Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, November 4, 2014
All eyes will be on East Lansing, Michigan, where Ohio State plays Michigan State in this year?s ?Game of The Century? in the Big Ten.
A lot will be riding on the outcome, including East supremacy and possible playoff positioning.
Something will have to give as Ohio State has won 20 consecutive Big Ten regular-season games and MSU has won 13 in a row, not counting last year's Big Ten title game victory over the Buckeyes.
Four teams have a bye this week, as Illinois, Big Ten West leader Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers are idle.
Here are my Week 11 previews and game rankings.
1. Ohio State (7-1, 4-0) at Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC. Spartan Stadium will be the place to be. The Buckeyes lost 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game last season, ending No. 2-ranked Ohio State?s 24-game winning streak and trashing its national title hopes. The Buckeyes won the last time they visited Spartan Stadium, taking a 17-16 decision in 2012. More reason to watch: As mentioned in the intro, Michigan State has won 13 straight Big Ten games and Ohio State has won 20, which ties their own Big Ten record.
2. Iowa (6-2, 3-1) at Minnesota (6-2, 3-1) – noon ET, ESPN2. The battle for Floyd of Rosedale should be primo. The Hawkeyes are coming off an impressive 48-7 win vs. Northwestern, as the offense came alive. The win fueled hopes in Iowa City that this team can win the West. The Golden Gophers are coming off a bye, which was much-needed. The last time out, Minnesota lost at Illinois to end a four-game winning streak. The Gophers need to protect their turf and win to stay in the hunt in the West as they embark on a rugged November. In a bit of scheduling quirk, this will be Iowa?s fourth trip in five years to Minnesota.
3. Michigan (4-5, 2-3) at Northwestern (3-5, 2-3) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2. Each team still is thinking ?bowl.? But will either make it to bowl eligibility? No doubt, the loser?s cause will be greatly diminished. The Wolverines showed some life in a home win vs. Indiana, with the offense displaying balance. But it?s the Michigan defense that gives it hope. And it?s that same Michigan defense that figures to make life tough for a slumping Wildcats offense. The Wolverines needed a triple-overtime miracle to win in Evanston last season. UM won in overtime over NU in 2012. Michigan is 55-15-2 all-time vs. NU, but four of the Wildcats? wins have come since 1995. This one will come down which offense can get on track, as each is tied for last in the Big Ten in total offense (330.0 ypg).
4. Penn State (4-4, 1-4) at Indiana (3-5, 0-4) – noon ET, BTN (Watch on BTN2Go). The Nittany Lions are riding a four-game losing skid. The Hoosiers have lost three in a row and are the lone Big Ten squad without a conference victory. Something has to give, correct? The offenses are struggling. Penn State is No. 13 in the league in scoring (21.2 ppg); Indiana is No. 8 (27.6 ppg). IU has just 35 yards passing total in the last two games. The Nittany Lions are last in rushing (77.1 ypg). The Hoosiers are No. 12 in passing (152.1 ypg). You get the picture. Penn State was 16-0 all-time vs. Indiana ? until last season, when the Hoosiers topped the Nittany Lions, 44-24. The teams meet in Bloomington for a second consecutive season.
5. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1) at Purdue (3-6, 1-4) – noon ET, ESPNU. Two teams going in opposite directions. The Badgers are rolling, winning three in a row. The last two games, Wisconsin has won by a combined score of 89-7. The Badgers two losses in 2014 have been by a combined 10 points. The Boilermakers have lost three in a row and can?t seem to get their offense and defense in synch in the same game. A loss would eliminate Purdue from bowl consideration. 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. Wisconsin backs Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement-who help UW led the Big Ten in rushing (333.4 ypg)–could fest on a Purdue defense that?s 11th the run (174.3 ypg).
|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.|
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