Hickey: 1 B1G thought ahead of every Week 6 Big Ten game
Ohio State fans are up in arms this week upon learning that next week’s game at Purdue has been swapped from television and stuffed onto NBC’s Peacock streaming service.
That move was made so this week’s Ohio State game against Maryland can get FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff treatment. The move is a shocking development, as it means FOX is aware there are college football teams other than Colorado.
Coach Prime weeps, possibly, behind those stunna shades.
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As for Peacock? Welcome to the new norm. The Buckeyes will be a week late to the party.
It’s Peacock week in the Big Ten, which is a distressing sign of where the future is heading in sports. Whether sitting at home or going to the game, you’ll have to pay to play.
Of the 6 B1G games this week, 3 are being streamed on the service, though thankfully 1 is also being broadcast on NBC.
My main beef, other than having to chip in a few extra bucks a month?
If you want to channel surf efficiently, you’ll need a second screen or you’re pretty much locked into the game on the app. That’s a fairly legitimate annoyance given how many games are happening simultaneously.
Anyway … on to B1G thoughts ahead of Week 6’s games in the Big Ten, wherever they can be found.
Nebraska (2-3, 0-2) at Illinois (2-3, 0-2)
When: 8 p.m. ET, FS1
B1G thought: I know it’s at home, but it’s still a bit shocking to see Illinois favored this week after last week’s dud at Purdue. But then when you see Nebraska’s performance against Michigan, you say, “Oh, right.”
This matchup is begging to be banished to a streaming service, but it will be in full view of the general public. But it is rather significant in a way — the loser can just about forget going to a bowl game, while the winner retains hope.
Maryland (5-0, 2-0) at No. 4 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0)
When: Noon ET, FOX
B1G thought: Maryland should be ranked but is not. The Terps will make 1 of the most dramatic poll entries we’ve seen — maybe from unranked to Top 10 in Week 7? — if they can beat the Buckeyes for the first time ever.
Maryland fans may not want to hold their breath in anticipation of that outcome, though. Ohio State’s average margin of victory over the Terps at Ohio Stadium is 44.3 points per game. There are MAC teams who fare more respectably in The Horseshoe.
Rutgers (4-1, 1-1) at Wisconsin (4-1, 1-0)
When: Noon ET, Peacock
B1G thought: Much as Ohio State is a measuring stick for where Maryland is trying to go, Wisconsin is a measuring stick for what Greg Schiano wants to achieve at Rutgers.
The Badgers, as we knew them from the dawn of Barry Alvarez through last season, played the physical way Rutgers aspires to — right down to using a decent share of star running backs from New Jersey. (And Wisconsin is still physical. It’s the pace that’s changed more than anything.)
The results of this series are what you’d expect when similar styles clash with a decided talent disparity. Wisconsin is 4-0 against Rutgers, winning by a combined score of 168-30.
We’ll learn a lot about how much Rutgers has grown here.
Howard (2-2) at Northwestern (2-3)
When: 3 p.m. ET, BTN
B1G thought: Late-season FCS games are all the rage in the SEC, which actively games the schedule to help its Playoff hopefuls avoid November pratfalls. This is as late as you’ll ever see a B1G team play an FCS opponent, and it still feels unusual.
Culturally, the matchup makes sense. Howard is 1 of the nation’s most prestigious HBCUs — in the Big Ten, only Northwestern and Michigan have more stringent acceptance rates.
On the field, Bison left tackle Anim Dankwah will have a chance to add to his tape as he looks to become Howard’s first NFL Draft pick since 2003.
Purdue (2-3, 1-1) at Iowa (4-1, 1-1)
When: 3 p.m. ET, Peacock
B1G thought: The winner of this game emerges as Wisconsin’s most likely challenger in the B1G West, though the Boilermakers would need additional help already having lost the head-to-head matchup with the Badgers for the 17th consecutive time.
Purdue has long been the rare effective foil to Phil Parker’s defense, and Deion Burks is well-suited to inherit the role perfected by former Boilers receiver David Bell. He’s even got the perfect initials for the job.
Purdue’s defense should be beatable for Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill in his first career start. But there’s also a chance Iowa’s already-backward offense takes yet another step back.
No. 2 Michigan (5-0, 2-0) at Minnesota (3-2, 1-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC/Peacock
B1G thought: Get excited. The Little Brown Jug is back for the first time since 2020. And it’s back in front of fans for the first time since 2017. And those fans are in Minnesota for the first time since 2015.
But that might be all there is to get excited about. Jim Harbaugh’s team is a vastly superior version of all the things PJ Fleck would like to do at Minnesota.
As Michigan has proven — and Minnesota, to a lesser extent — it’s an effective way to win. Until you run into the better version of yourself. Then you’re toast.
Harbaugh has beaten Fleck by scores of 33-10 (2017) and 49-24 (2020), and those Michigan teams weren’t even close to what he has now in terms of talent.