Dugan: What I’m Watching For In Week 7

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Photo: Tony Ding | AP Photo

The Big Ten is officially weird. Michigan State is (maybe) back, Michigan could be in a lot of trouble, and Ohio State is on a destruction tour after its Oklahoma loss. Week 7, let’s see what ya got.

Michigan’s Season Is On The Line

The Wolverines travel to Bloomington to face a hungry Indiana team. Tom Allen pulled Richard Lagow last week, giving Peyton Ramsey the start against Charleston Southern, and he excelled. Many people are writing off Michigan after they put together a dreadful performance at home against the Spartans, but Jim Harbaugh will have his boys ready to play.

A loss would more than likely drop Michigan from the rankings, and eliminate them from the Big Ten East race. Perhaps playing to Michigan’s favor, this game will be decided in the trenches. Between Michigan’s elite defensive front and Indiana’s mediocre offensive line, the Hoosiers may struggle to establish a running game. With Ramsey under center instead of Lagow, the freshman may be forced to make plays in just his second career start.

This one will be a classic afternoon Big Ten game. Not a lot of points, smart and physical defense, and the winner will be the team that makes one big play. I’ll be in the house for this one to get a good look at both teams, with much to discuss no matter the outcome on the next podcast.

Mike Riley’s Fight For His Job

It doesn’t get any tougher than a night game in Lincoln. For Mike Riley, the last month has been a nightmare. But all could be resolved with a win over the Buckeyes on Saturday. Unfortunately for him and his team, it is going to take a lot more than a solid home field advantage to take out these Buckeyes.

JT Barrett, a clear fan of The Interns, answered my challenge last month to accurately throw the football. His competition hasn’t been too impressive and he is still air-mailing a few balls here and there, but he has improved since the first couple of weeks. His issues have always come against top tier opponents and high pressure situations, and this week isn’t really a true test in terms of talent (see: last year’s 62-3 Ohio State victory). Nevertheless, I’ll be looking at whether or not he can play with confidence from the start until they put the Huskers away.

Or, IF they put the Huskers away. College football has proven to be weirder and weirder every year, and sometimes there are wins no one can explain. I’m not saying it will happen, but consider this formula: coach on the brink of unemployment + arguably loudest stadium in the country + night game? Never say never.

SUPER BOWL SATURDAY

Rutgers travels to Champaign to take on Illinois in what is sure to be the ugliest game of football we will see this season in the Big Ten. ESPN’s “matchup predictor” actually gives Rutgers a 59% chance of winning the game.

Kyle Bolin certainly has the edge in the quarterback matchup. Janarion Grant is back for the Knights. Chris Ash is looking for his first conference win as the head honcho. All the stars are aligning for Rutgers.

On the other hand, Illinois is hoping to unleash who was at one point one of the most talented receivers in the Big Ten in Mikey Dudek.

Illinois has been blown out in 3 straight matchups, and Rutgers’ only win on the year was a 65-0 blowout of Morgan State. There isn’t a whole lot to analyze here, other than me telling you to embrace the chaos that will commence before an underwhelming crowd in Champaign. But you know what, Big Ten fans? Let’s have some fun with this one. It should be a close game. Maybe 6-3, maybe 40-39. Tune in at noon eastern and enjoy a close football game between the two worst teams in the best conference this country has to offer.

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