1 B1G thought about every Week 12 Big Ten game
Put on some T.I. and Gucci Mane, because it’s trap week in the Big Ten.
While the SEC piddles around with FCS and Group of 5 opponents this weekend, B1G teams will play actual conference opponents that may require leaving starters on the field for a full 60 minutes. That means no protection for Ohio State or Michigan, who will face each other with the Big Ten East title at stake next week.
The B1G even had the audacity to send Ohio State on the road the week before its rivalry game, albeit for a matchup at Maryland.
Michigan, meanwhile, gets a senior day draw against Illinois that looked much friendlier when the schedule came out than it does today. The Illini need a win to regain control of the Big Ten West and potentially set up a rematch with the Wolverines in 2 weeks.
Illinois (7-3, 4-3) at No. 3 Michigan (10-0, 7-0)
When: Noon ET, ABC
B1G thought: Michigan is favored by 18 points, which makes me believe the boys in the desert aren’t high on Illinois running back Chase Brown’s chances of playing. Brown accounts for a ridiculous 37% of Illinois’ yards from scrimmage this season.
It’ll be a shame if that is what happens. As I wrote this week, Bret Bielema has the perfect blueprint for springing an upset over the Wolverines. But an Ocean’s 11-caliber game plan isn’t going to matter if Danny Ocean isn’t participating. Which would be Chase Brown in this analogy.
Wisconsin (5-5, 3-4) at Nebraska (3-7, 2-5)
When: Noon ET, ESPN
B1G thought: Winner gets to keep his job?
This historic sporting event is the one and only Interim Bowl between Wisconsin’s Jim Leonhard and Nebraska’s Mickey Joseph.
Joseph took over for Scott Frost after Nebraska’s 1-2 start, and Leonhard for Paul Chryst when the Badgers opened 2-3 for the second straight season. The events may be connected. Leonhard’s name appeared on most short lists surrounding the Nebraska head coaching vacancy, and Wisconsin was able to nip that in the bud by firing Chryst and promoting Leonhard.
Leonhard’s chances of staying on next season seem considerably higher than Joseph’s right now, but maybe Mickey can flip the script.
Northwestern (1-9, 1-6) at Purdue (6-4, 4-3)
When: Noon ET, FS1
B1G thought: The Boilermakers put themselves in an ideal position to win the West by beating Illinois. Now they can’t hand it right back by stumbling against the Wildcats.
And that could actually happen, because this Purdue team is not one to break patterns.
Purdue lost to Wisconsin for the 16th consecutive time this season. Purdue won at Illinois for the 6th straight time. And now Pat Fitzgerald rolls into West Lafayette with 5 straight wins at Ross-Ade Stadium dating to 2009.
The last time Purdue beat Northwestern at home was 2007. And if you’re thinking “that sounds like a long time,” now think of it this way: Crank That (Soulja Boy) was the No. 1 song in the country at the time of that 35-17 Purdue win.
Indiana (3-7, 1-6) at Michigan State (5-5, 3-4)
When: Noon ET, BTN
B1G thought: Ah, the Old Brass Spittoon — surely the most random rivalry trophy in college football.
For starters, no one has needed a spittoon since — and I’m spit-balling here (pun intended) — 1940? And even that seems a bit generous.
Secondly, nobody at Indiana hates anyone at Michigan State, and vice versa. Of all the states Indiana shares a border with, Michigan definitely draws the least invective from native Hoosiers.
But don’t get them started on Ohio drivers.
No. 2 Ohio State (10-0, 7-0) at Maryland (6-4, 3-4)
When: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
B1G thought: Speaking of Ohio drivers, the Buckeyes figure to have several short drives against the Terrapins. And not because they are 3-and-outs.
In Ryan Day’s 2 games against Mike Locksley, Ohio State is winning by an average score of 69.5-15.5. And in 7 all-time meetings against Maryland, the Buckeyes have never scored fewer than 49 points. The Bucks have hit 60 on 4 occasions, including a 70-burger.
Call this the Sammy Hagar Rivalry — Ohio State can never go below 55.
No. 11 Penn State (8-2, 5-2) at Rutgers (4-6, 1-6)
When: 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
B1G thought: Mid-November in New Jersey sounds like the definition of a trap.
But back to football.
Penn State owns a 30-2 all-time lead in this series, but Saturday’s game is significant in the “rivalry.” The Nittany Lions have a 15-game winning streak over the Scarlet Knights going back to 1989. This ties the 15-game streak Penn State had from 1950-87.
With a win, Penn State has its all-time longest winning streak over Rutgers. But a Rutgers win would reset the cycle and force the Nittany Lions to begin a third 15-game winning streak in 2023.
Iowa (6-4, 4-3) at Minnesota (7-3, 4-3)
When: 4 p.m. ET, FOX
B1G thought: There’s a lot more at stake here than a bronzed statue of a prized porker.
The winner of this game finds itself in prime position in the West, especially if Illinois loses at Michigan.
Historically, the advantage favors Kirk Ferentz, who is old enough to be PJ Fleck’s father and has been his daddy on the field. Ferentz is 5-0 against Fleck.
But the weather conditions may favor the men from the true north. Saturday’s high is forecast to be 22 degrees, and that will dip along with the sun in the second half. Perhaps the frigid air will be a fitting backdrop to make this The Year of the Gopher.