New York Giants Could Lose Senior Assistant To MSU Coaching Job

The New York Giants are expected to not make any more coaching hires for this offseason since it seems their staff roster is complete, but that could change if one member of the defensive staff ends up leaving to join Michigan State as a head coach. The Spartans are of course looking for their first new head coach in over a decade after the surprise retirement of Mark Dantonio, who had been in charge since the 2007 season, and they may look to the NFL ranks for a candidate.

The Giants have one assistant coach that was notable in past years for being a head coach at the college level: Bret Bielema, who was head coach at Wisconsin and Arkansas before moving to the NFL as a Patriots consultant and then as the defensive line coach for their defense which was one of the top performing in the league for a lot of the year.

His stint at Arkansas was far from a success story but with the excuse of playing in a hard SEC West existing and with newfound experience working under Bill Belichick, that might not keep Bielema out of the race to become the Michigan State head coach.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the job is also one that Bielema has interest in. It makes sense, of course – being a head coach at a major college program almost always beats being a position coach and assistant in the NFL.

And according to a source with knowledge of the situation, former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has “definite” interest in succeeding Mark Dantonio, who retired Tuesday after 13 seasons.

If Bielema does end up taking the job, which isn’t a certainty as MSU will be evaluating a number of candidates and not necessarily going for Bielema, the Giants will have to find another candidate for the outside linebackers coach position before getting deeper into the offseason. Bielema is also listed as a senior defensive assistant, so depending on the specific nature of that role, a replacement may be needed for that position.

Giants fans may be unhappy to see that one of the team’s coaches could potentially leave already, but it’s not surprising – Joe Judge has put together a staff with a number of former head coaches, and at some point many of these figures will try to return to head coaching rather than remaining assistants long term. It’s just slightly surprising for this inherent problem to come up this soon.

Michigan State Wins Against Top 10, rival Michigan

Before we dive into this game, let’s explain how Big Ten basketball is going to work on this site for the rest of the season. Longer write-ups of the best games will be posted, not short blurbs for each game. Come the conference tournament, we will break down each game, as well as every NCAA Tournament game with a Big Ten team. Empire Sports Media is lacking a lot of Big Ten coverage, and especially on the basketball side. If you are interested in writing for the site, click here.

On Sunday, Michigan State went on the road to face cross-state rival Michigan and got it done in hostile territory, 77-70. Michigan State moved up to 23-5 (14-3 B1G), and Michigan dropped down to 24-4 (13-4 B1G).

The game may of proved to be a big swing in the projected NCAA Tournament bracket, Michigan possibly dropping to a three seed while Michigan State may of moved up to a two seed.

Cassius Winston had a monster night for the Spartans, scoring 27 points and dropping eight dimes. Big fella Kenny Goins had a nice 16 point, 11 rebound double-double and Xavier Tillman added 14 points and five rebounds. Senior captain Matt McQuaid added 13 points and five rebounds.

Michigan State had a seven point lead at one point in the first half that quickly diminished from three-pointers from Zavier Simpson and Ignas Brazdeikis, as well as a Jordan Poole layup.

Simpson played all 40 minutes and led Michigan with 19 points. Brazdeikis had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Poole added 15 points. Jon teske also had a 10 point, 11 rebound double-double, along with a block.

Overall, the first half stayed pretty close, and Michigan State went into the intermission with a 39-37 lead.

it remained close in the first 10 minutes of the second half, too. But then Michigan seemed to run out of steam. Cassius Winston and Kenny Goins each hit jumpers, Tillman hit a layup, Aaron Henry had two free-throws, Cassius Winston had another two, and Tillman threw one down. In that five or so minute span, Michigan only had four points and Michigan State had a seven point lead.

Michigan couldn’t really recover, and had trouble denting into the lead late, but Jordan Poole did hit a three with 33 second left to make it a four point game. But that didn’t matter, Cassius Winston was in the midst of seven straight free-throws, and hit four of them in the last 33 seconds. Kenny Goins also went 1-of-2 from the line, and Zavier Simpson hit a meaningless layup for Michigan with eight seconds left.

Michigan State shot 50 percent on the night, compared to just 40 percent for Michigan. But, Michigan had four more offensive rebounds than Michigan State, leading to second chance points.

