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Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

2015 Big Ten power rankings: Week 12

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Power Rankings_header

Well, the biggest week of the Big Ten season so far has come and gone, leaving two clear contenders with a direct path to Indianapolis. Barring a massive upset, Iowa and Michigan State will play for the Big Ten crown.

But as a whole, the Big Ten has emerged as the top conference in college football. LSU and much of the SEC has been exposed as overhyped and the Big Ten put four teams in the College Football Playoff top 10.

Now the microscope shifts from the top of the league to the middle, where four teams need a victory to get to six wins. Will the Big Ten send only seven teams to the postseason? Or could it be as many as 11? All 14 teams will hit the turf Saturday (or Friday) for six meaningful games (and one Maryland-Rutgers pillow fight).

East Division
1. Michigan State (10-1, 6-1) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat #3 Ohio State 17-14 This Week: Sat Penn State (7-4, 4-3), 3:30pm, ESPN

Mark Dantonio did it again. Nobody gave Michigan State a chance to win in Columbus, especially when star quarterback and future first-round draft pick Connor Cook was ruled out. If the Spartans knock off Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 5, they should be a top two seed in the playoff.

2. Michigan (9-2, 6-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 28-16 This Week: Sat vs #8 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1), 12pm, ABC

Saturday was a perfect representation of how far Michigan has come under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines dominated Penn State in Happy Valley, electing to take a knee inside the five instead of winning the game by 19 points. The victory gave Michigan a perfect 4-0 road record in conference play and a fourth straight win since the crushing defeat against MSU. If Michigan played Utah or Michigan State today, it would probably win both games. Instead, the Wolverines have a chance to clinch a New Year’s Six bowl game if they can take care of Ohio State at the Big House.

3. Ohio State (10-1, 6-1) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to #9 Michigan State 14-17 This Week: Sat at #10 Michigan (9-2, 6-1), 12pm, ABC

You don’t really find out about the character of a team until it faces some adversity, and the Buckeyes didn’t handle it well. After their first loss in over a calendar year, Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott unceremoniously declared for the NFL Draft and Elliott blamed the entire loss on play calling. Then, Urban Meyer seized control of his team by…basically cowering at Elliott’s feet during his weekly press conference. Elliott does not deserve to miss game time for his comments, but the way he attacked his coaching staff created a crack in the seemingly impenetrable wall Meyer built in Columbus. Now that the Buckeyes have a loss, the rest of their resume is fair game for criticism. Ohio State’s best win came at home against a mediocre Penn State team and then it lost its only competitive game to a team with two backup quarterbacks. I think Michigan is going to see an angry, ultra-motivated Buckeye team in Ann Arbor this weekend.

4. Indiana (5-6, 1-6) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Maryland 47-28 This Week: Sat at Purdue (2-9, 1-6), 12pm, BTN

Indiana has been the anti-Ohio State this season: Losing close games against very tough competition. The Hoosiers have played five of the top six teams in the conference and nearly knocked off four of those teams. But now it’s time to give Indiana some love. Despite falling behind Maryland 21-3 in the first quarter, Kevin Wilson’s team didn’t fall apart, instead scoring the next 27 points and running away with a 47-28 win. That first conference victory gives the Hoosiers a great chance to clinch a bowl Saturday in West Lafayette.

5. Penn State (7-4, 4-3) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #12 Michigan 16-28 This Week: Sat at #5 Michigan State (10-1, 6-1), 3:30pm, ESPN

Is Penn State any good? I’m really not sure. James Franklin heads into the final game of the season without a single win over a winning power five team. PSU’s best win came against Indiana and it hasn’t won a road game on the year. Christian Hackenberg missed some open receivers by a wide margin Saturday against Michigan and looks beaten down by a terrible offensive line’s ineptitude.

6. Rutgers (4-7, 1-6) – Even
Last Week: Beat Army 31-21 This Week: Sat vs Maryland (2-9, 0-7), 12pm, BTN

Rutgers won at Army by 10 points to snap a four-game losing streak on Saturday. Luckily, the Scarlett Knights get to close out the season against Maryland this weekend.

7. Maryland (2-9, 0-7) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Indiana 28-47 This Week: Sat at Rutgers (4-7, 1-6), 12pm, BTN

It seems like some strong head coaching candidates are strongly considering that Maryland job, which is the first good news the football program has heard all season. Luckily, the Terrapins get to close out the season against Rutgers this weekend.

B1G East Week 12


West Division
1. Iowa (11-0, 7-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Purdue 40-20 This Week: Fri at Nebraska (5-6, 3-4), 3:30pm, ABC

With a foot of snow piled on every row of bleachers, Iowa looked like it would give fans an excuse to watch the second half from the warmth of their living rooms Saturday. But a 20-point lead was trimmed to just seven early in the second half after a 13-0 Purdue run. The Hawkeyes woke up just in time to win 40-20 and jump into the top four of the playoff rankings. Iowa already clinched the Big Ten West Division, but it’ll need a win in Nebraska on Friday night to stay alive for the playoff.

2. Northwestern (9-2, 5-2) – Even
Last Week: Beat #25 Wisconsin 13-7 This Week: Sat vs Illinois (5-6, 2-5), 3:30pm, ESPNU

Another week, another reason Northwestern should be ranked much higher than it actually is. The Wildcats went into Madison and held Wisconsin to seven points to add another quality win to a loaded resume. It’s a shame that losses to a pair of top 10 teams took a very deserving Northwestern team out of the New Year’s Six conversation.

3. Nebraska (5-6, 3-4) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 31-14 This Week: Fri vs #4 Iowa (11-0, 7-0), 3:30pm, ABC

It’s been a season full of shock for Nebraska fans: Shocking losses, shocking wins and, most prominently, shocking endings. Mike Riley is two-thirds of the way through the 3-0 finish he needed to make a bowl game. It’s fitting that the Cornhuskers will need a shocking win over undefeated Iowa to polish it off.

4. Wisconsin (8-3, 5-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #20 Northwestern 7-13 This Week: Sat at Minnesota (5-6, 2-5), 3:30pm, BTN

Wisconsin played three games against teams without losing record this season and lost all three, scoring an average of 10 points. All eight of Wisconsin’s wins came against teams with five or fewer wins. That makes an SEC non-conference schedule look almost respectable.

5. Minnesota (5-6, 2-5) – Even
Last Week: Beta Illinois 32-23 This Week: Sat vs Wisconsin (8-3, 5-2), 3:30pm, BTN

Coming off three straight losses to current top-10 teams, Minnesota got its first win under Tracy Claeys Saturday against Illinois. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Golden Gophers knock off Wisconsin at home to sneak into the bowl season. Minnesota is one of those pesky teams you don’t want to play in the postseason.

6. Purdue (2-9, 1-6) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to #5 Iowa 20-40 This Week: Sat vs Indiana (5-6, 1-6), 12pm, BTN

This is going to sound strange, but Purdue might be the best 2-9 team in the country. The Boilermakers have come within a possession of knocking off three teams with at least nine wins and gave Iowa a bit of a scare in the 3rd quarter Saturday. A rivalry win against bowl-hopeful Indiana would end the season on a positive note.

7. Illinois (5-6, 2-5) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Minnesota 23-32 This Week: Sat vs #16 Northwestern (9-2, 5-2), 3:30pm, ESPNU

Illinois had a perfect opportunity to clinch a bowl win Saturday in Minnesota, but laid an egg in a 32-23 loss. Now it’ll take an upset over an excellent Northwestern team on Senior Night to extend the season for Bill Cubit’s group.

B1G West Week 12

2015 Big Ten power rankings: Week 11

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Power Rankings_header

The Big Ten featured six games this weekend and none of those ended in an upset, though many were too close for comfort.

Now, with only two weeks remaining, the Big Ten will watch a three-horse race in the East Division unfold as the top four teams duke it out. The highly-anticipated Michigan State-Ohio State game is finally here, with more than a chance at the conference title on the line.

Tuesday’s rankings kept six Big Ten teams in the top 25, but some of them are clearly being devalued by a questionable committee.

Here’s how the conference stacks up with two weeks to play.

East Division
1. Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Illinois 28-3 This Week: Sat vs #9 Michigan State (9-1, 5-1), 3:30pm, ABC

This year’s battle for Illibuck was one to forget, as Ohio State rolled the hapless Illini, 28-3, to take home the trophy. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns to pace a Buckeye offense that welcomed starting quarterback J.T. Barrett back to the field. Now OSU faces the two toughest competitors in the East, starting at home against Michigan State.

