Then Nebraska upset MSU, Minnesota stunned everyone and beat Iowa, and Ohio State squeezed past Wisconsin. It led to some great finishes, especially late Saturday night. Flipping back and forth between OSU-UW and Stanford-USC was great and both ending spectacularly.
However, it did open up some question marks about the teams while providing some entertainment standings-wise late in the season. Here's a quick rundown
- In the Leaders division, it's PSU's to lose right now, but that's not to say they won't lose it. While they hold a 2.5 game lead, their final 3 games are their hardest this season as they host Nebraska, then travel to OSU and UW. If they can win 2 of those 3, particularly one of the last two, they'll be your Leaders representative.
- Lurking behind PSU is Ohio State and Wisconsin, as well as Purdue. The first two teams can most certainly be deemed contenders. Ohio State sits at 2-2 in the division with a game this week against Indiana, then traveling to Purdue before taking on PSU and Michigan. With the tie-breaker already in hand over UW and a seemingly easy win this week, a win over PSU would give them a huge edge, but we aren't looking forward yet.
- UW has faltered on two plays this year, but they've been the two biggest plays of the season and they've fallen hard. Things do get significantly easier for them as they have Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, and PSU to wrap out the season. However, winning out is all they could hope for.
- In the Legends division, things are just as messy, if not worse. Nebraska, Michigan, and Michigan State all seat at 3-1. Nebraska holds the tie-breaker over Michigan State and MSU has the tie-breaker over Michigan. With a matchup of Michigan/Nebraska coming in a couple weeks, this is an impending cluster you know what also.
- Nebraska is in the driver's seat right now as they sit atop the divisions. Remaining on their schedule is Northwestern, PSU, Michigan, and Iowa, certainly 4 winnable games. If they do win out, they're going to Indianapolis. Essentially, this is their's to lose at this point.
- Michigan State DEFINITELY has the easiest finish out of any B1G school. vs. Minn, @ Iowa, vs. IU, @ NW. There's no reason they shouldn't finish with 4 wins and, if that's the case, I think they'll be in Indianapolis. I don't think Nebraska finishes the year without a loss and they have no room for error.
- Michigan is the dark-horse in all this. With games against Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and OSU left, they could definitely impact the B1G title game, but I can't see them getting in. It would take MSU losing and them beating Nebraska, then win out, for them to make it. While certainly not impossible, it just doesn't favor in their advantage.
Last week, I went 6-3, the NB3 section saving me from a complete embarrassment. My total on the year is 72-20.
Illinois - Talk about falling off your pedestal. Illinois went from the Cinderella of the B1G to the dumpster in 3 games. And really, I could see it all along. This team loaded up the schedule in the beginning, playing 5 of it's first 6 games at home. In fact, they only have 4 road games all year. After their fast start, they actually had legit B1G competition to face and they fell flat on their face. And with games against Michigan and Wisconsin left, things may get uglier still.
Penn State - I ragged on them a lot, but this team is very impressive. The 2 QB system is essentially done at this point as Bolden hasn't "shared" snaps with McGloin in a while. He may still come into the game for a couple plays, but it's McGloin's team now. Also, I definitely can't forget congratulating PSU and JoePa on his historic win last week. This may be one of his finer coaching jobs in a while with this team.
WHY ARE YOU SCHEDULING CUPCA.....Oh, those are conference games
Indiana @ Ohio State - IU not only lost to Northwestern on Saturday, they lost their leading returning WR from last year, albeit by coach's decision. DaMarlo Belcher, someone I expected a lot from this year and who looked good early on, was kicked off the team this weekend for "violating team rules." While no one really knows what happened, Wilson has certainly taken a stand this year, kicking many players off no matter how high profile they are. And Belcher hadn't played in a couple games, so we knew something was up.
Tre Roberson again looked like the future of IU. Against a team that could game plan against him, he still combined for 290 total yards with 2 TDs and 1 pick. He made some throws that you wouldn't expect from a true freshman and is giving IU fans a reason to be optimistic. Also, the emergence of a run game (319 yards last week and 217 the week before) is something IU hasn't seen in a long time.
Ohio State is peaking right at the perfect time. For everything wrong that's happened to them, they've overcome in and looked great against Wisconsin. With back to back wins over ranked teams (could have been 3 straight if they held on against Nebraska), this team seems to be clicking on all cylinders. Braxton Miller looks like a future star and should have a field day against IU.
