Big Ten Landmines - The Scary Letdown Games
Wisconsin RB John Clay
Wisconsin RB John Clay
Posted Aug 20, 2009

What are the dangerous games that every Big Ten team needs to watch out for? These are the ones that might be sandwiched in between two bigger games, they could be the ones late in the season that will be tough to get up for, or they simply could be letdowns.

The Big Ten Landmine Games

The traps to watch out for

By Pete Fiutak

Landmine Games For Every Team
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It's next to impossible for a team to get up for every game over the course of the long season. It's easy to be jazzed for the big rival or the top five team, but college kids can't remain focused enough to play razor sharp for one game and then maintain the same high level again the next week for the also-ran.

Below are the very dangerous letdown games for each team. These might be sandwich games, games a team and the fans won't take seriously, the game after a big rivalry, the game before a big game, or just a game that the team just won't be stoked for and could turn into a painful loss against a weaker opponent. If you find yourself arguing that these games will be easy, you're jumping into the same trap these teams might fall into. At the very least, these could be tougher tests than your favorite team might think. Sure, the team might win the game, but it might be pushed very, very hard.

-  Illinois
- Oct. 17 at Indiana
This is a landmine because ... There isn't a Western Michigan game on the slate like last year (when the Illini gagged late in the season), but that's not to say the team won't blow a game it should win. After a nasty three game start to the Big Ten season against Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State, the Illini can't help but let up a little bit for a road game that kicks off a run of three road dates in four weeks.

-  Indiana - Sept. 19 at Akron
This is a landmine because ... The Zips are more than good enough to pull off the upset in their new stadium. The offense should be dangerous, the defense has just enough athleticism to keep the IU offense in check, and the Hoosiers have a trip to Michigan to start the Big Ten season the following week.

-  Iowa
- Oct. 3 vs. Arkansas State.
This is a landmine because ... It's the ultimate sandwich game. Iowa usually beats non-BCS teams like a drum at home, but Corey Leonard and the dangerous Red Wolves have enough offense, and DE Alex Carrington leads a good enough defensive front, to make this a game. Iowa will be coming off a trip to Penn State and will have Michigan, at Wisconsin, and at Michigan State to follow.

-  Michigan
- Sept. 5 vs. Western Michigan
This is a landmine because ... Wolverine fans won't give Rich Rodriguez much of a break this year, but he and the program still needs time. The pieces are in place, but they're young and there's still a lot of jelling to be done. If Michigan could lose to Appalachian State and Toledo over the last two years, this year's team could certainly lose to Tim Hiller and a WMU team that could be the best in the MAC. The pressure will be intense for what would normally be a layup non-conference date.

-  Michigan State
- Oct. 17 vs. Northwestern
This is a landmine because ... It's not like Michigan State has had it easy against Northwestern over the years, but this year's Wildcat team has a nice defense and a good enough offensive line to keep the Spartan defensive front in check, and the timing is dangerous. MSU will be coming off the always emotional Michigan game and a trip to Illinois, and it'll be looking ahead to Iowa.

-  Minnesota
- Nov. 14 vs. South Dakota State
This is a landmine because ... Minnesota should be good enough to go bowling, but it's not going to be good enough to overlook anyone. The Gophers lost to North Dakota State a few years ago and collapsed over the second half of last year, and this season, they'll go through the motions after facing Illinois and with the rivalry date at Iowa the following week.
SDSU will be able to put up points.

-  Northwestern - Sept. 12 vs. Eastern Michigan
This is a landmine because ... The Wildcats are usually fine once the season gets rolling, but they tend to struggle to get going (even though they started 5-0 last year; they struggled to get past Duke and Ohio). After starting out the year against Towson, NU gets QB Andy Schmitt and the high-powered EMU offense (at least the Eagles hope they're high-powered) at home. The Wildcat offense will need time to find playmakers.

 Ohio State - Sept. 5 vs. Navy
This is a landmine because ... It's Ohio State. It's going to struggle to put teams away early in the season, and this could be another one of those games where the vastly inferior opponents hangs around for three quarters and then the Buckeyes get one huge play and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. The last thing a team with a new linebacking corps needs is to face the Navy option, and having the USC game looming the following week will only add to the concerns.

- Penn State - Oct. 31 at Northwestern
This is a landmine because ... Sandwich time. Michigan might not be Michigan, but it's still a circle game trip in the middle of a Big Ten season. Penn State follows that up with the trip to Evanston and has to keep its focus even though the biggest game of the Big Ten season is the following week against Ohio State. Northwestern will be more than good enough to ruin the dream season on Halloween.

-  Purdue
- Sept. 5 vs. Toledo
This is a landmine because ... Purdue isn't going to be good enough to take anyone lightly, much less a talented Toledo team that should start to play up to its skills a bit more under a new coaching staff. Purdue will need time to get all the key parts in place on offense, and that could be a problem in what should be a shootout before the trip to Oregon the following week.

-  Wisconsin
- Sept. 12 vs. Fresno State
This is a landmine because ... The Badgers won a war with the Bulldogs in Fresno last season, and this year they could have even more problems with the Bulldogs ground game. Wisconsin needed to battle to beat FSU in Madison in 2002, and lost in 2001. If last year was any indication, Wisconsin can't take any non-conference game lightly.