B1G Week Eleven Preview: Win or You’re Out

We’re getting to the point of the season where each game can have a big impact on a team’s season. A win or loss could mean the difference between becoming bowl eligible, staying in a conference race, keeping your BCS hopes alive or even a coach’s job security. The level of intrigue and excitement certainly goes up a notch when the season hits November. With that being said let’s get to this week’s B1G games and see what’s on the line for each of them.

Penn State @ Minnesota

For Minnesota, an unprecedented eight win is up for grabs here and an outside shot of remaining in the Legend’s division conversation. For Penn State, until the bowl ban ends it’s all about playing for pride and respect. This should be a close and interesting game. The Gophers are firing right now on both sides of the field. On offense, quarterback Philip Nelson and running back David Cobb have been getting better each game. The defense continues to play together as a solid unit and seem to have a bend, but don’t break philosophy. With Penn State this season, we’ve seen two different teams. There’s the good team that beat Michigan and then there’s the bad team that got beaten by Ohio State and Indiana. It all really depends on the play of quarterback Christian Hackenberg. If he can play well, then Penn State has a shot to win this game. If he doesn’t, I expect an easy victory for the Gophers.

Iowa @ Purdue

Am I finally going to say this is the game that Purdue shocks everybody and wins? No way. Purdue got shellacked by the Buckeyes last week at home, so they don’t exactly have momentum on their side. I will say one good thing about Purdue: They have a solid punting game. So they got that going for them. Iowa is looking to get their sixth win of the season and going back to their first bowl game in two seasons after missing out last season. The Hawkeyes should have no problem running the ball all over the Boilermakers. This should be a nice tune up game for Iowa before they face Michigan in two weeks.

Illinois @ Indiana

After winning three of its first four games, Illinois has lost four out of the last five. They’ve also lost 18 straight conference games. If they want to reach six wins and bowl eligibility, they have to win three of their last four games. Piece of cake, right? Well with Ohio State on deck next week and it likely being a loss, an Illini loss here pretty much eliminates them from reaching a bowl. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and the offense will need to step it up and put up a lot of points if they hope to beat Indiana. But this is also a must win for Indiana if they hope to reach a bowl too. The Hoosiers offense has been able to score a ton of points all season, but the defense has cost them in several games. Last weekend was a perfect example. Minnesota’s offense got out to a nice lead, but the Hoosiers offense made a comeback and led by three late. The Indiana defense then let Minnesota’s offense drive right down the field and score the game-winning touchdown. This one’s a complete toss-up, but I think Indiana’s offense will win them this game.

BYU @ #24 Wisconsin

A non-conference game for a B1G team in November? Yeah this is a pretty rare thing. Kudos to Wisconsin for scheduling a solid opponent so late in the season. BYU is quietly 6-2 on the season, with their only losses being Virginia (?) and Utah. Their most impressive wins have coming against Texas and Georgia Tech. So BYU isn’t a world beater, but is a pretty solid team. The star for the Cougars is unquestionably their quarterback Taysom Hill. Hill has thrown for 2,019 yards and 12 touchdowns, while also rushing for 841 yards and eight touchdowns. If you wanna beat BYU, you have to stop Hill from having a great game. The Badgers’ defense is certainly capable of slowing down Hill. With the exception being Braxton Miller, they’ve been able to keep other quarterbacks in check. Is Hill at the same level as Miller? Not quite, but he’s not too far off. The Badgers should be able to run on the Cougars because they’ve found success in their running game when facing just about anyone (except Ohio State). This will be a close game, but the magic of Camp Randall Stadium should be enough to help Wisconsin win this game.

Nebraska @ Michigan

I’ll just spell out for you: this game is pretty big for both teams. The winner remains alive in the Legend’s division race and helps take some heat off their respective coach. The loser is eliminate from the decision race, puts more heat on their coach and chalk up another loss in a lost season. No pressure. Michigan just picked itself up out of the field at Spartan Stadium after Michigan State beat them into it. The Spartans obliterated Michigan in all facets of the game. Wolverine fans are in panic mode, with some even calling for head coach Brady Hoke to get the ax. So the sky is basically falling in Ann Arbor right now. I don’t know how Michigan is prepared for this game against Nebraska. Your guess is as good as mine. You can’t exactly fix a bad defense in one week. So Michigan needs to hope Devin Gardner and the offense can score a lot of points. Nebraska is coming off an emotional home victory against Northwestern, which they won with a last second Hail Mary. Star quarterback Taylor Martinez is still recovering from injuries and will not start against Michigan. Backup Tommy Armstrong will be making his fifth career start and doesn’t exactly have momentum. He was pulled against Northwestern after he threw three interceptions and nearly cost them the game. He has yet to face a hostile road environment like this yet, so nerves could play a factor. Nebraska is a hard team to gauge because you never know how the defense will play. I see a lot of points in this game, with scoring going into the forties, maybe even the fifties. This may shock you, but I think the Wolverines win this one. Hoke has yet to lose at home, so it’s hard to go against Michigan here with that kind of record. If Michigan does indeed win, just enjoy it while you can Wolverine fans.

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