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The Road to Indy – Week 3

October 14, 2012

 

An illuminating week in the Big Ten as we started to separate the contenders from the pretenders….

Michigan 45 Illinois 0

Michigan followed up their dominating performance in West Lafayette with an even more impressive showing at home against an Illinois team that looks ready for the season to be over.  At 0-3 in conference and 2-5 overall, Illinois would do well to finish anywhere near .500.  At this point though, don’t count on it.  As for Michigan, the defense gave up 134 yards a week after giving up just 213 yards to Purdue.   At this point there isn’t a better defense in the Big Ten.  And with another offensive outburst from Denard Robinson, the only concerns for the Wolverines are A) what happens in games where Denard doesn’t produce and B) can he stay healthy – a real concern after he missed a series with a hand injury this week.

Ohio State 52 Indiana 49

The good news for Ohio State is that they are 7-0 an unbeaten in Big Ten play.  The bad news is that their defense has given up 38 points and 49 points in the last two weeks.  To be fair, Indiana has a surprisingly effective offense, but 49 points to the Hoosiers should give the Buckeye fans serious concern about this defense.  As for Indiana, they’ve now lost two weeks in a row by less than a touchdown to teams nobody expected them to compete with.  As a Michigan fan, I’m glad we don’t play Indiana this year.  At 0-3 and 2-4 overall, its unlikely they will end up in a bowl game, but stranger things have happened.  As for OSU, as documented before – they could go unbeaten and still end up on their couches in Columbus for Christmas.   They will continue to play spoiler though for a lot of teams.

Wisconsin 38 Purdue 14

In what was basically the championship game for the Big Ten Leaders division, Wisconsin dominated a Purdue team that has clearly fallen into the pretender category.  Wisconsin now sits at 2-1 in the division, and technically behind OSU and PSU, but since both are ineligible, they are firmly in the driver’s seat to win the Leaders division with this win.  Illinois looks ready for basketball season to start, and Indiana, while scaring some teams, just doesn’t have the juice to get it done.   With Wisconsin now holding the tiebreaker over Purdue, even a 3-2 finish by Wisconsin would require Purdue to finish 5-1 to win the division.  That’s highly unlikely given Purdue still has road trips to Ohio State and Iowa.  Given the sanctions against OSU and PSU, its possible that the Leaders division could be wrapped up before November even begins if things go right for Wisconsin the next couple of weeks.

Iowa 19 Michigan State 16

After a surprising home loss, the defending Legends Division champion Spartans are in a must-win situation this weekend in Ann Arbor if they want any chance to repeat as division champ.  Even then, it will likely take a 5-0 effort in their last 5 game to do so.  In the last 4 weeks MSU has lost at home to Notre Dame and OSU, barely escaped against bottom feeder Indiana and lost at home to an Iowa team that lost to Central Michigan and Iowa State earlier this year.  Not exactly what Mark Dantonio had expected this year.  Barring something strange, the Spartans won’t be in Indianapolis.  As for Iowa, the surprising win has them tied for the Legends Division lead with Michigan at 2-0.  Iowa doesn’t really do anything impressive on offense, though they field a typically tough Iowa defense.  Truth be told, I think they lose by two touchdowns to MSU if this game wasn’t played in a torrential downpour.  But it was, and Iowa benefited.  Looking ahead, the Hawkeyes schedule sets up well for them to head into Ann Arbor on November 17th still in contention if they can get by PSU at home this weekend and at Northwestern the following week.  It’s still too early to see if they have turned the corner however.

Northwestern 21 Minnesota 13

Northwestern got back in the thick of the Legends division race after last week’s loss to Penn State.  The Wildcats are the only bowl eligible team in the Big Ten so far but have their sites set higher.  A squeaker against Minnesota doesn’t exactly instill a ton of confidence however.   Northwestern forced three turnovers, but still only won by 8 against a team that was drubbed last week by Iowa.   Like Iowa, the Wildcats may end up being contenders, but we need to wait a few weeks to see how real they actually are.   As for Minnesota, a promising 4-0 start has given way to an 0-2 start in Big Ten play.  The Gophers won’t be in Indy this year barring something REALLY strange, but two more wins would get them to a bowl game, a solid accomplishment for this young team.

LEGENDS DIVISION STANDINGS

Michigan 2-0

Iowa 2-0

Northwestern 2-1

Nebraska 1-1

MSU 1-2

Minnesota 0-2

LEADERS DIVISION STANDINGS

*OSU 3-0

*PSU 2-0

Wisconsin 2-1

Purdue 0-2

Indiana 0-3

Illinois 0-3

*Not eligible for Big Ten Title Game

Week 3 Big Ten Championship Game Prediction: Michigan v. Wisconsin

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