There are many things to keep your eyes on this weekend. Can Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson pass effectively vs. a tough Penn State defense? Is Ohio State’s defense capable of slowing down Michigan’s ground game? Can Nebraska slow down Iowa RB Marcus Coker? Those are just a few of the things to watch for on Saturday. I offer up 12 things to look for Saturday, the final weekend of the Big Ten football season.
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart rolls out his final week of regular season picks for all of the Big Ten football games.
This is it, the final weekend of the season. Penn State will play at Wisconsin to decide which school will represent the Leaders Division vs. Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten title game. Michigan is looking to end Ohio State’s run of seven wins in a row in their iconic rivalry. Purdue is looking to win back the Old Oaken Bucket and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. Iowa and Nebraska kick off the start of what could become a great rivalry. And Illinois is looking to end a five-game losing streak before the postseason. Following below is my look at all six Big Ten games this Saturday.
The turnaround has been remarkable. Last year, Michigan finished last in the Big Ten in passing defense (261.9 ypg) and scoring defense (35.2 ppg) and 10th in rushing defense (188.9 ypg). This year, the Wolverine defense is No. 5 (316.0) in the Big Ten overall, vs. the run (131.6) and vs. the pass (184.4). And one of the reasons for the turnaround is end Ryan Van Bergen.
As we get closer to the Big Ten Football Championship, I’m seeing more and more mail on the end-of-season awards, bowl games and tiebreakers. I even got my first basketball question! I love to get your notes and encourage you to keep them coming. The more mail the better. Now let’s get to this week’s answers …
The Michigan-Ohio State game is the annual exclamation mark on the Big Ten season. This year’s storyline: Can the Wolverines end the Buckeyes’ seven-season run of dominance? A Wolverine victory not only would ease the pain for Michigan fans, but it also will enhance the team’s resume in its bid to earn a BCS at-large bowl slot.
The bowl picture is firming up, but the Big Ten may feel a squeeze if it gets 10 bowl eligible teams, as the conference has just eight bowl slots guaranteed. A win by Purdue at Indiana would give the league 10 bowl eligible squads, meaning the Big Ten would need other leagues to fail to have enough bowl eligible teams to accommodate all of their schools.
Saturday is still five days away. But it isn’t too early to sneak a peek at the matchups. There’s a lot riding on the line for the last weekend of regular-season action. Penn State and Wisconsin will play to decide who will advance to play Michigan State in the Big Ten title game; Purdue is trying to become bowl eligible; and it’s Ohio State-Michigan week. The storyline: The Wolverines are trying to end seven years of misery and enhance their BCS at-large resume.
It’s almost time to hand out the postseason hardware, as there is just one week left to impress. Many of the trophy races are still in flux, including the Player of the Year award. Who is my leader? Russell Wilson? Kirk Cousins? Montee Ball? Marcus Coker? Denard Robinson? Check out my latest Trophy Tracker.
An interesting Saturday saw champions crowned in each division and one team clinch a spot in the inaugural Big Ten title game. Northwestern also became bowl eligible for a school-record fifth season in a row. But what else did I learn this weekend?
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Wisconsin wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip away. No way. The Badgers had come too far to blow it now.
Following the action every Saturday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart breaks down what every game, every result means for the teams involved and the Big Ten itself. See Tom’s Week 12 Snap Reactions in this post.
With the potential for each division to be wrapped up this Saturday, there will be plenty to keep an eye on. Can Michigan State continue to run well? Is Penn State dialed it despite all of the off-field turmoil? Wisconsin must guard against a letdown when it plays at Illinois. Will the Badgers remain focused? Here’s what you should watch for each team this Saturday.
Saturday is on our doorstep with many key games and storylines looming. Can Purdue and Northwestern become bowl eligible? Could Michigan State (Legends) and Penn State (Leaders) wrap up their division? Here are my picks for each of the six games. Now you make yours, too.
A full slate of games is on tap this weekend and the storylines abound. Michigan State (Legends) and Penn State (Leaders) could clinch shares of their respective divisions, but Wisconsin also controls its destiny in the Leaders and looks to keep pace with the Nittany Lions (full standings here). And Purdue and Northwestern could become bowl eligible. Following is a look at this Saturday’s menu of games, so be sure to track them from kickoff to the final whistle.
By the time Montee Ball leaves Wisconsin, he may have a place alongside a growing list of great Badger running backs. Ball already has etched his name in the Big Ten record books. Last week, he scored three touchdowns to push his 2011 total to 27, a Big Ten single-season record. He has 23 rushing touchdowns and four via the air. Ball also has thrown a touchdown pass.
You have questions, I have answers. I dig into my mailbag to respond to some of your most vexing questions. Can Nebraska still make it to the Big Ten title game? Should the Big Ten have stripped Joe Paterno’s name from its championship game trophy, which it made official earlier this week? I answer those queries, and others, in this week’s mailbag.
Just two weeks remain in the regular season, but there still is a lot to play for in the Big Ten. Michigan State could wrap up the Legends Division this week with a win at home over Indiana and a loss by Nebraska at Michigan. Regardless, if the Spartans win out, they are in the Big Ten title game on Dec. 3.
When it comes to consistent greatness, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson has set the pace all season. From the season opener vs. UNLV, when Wilson hit 10-of-13 passes for 255 and two scores, to last Saturday, when he connected on 16-of-17 passes for 177 and four touchdowns, Wilson has been a study in weekly greatness.
Can’t wait for Saturday? Me neither. The top storylines for this weekend: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State all control their destiny in their respective divisions. Can each stay on track? Also, Purdue and Northwestern look to become bowl eligible. Here’s a quickie look at each Big Ten game this weekend.
Just one more victory. That’s all Purdue and Northwestern need to become bowl eligible. And if each makes it, the Big Ten will have 10 bowl-eligible teams. However, the Big Ten has just eight bowl slots. Two more would need to be found for all of the Big Ten teams to find a postseason home. That means the Big Ten needs other leagues or schools to fail to have enough bowl eligible teams to fill their bowl slots.
Only two weeks remain for players to make a run at one of the Big Ten’s inaugural postseason trophies, and the races for the various hardware continue to scramble from week to week with many players still in contention. Who are the leaders? Check it out in my latest Trophy Tracker. And don’t forget to watch our interview with Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, whose name might just be in contention for some of the hardware in this post.
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart chats live every Monday at noon ET during the football season. Did you miss it? We took questions for about an hour and Dienhart touched on the past weekend and he upcoming one, too. Look back at the conversation we had and come back to BTN.com next Monday at noon ET for the next football chat with Dienhart.
The races in each division came into sharper focus on Saturday with some big individual performances, headlined by Wisconsin’s Montee Ball setting the Big Ten single-season touchdown record. Michigan State’s domination of Iowa makes the Spartans the clear leader in the Legends as the only team still in control of its destiny. In the Leaders, Penn State and Wisconsin control their destiny, but each seems to be going in opposite directions (see the Big Ten standings). See what Tom learned this weekend in this post.
Following the action every Saturday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart breaks down what every game, every result means for the teams involved and the Big Ten itself. See Tom’s Week 11 Snap Reactions in this post.