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Big 10 Report

   by ASA - 11/07/2012

The week’s most important matchup takes place in Bloomington, Indiana. Wisconsin travels to face the Hoosiers and the winner has a head-start in the Leaders division race to represent the division in the Big Ten title game. The Badgers are off of a bye week and have to replace their starting quarterback while Indiana is off of a come-from-behind victory over Iowa. ASA analyzes this matchup as well as every other Big Ten matchup in this week’s breakdown.

Indiana (+7) vs. Wisconsin – 11:00 AM CST - ESPN2
IU: Last week vs. Iowa: W 24-21
UW: Last week – BYE

This is the biggest game in Bloomington in recent memory. The Hoosiers can pull even with Wisconsin and would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker for the Leaders Division spot in the Big Ten title game if they can win their third straight conference game. Despite the five losses, the Hoosiers have been in every game they’ve played. Only one of their five losses was by more than four points. In last week’s win over Iowa, Indiana fell behind 14-0 early in the 1st quarter. They battled back, thanks to 406 passing yards from QB’s Coffman and Sudfeld, and won 24-21. Coffman and Sudfeld have combined to complete 63% passes this season with 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The defense is getting better, as it has allowed just 31 total points over the past two weeks. They do rank 108th in rush defense, and they’ll have to shore that up as one of the nation’s premier power-running offenses comes to town.

The Badgers have had two weeks off to try and figure out their new situation as starter Joel Stave will miss the remainder of the season with a broken collarbone. Curt Phillips and Danny O’Brien have been battling it out and coaches haven’t indicated who will start; but we anticipate both quarterbacks seeing the field. The Badgers managed just 19 yards on 37 carries in the Badgers last game loss to Michigan State two weeks ago. RB’s Ball and White look to get back on track against this porous Indiana rush-defense. Defensively this will be the best passing attack that Wisconsin has faced thus far. The Badgers pass-defense has allowed opposing QB’s to complete just 55% this season, but they’ve surrendered 15 touchdown passes with just four interceptions. Still, this unit hasn’t surrendered more than 16 points in the last four games.

Recent history: Wisconsin has won seven straight in this series by an average of 33.5 points and is 5-1 ATS over the past six. Last year the Badgers piled up 332 rush yards in a 59-7 win. Wisco has scored 83 and 59 points in back-to-back wins over the Hoosiers.

Trends: Wisconsin is just 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games and 4-9 ATS in its last 13 games as a Big Ten road favorite. Indiana is 5-0 ATS in its last five games overall. The last five times these two have met the score has gone ‘over’ the total.

Injury report: Badgers’ star LT Rick Wagner is poised to return to the starting lineup after missing two weeks with a right knee injury.

Nebraska (-7) vs. Penn State – 2:30 PM CST – ABC
UN: Last week at Michigan State: W 28-24
PSU: Last week at Purdue: W 34-9

The Huskers are in first place in the Legends division, but they can't clinch title yet.

For the second consecutive road game, Nebraska faced a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. And once again, the Huskers found a way to win. QB Taylor Martinez overcame three turnovers to fire the game-winning touchdown pass with six seconds remaining. He also led Nebraska with 205 rush yards and two scores. Overall the Huskers tallied 313 rush yards on a 7.8 YPC average while the defense limited MSU QB Maxwell to just 9-of-27 completions. They’ll try to avoid a “hangover” after that big road win and get another quality win over the Nittany Lions.

Penn State isn’t eligible for the Big Ten championship or any bowl, so they will play spoiler in both division races. Chances are the Nittany Lions will have an impact on the races with this game and remaining ones against both Indiana and Wisconsin. The Lions bounced back well from their first Big Ten loss two weeks ago with a big win at Purdue last Saturday. PSU was dominant on both sides of the ball, racking up 506 total yards and 25 first downs. QB McGloin passed for over 300 yards with two touchdowns and RB Zwinak ran for 134 yards. The defensive unit held Purdue to just 87 rush yards on a 3.3 YPC average and nine total points (Purdue scored a meaningless touchdown in the final seconds). Penn State is 3-0 in Big Ten road games so far, winning by an average score of 36-10.

Recent history: Last year Penn State faced Nebraska in the first game in over 40 years without head coach Joe Paterno. The Nittany Lions put together a valiant effort, but Nebraksa won 17-14 at home. No doubt PSU will be motivated to avenge that loss with a big home win on Saturday.

Trends: Penn State is 4-0 ATS in its last four road games and 7-1 ATS in its last eight games overall. Nebraska is 5-1 ATS in its last five home games.

Injury report: Penn State DT Jordan Hill and TE Kyle Carter are both day-to-day for this week's game at Nebraska, coach Bill O'Brien said. RB Curtis Dukes is out for the Nebraska game.

Michigan (-11) vs. Northwestern – 11:00 AM CST – ESPN
UM: Last week at Minnesota: W 35-13
NU: Last week – BYE

The loser of this game is all but eliminated from the Legends division. Michigan did just fine last week without QB Robinson in the lineup. The Wolves started a little slow, leading just 14-7 at halftime over Minnesota. But backup QB Devin Gardner passed for 234 yards and two scores while adding a rushing touchdown – leading the Wolves to a 35-13 victory. Defensively Michigan frustrated Minnesota’s freshman QB and also held the Gophers to just 3.3 YPC rushing. Michigan ranks 1st nationally against the pass this season, but they’ve been vulnerable to strong rushing attacks. Northwestern brings one of the top rushing offenses to town this weekend.

Northwestern has seemingly settled on QB Kain Colter as the full-time option after Siemian didn’t get much playing time last game. Northwestern had a huge day offensively against the Hawkeyes two weeks ago. The Wildcats controlled the ball with 49 rushing attempts for 349 yards (7.1 YPC). QB Colter and RB Mark each topped 160 rush yards while the defense held Iowa to just 17 points.