OSU wins relatively easily, 42-17.
Minnesota @ Michigan State Really, Minnesota? What got into you guys last week. I didn't get to see the game, but wow what a game by them. 2 late TDs gave Minnesota the upset and certainly Minnesota's biggest win of the year. Marqueis Gray totaled 270 yards and 2 TDs and gave Minnesota fans something to be optimistic about.
The problem is, they face a Michigan State team that just got whooped by Nebraska. Their offense was completely shut down to the tune of 187 total yards (IU's QB had more yards than MSU, meaning IU > MSU. I had to say it). I suspect MSU is going to come out hot and ready to make a statement. This team has 4 very winnable games left and if they want in a BCS bowl, they'll need to win big in these games. I think Minnesota will oblige, against their will however.
MSU wins big, 48-10.
Purdue @ Wisconsin - If this game was at Purdue, I might but it up to mildly interesting, but it's not. And even if it were, it really wouldn't be mildly interesting. This is a Wisconsin team that is going to be super upset. They are 2 plays from an undefeated season and now would be lucky to even make a Rose Bowl. Their defense has really let them down late as the offense has certainly more than done their part in the two games (31 and 29 points). The team that shows up Saturday in this game will say a lot about UW's chances.
Purdue is an interesting team. In reality, they sit at 2-2 in the conference and have the same record as Wisconsin and Ohio State, meaning they do have as good a chance as them mathematically to play in the Rose Bowl. But that's going to be the last time you here Purdue and Rose Bowl in the same sentence. They finish up with Wisconsin, Ohio State, Iowa, and then @ Indiana. The first two games are must-win games for the opponent while the last two could be winnable.
Wisconsin embarrasses Purdue, 51-3.
Northwestern @ Nebraska - I put this as mildly interesting because there is a slight possibility of a good game. It simply depends on which Nebraska defense shows up. If it's the defense that gave up 48 points to Wisconsin, or the one who gave up 3 to MSU? If it's the first one, this is going to be a long day because Dan Persa might be the best pure QB in the conference. If it's the latter, then Nebraska should have no problem winning the division.
As for Northwestern, I give them a fighting chance because they do have a good offense. Against IU, they put up 59 points and 600 yards, almost half of them through the air. In reality, it's a very balanced offense and one that is capable of winning them games. If this gets into a shootout, I might even favor Northwestern's offense over Nebraska's, but as bad as Nebraska's defense may have ever looked, it isn't as bad as Northwestern's. If you give up 400 yards and nearly 40 points to IU, you have a bad defense.
And that is why I'm going with Nebraska pulling away late, 38-28.
This is really your game of the week?
Michigan @ Iowa - If there was any bright spot in Iowa's loss last week, and that'd be hard considering they lost to the worst team in the B1G, it was that Marcus Coker went off for 250 yards and a couple touchdowns. In their last two games, albeit against IU and Minnesota, he has 391 yards and 4 touchdowns and is really on a hot streak. If they are going to beat Michigan, it's going to be because Coker had a huge day, honestly. This offense isn't dynamic enough to win in spite of him. Coker is going to have to have a big day, which is a tall order against a much improved Michigan defense.
Michigan, if they want any shot at the Rose Bowl, absolutely can not lose another game. This is the type of game that, in the past, Michigan has faltered in. It's a game that isn't a big game necessarily, but still a game they need to win. With RichRod, I would definitely pick against this team, but with RichRod, this team wouldn't be in this position this late in the season, so I guess that's a mute point. Regardless, someone on Michigan has to step up and win this game and most signs point to Denard being that guy.
Michigan wins this week, but in a close one, 27-21.
Next Best 3
1. LSU @ 'Bama - Like I could honestly pick any thing else. I'm not going to go into great detail on this game, but check out UH's SEC and the Next Best 3 blog for more on the game. I'll simply give my prediction, which is 27-23 LSU.
2. South Carolina @ Arkansas - Talk about flying under the radar. This is another top-10 SEC showdown that no one is talking about. South Carolina is, right now, in the driver's seat in their division but I don't think they'll hang out. Arkansas wins 27-20.
3. Kansas State @ OK State - Kansas State always seemed overrated in my book and I think OU exposed that to some extent last week. Unfortunately for them, they now have to travel to OK State for a rebound game. I think we'll know what the true OK State team looks like following this week and it's not going to be pretty. OK State wins 38-13.