Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, June 16, 2014
Ohio State?s trip to Michigan State could be the game of the year in the Big Ten, as both schools look like the favorites to win the conference crown. They met in the Big Ten title game last season, with the Spartans dumping the Buckeyes to earn their first trip to the Rose Bowl since the 1987 season and end OSU?s 24-game winning streak and national championship hopes. Here?s a breakdown of the best of Week 11.
BEST OF WEEK 11
Interesting factoid: In a bit of scheduling quirk, this will be Iowa?s fourth trip in five years to Minnesota. Iowa is 1-2 in its last three junkets to Minneapolis. This game figures to go a long way in shaping the uber-competitive Big Ten West race.
Game of the week: Ohio State at Michigan State. This could be a de facto Big Ten East title tilt. The Buckeyes won 17-16 the last time they visited Spartan Stadium in 2012. But Michigan State took the last meeting, dumping Ohio State 34-24 in the 2013 Big Ten championship game to end the Buckeyes? 24-game winning streak and national title hopes. The Spartans have won two of the last three meetings after losing seven in a row to the Buckeyes.
Top quarterback matchup: Ohio State?s Braxton Miller vs. Michigan State?s Connor Cook. The two met in the Big Ten championship game last fall, with Cook coming out on top en route to winning game MVP honors. Cook hit 24-40 passes for 304 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in a 34-24 win. Miller completed only 8-of-21 passes for 101 yards with a touchdown but ran 21 times for 142 yards and two scores.
Best coordinator battle: Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman vs. Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. This is going to be fun! In fact, there may be no hotter coordinators in the nation than these two, as each looks destined to be a head coach soon. Herman?s Buckeye attack led the Big Ten in scoring in 2013 (45.5 ppg); Narduzzi?s defense was the conference?s stingiest (13.2 ppg). Beautiful.
Upset alert: Iowa at Minnesota. The Gophers could bring home Floyd of Rosedale when Iowa visits the Twin Cities. No doubt, a win vs. the Hawkeyes would give Minnesota needed mojo as it embarks on a monster November. Minnesota will be helped by a bye the week before Iowa?s visit. Can the Gophers? match the physicality of the Hawkeyes?
Week 11 nuggets: Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers are off … Penn State was 16-0 all-time vs. Indiana ? until last season, when the Hoosiers topped the Nittany Lions, 44-24 … Michigan is 55-15-2 all-time vs. NU, but four of the Wildcats? wins have come since 1995 … The Badgers have abused Purdue of late, winning eight in a row and 10 of 12. Scores of the last six meetings: 41-10; 38-14; 62-17; 34-13; 37-0; 24-3.
RANKING WEEK 11 GAMES
1. Ohio State at Michigan State
2. Iowa at Minnesota
3. Michigan at Northwestern
4. Penn State at Indiana
5. Wisconsin at Purdue
|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.|