Best of Week 14: Got to love rivalry week!
The Big Ten has saved the best for last, as the Week 14 lineup features seven games that all are enticing for one reason or another. In fact, titles in both divisions may be on the line.
Here’s a breakdown of the best of Week 14.
BEST OF WEEK 14
Interesting factoid: While Ohio State has won 11 of the last 13 meetings vs. heated rival Michigan, the Wolverines have trashed perfect Buckeye seasons in 1993, 1995 and 1996. That could be something to keep your eye on.
Game of the week: Michigan at Ohio State. Is there any question? OK, maybe Iowa and Nebraska fans could have an argument, seeing as how their game could decide the Big Ten West. Still, this is the rivalry game of all rivalry games in the Big Ten and plenty figures to be on the line.
Top quarterback matchup: Michigan State’s Connor Cook vs. Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg. This could be one of the better battles between signal-callers all season. Cook is an emerging star who took the Big Ten by storm last season en route to leading the Spartans to a glorious 13-1 season. Hackenberg lived up to his massive hype as a true freshman in 2013, showing maturity beyond his years while flashing his fabulous arm.
Best coordinator battle: Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier vs. Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and co-DC Chris Ash. Nussmeier arrived from Alabama, looking to put some toughness and grit into a Wolverine attack that was 10th overall (373.5 ypg) and 11th in rushing (125.7 ypg) in the Big Ten last fall. Ash was hired from Arkansas to fix a leaky Ohio State pass defense that was No. 11 in the league (268.0 ypg).
Upset alert: Rutgers at Maryland. This figures to be one of the few foes the Terrapins will be favored to beat. But what type of mental and physical shape will Maryland be in by Nov. 29 coming off a killer six-game stretch? If the Terps are dragging, they could get dumped by the fellow Big Ten newbie Scarlet Knights. These schools last played in 2007 and 2009, with each winning in the other’s stadium.
Week 14 nuggets: Northwestern has won the last two meetings and eight of 11 vs. Illinois, which hasn’t won in Evanston since 2002. (The Illini won in Wrigley Field in 2010.) … Since 1997, the Boilermakers are 13-4 vs. rival Indiana … The Michigan State-Penn State meeting will mark the first since 2010 … The Badgers have won the last 10 meetings and 17 of 19 vs. Minnesota, which hasn’t won in Madison since 1994.
RANKING WEEK 14 GAMES
1. Michigan at Ohio State
2. Nebraska at Iowa (Friday)
3. Minnesota at Wisconsin
4. Michigan State at Penn State
5. Illinois at Northwestern
6. Purdue at Indiana
7. Rutgers at Maryland
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|