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Big Ten Report - Week 6

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Big Ten · ACC · Pac-12
Only six of the Big Ten schools were in action last weekend and two of the games were non-conference affairs. Illinois defeated Miami Ohio 50-14 in wire-to-wire fashion at home and Purdue was embarrassed at home as a 3 ½-point home underdog to Northern Illinois, 55-24. In conference play, Iowa went on the road and handed Minnesota its first loss of the season with a 23-7 victory and Ohio State held off Wisconsin 31-24, bettors seeing this result end in a push (Buckeyes -7). The total went 2-2 overall.

2013 BIG TEN STANDINGS
Team SU Conference  ATS Over/Under
Illinois 3-1 0-0 3-1 3-1
Indiana 2-2 0-0 2-2 3-1
Iowa 4-1 1-0 3-2 3-2
Michigan 4-0 0-0 2-2 2-2
Michigan State 3-1 0-0 1-2-1 1-3
Minnesota 4-1 0-1 3-2 3-2
Nebraska 3-1 0-0 2-2 3-1
Northwestern 4-0 0-0 2-2 2-2
Ohio State 5-0 1-0 3-1-1 3-2
Penn State 3-1 0-0 2-2 2-2
Purdue 1-4 0-1 1-4 3-2
Wisconsin 3-2 1-1 4-0-1 2-3


Ohio State (-7, 59 ½) at Northwestern – 8:00 p.m. ET
Ohio State starting QB Braxton Miller returned to the field with a bang Saturday night, firing four touchdown passes and completing 17-of-25. Most impressive in last week’s seven-point win over Wisconsin was the defense. The Bucks held Wisconsin's power run game to just 104 yards on 3.9 YPC (UW was averaging 349 rush yards per game prior to last week). They must now regroup after that huge win at home as they’ll face another test this week at Northwestern. The Wildcats are off of a bye week. They seemed to sleepwalk through its game against FCS Maine two weeks ago. In that game they did not resemble the same squad that dominated Cal, Syracuse, and Western Michigan the prior three games. Against Maine they were outgained and had fewer first downs. They were never in serious danger of losing the game, but it was an odd sight to see Northwestern look so mediocre. Maybe they were flat or maybe coaches were limiting the playbook as they have this big game against Ohio State on deck. Northwestern knows it must elevate its play significantly against Ohio State in what will be the most anticipated game of the Pat Fitzgerald era. Standout RB Venric Mark will return against the Buckeyes, as Northwestern will need its zone-read game to be in top form to keep pace with Ohio State on the scoreboard. Ohio State is 28-1 all-time against Northwestern. They’re 4-0 SU & ATS the last four meetings; winning by an average score of 51-9 (Northwestern hasn’t topped 10 points in any of those meetings).

Michigan (-19 ½, 50) vs. Minnesota – 3:30 p.m. ET
No team needed the off week more than Michigan, which had plenty to clean up following near disasters against Akron and Connecticut. Michigan won't stay perfect much longer if QB Gardner keeps turning over the ball (he leads the nation with 10 turnovers). In the last game against UConn he completed just 11-of-23 passes for 97 yards with 2 INT. The defense has been great (6th ranked rush defense, 21st in total “D”) and they’ll face a Minnesota offense coming off a dreadful performance. The Gophers managed just 165 yards, 11 first downs, and 7 points in its homecoming loss to Iowa last week. It seems like Minnesota was a product of a weak nonleague schedule, as some of the small problems that surfaced against weaker competition became big problems against Iowa. Quarterback Nelson struggled with just 135 yards (1 TD 2 INT) and he didn't get much help from the run game (30 yards on 27 carries). Backup QB Leidner provided a spark in Week 4 and coach Jerry Kill might make a switch if Nelson continues to struggle. Michigan has won five straight over Minnesota by 28 PPG (5-0 ATS) and won 58-0 the last meeting in the Big House.

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Nebraska (-9 ½, 60 ½) vs. Illinois – 12:00 p.m. ET

Nebraska is fresh off of its bye week following a much needed blowout victory over FCS South Dakota State. The defense still needs a lot of improvement. This unit surrendered 465 yards and 25 first downs to the Jackrabbits two weeks ago and the sample size is large enough now to show that this defense hasn’t improved from a year ago. The Huskers rank 109th in total “D” and will now take on a surprisingly efficient Illinois offense. The Illini have been the biggest surprise in the Big Ten. They completed nonleague play at 3-1 (with the lone loss to undefeated Washington) and head to Nebraska with a lot of confidence, particularly on offense. QB Scheelhaase might be the most improved player in the nation as he has 12 TD and just 3 INT on 67% passing after amassing just 4 TD and 8 INT all of last season. He did struggle against Washington though (9-of-25 passing) and will hope to improve against another strong opponent. These two haven’t met yet as Big Ten opponents. Illinois is just 2-17 SU in Big Ten openers and 0-7 SU & 2-5 ATS the last seven games as a Big Ten road underdog. Nebraska is 11-1 SU & 9-3 ATS in its last 12 home games.

