B1G Week 12 Preview: The Battle for the Legend’s Division

Every time I have to type out the B1G conference’s ridiculous division names, I cringe a little inside. These are two of the dumbest division names to ever exist in sports. Thankfully we only have to deal with this for a few more weeks and they will then go the way of the dinosaurs. The B1G will finally get normal division names (East and West) and catch up with the rest of the college football world. Speaking of being behind, B1G commissioner Jim Delany is the reason we’ve had these ridiculous names because he likes to think his brain trust and him are creative types. Delany was also one of the many who prevented a playoff from coming to college football any sooner and this could ironically screw his top team out of a shot at the national title game this season. So thanks for these great things Mr. Delany! Ugh, let’s talk about this week’s games.

Purdue @ Penn State

No offense to either of these schools’ fan bases, but this game has absolutely no meaning or point to it. Penn State is banned from going to a bowl game and Purdue is just plain awful. So I guess bragging rights are on the line. The game is at Happy Valley, so it makes the game even more impossible for Purdue to win. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg has had an interesting freshman season, but I think the future is quite bright for him and Penn State. Sanctions are going to continue to cripple Penn State the next couple of seasons, but Hackenberg will be a bright spot for Penn State fans to look forward to every game. I expect Hackenberg and the Nittany Lions to get an easy victory here and get back in the win column after losing to Minnesota last weekend.

Indiana @ #22 Wisconsin

One of my fondest memories of the history between these two teams was in 2010 when Wisconsin hung 83 points on the Hoosiers. Indiana coaches were pissed off at then Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema for running up the score. It was really just a case of Bret being Bret. And now Bielema is getting his butt handed to him on a platter in the SEC on a weekly basis. Don’t you just love karma? Fast forward to today and Wisconsin is still clearly the better team. Indiana hasn’t beaten Wisconsin since 2002. Indiana’s coach was Gerry DiNardo (who now works at the Big Ten Network) and they only won three games that season. So it’s been a while since Indiana has defeated Wisconsin. Indiana has a great offense, which is led by quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Tevin Coleman. Sudfeld has thrown for over 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. Coleman is only 42 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards and I consider him one of the most underrated running backs in the country. Speaking of running backs, Wisconsin has two great ones in James White and Melvin Gordon. I look for Wisconsin to pound the ball on the ground with these two against a porous Indiana defense. Wisconsin is also near unbeatable at home, so I look for the Badgers to win by at least three scores.

Michigan @ Northwestern

Somebody has to win this game, right? Then again it wouldn’t surprise me if this game went into unlimited overtime and the officials would finally just declare that they’ve both lost. I’m kidding (maybe). Both of these teams desperately need a win to stop their losing streaks and to rejuvenate their fan bases. Northwestern has lost five straight games and need to win two more games just to become bowl eligible. After this game they face Michigan State and Illinois, so they probably need to win this game to reach a bowl. Michigan has lost only two straight, but if you go to their blogs you would think the sky is falling. And I don’t blame them. Michigan has looked awful the last two weeks. Their offense has rushed for negative yards in consecutive games and their defense is so bad that I could probably run on it. Wolverine’s head coach Brady Hoke is feeling the heat and he could get the ax if his team doesn’t start showing improvement. Northwestern definitely took advantage of the bye week, as they have several players coming back from injuries this weekend. Running back Venric Mark is shut down for the season, but is applying for a medical hardship to come back for a fifth season. With several players coming back and the game being at Evanston, I like the Wildcats to finally get a win and for Michigan’s misery to continue.

#16 Michigan State @ Nebraska

This is one of the biggest games in college football this weekend. Of course you won’t hear this from any of the major networks because they’re too busy being cheerleaders for the SEC and Florida State. It’s simple: The winner of this game will win the Legend’s division and play for the B1G Championship in Indianapolis. Nebraska has had a crazy season, from blowing a three possession lead to UCLA to Bo Pelini’s meltdown to their Hail Mary over Northwestern. And yet they found a way to keep winning games and stay alive for a B1G championship. Quarterback Taylor Martinez looks to be out for the rest of the season with a foot injury, which you hate to see for a senior who plays with a lot of heart. So it looks like it is up to freshman Tommy Armstrong to lead this team to victory and a division title. Luckily he has two great play makers in running back Ameer Abdullah and wide receiver Kenny Bell. On the flip side, Michigan State is having a great season of their own and have been the clear favorites to win the Legend’s division. Their defense is one of the best in the country and the offense is now putting up enough points to really take the Spartans as a serious threat not just in the conference, but also nationally. Take a look at this great piece detailing the stats of Michigan State’s defense. Pretty impressive. Michigan State looks better than Nebraska on paper, but there are a lot of intangibles in this one. The Spartans have never beaten Nebraska (0-7 all-time). And you can’t discount the heart and “never say die” attitude of the Huskers. There’s a reason Michigan State is only a 6.5 point favorite. This is going to be close, but I’m picking Michigan State to win this game and to book their trip to Indianapolis.

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