Recent history: Michigan is 6-1 straight-up against the Wildcats the last seven meetings. Northwestern’s one victory over that span was in the Big House in 2010. The road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings. Last season the Wolverines tallied 541 total yards in the 42-24 victory over the Wildcats. QB Robinson accounted for 454 and four touchdowns alone in that game.

Trends: Northwestern is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games overall and 4-1 ATS in its last five conference games. Michigan is just 10-26 ATS in its last 36 conference games. The final score has remained ‘under’ the total in four of the last five meetings.

Injury report: Brady Hoke hasn’t stated whether or not QB Robinson will play this weekend. Hoke only indicated that he’s “getting healthier.” Northwestern hopes to regain the services of injured defensive backs Nick VanHoose and Quinn Evans, who are both questionable for this game.

Illinois (+3) vs. Minnesota – 2:30 PM CST - Big Ten Network
UI: Last week at Ohio State: L 22-52
UM: Last week vs. Michigan: L 13-35

Minnesota can gain postseason eligibility for the first time since 2009 with a win here over the Illini. The Gophers are off of a disappointing loss against Michigan where they failed to capitalize on a Robinson-less Wolverine squad. Minnesota squandered numerous chances in the red-zone and couldn’t stop Michigan’s back-up QB. The good news is that it was another promising start for freshman quarterback Philip Nelson, who passed for 142 yards and one touchdown. The defense will try to get back on track this week against a hapless Illinois offense.

Illinois is officially not going bowling this postseason after its seventh loss of the season last week to Ohio State. The Illini were only losing 6-7 at the end of the first quarter to OSU, but by halftime it was 31-6. The offense managed just 170 total yards, 2.3 yards per carry, and QB Scheelhaase completed 19 passes for 96 yards. Defensively Illinois allowed an astonishing 567 yards and 32 first downs. This D unit actually features a lot of talent, but it hasn’t stood a chance in most games this season because their offense can’t stay on the field.

Recent history: Minnesota has won its last three trips to Champaign (3-0 ATS) and is 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings overall. Minnesota held Illinois to just 160 yards and 11 first downs in last year’s 27-7 victory in Minneapolis. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.

Trends: Minnesota is 2-5 ATS in its last seven road games and 1-4 ATS in its last five conference games. Illinois is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 conference games. The Illini have failed to cover six straight games overall.

Injury report: Illinois LB Jonathan Brown is out for Saturday's game against Minnesota, coach Tim Beckman confirmed. Brown was an all-Big Ten player in 2011 who is tied for the team lead in tackles and leads the team in tackles for loss. Minnesota WR A.J. Barker is doubtful for the Illinois game. Barker is the Gophers' top receiver with 577 yards & 7 TD’s.

Iowa (-5) vs. Purdue – 11:00 AM CST – Big Ten Network
UI: Last week at Indiana: L 21-24
PU: Last week vs. Penn State: L 9-34

Talk about a matchup of two teams that could really use a win. The Boilers have been in a five-week tailspin that might well cost head coach Danny Hope his job. All but one of those losses was by 16+ points and all five were by an average of 21 PPG. Purdue still has a glimmer of hope for a bowl if they win out this season, but things definitely aren’t looking up. The defense has allowed an average of 38 points per game over the last six games and offensively the quarterbacks are stalling everything. The trio of TerBush, Marve, and Henry hasn’t gotten things done. The Boilers might actually be happy they’re on the road this week after the stands at Ross-Ade stadium were mostly empty last Saturday.

Iowa has lost three straight in disheartening fashion after a promising 2-0 start in league play. The Hawkeyes still have a chance to get to a bowl but must win here and then upset either Michigan on the road or Nebraska at home – so chances are pretty slim. The Hawkeyes’ loss last week slipped them below .500 for the first time since 2007. Despite a 14-0 start at Indiana in the first seven minutes, the Hawkeyes managed just seven points the rest of the way in the 21-24 loss. QB Vandenberg continued to struggle with just one touchdown and a bad interception in the end-zone. The defense also allowed over 400 yards passing with three touchdowns.

Recent history: Iowa is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in the previous six meetings. Iowa has also won six straight meetings at home and is 4-2 ATS in those games. The Hawks won 31-21 at Purdue last season. QB Vandenberg tossed three touchdowns and Iowa tallied 135 rush yards.

Trends: Purdue is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games following a double-digit loss at home. The Boilermakers are also 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven conference games. Iowa is 35-15-1 ATS in their last 51 games following a SU loss. The Hawkeyes are 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 conference games.

Injury report: Iowa likely will be without RB Mark Weisman for the second straight game Saturday against Purdue. Purdue WR O.J. Ross likely will play this week against Illinois while RB Raheem Mostert and DT Brandon Taylor are doubtful.

Ohio State - BYE
OSU: Last week vs. Illinois: W 52-22

OSU has won ten straight, who get a well-deserved bye after thumping Illinois last week. Ohio State is 10-0 for the first time since 2007 as it chases its first perfect season since 2002, when it captured a national title. Ohio State has scored 52 points or more in three Big Ten games. QB Miller and RB Hyde form the Big Ten's most dangerous backfield and the defense continues to make big plays.

Michigan State - BYE
MSU: Last week vs. Nebraska: L 24-28

The Spartans suffered another devastating setback Saturday after having Nebraska on the ropes. MSU’s last four losses this season have been by four points or fewer and offensive deficiencies can be to blame. The Spartans have one of the game’s elite defenses and a porous passing attack is really holding them back. RB Bell had another big day with 188 yards and two scores, but QB Andrew Maxwell had another rough day (9-of-27 passing). Msu still needs another win to become bowl eligible.

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