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The Road To Indianapolis – Week One

October 1, 2012

Week One of the Big Ten Season is in the books – so what did we learn from each game about each team? 

Michigan State vs. Ohio State – As expected, Michigan State boasts the best defense in the Big Ten, but the offense still can’t get on track.  Andrew Maxwell threw for 250 yards, but only completed 53% of his passes and needed 42 passes to get there.  And he did it in a game where throwing was the only option as the Buckeyes held Le’Veon Bell in check for most of the game.  OSU could very well run the table or come close to it – they aren’t a great team, but the combination of a solid defense and Braxton Miller means they are most likely the best team in the Leaders division.  None of that matters though – the Buckeyes could go 12-0 and they still would play their last game of the year two days after Thanksgiving. The big take away from this game is that MSU gave away a home game and probably needs to go at least 6-1 the rest of the way to have a shot at the Big Ten Legends division title.  A tall task with road trips to Michigan and Wisconsin and a home date with Nebraska still on the schedule.  

Illinois vs. Penn State – Like the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions aren’t really worth discussing because they aren’t eligible for postseason play.  But either they are a little better than I expected, or Illinois is just awful.  Penn State dominated the Fighting Illini on the road on their way to an easy 35-7 win.  Which means that most of the rest of the Big Ten should be able to beat on Illinois too.  It’s going to be a long season in Champaign. 

Purdue vs. Marshall – Marshall put up 41 points including 431 yards passing against the Boilermakers in a 51-41 loss.  If it wasn’t for the 4 turnovers by Marshall, I’m not positive the Boilermakers end up with the win here.  Purdue has an offense that can put up points – though Marshall was giving up 43 points a game coming in – so it’s not like they were expected to stop Purdue.  The inability to slow down the Marshall passing attack is definitely a red flag for Purdue’s Leaders division chase.  We’ll see what happens next week when they play Michigan. 

Northwestern vs. Indiana  – Northwestern survived with a 44-29 win to move to 5-0 and put them momentarily at the top of the Big Ten Legends division.  The Wildcats looked on offense, but giving up 29 points to Indiana – even an improved Indiana – is not a good sign for the purple and black.  Indiana is definitely better than last year’s 1-11 squad, but will still probably struggle to make it to a bowl game.  

Iowa vs. Minnesota – Iowa looked like the Iowa we’ve come to expect with a workmanlike 31-13 win over Minnesota at home.  The Hawkeyes seemed to have found their rushing attack, which bodes well for the Big Ten season and their chance to compete for the Legends division crown.  Minnesota looked more like the 3-9 team we saw last year than the 4-0 team that started off 2012.  Like Indiana they are better than last year, but haven’t shown they have the ability to compete for the division crown.  

Wisconsin vs. Nebraska – Nebraska climbed out of a 20-3 hole to steal this win at home against Wisconsin in a sloppy game.  Nebraska gave Wisconsin 20 points with two turnovers deep in their own territory and a roughing the punter penalty that continued a drive – all three lead to touchdowns.  On the other side of the ball, Wisconsin was driving for the potential tying or winning score in the closing minutes when Montee Ball fumbled at midfield.  I’m still not sold on Wisconsin’s offense – only 295 total yards, but Taylor Martinez looked much better as a passer for the Cornhuskers.  The big news for Nebraska is that they lead the Legends division over MSU by a full game and Michigan by a half game at this point.  

Updated Projection Title Game Prediction: Michigan vs. Wisconsin 

 

LEGENDS STANDINGS

1. Northwestern

2. Nebraska

3. Iowa

4. Michigan

5. Minnesota

6. Michigan State

LEADERS STANDINGS

1. Ohio State*

2. Penn State*

3. Purdue

4. Wisconsin

5. Indiana

6. Illinois 

* = ineligible to win division

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