Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, June 15, 2015
November opens with a full slate of seven Big Ten games-including one trophy battle.
The top clash is Michigan State?s visit to Nebraska. The Cornhuskers won their first two meetings vs. the Spartans as a member of the Big Ten. But the Spartans have won the last two encounters, including a 41-28 victory in Lincoln in 2013.
Ohio State is coming off a bye and could be 8-0 when it welcomes an ever-improving Minnesota squad. The extra prep time may help vs. a Golden Gophers squad that may be the best in the Big Ten West. But know this: Since 1969, Ohio State has lost just twice to Minnesota (1981 and 2000). The Buckeyes won, 31-24, in the Twin Cities last season.
Iowa lost three in a row to Indiana from 1998-2000. Since then, the Hawkeyes have gone 8-3 vs. the Hoosiers. But Iowa lost the last time it visited Bloomington in 2012.
Penn State had a six-game winning streak vs. Northwestern before the Wildcats took a 29-6 decision last year in State College. The last time NU beat the Nittany Lions in Evanston was 2003.
This will be Rutgers? first trip to Michigan, which won in Piscataway last season 26-24. And this will be Wisconsin?s first trip to Maryland. The Badgers beat the Terps, 45-7, last year.
Illinois and Purdue have battled annually for the Cannon since 1943. The Boilermakers have won eight of the last 10 meetings, including three of the last four. In fact, last year?s win in Champaign is the only Big Ten victory in Darrell Hazell?s two-year Purdue tenure.
Game of the week: Michigan State at Nebraska. The visit from the Spartans will be tough for the Cornhuskers. The Spartans will be one of the top teams in the nation. And they have won the last two meetings with Nebraska, including a 41-28 triumph in Lincoln in 2013.
Best quarterback matchup: Iowa?s C.J. Beathard vs. Indiana?s Nate Sudfeld should be good. Beathard was promoted to the No. 1 job shortly after the Hawkeyes lost their bowl game-and Jake Rudock transferred to Michigan. How will he be performing this deep into the season? Sudfeld's 2014 season was cut short by shoulder injury vs. this same Iowa team.
Best head coach matchup: Mark Dantonio vs. Mike Riley. Each is an accomplished coach, as Dantonio has a 75-31 mark at Michigan State and is 93-48 overall. Riley is in his first season at Nebraska, bringing a 93-80 record to Lincoln after coaching stops at Oregon State, the NFL, and CFL.
Best coordinator matchup: Let?s go with Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys vs. Ohio State offensive coordinators Ed Warinner and Tim Beck. In 2014, Minnesota allowed 314 points (24.2 points per game) to rank sixth in the Big Ten and tied for 33rd nationally. The 2014 Gophers held 10 teams below their final season scoring averages. In one stretch, the Claeys-led defense held three consecutive conference teams at least 13.8 points below their averages. Warinner, co-offensive coordinator the past three years in addition to his offensive line duties, has been instrumental in Ohio State's record-setting offenses that have set dozens of school and Big Ten records. Beck's Nebraska offenses the past four years (2011-14) ranked fifth, first, sixth and fourth in the Big Ten, respectively, and his passing attack amassed more than 10,000 yards during that time with 86 touchdowns.
Upset alert: Minnesota must put on its big boy pants for a trip to Ohio State. How is this for domination: The Buckeyes are 44-7 all-time vs. the Gophers. Minnesota?s last win vs. OSU came in Columbus in 2000. Since a 1966 victory vs. the Buckeyes, the Gophers are 2-37 vs. Ohio State with the only other win in that span coming in 1981. Minnesota lost to OSU, 31-24, last season.
Ranking Week 10 Games
1. Michigan State at Nebraska
2. Minnesota at Ohio State
3. Wisconsin at Maryland
4. Iowa at Indiana
5. Penn State at Northwestern
6. Rutgers at Michigan
7. Illinois 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.|