Big Ten Report - Week 5
September 28, 2012
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ESPN's College GameDay heads to East Lansing for this week's marquee game in College Football between Michigan State and Ohio State. ASA has the inside scoop on that game, as well as inside information in the battle of The Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa vs. Minnesota) and a budding rivalry as Wisconsin visits Nebraska. Get all the answers here!
Michigan State (-3) vs. Ohio State - (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET)
MSU: Last week vs. Eastern Michigan: W 23-7
OSU: Last week vs. UAB: W 29-15
Last week's game against Eastern Michigan was supposed to be a tune-up for the Spartans. Instead, it took Andrew Maxwell, Le'Veon Bell and the Michigan State offense more than three quarters without reaching the end zone against one of the worst defenses in the FBS. MSU ranks 105th in scoring offense and Maxwell continues to struggle under center (just 56.6% completions this season with three touchdowns and three interceptions). The good news is that the Spartans defense is strong enough to keep them in most games. The defensive unit is allowing just 233.5 yards per game (6th nationally), 164 passing yards per game (13th), 69 rush yards per game (11th), and just 11.8 points per game (11th).
Ohio State overcame special-teams breakdowns, penalties and some shaky defense to escape with a win over UAB last Saturday. The Blazers outgained and had more first downs than the Buckeyes, but OSU QB Miller made enough plays to fuel the victory. Still, it's the third consecutive scare for the Buckeyes and now they have to play their first road game of the season in, what will be, a hostile environment with the ESPN College GameDay crew for this night game. Ohio State's offense will face its toughest test of the year by far. MSU nearly held the Buckeyes scoreless last year in Columbus. The Spartans held the Bucks to just 178 total yards, including 35 rush yards on 39 carries, and OSU's only score came with 10 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter. It'll be a big game in the Big Ten race and an emotional one for Michigan State, which has a ton of Ohio kids on its roster.
Michigan State's win over OSU last year broke a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes. They haven't won back-to-back games against OSU since 98-99 and they are just 2-5 ATS the last seven overall. Ohio State is 4-2 ATS its last six Big Ten road games as an underdog.
Injury Report: OSU coach Urban Meyer said that RB Carlos Hyde will likely play at Michigan State. If so, this would be the first time all season that Hyde and Jordan Hall have shared the backfield at the same time.
Nebraska (-12) vs. Wisconsin - (ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET)
UN: Last week vs. FCS Idaho State: W 73-7
UW: Last week vs. UTEP: W 37-26
Last year, the Huskers made their Big Ten debut in Madison and left with their tails between their legs after getting thumped. Nebraska was leading 14-7 early, but the Badgers outscored the Huskers 41-3 from that point on to take the 48-17 victory. QB Taylor Martinez had one of his worst games as a starting quarterback, completing just 11-of-22 passes with no touchdowns and three interceptions (that all led to Wisconsin touchdowns). The Huskers defense allowed Wisco to rush for 231 yards and five touchdowns. The Huskers have had this game circled on their calendars all season long and they are hungry for a bit of redemption.
The Huskers' offense is averaging 317.5 rush yards per game (5th nationally), 542 total yards (9th), and 48.5 points per game (8th). It's pretty clear that the Huskers boast plenty of weapons on offense, perhaps more than any other Big Ten team. Rex Burkhead's return only strengthens an already dynamic backfield. Defensively, other than the week two game where they allowed 653 yards and 36 points in a loss at UCLA, they've performed quite well. The Blackshirts have allowed just 252 yards per game and 13 points per game in three victories at home.
Wisconsin comes limping into Lincoln after a very shaky nonconference schedule. The Badgers put together their best overall offensive performance against UTEP but also lost running back Montee Ball in the process. Wisco still ranks near the bottom of every major offensive category and it's hard to imagine redshirt freshman QB Joel Stave leading the Badgers to a win in his first career road start. The defense has been holding this team together. They are allowing just 80.8 rush yards (14th) and 324 total yards per game (34th). The defense will have to put together a huge performance to seemingly keep Wisconsin in this game.
Wisconsin is 0-3-1 ATS since 2005 as a Big Ten road underdog of 10 points or more. Nebraska is just 4-13 ATS in its last 17 games as a home favorite of 10 points or more.
Injury Report: Star RB Montee Ball (concussion) had his status upgraded and could run and condition with the team on Tuesday. Ball will not return to contact drills until he passes more concussion tests. Bielema is hopeful that Ball will be cleared for full participation by Thursday and that he will play at Nebraska.
Iowa (-7.5) vs. Minnesota - (ESPN2, 11:00 p.m. ET)
UI: Last week vs. Central Michigan: L 31-32
UM: Last week vs. Syracuse: W 17-10
The battle for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy takes place at Kinnick Stadium this Saturday. The Hawkeyes can't seem to put it all together. When the offense plays well, the defense plays poorly. When the defense plays well, the offense plays poorly. Last week the offense put up 430 yards and 31 points, including 217 rush yards and three touchdowns from RB Mark Weisman. But the defense allowed Central Michigan to hang on to the ball for 36+ minutes - which allowed them to score a touchdown with 45 seconds remaining, corral the onside kick, and kick a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation.
Minnesota improved to 4-0 with a win over Syracuse on Saturday night. Defensively the Gophers played really well especially considering that they faced a dynamic quarterback in Ryan Nassib. Minnesota forced four turnovers and kept Syracuse out of the endzone until 46 seconds remaining in the game. This unit now ranks 22nd nationally in total yards allowed. Minnesota still has yet to face top of the line competition, but they'll face their stiffest test this Saturday in Iowa City, where they haven't won since 1999.
