Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween in the Big Ten ... no Buckeyes, Spartans, Hoosiers or Wildcats!

The Big Ten Conference is enjoying the 120th season of College Football, as three programs enter the day among the undefeated among Power 5 teams. Two of the three programs are idle, with a bye week, as the #10 Iowa Hawkeyes (7-0) seek to go 8-0 for the second time in program history.

  • #1 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0 B1G West) - bye week, before home date with Minnesota
  • #6 Michigan State (8-0. 4-0 B1G West) - bye week, before road date @ Nebraska 
The Hawkeyes seek to remain undefeated ahead of the first College Football Playoff
Ratings on Tuesday. Clearly, Ohio State and Michigan State are safely going to open
undefeated. Can Iowa make it three for the Big Ten?
  • Maryland (0-3 B1G East) at #10 Iowa (3-0 B1G West) 2:30 pm on ESPN2 / ABC / espn3 
Iowa is trying to improve to 8-0 for just the second time in school history. The Hawkeyes were 7-0 in 1985, 1922, and 1921, and opened the season 9-0 in 2009, its best start in school history. Maryland owns a 1-0 lead in the series and makes first trip to Iowa City,  after winning the inaugural game 38-31 last year in College Park. Our Pick: Iowa 31, Maryland 14 ...

Illinois @ Penn State, pregame warm ups in Happy Valley.
  • Illinois (4-3, 1-2 B1G West) at Penn State (6-2, 3-1 B1G East) 11:00 am on ESPN2 
Last year, the Fighting Illini won a 16-14 game over the Nittany Lions in Champaign. Now, Illinois has to travel to Happy Valley to face a Penn State team, bowl eligible, but down two in the East race, after a 38-10 loss at Ohio State. Penn State has never lost back to back games in this series. Interim coach Bill Cubit has the Fighting Illini playing hard. While second year coach James Franklin has the Nittany Lions are bowl eligible, it is smooth in State College on offense right now.

Purdue junior SS #3 Leroy Clark needs to lead the defense, as the
Boilermakers cannot afford the Huskers running the game up into the 30-40
range for the third straight season against Hazell's Black & Gold.
  • Nebraska (1-3 B1G West) at Purdue (0-3 B1G West) 11:00 am on ESPNU
The Boilermakers are on a nine game losing streak in the Big Ten and have not beat a FBS program, since last year's 38-27 win @ Illinois in Week 2 of conference play. The Cornhuskers are struggling to finish close games, with all five losses under first year head coach Mike Riley, by a combined 13 points. The Cornhuskers will give former walk-on Ryker Fyfe his first start at quarterback, with Tommy Armstrong out with an injury. Can Darrell Hazell pull things out, in year 3, after back to back blowout losses at the hands of the Huskers? The Huskers could hit the cellar, with a loss at Purdue.

Michael Deiter vs. Illinois
The Badgers are known for the running game and play in the offensive line.
This year, they have had to lean on pass blocking and using the pass in Paul
Chryst's first season at the helm. Pictured is redshirt freshman RG Michael Deiter.
  •  Rutgers (1-3 B1G East) at Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1 B1G West) 11:00 am on BTN
The Badgers like last season, lost the B1G opener, this year 10-6 at home to Iowa. The Badgers have taken care of business winning three straight and host Rutgers, before hitting the road again at Maryland, as Wisconsin has back to back games against division crossover games. The Scarlet Knights will be without their top offensive play-maker, so the margin of error is rather narrow for the visitor.
The Battle for the Little Brown Jug in the Big Ten.

  • #15 Michigan (5-2, 2-1 B1G East) at Minnesota (4-3, 1-2 B1G West) 6:00 pm on ESPN / espn3 
The Wolverines have won every game @ Minnesota, since 1977, but the Golden Gophers took care of business last year in Ann Arbor, as well as back in 1986, in Jim Harbaugh's final game in the series, as a player. It has been an emotion week for the Golden Gophers, when it was announced coach Jerry Kill was retiring immediately, due to health reasons. Kill's long-term defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys steps into the interim role again, this time permanently for the 2015 season. Last year, Michigan QB Jake Rudock struggled as the Golden Gophers rolled his former Hawkeye team. It is the Battle for the Little Brown Jug, with both teams coming off a bye week.

  • Northwestern (6-2, 2-2 B1G West) - The Wildcats fell @ Michigan and vs. Iowa, but have won back to back B1G games before their bye week. They will host back to back games against Penn State and Purdue in November, before closing out B1G @ Wisconsin and vs. Illinois in Soldier Field.
  • Indiana (4-4, 0-4 B1G East) - After four straight wins in the non-conference, the Hoosier have fallen in four B1G games. They enjoy a bye week, ahead of hosting Iowa to kickoff the final four weeks of B1G play in November.

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