Michigan had more fouls and turnovers than Michigan State, as well as outrebounded by two.

Penn State upsets Michigan, Illinois continues strong play: Big Ten Week in Review (2/12-2/17)

This week in Big Ten basketball, Penn State finally pieced it altogether and pulled off a major upset at home over Michigan, and Illinois has now won five of their last six, including wins over two ranked opponents. Joe Wisekamp also hit a huge buzzer-beater to lift Iowa over Rutgers. Let’s get into the games!

Game Scores & Mini-recaps:

6 Michigan vs. Penn State: Penn State 75, Michigan 69

Penn State built a 13 point halftime lead and fought off a late rally in an upset win over Michigan. Michigan shot 5 percent better than Penn State from the field, but Penn State drew 21 total fouls. Lamar Stevens led Penn State with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Charles Matthews had 24 for the Wolverines.

11 Michigan State vs. 20 Wisconsin: Michigan State 67, Wisconsin 59

Michigan State shot 41 percent from three and picked up another solid conference win over Wisconsin. Cassius Winston had 23 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Kenny Goins and Nick Ward were also in double-figures, and Ethan Happ led Wisconsin with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

12 Purdue vs. 24 Maryland: Maryland 70, Purdue 56

Maryland held the number 12 team in the nation to just 56 points as they picked up another big win. Purdue got 24 points from Carsen Edwards in the loss, but shot a poor 8-of-27. Five Terrapins were in double figures, including Bruno Fernando who had a 12 point, 12 rebound double-double.

Rutgers vs. Northwestern: Rutgers 59, Northwestern 56

Geo Baker and Montez Mathis each had 12 points to lead Rutgers to a home win over Northwestern. Eugene Omoruyi added 11 points and seven rebounds. Vic Law had 17 points, and A.J. Turner had 11 points for Northwestern.

Minnesota vs. Nebraska: Nebraska 62, Minnesota 61

James Palmer Jr. hit two free-throws with a second left as Nebraska survived at home against Minnesota. Palmer Jr. had 24 points on the night, and Glynn Watson Jr. had 19 points. Jordan Murphy led Minnesota with 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Daniel Oturu had 16.

Illinois vs. Ohio State: Illinois 63, Ohio State 56

Ohio State was held to just 36 percent shooting at home as Illinois came into town to stun the Buckeyes and continue their strong play. Trent Frazier and Ayo Dosunmu each had 15 points, and Giorgi Bezhanishvilli had 13 points and seven rebounds. C.J. Jackson had 17 points for Ohio State, and the Wessons combined for 21 points and 10 rebounds.

24 Maryland vs. 6 Michigan: Michigan 65, Maryland 52

Despite Cassius Winston being out, Michigan still played well and got a win over a ranked Maryland team at home. Ignas Brazdeikas, Charles Matthews, and Zavier Simpson all were in double-figures for the Wolverines. Aaron Wiggins led Maryland with 15 points and six boards off of the bench.

Penn State vs. 12 Purdue: Purdue 76, Penn State 64

Purdue bounced back from their poor shooting night last game to shoot 52 percent and get a win over Penn State. Carsen Edwards had 21 points to pace Purdue, and Matt Haarms had 18 points and six rebounds. Lamar Stevens had 18 points and Rasir Bolton had 17 points for the Nittany Lions.

21 Iowa vs. Rutgers: Iowa 71, Rutgers 69

Joe Wisekamp hit an improbable baseline three-pointer off of the glass at the buzzer as Iowa stunned Rutgers in New Jersey. Jordan Bohannon led Iowa with 18 points and five assists, Isaiah Moss had 17, and Tyler Cook had 12 points and seven rebounds. Ron Harper Jr. had 16 for Rutgers, and Eugene Omoruyi had 10 points and 11 boards.

Indiana vs. Minnesota: Minnesota 84, Indiana 63

Jordan Murphy had a huge 23 point, 11 rebound double-double as Minnesota blew out Indiana at home. Gabe Kalscheur also had 20 points, While Aaron Coffey had 18 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Juwan Morgan led Indiana with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Northwestern vs. Nebraska: Nebraska 59, Northwestern 50

Isaiah Roby had 19 points and 16 rebounds, along with five blocks to pace Nebraska in a win over Nebraska. James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. were also in double figures for the winners. Vic Law had 15 points and Derek Pardon had 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Ohio State vs. 11 Michigan State: Michigan State 62, Ohio State 54

Ohio State was held to just 32 percent shooting on the road as they were blown out by Michigan State. Matt McQuaid had 14 points, and Cassius Winston had 13 points and eight assists for the Spartans. Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with 12 points and nine rebounds.