Michigan State (-1.5, 38 ½) at Iowa – 12:00 p.m. ET
Iowa has won and covered three straight games and is riding some serious momentum. The Hawks had their third straight dominant performance against Minnesota to ruin its rival's homecoming. QB Jake Rudock has 5 TD and 1 INT over the last three games while RB Weisman gives this offense some serious balance. The defense has been the most impressive aspect of this team. This unit held Minnesota to just 165 yards and 11 first downs last week and now it ranks 6th in total defense and 18th in scoring defense. The only defense in the Big Ten that is arguably playing better will be across the field this weekend. Two weeks ago, Michigan State held ND to just 220 yards and 14 first downs and now ranks 1st in total defense, 3rd against the pass, and 2nd against the rush. This “D” is really, really good. But it won’t matter in the Big Ten race if they can’t get consistent results from its offense. This unit ranks 104th in yards per game and 73rd in points per game. Coach Dantonio spent time during the bye week trying to fix the issues, but there’s more than one week of practice away from solving the problem. MSU is favored at Kinnick Stadium this week despite the fact that the Spartans are 2-7 SU & ATS in the last nine trips. Iowa is 15-4 ATS in the last 19 meetings with MSU and the Hawks are 10-3-2 ATS in their last 15 games as a home underdog.

Penn State (-3 ½, 63 ½) at Indiana – 12:00 p.m. ET
Both squads are off of a bye week. After suffering a home defeat vs. Central Florida on September 14th, Coach Obrien had his troops ready for redemption against Kent State in their last game. Penn State shut out Kent State and held them to 190 yards and nine first downs. Offensively this was one of the first full games that QB Hackenberg really looked like a true freshman. He completed just 13-of-35 passes for 176 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Obrien spent the bye week working with his young QB to work out the kinks and prepare for Big Ten play and the first road test of the season. On the other side this week is Indiana, off of a much-needed bye week. Indiana was abysmal in its last game loss to Missouri. The Hoosiers fell behind early and never really got things going on offense or defense. QB Sudfeld threw three interceptions and the defense allowed Mizzou to gain 623 total yards and 33 first downs. IU’s spread attack could cause some problems for the Nittany Lions, who haven’t faced an up-tempo spread team yet this year. PSU is a perfect 16-0 SU all-time against Indiana and are 4-2 ATS in the last six trips to Memorial Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 10-1 SU & 9-2 ATS in the last 11 Big Ten road games as a favorite.

Wisconsin - BYE
The Badgers remained close with the Buckeyes, but allowed too many big plays and couldn’t get their running attack going. QB Stave had a big night with 295 passing yards and 2 TD and WR Abbrederis proved he’s one of the top receiving threats in the Big Ten with 207 receiving yards despite going against one of the nation’s top CB’s. The bye week comes at a perfect time after star RB Gordon left in the 2nd half with a knee injury. Wisconsin has now lost 11 games since the start of 2011. All of those losses were by seven points or fewer (4.6 points per loss) and three were in overtime. Wisconsin will have to overcome its deficiencies in close games if it wants another shot at a Big Ten title game (and hope for a couple of OSU losses).

Purdue - BYE
The misery continues for the Boilers. They suffered their third straight defeat of the season and their only victory is an unimpressive six-point win over FCS Indiana State. Last week was an embarrassing 24-55 setback at home against Northern Illinois. It appears the era of Rob Henry at QB is officially over as Purdue will now go with freshman Danny Etling under center. Etling completed 19-of-39 passes for 241 yards with 2 TD and 2 INT against in relief duty for Henry last week. Etling was supposedly in a redshirt season before coach Hazell brought him off the bench last week. He’ll have a bye week to get more acclimated with the offense before Nebraska travels to Purdue next week for the conference home opener.

  
HEADLINES
Edwards: College Playoff Props
Kansas makes Cozart starting QB
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War of words in Northwestern fight
Texas A&M QB Joeckel to transfer
Dismissed Clemson QB Kelly apologizes
Cure Bowl becomes Orlando's third bowl
Dabo: QB Stoudt Clemson's starter
Kentucky QB Whitlow plans to transfer
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