2. Michigan (8-2, 5-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Indiana 48-41 (2OT) This Week: Sat at Penn State (7-3, 4-2), 12pm, ABC

The road date with Indiana smelled like danger from a mile away, and it took heroic efforts from Jake Rudock and Jehu Chesson to keep Michigan’s slim Big Ten title hopes alive. Rudock threw for 440 yards and six touchdowns. Chess on caught 10 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, the defense allowed 41 points to a Jordan Howard-led offense that bullied the Wolverines at the point of attack. If it takes two overtimes to beat the 4-6 Hoosiers, next weekend’s matchup with Penn State looks that much tougher.

3. Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) – Even
Last Week: Bear Maryland 24-7 This Week: Sat at #3 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0), 3:30pm, ABC

The Spartans got back on track Saturday, smacking Maryland by 17 despite playing most of the second half with Connor Cook on the sideline. Cook injured his throwing shoulder and looked like he was battling significant pain on the sideline. Luckily for MSU, Perry Hills was dreadful for the Terps, who mustered only one score, which came on their first drive. If Michigan State knocks off OSU in the Horseshoe, it’ll erase memories of that ugly loss to Nebraska.

4. Penn State (7-3, 4-2) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs #12 Michigan (8-2, 5-1), 12pm, ABC

Penn State took a late bye week to prepare for incoming Michigan on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are coming off a two-point loss to Northwestern and looking to finish strong against two top 12 teams in Michigan and MSU. Christian Hackenberg is likely playing his final game in Happy Valley, and he has the skill set to go out with a huge bang.

5. Indiana (4-6, 0-6) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #14 Michigan 41-48 (2OT) This Week: Sat at Maryland (2-8, 0-6), 12pm, BTN

Indiana might be the best 0-6 conference team in the country, but it’s obvious why this group is struggling to finish an upset. It took Michigan three plays to score two overtime touchdowns, the second of which came without a single defender in the same area code as Amara Darboh. All the offense in the world, even from Howard, couldn’t make up for those defensive lapses.

6. Rutgers (3-7, 1-6) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Nebraska 14-31 This Week: Sat vs Army (2-8), 12pm, CBSSN

Rutgers stuck with Nebraska for awhile, but a late push from the superior Cornhuskers ultimately crushed the Scarlett Knights’ slim bowl hopes.

7. Maryland (2-8, 0-6) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #13 Michigan State 7-24 This Week: Sat vs Indiana (4-6, 0-6), 12pm, BTN

Not only is Maryland awful, the revolving door at quarterback makes the Terps nearly impossible to watch. The defense kept the game close for most of the first half, but Perry Hills just couldn’t make any throws after an up-tempo touchdown drive to kick things off.


B1G East Week 11

West Division
1. Iowa (10-0, 6-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 40-35 This Week: Sat vs Purdue (2-8, 1-5), 12pm, ESPN2

The undefeated Hawkeyes were the latest group to get a score from a pesky Gophers team. Despite exploding for 40 points against a solid defense, Iowa needed 13 fourth-quarter points to hold off the Fighting Tracy Claeys. Saturday’s battle with Purdue will be a nice tuneup for a season finale that’s looking much more interesting now that Nebraska’s turned its season around.

2. Northwestern (8-2, 4-2) – Even
Last Week: Beat Purdue 21-14 This Week: Sat at #25 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1), 3:30pm, BTN

Survive and advance, or something like that! Northwestern looked sluggish Saturday against Purdue and needed a score with under five minutes in the game to grab a third straight victory. It shouldn’t still be in doubt, but the Wildcats can finally prove themselves Saturday if they win at No. 25 Wisconsin.

3. Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs #20 Northwestern (8-2, 4-2), 3:30pm, BTN

The only thing easier than Wisconsin’s schedule this season was their week off to prepare for No. 20 Northwestern this season. The Badgers have knocked off five straight cupcakes since losing the conference opener to Iowa and could pick up their first quality win of the season Saturday.

4. Nebraska (5-6, 3-4) – Even
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 31-14 This Week: Bye (11/27 vs Iowa)

Is Nebraska finally making its run? Mike Riley’s chances to make a bowl game looked so slim after a loss to Purdue dropped his team to 3-6, but wins over MSU and Rutgers have put the Cornhuskers in position to save the season, if they can knock off undefeated rival Iowa.

5. Minnesota (4-6, 1-5) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to #5 Iowa 35-40 This Week: Sat vs Illinois (5-5, 2-4), 12pm, ESPNN

In three weeks since Jerry Kill retired, Minnesota has played tough against Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa. Unfortunately, the Gophers fell short all three times. Illinois presents a much easier task on Saturday.

6. Illinois (5-5, 2-4) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #3 Ohio State 3-28 This Week: Sat at Minnesota (4-6, 1-5), 12pm, ESPNN

Wes Lunt and company just didn’t have it Saturday against Ohio State, managing just three points in the blowout loss. It’ll take a win over Minnesota or Northwestern for the Illini to play in December.

7. Purdue (2-8, 1-5) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #18 Northwestern 14-21 This Week: Sat at #5 Iowa (10-0, 6-0), 12pm, ESPN2

David Blough has been a nice surprise for Purdue this season, putting together another solid performance against Northwestern — 287 yards passing and a touchdown. Next up: An Iowa team fighting for a national championship and a Minnesota team fighting for a bowl game.

B1G West Week 11

#14 Michigan 48 – Indiana 41 (2OT): Michigan survives on record day from Rudock, Chesson

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Chesson vs IU(Isaiah Hole, Wolverine247)

Parallels have been drawn between Jim Harbaugh and his mentor Bo Schembechler, and on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington, Ind., Harbaugh nearly achieved a dubious feat that no Michigan coach since Schembechler has done: lose to Indiana. Instead, his scrappy bunch of Wolverines survived an onslaught from the Big Ten’s best offense to take home a 48-41 double-overtime victory — the 20th straight in the series.

Jake Rudock followed last week’s career game with an even better one against the Hoosiers, completing 33 of 46 passes for 440 yards, six touchdowns, and an interception. It was the third best passing game in Michigan history and the first time a Michigan quarterback has thrown for back to back 300-yard games since Chad Henne in 2004.

Final Stats
Michigan Indiana
Score 48 41
Record 8-2 (5-1) 4-6 (0-6)
Total Yards 581 527
Net Rushing Yards 141 307
Net Passing Yards 440 220
First Downs 28 32
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 13-72 9-79
Punts-Yards 3-123 2-79
Time of Possession 32:33 27:27
Third Down Conversions 6-of-12 6-of-17
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 3-of-5
Sacks By-Yards 1-12 1-7
Field Goals 2-for-3 4-for-4
PATs 6-for-6 3-for-3
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-of-4 5-of-6
Full Box Score

Four of those six touchdown passes were caught by Jehu Chesson, who became just the second receiver in Michigan history to catch four touchdown passes in one game, joining Derrick Alexander, who did so against Minnesota in 1992. Chosen led Michigan with 10 receptions for 207 yards and the four scores.

But the big games by Rudock and Chesson were almost negated by the legs of Indiana running back Jordan Howard. The UAB transfer rushed for a career high 238 yards on 35 carries (6.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, shredding the nation’s third-best rush defense time and time again.

The game could not have started better as Michigan’s defense stopped Indiana short of a first down on 4th and 2 near midfield to start the game, and four plays later, Rudock connected with Chesson for a 34 yard touchdown. But Indiana responded with back to back field goals from 39 and 36 yards to pull within 7-6.

At the start of the second quarter, Michigan went 75 yards on 10 plays for another Chesson touchdown. On the first play of the drive, Michigan was backed up 12 yards for a chop block, and on the second play Jake Butt lost seven yards. But on 2nd and 29 from their own 6-yard line, Rudock found Butt for 24 yards, then scrambled for 23 more. Just like that, Michigan was near midfield. A few plays later, Michigan face 3rd and 13, but Rudock scrambled for 19 yards, and two plays after that he found Chesson for a 15-yard touchdown.

Indiana got another field goal from Griffin Oakes, this time from 51 yards out, but Michigan answered with a 64-yard catch-and-run by Chesson to give Michigan a 21-9 lead. Indiana finally found the end zone with 49 seconds left in the first half when Howard carried it in from seven yards out. Michigan added a 22-yard Kenny Allen field goal to end the half with a 24-16 lead.

While the first half started out perfectly, the second did not. Michigan got the first possession, but went three and out, and Indiana receiver Mitchell Paige returned the punt 51 yards for a touchdown.

Michigan’s ensuing possession stalled at the Indiana 24 and Allen missed a 42 yard field goal after a bad snap messed up the timing. Indiana marched 69 yards in nine plays and kicked a 24-yard field goal to take their first lead of the game at 26-24.