Standings & Rankings:

7 Michigan, 23-3 (12-3)

10 Michigan State, 21-5 (12-3)

15 Purdue, 18-7 (11-3)

24 Maryland, 19-7 (10-5)

21 Iowa, 20-5 (9-5)

22 Wisconsin, 17-8 (9-5)

Minnesota, 17-9 (7-8)

Ohio State, 16-9 (6-8)

Illinois, 10-15 (6-8)

Nebraska, 15-11 (5-10)

Rutgers, 12-13 (5-10)

Indiana, 13-12 (4-10)

Northwestern, 12-13 (3-11)

Penn State, 9-16 (2-12)

 

 

 

 

Illinois upsets Michigan State: Big Ten week in review (2/4-2/10)

Illinois pulled off a crazy upset over Michigan St. this week, and Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon hit a crazy buzzer-beater in a win over Northwestern to lead the story-lines of the week. Let’s get into the games!

Scores & Mini-recaps

Penn State vs. Northwestern: Penn State 59, Northwestern 52

Penn State’s 18 points from Lamar Stevens and 14 points from Rasir Bolton off the bench was enough for Penn State to pick up their first conference win. Penn State shot just 38 percent, but limited Northwestern to just 32 percent. Derek Pardon had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Vic Law had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Northwestern.

7 Michigan vs. Rutgers: Michigan 77, Rutgers 65

Ignas Brazdeikis led Michigan with 23 points as the Wolverines were able to pick up a road win at Rutgers. Jon Teske and Jordan Poole combined for 22 points but shot a poor 8-for-23 together. Eugene Omoruyi had 21 points and Montez Mathis had 12 points for Rutgers.

9 Michigan St. vs. Illinois: Illinois 79, Michigan St. 74

Illinois pulled the upset of the week with a big home win over Michigan State. Ayo Dosunmu had 24 points, Giorgi Bezhanishvilli had 16, and Trent Frazier had 15 for the winners. Cassius Winston had another big night for Michigan St., finishing with 21 points and nine assists.

19 Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: Wisconsin 56, Minnesota 51

Ethan Happ had a 15 point, 13 rebound double-double to lead Wisconsin to a road victory over Minnesota. Brad Davidson added 10 points, and Nate Reuvers had nine rebounds and seven blocks for Wisconsin. Jordan Murphy had a huge 16 point, 19 rebound performance for the losers.

24 Maryland vs. Nebraska: Maryland 60, Nebraska 45

Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando both had double-doubles to power Maryland past Nebraska. Maryland shot the ball 38 percent, but held Nebraska to an extremely poor 21 percent, including 0-for-10 shooting from Glynn Watson Jr. for Nebraska. Isaiah Roby 20 points and 1 rebounds to lead the Cornhuskers.

20 Iowa vs. Indiana: Iowa 77, Indiana 72

Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook combined for 46 points for Iowa in their win over Indiana. Iowa made 10 threes and 13 free-throws on the night. Romeo Langford had 22 points and five rebounds for Indiana, and Juwan Morgan added 17.

Penn State vs. Ohio State: Ohio State 74, Penn State 70

Ohio State’s 50 percent shooting helped power them to a win over the feisty Penn State Nittany Lions. Luther Muhammad had 20 points, and Andre Wesson had 15 points and 10 boards for the Buckeyes. Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves each had 20 for Penn State,.

19 Wisconsin vs. 7 Michigan: Michigan 61, Wisconsin 52

Charles Matthews had 18 points, and Jon Teske had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Wolverines over the Badgers. Michigan shot 45 percent while limiting themselves to just five turnovers.  Ethan Happ had 18 points and 11 rebounds to pace Wisconsin.

Minnesota vs. 9 Michigan State: Michigan St. 79, Minnesota 55

Michigan State finally broke out of their three game losing streak with a blowout win over the sliding Minnesota Golden Gophers. nick Ward had 22 points and nine rebounds and Cassius Winston had 11 points and nine assists. Matt McQuaid added 18 points, and eight more assists, as Michigan State thrives off the catch-and-shoot. Gabe Kalscheur had 17 points for Minnesota.

