Best of Week 11: Michigan at Iowa should be a lot of fun
Another week of full action, with seven games involving all 14 schools. There are six division games. The only one that isn’t—Michigan at Iowa—is the sexiest matchup of them all.
Iowa has won four of the last five from Michigan, including the last three in Kinnick Stadium. (Iowa is 6-4 in its last 10 vs. U-M.) The last time the Wolverines won along Melrose Ave. was 2005, a 23-20 decision. These schools haven’t met since 2013.
Here is a look at the Best of Week 11.
Game of the week: Michigan at Iowa. This game for the Hawkeyes comes on the heels of a trip to Penn State the week before. Not ideal. Conversely, Michigan plays at home vs. Maryland the week before coming to Kinnick. Iowa hasn’t played the Wolverines since 2013, winning four of the last five including three in a row in Kinnick. Still, Jim Harbaugh has Michigan rolling. This will be a good measuring stick for the Hawkeyes, the likely Big Ten West favorite.
Best quarterback matchup: Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner vs. Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong. Leidner is coming off a foot injury but is ready to go. He’s a big signal-caller who can run and pass. Maybe new coordinator Jay Johnson can maximize the talent of Leidner, who is looking for a big senior season. Like Leidner, Armstrong is a dual-threat quarterback who still hasn’t reached his potential as a passer. Maybe it will happen this fall for the fellow senior, who needs better accuracy and to limit picks.
Best head coach matchup: Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz vs. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. This should be epic. Ferentz is the dean of Big Ten coaches, entering his 18th season in Iowa City. Hayden Fry coached 20. And Ferentz is coming off a monster 12-win season that included the program’s first Rose Bowl since the 1990 season and the West title. Harbaugh has created a tidal wave of excitement and energy at Michigan, which seems to be on the precipice of huge things.
Best coordinator matchup: Illinois offensive coordinator Garrick McGee vs. Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. Two stars of their profession in their first years on the job. McGee has been a head coach (UAB) and coordinator at places like Northwestern, Arkansas and Louisville. Wilcox has pushed the buttons on defenses at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington and USC.
Upset alert: Visiting Minnesota could dump Nebraska. The Cornhuskers will be coming off back-to-back trips at Wisconsin and at Ohio State, so they may be beat up. Plus, the Gophers are 2-1 in their last three vs. Nebraska, winning in Lincoln when they last visited in 2014. And having a senior QB in Mitch Leidner will help Minnesota, too.
- Penn State needs to be careful when it plays at Indiana. By now, the Hoosier offense could be running smoothly under a new quarterback. And if Penn State tries to trade points with IU, it could be in trouble. The Nittany Lions have won the last two vs. Indiana but lost in 2013 in Bloomington, PSU’s lone setback in the series (18-1).
- Purdue has a shot to beat visiting Northwestern. The Boilermakers’ chances will be good if the Wildcats are still sputtering on offense. Still, NU is coming off a 10-win season and has won four of the last five meetings and two in a row at Purdue.
- Ohio State is 2-0 all-time vs. Maryland, outscoring the Terps, 101-52, the last two seasons.
- Illinois has one victory vs. Wisconsin since 2003 (1-10), taking a 31-26 decision in Champaign. The Badgers have won the last six. The last time the Fighting Illini won in Madison? It was 2002.
- Michigan State has beaten Rutgers both times as Big Ten foes, outscoring the Scarlet Knights, 76-27.
Ranking Week 11 games
1. Michigan at Iowa
2. Minnesota at Nebraska
3. Ohio State at Maryland
4. Penn State at Indiana
5. Illinois at Wisconsin
6. Rutgers at Michigan State
7. Northwestern at Purdue
In case you missed them, here are my previous weekly looks at the schedule:
- Dienhart: Your Big Ten football team’s toughest 2016 stretch
- Dienhart: Best chance for each Big Ten team to get upset
- Which teams have most favorable crossover foes? Least favorable?
- Dienhart: See your team’s toughest 2016 conference game
- Dienhart: Toughest non-con game for each Big Ten team
- Dienhart: Best chance for each Big Ten team to pull an upset
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