Football season can’t come soon enough. To help get everyone ready for the 2012 season, I’m taking a very early look at each week’s slate of games. I’ve already done the first five weeks – Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and Week 5 – and now it’s time to consider Week 6. Find it in this post.
Storylines: The second week of conference action lacks pizzazz. It’s also a light week of action with just five games, as Minnesota and Iowa are off. The only captivating matchup is Nebraska’s visit to Ohio State. The last time the Cornhuskers played in Columbus was 1955, with the Buckeyes taking a 28-20 win.
Game of the week: Nebraska at Ohio State. Enjoy this, fans, as after the Cornhuskers’ first visit to the Horseshoe as a member of the Big Ten, these storied programs won’t meet again until 2017. That’s a four-year gap in the series. And that’s not good, as America shouldn’t be denied the chance to watch these iconic programs go so long between games. Last year’s game was a classic, as the Cornhuskers roared back for a 21-point second-half deficit to notch a 34-27 victory. This also will be an emotional game for Youngstown, Ohio, native and Husker coach Bo Pelini, who was a Buckeye free safety from 1987-90.
Quarterback matchup to watch: Taylor Martinez enjoyed one of his best efforts of the season in beating Ohio State in 2011. He hit 16-of-22 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns and a pick, and ran 17 times for 102 yards and a score. Braxton Miller completed just 5-of-8 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown but ran 10 times for 91 yards in the defeat. Who will win this battle between two of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks?
Coordinator matchup to watch: Watch Purdue offensive coordinator Gary Nord trade Xs and Os with Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. The Boilermakers’ best shot to win figures to be to score often. And Nord appears to have his best array of weapons yet in West Lafayette. But the Purdue offense will be challenged by a Wolverine defense that was one of the biggest surprises in the nation but will be rebuilding its line.
Upset alert: Northwestern could escape State College, Pa., with a victory. The Nittany Lions are a bit of a mystery, especially on offense, under first-year coach Bill O’Brien. That’s good news for a Wildcat squad that’s a work-in-progress on defense. That means this game likely will come down to the matchup between the Northwestern offense and the Penn State defense. Fast fact: The last time Northwestern won in Beaver Stadium was 2004.
Ranking the October 6 games
1. Nebraska at Ohio State
2. Michigan at Purdue
3. Illinois at Wisconsin
4. Northwestern at Penn State
5. Michigan State at Indiana
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