Minnesota has won two straight games over Iowa, both as a 15.5 point underdog. They are also 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings against the Hawkeyes. However, they've dropped five straight games in Iowa by an average of 15.4 points per game (four of five by 12+ points). Minnesota is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games as a road underdog of seven or more points in Big Ten play.
Injury Report: Minny WR Andre McDonald, who was hospitalized last week for a reportedly minor heart problem, should be cleared to resume practicing this week, head coach Jerry Kill said. Kill also said offensive lineman Tommy Olson (ankle) is "a big question mark" for Saturday's game at Iowa. Iowa Running back Damon Bullock (concussion) is making progress and hopefully could be back this week versus Minnesota, head coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Illinois (-1.5) vs. Penn State (ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET)
UI: Last week vs. Louisiana Tech: L 24-52
UM: Last week vs. Temple: W 24-13
Penn State will see some familiar faces on the sideline, as eight of the Illini assistants lurked around State College seeking some transfers this summer. Illinois was the only other Big Ten team to actively recruit PSU payers after the sanctions handed down. The Nittany Lions were not happy about that and now get a chance to do something about it.
Quarterback Matt McGloin continues to improve under the tutelage of new coach Bill O'Brien, passing for a career-high 318 yards in Saturday's win against Temple. It was Penn State's most complete performance of the season as PSU gained +254 more yards and +13 more first downs than Temple. Defensively the Nittany Lions continue to bend-but-not-break. They rank 51st in passing yards allowed, 60th in rush yards allowed, 56th in total yards allowed, but 25th in points allowed (just 15.2 PPG).
Illinois has lost its last two games against FBS opponents by a combined score of 97-38. Losing at Arizona State without starting QB Scheelhaase is one thing, but losing at home to LA Tech by 28 points is another issue. The Illini committed six turnovers against LA Tech and allowed Bulldogs QB Cameron to toss for 284 yards and four touchdowns. The defense is still a major work in progress. The "D" rankings look decent because the Illini allowed just seven total points against doormats Charleston Southern and Western Michigan. But they allowed 52 points to LA Tech and 45 points to Arizona State.
Illinois is 2-6 SU, but 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings against Penn State. The Nittany Lions won a defensive battle against Illinois last season, 10-7. In a rather ugly game, both teams gained less than 290 yards and there were seven total turnovers.
Injury Report: PSU RB Bill Belton, who's been out since the opener against Ohio with an injured ankle, is listed as probable on the Nittany Lions' depth chart.
Northwestern (-11) vs. Indiana - (Big Ten Network, 12:00 p.m. ET)
NU: Last week vs. FCS South Dakota: W 38-7
IU: Last week :BYE
After recording wins against Big East, SEC and ACC foes, Northwestern took a step down in class and made quick work of FCS South Dakota. Northwestern now looks to move to 5-0 as Pat Fitzgerald's team has built its identity on running the ball and stopping the run. The Wildcats rank 27th in rush yards per game and 13th in rush yards allowed per game. Northwestern still needs more from its quarterbacks moving forward as Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian have been good but not great. They've combined to complete 68.4% of their passes for 731 yards (183 per game) with just three touchdowns.
The Hoosiers had last week off after losing at home to Ball State two weeks ago. This Hoosiers squad has had no problem moving the ball and scoring points - albeit against FCS Indiana State, UMass, and Ball State. IU ranks 12 nationally in yards per game, 14th in pass yards, and 34th in points per game. Northwestern has held its last three opponents to just 11 points per game, so this will be Indiana's stiffest test of the season. QB Cameron Coffman is expected back at quarterback for IU after exiting the Ball State game with an injury.
Indiana aims for its first Big Ten victory since 2010 this Saturday. These two teams combined to rack up 1,104 total yards and 97 total points in the Wildcats' 59-38 win a season ago. Both squads rushed for over 300 yards each and there were 13 combined offensive touchdowns scored. Indiana is 4-1 in its last five games as a Big Ten home underdog.
Injury Report: QB Cameron Coffman, who suffered a hip pointer and left the Ball State game two weeks ago, will be ready to go this week against Northwestern, head coach Kevin Wilson said.
Purdue (-16.5) vs. Marshall - (Big Ten Network, 3:15 p.m. ET)
PU: Last week: BYE
MU: Last week at Rice: W 54-51
Purdue had last week off after dismantling Eastern Michigan at home two weeks ago. The Boilers round out the nonconference slate this coming Saturday against Marshall. Purdue is 2-1 with two unimpressive wins over FCS Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan. But they did perform better against Notre Dame than either Michigan or Michigan State, so there's that.
Marshall should test Purdue's defense, as the Thundering Herd lead the nation in passing yards (383.5 per game) and are averaging 41 points. Defensively the Herd is allowing 42.8 points, so Purdue's offense should have no problem putting up points here.
Purdue is 5-0 ATS in its last five games as a double-digit home favorite. Marshall is 0-4 SU & 1-3 ATS its last four games against the Big Ten. Injury Report: QB Robert Marve returned to practice last week despite a partially torn ACL.
Michigan - BYE
UM: Last week at Notre Dame: L 6-13
Michigan really hasn't proven much in the first four weeks, falling to two Top 15 teams, squeaking by Air Force and pounding UMass. The Wolverines showed some promising signs against Notre Dame, particularly on defense, but Denard Robinson's poor decisions caught up with Michigan. Robinson committed five turnovers against Notre Dame which ultimately kept the Wolverines out of the endzone and totaling just six points. The defense was spectacular, allowing just 239 total yards and 14 first downs. Next up is a road trip to Purdue on October 6th.