After a Rudock interception in the Indiana red zone, Michigan’s defense came up with a stop, forcing an Indiana punt. Michigan’s offense put together its best drive of the game, going 78 yards in 15 plays and taking up six minutes and 57 seconds. But although they reached the Indiana 1-yard line, they had to settle for a 20-yard field goal to retake the lead, 27-26.

Indiana took possession with 6:30 remaining and proceed to run the ball eight straight times as Michigan couldn’t stop it. Howard gained 61 yards on six of those carries, including a 24-yard touchdown scamper to give Indiana a 34-27 lead.

Jourdan Lewis returned the kickoff 33 yards to give Michigan’s offense good field position, and Rudock wasted no time testing the IU secondary yet again. Back to back passes to Butt went 16 yards and nine yards, and on 3rd and 3, Rudock lobbed a 41-yarder to Chesson to the Indiana two with less than a minute left. On 1st and goal, Sione Houma was stopped at the one. On 2nd and goal, Houma was stuffed for no gain. On 3rd and goal, Drake Johnson was dropped for a four-yard loss, setting up a make or break fourth down with six seconds remaining. Rudock fired a strike to Chesson on a slant to tie the game.

On Indiana’s first possession of overtime, the Hoosiers ran five straight times, culminating with a 1-yard Howard touchdown run. Michigan answered with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to Butt. The Wolverines wasted no time scoring on their second possession as Rudock hit Amara Darboh for a 25-yard touchdown. Howard gained 17 yards on Indiana’s first play and then three on the second to set up 2nd and goal at the Michigan five. He was stopped for no gain to force third down, and then Nate Sudfeld was stopped at the two. On 4th and goal from the two, Indiana elected to put the ball in the air, but Delano Hill knocked it away from Paige at the goal line and Michigan survived.

Michigan totaled a season high 581 yards of offense, but also surrendered a season high 527. In addition to Chesson’s big day, Darboh topped 100 yards with 109 on eight catches. Butt caught seven passes for 82 yards. Rudock led Michigan in rushing with 64 yards on seven carries, while De’Veon Smith gained 58 on 12.

Now 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten, Michigan remains in the Big Ten title hunt. They travel to Penn State (7-3, 4-2) for a noon kickoff next Saturday needing a win to stay in contention. The Wolverines also need Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) to beat Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) in the afternoon game to set up a Big Ten East Division title game on Nov. 28.

Game Ball – Offense

Jake Rudock (33 of 46 for 440 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 7 carries for 64 yards)
This could have easily gone to Chesson for his 10-catch, 27-yard, four-touchdown performance, but Rudock got the nod for the second straight week. Not only did he throw for the third-most yards in a single game in Michigan history and set the single-game record with six touchdown passes, but he also led the team in rushing with 64 yards. If not for the lone interception in the red zone, Rudock would have turned in a perfect performance. He has benefited from two of the worst pass defenses in the Big Ten the past two weeks, but there’s no doubt that he’s more comfortable in the offense than he was earlier in the season and has developed a good rapport with his receivers. Can that continue against Penn State and Ohio State? We shall see.

Week 1 – Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)
Week 2 – De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
Week 3 – Ty Isaac (8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — De’Veon Smith (16 carries for 125 yards and 1 TD)
Week 5 — Drake Johnson (13 carries for 68 yards, 1 TD, 1 rec for 31 yards, 1 TD)
Week 6 — Mason Cole, Ben Braden, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson
Week 7 — Kenny Allen (3-for-3 field goals, 2-2 PATs)
Week 8 — Jabrill Peppers (4 carries for 16 yards, 1 TD, 1 punt return for 41 yards, 1 kick return for 43 yards)
Week 9 — Jake Rudock (18 of 25 for 337 yards, 2 TDs, 1 carry for 4 yards, 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Delano Hill (10 tackles, 8 solo, 1 PBU)
It’s usually not a good thing when a safety leads the team in tackles. In fact, both of Michigan’s safeties — Hill and Jarrod Wilson — led the team with 10 tackles apiece. Indiana running back Jordan Howard shredded the front seven all game, forcing the safeties to make plays. But more than just tackles, Hill saved the game two plays in a row on Indiana’s second possession of double overtime. On 3rd and goal from the Michigan five, Sudfeld faked the handoff to Howard and kept it himself, but Hill was there for the stop at the two. Then, on fourth down, Hill was in perfect coverage of Mitchell Paige at the goal line and knocked the pass away. On a defense that has been praised most of the season, but imploded on Saturday, it was the unheralded Hill that rose to the occasion.

Week 1 – Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 TFL)
Week 2 – Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 3 – Jourdan Lewis (3 tackles, 4 PBU)
Week 4 — Ryan Glasgow (3 tackles, 2 TFL)
Week 5 — Desmond Morgan (9 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
Week 6 — Jourdan Lewis (4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 touchdown, 1 PBU)
Week 7 — Willie Henry (5 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU)
Week 8 — James Ross (9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 9 — Chris Wormley (4 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks)

Michigan’s College Football Playoff rooting guide: Nov. 14

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Cardinals Stadium

Only four weekends separate us from when the College Football Playoff and bowl game selection committees will make their final decisions and determine the fate of teams that have earned the right to play in the postseason.

Through Week 10, more than 100 FBS teams have been realistically eliminated from playoff contention. Michigan, an enormous long shot to make the Final Four, is one of the teams still in the hunt. But since the Wolverines already lost two games, they need a ton of help over the next four weeks.

Yes, it would take a Hollywood movie-type finish to the season for Michigan to slip into the top four. But until that last glimmer of hope dies, Michigan fans should enjoy the team’s first meaningful home stretch in almost a decade.

We’ll stick with the movie theme as we break down the first of the final four Saturdays. If you’re a Michigan fan holding out hope, here’s what you should root for.

“I really, really need you”

In honor of Sanka Coffie from Cool Runnings, these teams completely hold Michigan’s fate in their hands. These are the teams that Michigan absolutely needs victories from on Saturday in order to keep the Wolverines’ CFP hopes alive. If even one of these teams falls, Michigan’s CFP dreams die.

No. 14 Michigan (away) against Indiana (3:30pm, ABC): The only absolutely essential game for Michigan this weekend is its own contest in Bloomington. Thanks to a pair of early losses, the Wolverines don’t have any room for error. As soon as they drop a third game, it’s all over.

Result: Michigan 48 – Indiana 41 (2OT)

“It could happen!”

In honor of JP from Angels in the Outfield, this is the “It could happen” group. These are the teams Michigan is rooting for that have a legitimate chance to win on Saturday. Wins by these teams either help the Wolverines move up in the rankings or improve their resume (in order of kickoff time).

South Carolina (home) against No. 11 Florida (12pm, ESPN): Florida will win the SEC East and play in the conference championship game, so there’s another loss in the future. But after a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt last week, a loss to 3-6 South Carolina would drop Florida well below Michigan.

Result: Florida 24 – South Carolina 14

No. 3 Ohio State (away) against Illinois (12pm, ABC): This one might be tough to understand, but Michigan actually needs the Buckeyes to be undefeated when they come to Ann Arbor. A win against a top two team in the country would prompt a big jump for the Wolverines.

Result: Ohio State 28 – Illinois 3

No. 13 Michigan State (home) against Maryland (12pm, ESPN2): Even more surprising than rooting for Ohio State? Michigan needs MSU to bounce back against Maryland. The Wolverines already need the Spartans to lose next weekend in Columbus to have a shot to win the Big Ten, so this week’s game is very important. If Michigan State loses to Maryland and makes it three straight against in Columbus, it’ll drop out of the top 25. That would make Michigan’s loss in October much less forgivable.

Result: Michigan State 24 – Maryland 7

No. 18 Northwestern (home) against Purdue (12pm, BTN): Northwestern is Michigan’s best win of the season. As long as Pat Fitzgerald’s team keeps winning, Michigan’s resume gets better and better. If the Wildcats lose to Purdue, everything they’ve worked for comes crashing down.

Result: Northwestern 21 – Purdue 14

No. 2 Alabama (away) against No. 17 Mississippi State (3:30pm, CBS): Here’s another strange one, but Michigan needs Alabama to lose for two reasons. First, the CFP committee has proven it WILL NOT penalize Alabama for losing, no matter the conditions. Nick Saban’s team lost at home to an unranked team and still sits ahead of five of the six unbeaten teams in the country. So since Alabama will stay ahead of Michigan no matter what happens, the Wolverines might as well avoid being jumped by Mississippi State in the process.

