense. Minnesota is a team that rides behind its solid running game and consistently steady defense. I see Minnesota having no problem running the ball and putting up points in this game. The big question is can their defense stop the high-powered offense of Indiana? Indiana is averaging 342.7 passing yards per game, which is the 10th best average in the FBS. Their average of 42.4 points per game is good enough for eighth overall in the FBS. The Hoosiers even scored 28 points against a tough Michigan State defense. At the same time Minnesota’s defense has demonstrated they can slow down high-scoring offenses too, as Nebraska couldn’t get going at all last weekend against the Gophers. This game is pretty even and I could see any team coming out on top on this one. You can’t go wrong picking the Hoosiers or the Gophers.

Northwestern @ Nebraska

These are two teams that could definitely use a win at the moment. Northwestern is currently mired in a four-game losing streak after opening the season 4-0. Nebraska is coming off a surprising road loss to Minnesota and once again has Husker fans questioning the leadership of Pelini and whether or not he should be replaced. This is something I’ve been discussing in length with some Nebraska and B1G fans. My opinion seems to constantly be shifting on Pelini and I’m really not sure what to make of the situation. Pelini has consistently delivered good seasons at Nebraska, but I think some Husker fans are ready for the program to take the next step and return to the national conversation. Right now it’s hard to gauge both teams and what to expect from them. I think this will be a tight game, but I’ll go with the team that has home-field advantage and has a little more to play for in Nebraska. I expect Martinez and Nebraska to play with some passion and deliver a win to the home crowd.

#24 Wisconsin @ Iowa

Wisconsin has been rolling ever since losing to Ohio State, but this could be trap game for the Badgers in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes can be a tricky team to face when playing them in Kinnick Stadium. And of course you can’t forget about the pink visitor’s locker room that is supposed to play psychological games with opposing players’ heads (I rarely hear this mentioned on broadcasts now). Both of these teams play a similar style of offense. They like to pound it on the ground and only pass when necessary. Iowa is led by the one-two punch of Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock, while Wisconsin has their own dynamic duo in Melvin Gordon and James White. The Badgers duo has the edge in terms of talent, but they will face one of the best red zone defenses in football. While Iowa has the home-field advantage, Wisconsin has had two weeks to prepare for this game. I think Iowa puts up a good fight, but in the end Wisconsin has the talent edge on offense and defense.

#21 Michigan @ #22 Michigan State


How about this? Two ranked B1G teams facing off against each other! Not only is this a heated rivalry game, but a game that will no doubt affect the Legend’s division race in the B1G. Michigan State currently leads the division and is the favorite to face Ohio State in the B1G Championship game. The Spartans have one of the best defenses in the country and have suffocated opposing teams all season long. The big question mark all season has been the offense, which prompted me to go on this rant. Well now it appears the offense is coming around too. Michigan State has scored 40 or more points in two of their last three games. Michigan got a much-needed bye week after winning a shootout against Indiana two weeks ago. Michigan, unlike it’s rival Michigan State, has had a pretty good offense all season, but have struggled mightily on defense. The return of star linebacker Jake Ryan will help once he gets back to 100% again, but it’s going to take more than one player for Michigan to fix their defensive woes. I expect the Michigan coaching staff will try some new schemes in this game to try to shake things up on defense. While on paper this game appears to be in favor of Michigan State, you can never predict what will happen in rivalry games. Most of the time this game goes down to the final minutes or seconds even, so I won’t be surprised if this is the case again. It should be a fun game to watch (especially if Michigan loses).

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