Before I get rolling on this week’s games, how scary is this Nebraska program going to be next year in the Big Ten?  What they did to that Kansas State squad on Thursday shouldn’t be considered legal.  Okay, enough drooling, onto the games that matter.

The Big Ten will kick off their second week of conference play, with just one game between ranked teams, but a couple others with wire potential.  Iowa is the idle team this week, fresh off their thumping of Penn State.

Speaking of Penn State, they’ll return home to face Illinois, who also lost, but put in a more admirable effort against Ohio State than the Nittany Lions did in Iowa.  For Penn State to be successful, they have to run the football.  Evan Royster only had 10 touches on the ground, but averaged almost six yards a carry when he did.  Freshman quarterback Robert Bolden is going to be good, but he’s still very raw and isn’t going to carry the offense this season.  Illinois isn’t going to blow anyone away on offense, but they held Terrelle Pryor to under 200 yards total, so Penn State is going to have their work cut out for them on offense.

Indiana didn’t shock too many people in their shootout with Michigan last weekend, but they may have a bit more trouble against a stout Ohio State defense.  While the Wolverines trot out one of the nation’s worst passing defenses, Ohio State boasts a much more impressive unit, allowing just over 14 points a game.  That said, the Hoosiers are also in the top 15 in points for.  Ben Chappell leads Indiana’s impressive air attack, having thrown 12 touchdowns and just one interception, with one of the top players in the country, in Pryor, staring at him on the other sideline.  If Chappell is able to operate through the air, we could be in for another shootout from the Hoosiers.

Unfortunately for Wisconsin fans, they get to watch their team play Minnesota this weekend.  While the Gophers did put up a solid effort against Northwestern, they’ll have a tough task as Wisconsin should come in primed to avenge their loss to Michigan State.  Minnesota doesn’t have too much going for them offensively, and I have a hard time believing that they can stop the Badgers’ ground attack of James White and John Clay.  The two have combined for almost 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.  This should easily be the biggest win of the weekend in the Big Ten.

Easily, the most anticipated game of the weekend will go down in the Big House, with Michigan State and Michigan doing battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy.  Denard Robinson has solidified himself as the best player in the country.  There I said it.  Yes, he’s better than Mark Ingram.  He played off and on against Indiana and still put up almost 500 yards of total offense by himself.  I have a hard time seeing him not doing that against Michigan State, given their inability to stop that Badgers duo last week.  On the Spartan side, I’m expecting a big game from Kirk Cousins, given the mediocrity of the Wolverine pass defense.  We know Robinson is going to get his yards on the ground and through the air, so it could come down to Michigan State’s ability to run the ball.  I think we’re in for a close game either way, but the Spartan running game, which has been very good (Edwin Baker: 536 yards, five TDS, Le’Veon Bell: 471, seven), could be key for Michigan State.

The Big Ten Network’s night game goes down between undefeated Northwestern and a reeling Purdue squad.  This has the potential to be an ‘upset’, but I think Dan Persa and the Wildcat squad will try to avoid themselves the trouble that they had against Minnesota last week.  Things will be much easier for Northwestern, with Purdue starting a redshirt freshman, after the injury to starter Robert Marve.

Highlights of the Week…

  • Game of the Week: No brainer here.  Michigan vs. Michigan State is an in-state rivalry, and the only matchup between ranked teams in the Big Ten this week.  Plus, whenever Denard Robinson is involved, you’re going to have fun watching.
  • Player of the Week: It’s really not fair for me to go with Shoelace every week, so I’ll go with Dan Persa.  After contributing pretty much all of the Wildcat offense in their wire job against Minnesota, Persa should have his way against a Boilermaker squad that is being decimated by the injury bug.
  • Snoozer of the Week: Illinois/Penn State.  Penn State looked bad against that Iowa defense, and the Illini defense shut down Terrelle Pryor for the better part of 60 minutes last weekend.  I think we’re in for an unranked, low scoring affair.
  • Upset of the Week: Dare I say Indiana over Ohio State?  It’s the only game with real upset potential this week, and if Chappell gets that Hoosier air game going, it could go until the very end.  Of course, that means Indiana has to contain Pryor like the Illini did.
  • Bust of the Week: I’m having a hard time predicting a bust.  It could be Chappell.  It could be Kirk Cousins.  Heck, it might even be Denard Robinson.  No, that’s straight blasphemy.

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