Result: Alabama 31 – Mississippi State 6

Iowa State (home) against No. 8 Oklahoma State (3:30pm, ESPN): Oklahoma State burst onto the scene when it stomped TCU by 20 last weekend. Now, with both Oklahoma and Baylor coming to town over the next two weeks, Michigan needs a team like Iowa State to do the dirty work and knock off the undefeated Cowboys. With no conference championship game, Big 12 teams will have a hard time bouncing back from losses like that.

Result: Oklahoma State 35 – Iowa State 31

No. 12 Oklahoma (away) against No. 6 Baylor (8pm, ABC): Since the Bears lost their starting quarterback to a neck injury, the entire country has been waiting for them to slip up. Once they do, their fall in the polls will be a long one. Without a quality victory to its name, Baylor would fall out of contention with a home loss to Oklahoma. As far as the Sooners, they’ve still got games against TCU and Oklahoma State on the horizon. Michigan can hope for a slip up in one of those contests.

Result: Oklahoma 44 – Baylor 34

No. 5 Iowa (home) against Minnesota (8pm, BTN): If you actually think Michigan has a chance to slip into the top four, you need Iowa to keep winning and head into the Big Ten Championship Game with a 12-0 record. That would mean another opportunity for a top five win.

Iowa 40 – Minnesota 35

“It’s just not believable, Cotton”

In honor of Pepper Brooks, from Dodgeball, these are the true underdog stories. These teams have almost no chance to win, but if they do, it would really help Michigan.

N.C. State (away) against No. 16 Florida State (12:30pm, ESPN3): Another incredible oversight by the CFP committee: Florida State lost a game last weekend and didn’t drop a single spot. Yes, it was to the No. 1 team in the country on the road, but a loss is a loss. If N.C. State pulls an unlikely upset, FSU becomes an afterthought.

Result: Florida State 34 – N.C. State 17

Wake Forest (away) against No. 4 Notre Dame (3:30pm, NBC): Wake Forest is really, really bad. As Notre Dame’s second loss, this would likely drop the Irish out of the top 15.

Result: Notre Dame 28 – Wake Forest 7

Arkansas (away) against No. 9 LSU (7:15pm, ESPN): LSU got pounded against Alabama last week and now faces a streaking Arkansas team. Another loss would devastate Leonard Fournette and Company.

Result: Arkansas 31 – LSU 14

Arizona (home) against No. 10 Utah (10pm, FS1): “How can you ask me to root for Rich Rod’s team!?” Because Arizona is irrelevant on the national scale and Utah is ranked ahead of Michigan. Yes, a Utes loss would diminish Michigan’s opening-week game, but Utah could still win the Pac-12 South and finish in the top 15 with two losses. As long as the Utes stay in the top 25, it’s more important for Michigan to jump them in the poll.

Result: Arizona 37 – Utah 30

Oregon (away) against No. 7 Stanford (7:30pm, FOX): Oregon is starting to play a bit better, but this game is still a long shot. If Stanford losses its second game of the season, Michigan will definitely jump ahead of the Cardinal because of a win against their only common opponent: Northwestern.

Result: Oregon 38 – Stanford 36

M&GB staff predictions: Indiana

Friday, November 13th, 2015


Michigan travels to Bloomington, Ind. on Saturday to face a Hoosiers squad that has had some near upsets behind the Big Ten’s best offense. With a chance at a winning season slipping away, could Michigan finally be the one? Let’s take a look at our picks.

Staff Predictions
Michigan Indiana
Justin 47 21
Derick 35 27
Sam 34 13
Josh 41 17
Joe 45 21
M&GB Average 40 20

Michigan’s defense held Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano in check last week, but will have its hands full with Sudfeld and Indiana’s offense. Rutgers was able to use some traps to spring a couple big runs, but Howard may be the best back the Wolverine defense has faced all season, so the defense will have to focus more on him. Indiana is surely the most balanced opponent so far in terms of threats in both the run game and passing game, so it will be interesting to see how the defense fares when it can’t focus primarily on one facet.

Regardless of how well the Hoosier offense does, I just don’t see its defense being able to hold Michigan’s offense out of the end zone enough to win. Almost without fail when a high-powered offense faces a formidable defense, the defense wins, and that’s going to be the case here as well.

Jake Rudock will build upon a great game last week with another big passing game against the Big Ten’s worst pass defense. Drake Johnson will lead the way on the ground and Michigan will near 500 total yards of offense. The defense will give up some yards and points, but it won’t be enough to seriously challenge. Michigan pulls off win number eight and stays in the title hunt for another week.

Michigan 47 – Indiana 21


Indiana is winless in the Big Ten, riding a five-game losing streak and blew a 25-point 2nd half lead to Rutgers a few weeks ago. Only 0-5 Maryland has been as bad as Indiana since thr start of October.

So why does this feel like such a dangerous game?

Remember the Hoosiers’ conference opener against Ohio State. They held a two-score lead over the Buckeyes in the second half before losing their two best players: Running back Jordan Howard and quarterback Nate Sudfeld. If their dangerous passing attack exposes Michigan’s secondary like Mitch Leidner and Minnesota did, this could turn into a 2013-esque shootout.

It took a 369-yard effort from Jeremy Gallon to save Michigan that time. This version of the Wolverines doesn’t have the offensive firepower to put up over 60 points.

Jim Harbaugh’s team struggled in each of its first three road games, despite pulling away in the second half against Maryland. Now it needs to get back on track in Bloomington, where the Hoosiers have flirted with upsets all season.

If Michigan plays like it did against Minnesota, Indiana will win this game. But I think the pass defense and the running game will do just enough to give Michigan the win.

Michigan 35 – Indiana 27


Indiana has an offense that could keep up for a quarter or two, but Michigan has a defense that will prevail. And Indiana’s defense is a sieve. Michigan wins.

Michigan 34 – Indiana 13


While most Michigan fans are playing out scenarios where we win out and make the playoff I’m saying not so fast my friend. There are some big games left and we’d be crazy to discount Indiana this weekend.

The Hoosiers have a high octane offense with a veteran quarterback and seemingly out of nowhere they also have a pretty good run game, crazy right? Add to that that they’ve played MSU, OSU and Iowa all very closely and that worries me just a bit. We almost lost to a ‘bad’ Minnesota team, and probably would have were it not for poor clock management, so we cannot take the Hoosiers lightly.

On offense: Indiana has a bad defense, not Rutgers bad but still pretty bad. In fact, it’s pretty much the defense’s fault they couldn’t pull off any of those upsets. They can’t seem to cover anyone and they definitely fade as the game wears on. I don’t think we’ll see a career day out of Rudock but he has begun to master the offense more and more each week. As Jedd Fisch said (paraphrasing here) he’s gone from first read, second, check down to one, two, three, checkdown or even one, two, three, four, check down. To me that is a huge step at just the right time, and it showed last week and should be evident again this week in Bloomington. As for running the ball, I’m not sure what to expect anymore. Smith looks banged up and Johnson still doesn’t look 100 percent and the staff has all but written off Ty Isaac (so it seems) now that Sione Houma is the 3rd RB on the depth chart. I don’t think we’ll see a 100-yard game from anyone but they’ll mix it up as usual with the jet sweeps and general trickery that Harbaugh loves.

On defense: This is what worries me the most. Connor Cook had a field day against Michigan’s defense. Okay, he’s a likely first-rounder. But then Mitch Leidner had a huge day on us as well. Enter Nate Sudfeld. He’s not Connor Cook but he might be the second best quarterback in the conference in an offense that likes to pass. Our safety play, outside of Wilson, has left much to be desired and I’m not too high on Stribling or Clark opposite Lewis. I think Sudfeld will gash this defense for some big plays. Hell, if Leidner can do it then Sudfeld sure as hell will too. Add to that the running game that has come on this season and Michigan could be in for much more of a battle than most expect. Jordan Howard is a big back, 230-plus, and while he’s not the most elusive guy he has some wiggle. Michigan looks like they’ll be without Ryan Glasgow and while the depth is great and there won’t be a drop off where I do see this hurting Michigan is there is now one less guy to rotate in, so how will these guys hold up late in the game having played more snaps than usual and against a higher temp offense?

I think this game is ripe for an upset pick. Michigan has only played one legit quarterback and he tore them apart, Sudfeld should do the same and if Indiana can get a lead and force Michigan to play catch up I don’t like our chances there. Then again, this is a team that let Rutgers, yes RUTGERS, drop 55 on them so I guess I’m just playing devil’s advocate here.

Indiana keeps this a lot closer and puts up more points than we’d like but Michigan will be too much in the end.

