This week, instead of looking back, we are looking forward. Iowa is sitting atop the Legends Division standings so all of the Big Ten games Saturday are important. Let's take a look around some other blogs to see what to expect on Saturday. In order of importance to Iowa, we'll start with:
MICHIGAN STATE AT MICHIGAN (2:30 CDT BTN). The in-state rivalry will go a long way in determining the winner of the Legends Division. A win for Michigan (4-2, 2-0) and they continue to be the favorite for the division crown. A loss for Sparty and their chances are all but finished. The Wolverines have breezed through Purdue and Illinois following their early season bye week. The Spartans are coming off an emotional loss to Iowa at home and have lost two of their last three.
The match-up features a Michigan team that averages 232 rushing yards a game versus a Michigan State defense that is allowing opponents to rush for less than 100. Despite Iowa's Mark Weisman rushing for over 100 yards against the Spartan defense, the advantage here may still be on MSU's side. Denard Robinson has rushed for 363 yards his last two outings and has an injured a finger. He'll be on the field Saturday and he's playing his best football, according to Maize n' Brew.
The Spartans didn't list Dion Sims on the depth chart, he's still questionable for Saturday's game. Michigan State will have to find something in the passing game as teams are forcing Andrew Maxwell to beat them. While Michigan is a 10 point favorite at home, don't dismiss an emotional Michigan State team looking to continue their win streak over their in-state and divisional rival.
NEBRASKA AT NORTHWESTERN (2:30 PM CDT ABC/ESPN2). Both teams have a loss in Big Ten play but both are still in the hunt for the Legends Division title. Nebraska had a week off to prepare for the Wildcats and will look to revenge last season's 28-25 loss in Lincoln. Northwestern defeated Minnesota (21-13) on the road last week in adverse weather conditions.
Nebraska has had no problem moving the football on offense. They average 507 yards a game with almost 300 of that coming on the ground. Northwestern's defense has been surprisingly good this year and holds opponents to an average of 111 rushing yards per game. The Cornhuskers had no answer for Ohio State in their last game out. The mobile quarterback has been a thorn in the blackshirts side and Northwestern has a good one in Kain Colter. The Wildcats will rotate quarterbacks and in early season games it was confusing teams and racking up yards. Since conference play, the rotation hasn't worked so well and the offensive production is down.
MINNESOTA AT WISCONSIN (11:00 AM CDT ESPNU). Any hope of a Legends Division title is all but over if Minnesota loses to rival Wisconsin. The Gophers entered Big Ten play riding a four game win streak but has since dropped both conference games to Iowa and Northwestern. Wisconsin seems to have found their offense and after defeating Purdue are the likely Leaders Division representative in the Big Ten Championship game.
It's the battle of the Axe in Madison. Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray still isn't 100% but that hasn't stopped him from working out at wide receiver. For Wisconsin, Montee Ball is starting to look like the running back that was a Heisman favorite to start the season. Ball added 247 yards to his total last week versus Purdue. Through seven games he has 816 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Minnesota defense has been solid against the run but did surrender 182 yards to Iowa and 208 yards to Northwestern in back-to-back games.
PURDUE AT OHIO STATE (11:00 AM CDT ABC/ESPN2). This game is a match-up of two teams heading in two entirely different directions. The Buckeyes survived a scare against Indiana last week but kept their perfect season intact. Purdue is 3-3 on the year and 0-2 in conference play. The Boilers hung with the nation's number five team Notre Dame back in week two but after a couple of wins over cupcakes the wheels are falling off. Purdue has lost it's last two games to Michigan and Wisconsin by a combined score of 82-27.
The Big Ten's best hope for a Heisman Trophy, OSU's Braxton Miller, will face a defense that is allowing almost 200 rushing yards a game.The Purdue offense was terrible last week against Wisconsin but they'll face an Ohio State defense that has its own question marks. The Buckeyes allowed Indiana to score 49 points and gain 352 yards through the air. Ohio State is favored by 19 points at home and this one could spell the end for Purdue's season.
INDIANA AT NAVY (2:30 PM CDT CBS SPORTS NETWORK). While conference play is full steam ahead, Indiana decides to take on Navy. The Hoosiers are 2-4 on the season and 0-3 in Big Ten play. They've shown they aren't dead yet, despite the losing record. They hung around with Ohio State and were an onside kick recovery away from making it real interesting last Saturday night.
Navy is favored in this one but by less than a field goal. The Hoosier run defense is allowing 221 yards rushing per game and that could spell disaster against a flex bone offense that may have found their quarterback in Keenan Reynolds. He took command for the Midshipmen last week against Central Michigan and threw for three touchdowns from the flex bone. Just another dimension of a tough-to-prepare-for offense the Hoosiers will have to handle.
Iowa will travel to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers on November 3rd. The Hoosiers may lose their fight if they continue their losing ways. Prior to playing Iowa the Hoosiers have Illinois. A win over Navy and the Illini means the Hawkeyes will face a team riding a near comeback against Ohio State and two wins in-a-row. While a loss on the road for the Hoosiers adds fuel to an already beaten down Big Ten, Go Navy.
OTHER B1G LINKS:
- Big Ten stock report: Week 8
- Wisconsin's running attack climbs out of badger hole
- Two from B1G are midseason All-Americans
- Big Ten second-half preview
- What's up with Ohio State's defense?
- Big Ten hoping for better second half
- The fall may still belong to Montee Ball after all
- Al Borges won't shy from run game against Michigan State's league-best rush defense
- OSU running game takes off
- Three questions before Northwestern game
- Michigan scout team helmets looking different this week: Green and white
- Ohio State online preview: Purdue Boilermakers
- Northwestern schedules mandatory nap time on game day
- Dave Brandon and Mark Hollis playfully talk trash as Michigan-Michigan State looms
- Video: Upset Alert Watch -- Week 8