Jim Rossow's Big Ten report: Will Illini surprise Buckeyes?

Sports editor Jim Rossow's weekly look around the league:

THE STANDINGS
LEADERS DIVISION
TEAM                LEAGUE   PF    PA    OVERALL   PF    PG
Ohio State    5    0    196    148    9    0    347    217
Penn State    3    1    135    84    5    3    223    145
Wisconsin    3    2    147    87    6    3    233    158
Indiana    1    3    136    144    3    5    274    239
Purdue    0    4    77    155    3    5    247    238
Illinois    0    4    38    142    2    6    144    246

LEGENDS DIVISION
Nebraska    3    1    120    127    6    2    314    203
Michigan    3    1    110    46    5    3    224    138
Northwestern    3    2    149    127    7    2    274    201
Iowa    2    2    81    95    4    4    163    169
Michigan State    2    3    89    88    5    4    173    135
Minnesota    1    3    83    118    5    3    202    185

THE SCHEDULE
Want to know which of Saturday’s games are worth your time? Here’s the scoop from sports editor Jim Rossow, who went 5-1 last week:

Michigan at Minnesota
11 a.m., BTN

First visit to TCF Bank Stadium for the Wolverines, who are 15-0 in the Twin Cities since a 16-0 loss in 1977 — when Michigan was No. 1 and Brady Hoke was a freshman linebacker at Ball State. The only Big Ten team yet to visit the new stadium that opened in 2009: Indiana, which has to wait until Nov. 8, 2014.
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 28-17

Iowa at Indiana
2:30 p.m., BTN

One of our favorite players — Antwaan Randle El, the 1996 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year and Big Ten MVP in 2001 — will be recognized at halftime as the headliner of Indiana’s 2012 Hall of Fame class.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 35-17

No. 21 Nebraska at Michigan State
2:30 p.m., WICD (ABC)

Want to know why the Spartans are 0-6 against Herbie? They’re scoring at a baseball-like clip, averaging 6.2 points per loss and failing to reach the end zone in the last eight quarters. Considering Nebraska has 16 three-and-outs the last two games — and the Spartans are lacking receivers and quarterbacks — don’t count on much to change.
Rossow’s pick: Nebraska, 21-12

Illinois at No. 6 Ohio State
2:30 p.m., ESPN

History tells us Braxton Miller’s Heisman Trophy chances might take a hit as the Illini have held the Buckeyes to fewer than 100 yards passing in each of the last four meetings. Of course, the Buckeyes might not need to pass if it turns lopsided as expected. And Miller might rush for 200 yards and be fine. But Miller needs to fare better than last fall — one completion for 17 yards — if he wants to keep pace with Kansas State’s Collin Klein.
Rossow’s pick: Ohio State, 56-7

Penn State at Purdue
2:30 p.m., ESPNU

Allen Robinson needs 12 catches to break Penn State’s single-season record of 63 shared by O.J. McDuffie (1992) and Bobby Engram (‘95), and five more touchdown grabs to break Engram’s record of 13 in ‘93. The sophomore will be hard-pressed to do it against the Boilermakers, who are second in the Big Ten with 11 interceptions.
Rossow’s pick: Penn State, 24-21

Bye: Northwestern, Wisconsin

LOOKING AHEAD

Coaches like to take it one game at a time. Not us:
NOV. 10
Northwestern at Michigan    11 a.m.
Wisconsin at Indiana    11 a.m.
Purdue at Iowa    11 a.m.
Penn State at Nebraska    2:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Illinois    2:30 p.m.

Bye: Ohio State, Michigan State

THE LISTS

ILLINOIS MVP

ILLINI    PREVIOUS
Donovonn Young    —
Jonathan Brown    —
Mason Monheim    3
Justin DuVernois    1
Nathan Scheelhaase    2
Rossow’s take: Scheelhaase, who ranks 10th on the Big Ten’s career rushing chart (active) with 1,653 yards, should climb a couple spots before season’s end. Minnesota’s MarQueis Gray (ninth at 1,661) has been moved to receiver, and Purdue’s Ralph Bolden (eighth at 1,717) isn’t getting many carries.

IN THE PENTHOUSE
(Big Ten MVP)

PLAYER, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
Braxton Miller, Ohio State    2
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska    3
Kain Colter, Northwestern    —
Matt McGloin, Penn State    1
Adam Replogle, Indiana    —
Rossow’s take: We included Replogle because of his attitude (19-time team captain), ability (leading tackler among Big Ten linemen) and manners (one of 10 finalists for Awards and Recognition Association Sportsmanship Award). He’s got Illinois’ vote, that’s for sure.

IN THE DOGHOUSE  (BIG TEN GOAT)
                       
FAN NON-FAVORITE    SCHOOL
Russell Bellomy    Michigan
Offensive line    Illinois
Danny O’Brien    Wisconsin
Fitz Toussaint    Michigan
Caleb TerBush    Purdue
Rossow’s take: Season-ending injury to Joel Stave has O’Brien back on the hot seat. Benched after a poor September start, the Maryland transfer didn’t look any better when he replaced Stave last week (5 of 11 for 44 yards and three sacks).

COACH OF THE YEAR

COACH, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
Urban Meyer, Ohio State    2
Bo Pelini, Nebraska    3
Bill O’Brien, Penn State    1
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern    4
Kevin Wilson, Indiana    —
Rossow’s take: Credit O’Brien for keeping fans interested. The Nittany Lions rank fifth among 120 Division I-A programs in attendance, averaging 98,649 at what many folks thought would be a creepy Beaver Stadium (losing the statue helped). Since adding 10,000 seats in ‘91, Penn State has finished in the top five nationally in home attendance every year.

BOWL LINEUP

TEAM    BOWL
Nebraska    BCS
Northwestern    Capital One
Wisconsin    Outback
Michigan    Gator
Michigan State    TicketCity
Rossow’s take: Eight schools — including Nebraska — began the fall with a streak of at least nine wins in four consecutive seasons. The Cornhuskers (6-2) are in good shape to keep the streak going. An update on the others: TCU (5-3), Oregon (8-0), Boise State (7-1), Oklahoma State (5-2), Virginia Tech (4-4), Alabama (8-0) and West Virginia (5-2).

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

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