Michigan 41 – Indiana 17


We’re down to the last three games of the season and it appears that things are back on track. This week will be a test against a decent Indiana offense. These guys can move the ball and put some points on the board. They are extremely tough and have lost some close games. The key is getting up early and letting the defense do what they do best. Smother the quarterback.  I expect Rudock to have his two touchdown game with no picks and a 65 percent completion percentage along with managing the clock. Butt will get his third down, chain moving catches and the wideouts will haul in a few touchdowns.  The defense will get after the quarterback and force some turnovers as usual. As long as we do tho early in the game and not let them stick around, we are ok.  Michigan wins this one going away.

Michigan 45 – Indiana 21

#14 Michigan vs Indiana game preivew

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Game Preview_Indiana_banner

After last season’s 5-7 finish, riddled with concussion controversies and firings, who would have predicted that Michigan would still be in the Big Ten title hunt with three games remaining in 2015? That’s precisely where Jim Harbaugh has his team, needing three wins and an Ohio State victory over Michigan State to secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Quick Facts
Memorial Stadium – 3:30p.m. EST – ABC
Indiana Head Coach: Kevin Wilson (5th season)
Coaching Record: 18-39, 6-31 B1G (all at IU)
Co-Offensive Coordinators: Kevin Johns (5th season)
Greg Frey (2nd season)
Co-Defensive Coordinators: Brian Knorr (2nd season)
William Inge (3rd season)
Last Season: 4-8 (1-7)
Last Meeting: Michigan 34 – Indiana 10
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 54-9
Record in Bloomington: Michigan 17-2
Jim Harbaugh vs Indiana: 1st meeting
Last Michigan win: 2014 (34-10)
Last Indiana win: 1987 (14-10)
Current Streak: Michigan 19

It won’t be easy and it begins in Bloomington against an Indiana squad that doesn’t have a very good record, but has played close against some good teams. After breezing through a weak non-conference schedule for the first time in 25 years, topping Southern Illinois (48-47), Florida International (36-22), Western Kentucky (38-35), and Wake Forest (31-24), the Hoosiers have lost five straight. But they took Ohio State to the brink, stalling at the OSU 9-yard line on the game’s final play and falling 34-27. They were also within five of Michigan State until the Spartans scored three touchdowns in the final five minutes to make it look like a blowout, 52-26. Last week, Indiana trailed Iowa by one at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and after giving up back to back touchdowns, scored one of their own to pull within eight. But they fell 35-27.

On the other hand, the Hoosiers lost a shootout against Rutgers, 55-52, and got shut down by Penn State, 29-7.

Head coach Kevin Wilson is now in his fifth season and has yet to achieve a winning record. With Maryland and Purdue remaining and four wins already under their belt, six wins is well within reach, which means a win over Michigan puts a winning record within reach.

After a couple of windy days in the midwest, the weather forecast for Saturday calls for mid-50s and sunny with no chance of precipitation and only a slight breeze. Hoosier fans will turn out in full force for their final home game of the season. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s Indiana, so the crowd will be at least a third maize and blue. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Indiana has the ball

Indiana ranks 30th nationally and first in the Big Ten in total offense (460.9 yards per game), 48th and 4th in rushing offense (185.8 yards per game), 31st and 2nd in passing offense (275.1 yards per game), 49th and 3rd in passing efficiency (136.81), and 48th and 5th in scoring (32.4 points per game).

Senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld is the Big Ten’s passing leader, averaging 278.6 yards per game. That’s 11.4 yards more than Connor Cook, who threw for 328 yards against Michigan last month, and 66.6 more per game than Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner, who torched the Michigan secondary for 317. He was injured against Ohio State and missed the Penn State game, but returned to go 32 of 42 for 464 yards and four touchdowns against Rutgers. He then completed 23 of 37 for 308 yards and three touchdowns against Michigan State, but Iowa’s stout defense held him to 16 of 37 for 180 yards, a touchdown, and an interception last week.

Three receivers have at least 400 yards, led by redshirt junior Ricky Jones, who ranks sixth in the conference with 78.7 yards per game. He has three 100-yard games and has caught at least four passes in seven of nine games. Sophomore Simmie Cobbs is the team’s second leading receiver with 36 receptions for 552 yards and three touchdowns. After being held to just one catch for five yards by Penn State, Cobbs had seven for 107 against Rutgers and five for 108 and a touchdown against Michigan State. Mitchell Paige, a 5’7″, 176 pound redshirt junior, has 33 catches for 416 yards and two scores. He has caught eight passes in two of the last three games.

The Hoosier offense isn’t all passing. It also features the Big Ten’s second leading rusher, junior Jordan Howard. The UAB transfer averages 137.3 rushing yards per game, just a yard fewer than Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott. He has eclipsed 100 yards in five of the seven games in which he has played — he missed the Penn State and Rutgers games to injury — and reached 203 yards against WKU. The Ohio State and Michigan State games were the only two that the didn’t reach 100 yards, and they both also happened to be the only games in which he had limited carries. He had 14 for 34 against Ohio State before getting injured in the first half and 11 for 78 against MSU.

Sophomore Devine Redding, a Cleveland Glenville product, has 463 yards, but is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry compared to Howard’s 6.1. His best performance came in Howard’s absence when he gained 99 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries against Rutgers.

The offensive line is experienced and has done a great job of keeping Sudfeld upright. Indiana is tied with Michigan State for the fewest sacks allowed, 11. Michigan has allowed 13. Senior left tackle Jason Spriggs started 34 games entering this season and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2012 and 2014. Redshirt junior right guard Dan Feeney is the second most experienced with 24 straight starts entering the season and all nine so far this year. Fifth year senior center Jake Reed is a converted defensive end and tight end who started five games at guard in 2013 before moving to center last season. Redshirt junior right tackle Dimitric Camiel started five games last season and all nine this year, while left guard is the long position that has seen a change this season. Redshirt freshman Wes Martin started the first six games, but redshirt junior Jacob Bailey, who had five career starts entering the season, has started the last three.

When Michigan has the ball

While Indiana’s offense ranks among the Big Ten’s best, its defense is at the opposite end of the spectrum. That’s nothing new for the Hoosiers the past few years. IU ranks 119th and 14th in total defense (504 yards per game), 77th and 13th against the run (174 yards per game), 126th and 14th against the pass (330 yards per game), 103rd and 13th in pass defense efficiency (144.83), and 114th and 14th in scoring defense (37 points per game).

Senior defensive end Nick Mangieri leads the team with seven sacks and eight tackles for loss. The nephew of former NFLer Ed Sutter carried 22 career starts into 2015. Junior tackle Darius Latham also has eight tackles for loss, but just two sacks, while fifth year senior nose tackle Adarius Rayner has 1.5 tackles for loss.

Junior middle linebacker T.J. Simmons is probably the best player on the defense, though he ranks second on the team with 58 tackles. He was a freshman All-American and All-Big Ten performer in 2013 and also has 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Redshirt sophomore Marcus Oliver is the tackles leader with 79, but just 4.5 of those have gone for loss and just one sack. He also leads the team with four forced fumbles. The two outside linebackers are fifth year senior Zach Shaw and junior Clyde Newton, who have combined for 59 tackles, 10 for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

The secondary is led by redshirt sophomore free safety Chase Dutra, who ranks third on the team with 55 tackles, while freshman strong safety Jonathan Crawford has 52 tackles and a team-leading two interceptions. Redshirt sophomore corner Rashard Fant has the third most pass breakups in the Big Ten (13) behind Jourdan Lewis (19) and Iowa’s Desmond King (15). Freshman Andre Brown is the other corner with 35 tackles and four pass breakups.

While Michigan’s pass defense had two bad games against Michigan State and Minnesota, Indiana’s pass defense allows more passing yards per game than Michigan allowed in either of those games. Western Kentucky threw for 484 yards and Southern Illinois 411. Michigan State fell just short of 400 at 398 and Rutgers — who Michigan limited to just 164 passing yards last week — threw for 386. On the ground, while Michigan’s defense has allowed over 100 yards just three times and no opponent more than 144, Indiana’s defense has let seven teams rush for over 100 yards and four top 200, including Ohio State’s 272.

The other third

Redshirt sophomore kicker Griffin Oakes is 12 of 14 on the season with a long of 45. He made 13 of 18 as a freshman a year ago, including a school record 58-yarder against Maryland. Fifth year senior punter Eric Toth ranks eighth in the Big Ten with an average of 41.6 yards per punt. He has booted three over 50 yards, downed 35 percent of his punts inside the 20, and only four have gone for touchbacks.

