Week 8 B1G Preview

Huskers don't play and that means the wife will be all over me, and likely others, to do some work around the house. However, that doesn't mean we have to. We can use this week as an excuse for the other games going on in the world of the B1G and all the ramifications that they will have on our dear Huskers. Now, granted, this week's bye week slate isn't much to pick from but that won't stop us from diving in and seeing exactly what we might expect from the games this weekend and of course, if you run to Vegas this weekend, because that is the only legal way to gamble, may this will aid you in your final decisions!

Last week, I was 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread as Michigan State ended up spreading that game out a bit more than the touchdown I had hoped. Nebraska rolled, I predicted Penn State for the upset and Wisconsin rolled as expected. Lets see what is brewing this week in the B1G. All stats based on the S&P+ ratings.

Indiana at Michigan (-7.5)

Overall Indiana's Ball Michigan's Ball
Ind Mich IND Off Mich Def Mich Off IND Def
F/+ Rank 39 33
S&P+ Rank 33 45 9 54 37 69
Rushing 4 67 29 68
Passing 12 75 42 51
Std. Downs 11 52 46 58
Pass. Downs 7 109 40 70
Play Eff 8 68 42 82
Drive Eff 12 43 32 62

This game is likely the most interesting on the slate this week. Michigan opened as 12 point favorites and then the line went off. When it came back, Michigan was just 7.5 favorites. As you can clearly tell, both teams will have an advantage when they have the football. Indiana's offense appears a much better offense than Michigan's but Michigan's defense certainly appears better than Indiana's. Michigan is clearly the favorite but this isn't the typical Indiana pasting you'd normally expect in this game. Further, where is Michigan's head at? The just lost a 4 overtime thriller at the hands of Penn State. They come home and better be ready to play or they will be in trouble. One glaring advantage Indiana has is that even if their offense sputters early, they are pretty effective throwing when forced to throw. If they can avoid turnovers, they'll test Michigan. On defense, Indiana has to stop Michigan from running the ball and take away the big play. Either way, I'd take Indiana and the points. I think it is a toss up. I'll take Michigan in a close one but I'll be pulling for Indiana every step of the way and by no means would I be shocked if it happened.

Wisconsin (-13.5) at Illinois

Overall UW Ball ILL Ball
F/+ Rank 17 57
S&P+ Rank 9 59 23 90 27 14
Rushing 8 83 44 23
Passing 53 90 31 22
Std. Downs 18 100 17 37
Pass. Downs 60 55 57 5
Play Eff 17 97 28 17
Drive Eff 29 83 25 10

Game started at 11.5 and grew to 13 and you can quickly see why. We've played Illinois and while some of our defense success might have been wind aided, those offensive numbers of Illinois didn't seem that impressive and the defense that the Badgers will bring to the table will give them fits especially if Illinois is forced to pass, then it will get ugly. But offense is only half the story. The real worry is on defense. They are horrid against the run and that is what Wisconsin does as good as anyone. Illinois' only hope, and this is the case for any team playing the Badgers, is load up on the run and force them to pass. If the Badgers stay ahead of the sticks, they beat you. If you put them behind them, you have at least a shot of sticking with their offense. I don't see it in this game. I like Wisconsin over the two touchdowns, even on the road.

Purdue at Michigan State (-27)

Overall PU Ball MSU Ball
F/+ Rank 110 24
S&P+ Rank 111 16 119 5 80 80
Rushing 109 3 54 41
Passing 105 5 89 45
Std. Downs 108 4 94 41
Pass. Downs 105 4 34 59
Play Eff 120 2 77 62
Drive Eff 117 18 74 89

The line opened at 24.5 and jumped fast to 27. If you just saw Purdue play and saw what Nebraska's defense did to them, why wouldn't you. Now they go on the road, against a superior defense. Ouch. I'd love to sell some hope but after watching Purdue play, I don't see it. Sure, defensively, if they play loose and aggressive like they did against the Huskers, they might cause some turnovers. Two problems. Unless it is for a touchdown, what are they going to do with it when they get it? Secondly, MSU has seen their new wrinkles coming off the bye week and will be more prepared. Purdue's defense should allow them to hang with MSU for awhile though unless you believe the hype about the resurgence of the MSU offense. It has risen in the ranks, but still isn't to be confused with elite. But defensively, they are just that and Purdue will need Special Teams and turnovers to shock anyone. I'll take Purdue plus the 27 points but MSU wins this.

Minnesota at Northwestern (-12.5)

Overall Minn's Ball NW's Ball
F/+ Rank 77 45
S&P+ Rank 92 42 74 52 30 98
Rushing 59 43 26 92
Passing 103 80 34 95
Std. Downs 74 50 25 103
Pass. Downs 103 78 83 89
Play Eff 84 61 31 93
Drive Eff 56 46 34 103

This game does offer at least a little intrigue based on the fact that NW is 0-2 at this point and were waxed by Wisky a week ago. However, it isn't a good match-up for the Gophers if anyone is hoping for the brilliant upset. The way to slow down and beat Northwestern this year is to put them in 2nd and long or 3rd and over 6 or 8. If you know they are passing, they struggle. Then, you beat their defense with a balanced attack but one that can throw the ball down field, especially in pass situations to keep drives going. Minnesota is horrible in all those areas so far. They can't stop the run or pass. Struggle in early down or pass situations and while they might find some moderate success running the ball, they can't throw it, especially when forced to it. I'd love to see the nail be put into the NW for the Legend title talk, but it won't be this week. I think NW rolls and covers.

Iowa at Ohio State (-17.5)

Overall Iowa's Ball OSU's Ball
F/+ Rank 34 15
S&P+ Rank 30 18 71 27 11 16
Rushing 77 12 13 4
Passing 37 54 28 65
Std. Downs 65 39 30 21
Pass. Downs 52 39 15 33
Play Eff 59 29 15 16
Drive Eff 82 32 8 13

Game opened at 17, dropped to 16 and has went back up to where it is now. The computers and advanced stat guys are major supporters of Iowa although when I watch it, I'm not sure I'm completely sold yet. Still, according to the matrix, they are playing solid defense coupled with a ball control, but average offense which translates to close games so it makes sense. They'll need that same formula if they want to hang on the road in this one. Unfortunately for Iowa, OSU seems to have an advantage in nearly every offensive category with nearly a push in running the ball. While some of those passing numbers are inflated due to Miller's absence, it is still good enough to hurt the one weakness of the Iowa defense. Still, while I think Iowa might slow OSU down at times, it is Iowa's offense that will have to play above themselves if they want to stay in this game. Iowa will likely struggle running the ball meaning they will be forced to throw where they actually have an advantage early in downs but if OSU knows its coming, it could be a rough night. In the end, too much speed for OSU. I wouldn't touch the game as far as bettor unless, of course, you live in Vegas AND it comes back to 17 but I think OSU wins this.

Enjoy the weekend, or at least make the best of a weekend without the Huskers that you can.

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