Buy or Sell: Penn State's Saquon Barkley is a Heisman hopeful?
Here is what I’m buying and selling as we enter Week 11.
Wisconsin is the team to beat in the Big Ten West?
Buy. Yes, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska are all tied atop the West standings with 4-2 Big Ten records. But the Badgers have the better resume, knocking off three teams ranked in the AP Top 10 when they played: LSU, Michigan State and Nebraska. And the Badgers’ schedule down the stretch is favorable, with Illinois and Minnesota coming to Madison and UW playing at Purdue. Wisconsin looks like a good bet to finish 10-2 and advance to the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis.
Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett is the top quarterback in the Big Ten?
Sell. That honor goes to Michigan’s Wilton Speight. He is No. 1 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, hitting 64.5 percent of his attempts for 2,053 yards with 15 TDs and three interceptions. Speight’s passing has helped open room for a Wolverine rushing attack that some feel is Michigan’s vulnerability. But, as long as Speight is passing well, there should be plenty of room for the Wolverine backs to roam for the No. 1 scoring offense in the Big Ten 47.8 ppg.
Minnesota is a legit 7-2?
Sell. Now is when we’ll discover just how good the Golden Gophers are. So far, so good for Minnesota. In fact, it could be even better for the Gophers, who are just a three-point overtime loss at Penn State and a seven-point home defeat to Iowa from being 9-0. But things get challenging now for Minnesota, which finishes at Nebraska, vs. Northwestern and at Wisconsin. If the Gophers are going to win the West, they will have to earn it. Minnesota’s best win so far? Probably over 5-4 Colorado State or 5-4 Maryland. Not overly impressive.
Penn State will win out to finish 10-2?
Buy. The Nittany Lions are as hot as any team in the nation, winners of five in a row. During the run, Penn State has outscored foes 194-99 (38.8-19.8). The Nittany Lions have been dominant. And that’s bad news for PSU’s last three foes: at Indiana, at Rutgers and vs. Michigan State.
Michigan State’s fall from the Big Ten summit is more surprising than Penn State’s turnaround?
Buy. Who saw this coming? The Spartans went 12-2 last year, winning the Big Ten and advancing to the College Football Playoff. It was Michigan State’s fifth double-digit win season in six years. Sure, the Spartans had holes to fill with players like quarterback Connor Cook, offensive tackle Jack Conklin and defensive end Shilique Calhoun gone. Still, the freefall has been stupefying. The play of the defense has been especially vexing. MSU is No. 12 in the Big Ten in scoring defense (29.9 ppg), 12th in third-down defense (44.2 percent) and is last in sacks (0.8 pg). And there has been a lack of discipline, as the Spartans are the most penalized team in the Big Ten (66.8 ypg) and No. 13 in turnover margin (minus five).
Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is a Heisman hopeful?
Buy. The Penn State sophomore is coming on fast. He ran 20 times for 167 yards and a TD and caught a 44-yard TD pass last week vs. Iowa. The week before at Purdue, Barkley ran 18 times for 207 yards and two TDs. In the last four games, he has run 81 times for 675 yards (8.3 ypc) with four TDs. Barkley also has four catches for 114 yards and a TD. And don’t be shocked if he rips up the last opponents on the Nittany Lions’ schedule, Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan State, to add to his Big Ten-leading rushing total of 1,055 yards to go along with 11 TDs.
Northwestern DE and Big Ten sack leader Ifeadi Odenigbo is the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year?
Sell. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers or Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt may be the favorites right now. But, Odenigbo has a chance to win the honor with a strong finish. The guy arrived in Evanston with a lot of hype but has taken a long time to emerge. Well, better late than never. Odenigbo is having a big senior season. He paces the Big Ten in sacks with eight and is seventh in tackles for loss with 10. The guy has emerged as a playmaker off the edge for an underrated NU defense and could be an All-Big Ten honoree.
Rutgers needs a Big Ten win more than Michigan State?
Sell. Honestly, they both are desperate for a Big Ten triumph, as each is 0-6. In fact, this is the first time MSU has been 0-6 in league play. The good news is one will get a conference triumph when they meet this Saturday at Michigan State. But the Spartans need to taste victory more in a season that has been depressingly bad in East Lansing. MSU needs some type of success to know the program hasn’t gone completely off the rails a season after winning the Big Ten and playing in the playoff.
Indiana has a better shot than Maryland to make a bowl?
Sell. I think both have an equal shot to reach the postseason. Each enters the 11th week of the season with a 5-4 mark, one win from bowl eligibility. And, I like the chances of each to win at least six games. The Hoosiers have games left vs. Penn State, at Michigan and vs. Purdue. The Terrapins have games left vs. Ohio State, at Nebraska and vs. Rutgers.