Around the Big Ten: Football - Week 9
Host Matt and analysts John Murphy, Josh Portney and Logan Bourandas discuss the latest from from the college football world, including the upset of Wisconsin and a preview forward to next week's games in the newest edition of the Around the Big Ten Football podcast:
The hunt for the top spot in the Big Ten West just took an interesting turn with Wisconsin’s untimely loss, while the race for the East is still heating up with the focus on Penn State and Ohio State. Another lineup of marquee Big Tenmatch-ups with playoff implications is in store this weekend as we head into Week 9.
No. 13 Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1) at No. 4 Ohio State (7-0, 4-0)
Analysts and pundits had this game circled after Wisconsin’s explosive start to the 2019 season catapulted the Badgers into the top 10. Had Wisconsin not lost to an unranked Illinois in the final seconds last weekend, this game would have had serious ramifications for the postseason, as Ohio State comes into this game undefeated after a decisive 52-3 win against Northwestern and in a good position to solidify a CFP berth. Despite the lack of spotlight on this game, a Wisconsin win this weekend would definitely shake up the rankings and momentarily knock Ohio State out of the CFP race, thus pushing Penn State closer to a playoff berth. Realistically though, the Buckeyes should dominate in front of a sold-out crowd at the Horseshoe in Columbus.
No. 20 Iowa (5-2, 2-2) at Northwestern (1-5, 0-4)
The Hawkeyes never fail to disappoint in reinforcing the expression of “that’s why they play the game.” Whether it was their historic upset of the Buckeyes in 2017 or their crushing defeat at the hands of Purdue in 2018 that set off a bad losing streak for the then-No. 19 Hawkeyes, Iowa is inconsistent in high-pressure games. This game features the rematch of the 2018 meeting between the Wildcats and the Hawkeyes, in which Northwestern stunned Iowa to claim the top spot in the West. This year might be different. The Wildcats lost their star QB Clayton Thorson and their offense has yet to recover. Thus far, the offense has only managed 277 yards per game and averages a meager 12.5 points per game. Don’t expect Iowa to fall victim to another crushing upset this year. The Hawkeyes offense has proven its credibility with Nate Stanley under center and an intimidating running back committee.
Maryland (3-4, 1-3) at No. 17 Minnesota (7-0, 4-0)
Despite being undefeated against a very light schedule, the Golden Gophers from Minnesota are ranked No. 17 in the country, after being ranked No. 20 last week. Following Wisconsin’s loss to Illinois, Minnesota rose to the top of the Big Ten West, but the Gophers face some tough opponents soon, and that will make it hard for them to keep that title. Maryland, however, is not one of those tough opponents. Even with a returning Josh Jackson and Anthony McFarland Jr., it’s all about the defense: the side of the ball that Maryland struggles with most, as the Terrapins’ defensive unit allows about 413 yards per game. If Maryland does manage to win, Minnesota’s short-lived fantasy of a surprise appearance in the College Football Playoff will have ended as arbitrarily as it started. But expect Minnesota to roll over Maryland, similar to Penn State’s 59-0 rout.
No. 8 Notre Dame (5-1) at No. 19 Michigan (5-2, 3-2)
Last Saturday, then-No. 16 Michigan had an opportunity to break out of mediocrity and redefine itself after dismal performances against Army, Iowa and Illinois. However, despite a valiant attempt at a comeback with 14 unanswered points in the second half, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines couldn’t power past the Nittany Lions and suffered their second in-conference loss. Now, Michigan hosts Notre Dame for the 44th meeting of their rivalry, which dates back to 1887. The Fighting Irish are still on the outside looking in for a CFP spot that could have easily been theirs had they not lost to Georgia. A Michigan upset here would kick Notre Dame out of the playoff picture for good and would possibly bring Michigan back into the conversation. Bet on Notre Dame to pull this one out, but it end up closer than predicted.
No. 6 Penn State (7-0, 4-0) at Michigan State (4-3, 2-2)
It feels as though every presumably easy game has now become a trap game for Penn State following the Nittany Lions’ underestimation of the Pittsburgh Panthers before a very close 17-10 victory. After Pitt, PSU fans anxiously worried about Maryland (the Nittany Lions dominated the Terps, 59-0) and were concerned about Purdue (Penn State won that one, 35-7). But now, after two victories over ranked opponents, the Nittany Lions face a weakened Michigan State Spartans team, which was ranked No. 18 going into the season and showed promise early until losing at home against unranked Arizona State. Since the loss to the Sun Devils, the Spartans have won battles against two weaker Big Ten teams in Northwestern and Indiana but have also lost on the road to Ohio State and Wisconsin. Still, Michigan State’s defense has lived up to expectations, allowing only 314 yards per game, and the Spartans are led by QB Brian Lewerke, who leads an impressive offensive unit that averages 357 yards per game. Despite all this, Penn State can handle the Spartans. The Nittany Lions win and cover the spread of 6.5 points.
Other Big Ten games in Week 9:
Illinois at Purdue
Indiana at Nebraska
Josh Portney is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.