Five B1G Things To Watch For -- Week Eleven
Nathan Scheelhaase

Posted Nov 8, 2013

Phil Harrison solves scours the heartland of this great country of ours looking for the holy grail of what to watch for in this weekend's slate of Big Ten games. You have questions and he has answers -- or something like that.

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Five B1G Things To Watch For - Week 11

5. Can Minnesota keep things rolling?

Still going … Minnesota has far-exceeded expectations this year. The Gophers now sit at 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the league. It's been awhile since the program has played really meaningful games in November, but that's exactly what's going on this year. The team seems to have rallied around Jerry Kill and is playing more with heart than talent.

Now for the next test, as a very inconsistent Penn State team comes to the Twin Cities. Will the Golden Gophers finally run out of emotional gas, or can they keep things going against a Penn State team that has looked like a shadow of itself away from home? My money is on the Maroon and Gold, but you just never know with the ingredients going into this one.

2. Will Iowa enter the realm of bowl-eligibility?

The Hawkeyes should probably already have punched their ticket to the postseason but have let a few close games slip away. Now comes what looks to be as close to a sure bet as you can get in this game towards a win with the trip to Purdue. Plainly put, the Boilermakers might have a hard time beating the local high-school team with how bad things have gone this season.

You can bet that Iowa won't feel sorry for the Boilermakers and will establish itself on defense and get its ball-control offense going against a team that is clearly trying to find itself right now. Nothing is a given, and far be it for me to suggest as such, but you like the chances of Hawkeye fans ability to start planning travel plans Saturday evening.

3. Does Illinois stand any chance at all at ending the streak?

The Illini have now lost eighteen-straight Big Ten games and I'm fairly sure it has to end sometime. This week is a game against Indiana, so you like the chances of Nathan Scheelhaase and gang to score some touchdowns, but how on earth is the Illini defense going to corral the Hoosier offense? The answer -- it won't. Indiana will keep the scoreboard operator holding his bathroom breaks.

However, the Hoosiers are giving up more ground than a real-estate convention, and the Illinois offense has to be licking its chops. You can probably bank on a shootout in Bloomington like most games go these days in Bloomington go, and the game will probably come down to the team that makes the less mistakes. The residents of the Champaign-Urbana area are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping, pleading for a victory.

2. Can Nebraska keep pace in the Legends?

Believe it or not, and despite a gift from the football gods last week, the ‘Huskers still control their own destiny in the Legends division. The team has been far from perfect, and has been a sputtering engine with the oft-injured Taylor Martinez in and out of the lineup, but the goal of getting to Indy is still right there in its own grasp. Win out, and the tie breaker goes Nebraska's way if it beats Michigan State.

Ahh, but there's one problem: This week -- and the rest of the schedule -- is far from a swim in the baby pool. Job number one is to go to Ann Arbor and find a way to get past a Michigan team that is ready to wash a very sour and bitter taste out of its mouth. Oh yeah, and by the way, do it without Taylor Martinez who is out for this game as well. Go get ‘em ‘Huskers. You have your work cut out for you, but a win considering all the variables would certainly impress.

1. How far will Ohio State move up in the BCS?

Sometimes being idle isn't such a bad thing. Rewind back to 2007 when OSU lost to Illinois in the second-to-last game of the year and then finished up with a victory at Michigan to finish 11-1. The Buckeyes were sitting outside of the BCS national-title picture in late November. But then a funny thing happened.

While OSU sat in the clubhouse, all the teams ahead of it still had games to play and began to lose in succession. When all the smoke cleared, the Scarlet (Red) Sea had parted, and there were exactly zero BCS conference teams with an undefeated record, and Ohio State had the best résumé of any team left. Hello New Orleans and the BCS title game.

This week Ohio State is getting a little R&R again, and true to form, we've already seen the Oregon Ducks go down, leaving just six undefeated teams left. Baylor looked great, and Stanford dominating tonight, but it's highly unlikely that either would move ahead of Ohio State in the BCS standings. As a result, Urban Meyer's crew is likely to move to at least No. 3 in the BCS without any further developments.

But wait. It's not even Saturday yet. After pulling for "the tree" in Palo Alto, OSU fans will now be pulling for the Bayou Tigers to pull the upset in Tuscaloosa, and though it's less likely, they'll be learning what a Demon Deacon is as well. If either Alabama or Florida State happen to lose, the Buckeyes will have a good shot of claiming one of the top two spots in the BCS, and in prime-position to get to Pasadena. Not for the Rose Bowl mind you, but for one bigger than the "Granddaddy of them all a week later."

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