Senior receiver Damon Graham and freshman corner Devonte Williams share the kick return duties. Graham averages 22.3 yards per return, while Williams averages 20.4. Paige is the lone punt returner, averaging 10.2 yards per return and has returned one for a touchdown.


Michigan’s defense held Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano in check last week, but will have its hands full with Sudfeld and Indiana’s offense. Rutgers was able to use some traps to spring a couple big runs, but Howard may be the best back the Wolverine defense has faced all season, so the defense will have to focus more on him. Indiana is surely the most balanced opponent so far in terms of threats in both the run game and passing game, so it will be interesting to see how the defense fares when it can’t focus primarily on one facet.

Regardless of how well the Hoosier offense does, I just don’t see its defense being able to hold Michigan’s offense out of the end zone enough to win. Almost without fail when a high-powered offense faces a formidable defense, the defense wins, and that’s going to be the case here as well.

Jake Rudock will build upon a great game last week with another big passing game against the Big Ten’s worst pass defense. Drake Johnson will lead the way on the ground and Michigan will near 500 total yards of offense. The defense will give up some yards and points, but it won’t be enough to seriously challenge. Michigan pulls off win number eight and stays in the title hunt for another week.

Michigan 47 – Indiana 21

2015 Big Ten power rankings: Week 10

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Power Rankings_header

And then there were two.

The Big Ten watched one-third of its three-headed monster fall Saturday night leaving just one undefeated team in each division. But despite that loss, the conference saw six teams ranked in Tuesday night’s College Football Playoff rankings, more than any other conference.

It’s looking like the Big Ten might be the best conference in the country this season. Here’s a look at how the divisions stack up through Week 10.

East Division
1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 28-14 This Week: Sat at Illinois (5-4, 2-3), 12pm, ABC

Another week, another Ohio State victory. The defending champs remained undefeated without their starting quarterback Saturday, fending off a pesky Minnesota squad to improve to 9-0. Cardale Jones threw for 187 yards and a touchdown and Ezekiel Elliott rushed 26 times for 114 and a score to pace the offense. Minnesota controlled the pace and racked up more than 300 yards, but a late comeback effort ran out of gas in the 4th quarter. OSU held steady at No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday after being jumped by Alabama, which lost to an unranked team at home but somehow hasn’t been penalized for it. If the Buckeyes knock off a pair of really good teams from the state of Michigan, they should vault right back up to No. 1

2. Michigan (7-2, 4-1) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 49-16 This Week: Sat at Indiana (4-5, 0-5), 3:30pm, ABC

Just one week after falling to a season-worst fourth in these rankings, Michigan is up into the No. 2 spot for just the second time. Michigan took care of business against Rutgers, cruising past the Scarlett Knights 49-16. The offensive outburst was paced by quarterback Jake Rudock, who threw for a season-best 337 yards More importantly, the Wolverines have new life in the Big Ten East race with a pair of tricky road games on the horizon. A shaky secondary faces a huge test Saturday in Indiana, which is bound to finish off one of these upset bids eventually. Michigan moved up three spots to No. 14 in the playoff rankings.

3. Michigan State (8-1, 4-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Nebraska 38-39 This Week: Sat vs Maryland (2-7, 0-5), 12pm, ESPN2

If you play with fire long enough, you’re bound to get burned. Michigan State flirted with defeat almost every week en route to an otherwise impressive 8-0 start, but it couldn’t hold onto a 12-point lead with under four minutes to play Saturday night and fell to Nebraska, 39-38. The Spartans underperformed against Rutgers, Purdue, even the directional schools, to an extent. And no, MSU didn’t lose to Nebraska because of an out-of-bounds call at the end of the game. Mark Dantonio’s team had no business cutting it so close against a team that lost to Purdue by double digits, so that defense has nobody to blame but itself. Luckily for the Spartans, they’re still ranked No. 13 in the playoff rankings with a cupcake at home to get back on track this weekend.

4. Penn State (7-3, 4-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #21 NW 21-23 This Week: Bye (11/21 vs Michigan)

The Nittany Lions were already a long shot to win the Big Ten East, but any remaining aspirations were officially put to rest Saturday afternoon.  Penn State had a chance to pick up its first good win of the season in Evanston, but allowed a field goal with under 10 seconds left to surrender a one-point lead. Christian Hackenberg struggled, completing just 21 of 40 pass attempts for 205 yards and an interception. The defense was shaky, allowing nearly 400 yards, but Hackenberg has to be much better for this team to do some damage down the stretch.

5. Indiana (4-5, 0-5) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to #9 Iowa 27-35 This Week: Sat vs #14 Michigan (7-2, 4-1), 3:30pm, ABC

Another week, another near Indiana upset. The Hoosiers hung around just long enough to give the undefeated Hawkeyes a scare in Bloomington, but ultimately fell eight points short of the win. They’ll get back at it Saturday as the hopeful Wolverines come to town.

6. Rutgers (3-6, 1-5) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #17 Michigan 16-49 This Week: Sat vs Nebraska (4-6, 2-4), 3:30pm, BTN

Rutgers players who ticked off Jim Harbaugh despite trailing by 19 points heading into halftime on Saturday have to be feeling pretty stupid now. Harbaugh went for a two-point conversion despite holding a 25-point lead in the 3rd quarter to send the Scarlett Knights back to the sideline with their tails between their legs.

7. Maryland (2-7, 0-5) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Wisconsin 24-31 This Week: Sat at #13 MSU (8-1, 4-1), 12pm, ESPN2

Hey, Maryland actually kept it pretty close Saturday against Wisconsin, falling by just a touchdown to the streaking Badgers. Unfortunately, this weekend brings a trip to East Lansing against an angry Michigan State squad.

B1G East Week 10


West Division
1. Iowa (9-0, 5-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Indiana 35-27 This Week: Sat vs Minnesota (4-5, 1-4), 8pm, BTN

Breathe easy, Iowa fans! The soon-to-be West champs got out of upset-happy Indianapolis with a slim victory and jumped up to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings. That means this team is a lock for the playoff if it finishes the season with four more victories.

2. Northwestern (7-2, 3-2) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 23-21 This Week: Sat vs Purdue (2-7, 1-4), 12pm, BTN

Pat Fitzgerald’s team added another excellent win to its resume Saturday, knocking off Penn State with a late field goal from a kicker who’d missed three times on the day. Now the Wildcats have cracked the top 20 of the College Football Playoff poll and have a chance to keep on rolling this weekend against a punchless Purdue team.

3. Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Maryland 31-24 This Week: Bye (11/21 vs Northwestern)

It took five straight wins over inferior Big Ten opponents, but Wisconsin is finally back in the rankings after sliding into the No. 25 spot on Tuesday night. Now the Badgers will take a much-needed bye week to prepare for a Northwestern team that’s playing as well as any team in the conference this month.

4. Nebraska (4-6, 2-4) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat #7 MSU 39-38 This Week: Sat at Rutgers (3-6, 1-5), 3:30pm, BTN

Saturday night’s game between Nebraska and Michigan State demonstrated why college football is such a strange sport. Nebraska did nothing but find ways to lose close games in its first nine games, while Michigan State always found a way to barely survive. But the tables turned this weekend when Tommy Armstrong led a four-play, 91-yard drive with under a minute left in the game to keep the distant bowl dreams alive for first-year Cornhusker Mike Riley.

5. Illinois (5-4, 2-3) – Even
Last Week: Beat Purdue 48-14 This Week: Sat vs #3 Ohio State (9-0, 5-0), 12pm, ABC

Illinois continued to stay just above the lower-tier of Big Ten teams Saturday, hitting the road and smashing Purdue, 48-14. As specifics about former head coach Tim Beckman create a negative vibe around this Fighting Illini team, its got a chance to really shake things up this weekend in the battle for Illibuck with Ohio State.

6. Minnesota (4-5, 1-4) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to #3 OSU 14-28 This Week: Sat at #5 Iowa (9-0, 5-0), 8pm, BTN

For the second straight week, Minnesota stayed within striking distance of a top 20 team deep into the 4th quarter but couldn’t quite pull off the upset. The Golden Gophers need two more wins to gain bowl eligibility, but unfortunately two of their last three games come against Iowa and Wisconsin.

7. Purdue (2-7, 1-4) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Illinois 14-48 This Week: Sat at #18 NW (7-2, 3-2), 12pm, BTN

The high point of Purdue’s season came last weekend when it crushed Nebraska by 10 points. After a 34-point home drubbing to Illinois, this is close to the lowest low.

