Five bold predictions for the B1G in the final week of the season
We’ve reached the finish line.
Week 13 marks the conclusion of the 2017 regular season, leaving only conference championships, bowl games and, of course, the College Football Playoff. Yes, we still have another month of entertaining football ahead, but it just won’t be the same.
Fortunately, in the B1G, we close out the year with several good rivalries, and a few with major implications on the line. Here’s just a quick preview of what’s at stake:
- The winner of Purdue-Indiana is going bowling
- Wisconsin completes a perfect regular season by beating Minnesota. But the Gophers can guarantee a bowl appearance by defeating the Badgers
- Ohio State has still been given an outside shot at reaching the CFP. Michigan could spoil all of that
- Northwestern RB Justin Jackson and Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan could make B1G history
Though we’ll be weeping about this enjoyable season coming to a close, there is still enough at stake to keep us riveted for one final weekend.
Here are the bold predictions or the final week of the regular season.
Justin Jackson climbs to third on the B1G’s all-time rushing leaders list
Currently at fifth on the all-time list with 5,139 yards, Jackson needs two yards to pass Montee Ball for fourth place and 161 yards to climb past Anthony Thompson and move into the third slot. Against an Illinois defense that surrenders a B1G-worst 210 rushing yards per game, the senior back should be able to jump into that No. 3 spot Saturday.
The Northwestern coaching staff probably understands the math heading into this game. Even if it’s a lopsided contest, expect Jackson to touch the ball a lot at the end of the game if he’s close to that 161-yard mark.
One of the long, rivalry game losing streaks comes to an end
Rivalry Week in the B1G has been pretty lopsided in recent years. Here’s a preview of some of the streaks headed into this weekend:
- Wisconsin has won 13 straight vs. Minnesota
- Ohio State has won 5 straight vs. Michigan
- Indiana has won 4 straight vs. Purdue
My bet is one of those streaks comes to an end this weekend. The most logical would be Purdue beating Indiana, as the Boilermakers are a field goal favorite at home against the Hoosiers.
But hey, anything is possible in college football. A Michigan or Minnesota win would cause plenty of chaos in the final week of the 2017 season.
Stanley Morgan Jr. becomes the first 1,000-yard receiver in Nebraska history
Much like Northwestern making an effort to get Jackson the ball against the Illini, I believe Mike Riley will call Morgan’s number a lot against Iowa on Friday, and try to make history before he parts ways with Nebraska (which is expected to happen soon after the season finale).
No Huskers receiver has ever eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in a single season. The current receiving record is 942 yards, set by Johnny Rodgers in 1972. Morgan needs 31 yards to become the program’s all-time receiving leader and 88 to eclipse 1,000 yards.
Morgan has been one of the few bright spots or Nebraska this season. He deserves to be rewarded.
Jim Harbaugh incorporates something a little different into Michigan’s offense
For the first time in the Harbaugh era, Michigan has absolutely nothing to lose heading into “The Game.” Sure, that may not sit well with fans who expected a B1G title or a College Football Playoff bid, but it might actually benefit the Wolverines entering Saturday’s contest against Ohio State.
With nothing on the line, Harbaugh can get a little creative with his play-calling, can implement some little-used formations or take some big risks throughout the game. As the Michigan head coach searches for his first win in the rivalry, I fully expect the Wolverines to show a few new looks offensively.
What do they have to lose?
This will be the final time Saquon Barkley steps onto a field in a Penn State uniform
Controversial and unfair as it might be, I don’t think Barkley suits up in a blue and white uniform after the trip to Maryland. It may not be what Penn State fans want to hear, but he’s earned the right to sit out of the Nittany Lions bowl game.
With running backs having such a limited shelf life in the NFL these days, playing in a postseason game doesn’t seem worth the risk.
Barkley has blessed Happy Valley with incredible performances over the last three seasons. He doesn’t owe anything to the school or the program. He has a right to protect his future career.