B1G West Week 10

Five Spot Challenge 2015: Indiana

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


Congratulations to jaeschke for winning last week’s Five Spot Challenge. His deviation of 185 tied HTTV136, but his score prediction of Michigan 42 – Rutgers 12 was closer to HTTV136’s prediction of 35-3. Jaeschke was one of seven contestants to correctly predict that Rutgers receiver Leonte Carroo would not play. In addition, his prediction of 100 passing yards for Chris Laviano was the closest of any contestant, just three away.

Bigboyblue was the closest to Jabrill Peppers’ total yards with his prediction of 29. Peppers didn’t have a single return on Saturday and gained just eight rushing yards. JOHNNAVARREISMYHERO was just four away from Michigan’s first half total yards (304), while Gdub18 was right on the mark with his prediction that Rutgers’ longest scoring drive would go 69 yards.

The average score prediction among the 25 contestants was Michigan 33 – Rutgers 8. No one predicted that Michigan would score as many as 49 points and only three predicted that Rutgers would score at least 16.

The weekly results have been updated.

This week, Michigan travels to Indiana looking to stay in the Big Ten title hunt. Here are this week’s questions.

2015 Big Ten power rankings: Week 9

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Power Rankings_header

The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday and the Big Ten is well represented with five teams in the top 25.

Ohio State and Michigan State are firmly in the race for the final four with a potential play-in matchup in Columbus coming up later this month. Iowa, which can coast through the rest of its Big Ten West schedule, will need a win in the Big Ten Championship game to have a chance.

Michigan and Northwestern also made the top 25, though they won’t be playing in the four-team playoff.

There were also five conference matchups with only one major upset in West Lafayette. Here’s a look at how the Big Ten stacks up heading into Week 10.

East Division
1. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Minnesota (4-4, 1-3), 8pm, ABC

f the College Football Playoff started this week, Ohio State would represent the Big Ten as the No. 3 overall seed. The Buckeyes had a bye this weekend, but took a moral victory on Tuesday when the committee deemed them worthy of such a high ranking. Despite the 8-0 start, Ohio State’s two best wins came over Penn State and Northern Illinois, which were both at home. But it wasn’t a perfect week for Urban Meyer’s team, which saw its starting quarterback arrested because he avoided a DUI checkpoint while driving drunk. What do you do when being the starting quarterback of the No. 1 ranked college football team in the country isn’t enough? Apparently you crush a few beers and jump in a car. It was an incredibly stupid move by J.T. Barrett, who won’t play in the team’s next cupcake game against Minnesota. For a kid with a previously unblemished record, Barrett will have to work on regaining a leadership role on the team.

2. Michigan State (8-0, 4-0) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat at Nebraska (3-6, 1-4), 7pm, ESPN

The Spartans also enjoyed a week off in Week 9, sitting pretty with a perfect 8-0 record. The committee ranked MSU No. 7 in the first poll, likely because of close calls against Oregon, Purdue and Rutgers and a somewhat fortunate win over Michigan. But Michigan State still controls its own destiny. A pair of cupcakes separates the Spartans from an essential play-in game in Columbus on Nov. 21. If Mark Dantonio’s group can knock off Ohio State, it’ll be a win over Iowa away from a playoff berth.

3. Penn State (7-2, 4-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Illinois 39-0 This Week: Sat at #21 NW (6-2, 2-2), 12pm, ESPNU

For the first time in three weeks, Penn State demonstrated just how well it can play when everything comes together. Christian Hackenberg completed 21 of 29 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns and the Nittany Lions outgained Illinois 400-167. The only downer for Coach James Franklin was a pair of fumbles that kept the Fighting Illini within 50, but the defense’s first shutout of the season has Penn State at 7-2 with games against three straight ranked opponents on the horizon.

4. Michigan (6-2, 3-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 29-26 This Week: Sat vs Rutgers (3-5, 1-4), 3:30pm, BTN

Well, Michigan certainly didn’t come out of the bye week in style. Fourteen days after having their hearts ripped out in a last-second loss to MSU, the Wolverines nearly lost the battle for the Little Brown Jug to a Minnesota team that looked heavily outmatched in Big Ten play. Mitch Leidner was a big play machine, passing for 317 yards and rushing for 37 more – finishing with two total touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Brandon Lingen torched the Michigan defense for 111 yards on the night. But the most concerning development for Michigan is a running game that has yet to show up for the Big Ten season. Pre-conference star De’Veon Smith was a nonfactor, picking up just 15 yards on nine carries. Only Drake Johnson, who gained 55 yards on 10 carries, could move the ball on the ground. Jake Rudock went 13 for 21 – for 140 yards, a touchdown and a pick – before being knocked out of the game on a missed target while sliding to the ground.

Luckily for the Wolverines, backup quarterback Wilton Speight completed four passes on the team’s final drive to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion that eventually won the game. The defense put up its worst performance of the season – allowing 461 yards to a below-average offense – but made a big stop on a quarterback sneak from the half-yard line to escape with a victory. The Wolverines will try to bounce back Saturday, when they need to blow Rutgers right out of Ann Arbor to get back on track.

5. Rutgers (3-5, 1-4) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Wisconsin 10-48 This Week: Sat at #17 Mich. (6-2, 3-1), 3:30pm, BTN

Rutgers scored as many points against Wisconsin as Iowa did, but the positive trends end there for the Scarlett Knights. Saturday marked their second straight loss by more than 30 points and the offense gained just 165 yards without star receiver Leonte Carroo. Kyle Flood’s squad needs three wins in the final four weeks to qualify for a bowl game.

6. Indiana (4-4, 0-4) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to #7 MSU 26-52 This Week: Sat vs #9 Iowa (8-0, 4-0), 3;30pm, ESPN

Saturday was the first time since the start of the Big Ten season that Indiana didn’t lose in devastating fashion. Even though it was only a bye week, the Hoosiers didn’t get blown out or collapse in the fourth quarter. Things will likely go back to normal Saturday against Iowa.

7. Maryland (2-6, 0-4) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to #10 Iowa 15-31 This Week: Sat at Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1), 3:30pm, BTN

When you drop into the cellar of the Big Ten East, things really aren’t going well. Maryland tried to hang around in Iowa Saturday, but Perry Hills threw three more picks and the Terrapins fell 31-15. Their bowl dreams will end Saturday against visiting Wisconsin.

B1G East Week 9

West Division
1. Iowa (8-0, 4-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Maryland 31-15 This Week: Sat at Indiana (4-4, 0-4), 3:30pm, ESPN

The West-leading Hawkeyes got back on the field this weekend and outlasted Maryland, though it was far from overwhelming. C.J. Beathard threw for 183 yards for an offense that gained a total of 293 and the defense surrendered 241 yards. Luckily, Iowa forced four turnovers and controlled the ball for nearly 33 minutes. At No. 9 in the CFP poll, Iowa just has to keep winning to punch its ticket to the playoff.

2. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) – Up 1
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Penn State (7-2, 4-1), 12pm, ESPNU

Finally, somebody else took notice of Northwestern’s impressive body of work. The Wildcats are ranked No. 21 in the first playoff rankings thanks to impressive wins over Stanford and Duke and solid losses to top 20 teams. They can pick up another win over a winning team this weekend when they host 7-2 Penn State.

3. Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 48-10 This Week: Sat vs Maryland (2-6, 0-4), 3:30pm, BTN

Wisconsin is flying under the radar at 7-2 thanks to that loss to Iowa that will likely keep them from winning the West Division. But the Badgers have a great chance to win their final three regular season games and enter the bowl season with a quiet 10 wins.

4. Minnesota (4-4, 1-3) – Up 2
Last Week: Lost to #15 Mich. 26-29 This Week: Sat at #3 OSU (8-0, 4-0), 8pm, ABC

Mitch Leidner and the Minnesota offense sure looked like they were playing for recently retired Coach Jerry Kill, putting up over 400 yards on the top-ranked defense in the country. But in the end, it was Kill’s absence that doomed the Gophers as they mismanaged the clock and failed to score on a 1st and goal from the half-yard line as time expired. Unfortunately, Minnesota will have to beat Ohio State, Iowa or Wisconsin to get to six wins this season.

5. Illinois (4-4, 1-3) – Even
Last Week: Lost to PSU 0-39 This Week: Sat at Purdue (2-6, 1-3), 12pm, BTN

Illinois was one of the most pleasant surprises in the West through seven games, playing some of the division’s top teams wire to wire. But the trip to Penn State got very ugly, as the Fighting Illini failed to score and got bombed by 39 points. Wes Lunt had a day to forget, completing just 16 of 37 passes for 129 yards and a pick.

6. Purdue (2-6, 1-3) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 55-45 This Week: Sat vs Illinois (4-4, 1-3), 12pm, BTN

Purdue? Purdue! The Boilermakers came out of nowhere to drop 55 points on Nebraska this weekend and secure their first Big Ten win in more than a year. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to squeeze into the CFP’s top 25.

7. Nebraska (3-6, 1-4) – Down 3
Last Week: Lost to Purdue 45-55 This Week: Sat vs #7 MSU (8-0, 4-0), 7pm, ESPN

Wow, Nebraska really hit rock bottom this weekend. It doesn’t get much worse for a Big Ten team than watching Purdue run up and down the field to hand you a fourth loss in five games and drop you into the cellar of the West Division. Remember when fans got upset with Bo Pelini for winning nine games? What might they do to Mike Riley for losing nine?

B1G West Week 9

2015 Big Ten power rankings: Week 8

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Power Rankings_header

It was a mostly uneventful week for the Big Ten. Four teams were on byes and the five games that were played ended with the favorite on top.

But there were a few significant developments on Saturday, chiefly the return of a J.T. Barrett-led Ohio State offense that looks like it’s finally clicking on all cylinders. That could be a bad sign for the four teams left on the Buckeye schedule.

On the other hand, a few teams watched their bowl dreams fade a little further away with close loses. Here’s a look at the conference as a whole with another bye-filled week ahead.

East Division
1. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 49-7 This Week: Bye (11/7 vs Minnesota)

Uh oh, it looks like last-December Ohio State is back. J.T. Barrett reclaimed the starting job last week and turned it into 223 passing yards, 101 rushing yards and five total touchdowns – three passing and two rushing – against a Rutgers team that couldn’t put up much of a fight. Ezekiel Elliott didn’t even break a sweat during his 19 carries for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and the Buckeyes outgained the Scarlett Knights 528-293. Now OSU will take a week off to prepare for a couple of cupcakes – Minnesota and Illinois – before taking on MSU and Michigan down the stretch.

2. Michigan State (8-0, 4-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Indiana 52-26 This Week: Bye (11/7 at Nebraska)

When will everyone stop knocking Michigan State for winning games, can’t they see Mark Dantonio loves it? The Spartans were up by only two points – thanks to a pair of missed PATs by Indiana – heading into the 4th quarter, but exploded for 24 points and won by 26. Indiana is one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, but Michigan State is 8-0 and just one big win away from winning the East Division. That Nov. 21 matchup in Columbus could be Connor Cook’s last chance to play in the College Football Playoff.

3. Michigan (5-2, 2-1) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat at Minnesota (4-3, 1-2), 7pm, ESPN

What’s worse than losing a chance at a championship by dropping a punt with 10 seconds left to your in-state rival? Losing a chance at a championship by dropping a punt with 10 seconds left to your in-state rival and having to wait two weeks to get back on the field. Michigan used this “opportunity week” to double prepare for a trip to Minnesota, where it’ll try to take back the Little Brown Jug the Gophers stole from Ann Arbor last season. Jim Harbaugh – who made a ‘worm carrying a machine gun’ reference this week – would love nothing more than to make the Golden Gophers look like Golden Road Kill after last week’s devastating loss.

4. Penn State (6-2, 3-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Maryland 31-30 This Week: Sat vs Illinois (4-3, 1-2), 12pm, ESPN2

Penn State looked outrageously mediocre this weekend in a 31-30 win over the Maryland Terrapins. Christian Hackenberg had a strange day, completing just 13 of 29 passes, but doing so for 315 yards and three touchdowns. The Penn State defense, which began the season as one of the best in the conference, gave up 466 yards to the offense that gained just 105 yards against Michigan a few weeks ago. If the Terps hadn’t turned it over five times, they’d probably have their first Big Ten win of the season.

5. Maryland (2-5, 0-3) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Penn State 30-31 This Week: Sat at #10 Iowa (7-0, 3-0), 3:30pm, ABC

Yes, the winless Terrapins rose to number five after their loss to Penn State. Why? Because of the reasons you’ll read in the two paragraphs below. As for Maryland, it was Perry Hills’ best game of the season and he still threw three interceptions. With Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State next on the schedule, the Terps can forget about playing beyond Nov. 28.

6. Rutgers (3-4, 1-3) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to #1 OSU 7-49 This Week: Sat at Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1), 12pm, BTN

Rutgers got caught in the crosshairs of a resurgent Ohio State offense Saturday night, and it happened to land on national television. The Buckeyes picked up 27 first downs and just wore down the Scarlett Knights early in the first half. Kyle Flood should thank the football gods for Indiana.

7. Indiana (4-4, 0-4) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #7 MSU 26-52 This Week: Bye (11/7 vs Iowa)

Remember when the Hoosiers were 4-4 and hanging with No. 1 Ohio State in Week 5? If not, you aren’t alone. Since falling short in that upset bid, the Hoosiers got crushed by 22 at Penn State, blew a 25-point second-half lead to Rutgers and just allowed 24 4th quarter points to get doubled up by Michigan State. Maybe the Hoosiers will win at Maryland and Purdue in the final weeks and make a bowl game? I wouldn’t bet on it.

West Division
1. Iowa (7-0, 3-0) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Maryland (2-5, 0-3), 3:30pm, ABC

The bye week for Iowa couldn’t have felt more different than it did for Michigan. Iowa sat back and enjoyed its comfortable lead in the West Division while Wisconsin and Northwestern clung to their slim hopes with tough wins. Iowa just has to win four of its last five games – Maryland, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska – to guarantee a West Division title. But if the Hawkeyes win all five – and they will be heavy favorites to do so – they’ll be one Big Ten Championship Game away from a 13-0 season and… a spot in the playoff?

2. Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Illinois 24-13 This Week: Sat vs Rutgers (3-4, 1-3), 12pm, BTN

When Joel Stave went down early in the game for the Badgers, it looked like it might be a disastrous day in Champaign. But Bart Houston stepped in and did a nice job for Wisconsin, completing 22 of 33 passes for 232 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. The Badgers couldn’t really get a running game going, and the defense gave up 333 yards to the Illini, but the junior backup quarterback was just good enough to keep Illinois comfortably in the rear-view mirror. The next two games – vs. Rutgers and at Maryland – should be easy victories for Wisconsin, but unless Iowa implodes, it’ll be a little too late.

3. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 30-28 This Week: Bye (11/7 vs Penn State)

Nobody in the country needed a win this weekend more than Northwestern. The Wildcats, coming off back-to-back blowout losses, went into Nebraska and won a close offensive slugfest. Clayton Thorson was solid in the passing game – 13 for 28, 177 yards and a touchdown – but his 126 rushing yards really paced the Wildcat offense. The defense allowed 28 or more points for the third straight game, but Nebraska gained only 2.2 yards per rush and couldn’t punch in a two-point conversion to tie the game late in the 4th. If Northwestern can survive games against Penn State and Purdue after the bye week, this could still be a special season for Pat Fitzgerald’s team.

4. Nebraska (3-5, 1-3) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to NU 28-30 This Week: Sat at Purdue (1-6, 0-3), 12pm, ESPNU

Much like in the East, there’s a huge drop off in quality after the top three teams in the West Division. Nebraska has had one of the stranger seasons in all of FBS, losing five games by a combined 13 points and three Big Ten games by a total of five points. The Cornhuskers are just a few plays from being undefeated in the conference, but instead they’re fighting for their postseason lives down the stretch. Can they knock off Michigan State or Iowa at home and pick up a big sixth win?

5. Illinois (4-3, 1-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Wisconsin 13-24 This Week: Sat at Penn St. (6-2, 3-1) 12pm, ESPN2

Illinois has been surprisingly competitive in each of its first three Big Ten games, including a 24-13 loss to Wisconsin this weekend. West Lunt passed for 278 yards, but the Illini rushed for only 55 yards and couldn’t shut down Wisconsin’s backup quarterback in the second half. Illinois should find two more wins to qualify for a bowl, but they’ll likely have to come on the road.

6. Minnesota (4-3, 1-2) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Michigan (5-2, 2-1), 7pm, ESPN

Minnesota didn’t play this weekend, instead taking an extra week to think about the 48-25 waxing it took against Nebraska in Week 7. The Gophers won three non-conference games behind a strong defense, but they’re giving up an average of 29.33 points per game in conference, which isn’t good enough for a team with a subpar offense.

7. Purdue (1-6, 0-3) – Even
Last Week: Bye This Week: Sat vs Nebraska (3-5, 1-3), 12pm, ESPNU

Purdue took a week off to prepare for Nebraska. The Boilermakers will try to break a five-game losing streak at home.