Nebraska vs. 15 Purdue: Purdue 81, Nebraska 62

Carsen Edwards dropped 27 points as Purdue blew out Nebraska at home. Grady Eifert had 16 points, and Nojel Eastern had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Thomas Allen led Nebraska with 18 points off the bench, and Nebraska shot just 38 percent on the night.

Rutgers vs. Illinois: Illinois 99, Rutgers 94 (OT)

Giorgi Bezhanishvilli exploded for 35 points, as Illinois took down Rutgers at home in overtime. Four total players would reach double figures for Illinois, who shot the ball 50 percent. Caleb McConnell had a big night for Rutgers with 25 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Northwestern vs. 20 Iowa: Iowa 80, Northwestern 79

Iowa was down 15 points with 4:30 left, but Iowa fought back and won the game thanks to a Jordan Bohannon buzzer-beater. He had 15 points, but Joe Wieskamp led with 21 points while Tyler cook had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Vic Law led Northwestern with 24 points and 10 boards.

Ohio State vs. Indiana: Ohio State 55, Indiana 52

Indiana couldn’t convert in the final seconds to send the game into overtime, as Ohio State snuck away from Bloomington with a 55-52 win. The Wesson brothers combined for 25 of Ohio State’s 55 points, as the team shot 44 percent. Romeo Langford had 15 points for Indiana, while Juwan Morgan was held in-check with just three points, but still managed to haul-in 14 boards.

Standings & Rankings

6 Michigan, 22-2 (11-2)

12 Purdue, 17-6 (10-2)

11 Michigan St., 19-5 (10-3)

20 Wisconsin, 17-7 (9-4)

24 Maryland, 18-6 (9-4)

21 Iowa, 19-5 (8-5)

Ohio State, 16-7 (6-6)

Minnesota, 16-8 (6-7)

Illinois, 9-15 (5-8)

Indiana, 13-11 (4-9)

Rutgers, 11-12 (4-9)

Northwestern, 12-11 (3-9)

Nebraska, 13-11 (3-10)

Penn State, 8-15 (1-11)

 

Iowa and Indiana pull major upsets: Big Ten basketball week in review (1/29-2/3)

Another fun week of Big Ten hoops is led by Iowa dominating Michigan, Indiana upsetting Michigan St., and Wisconsin with two big wins. Six teams hit the Top 25 this week! There were 12 games, so let’s dive into it!

Results & Mini-Recaps

Ohio St. vs. 5 Michigan: Michigan 65, Ohio State 49

Zavier Simpson’s triple-double with 11 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds helped Michigan cruise past Ohio State. Four different Michigan players got into double-figures, including 12 points off the bench for sophomore Isaiah Livers. Kaleb Wesson led Ohio State with 12 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.

Northwestern vs. 21 Maryland: Maryland 70, Northwestern 52

Bruno Fernando’s 22 points and 10 rebounds helped lead Maryland to a convincing win over Northwestern. Maryland held Northwestern to just 31 percent from the field. Jalen Smith had 14 points and nine rebounds to support Fernando. Anthony Gaines had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead Northwestern.

24 Wisconsin vs. Nebraska: Wisconsin 62, Nebraska 51

Wisconsin held Nebraska to just 28 percent from the field to beat Nebraska, despite being out-rebounded. Three Wisconsin Badgers were in double figures, including Ethan Happ who also had nine rebounds. Isaiah Roby had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Nebraska.

Indiana vs. Rutgers: Rutgers 66, Indiana 58

Rutgers strong effort on the boards helped them beat the struggling Indiana Hoosiers. Three Scarlet Knights were in double-figures, and they held Indiana to just 35 percent shooting. Romeo Langford led Indiana with 20 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Illinois vs. Minnesota: Minnesota 86, Illinois 75

Five Minnesota players were in double-figures as they beat Illinois by 11. Minnesota shot a strong 50 percent in the win, compared to 45 percent from Illinois. Trent Frazier had a huge 30 point performance for Illinois in the loss, and two Fighting Illini were in double-figures off of the bench.

17 Purdue vs. Penn St.: Purdue 99, Penn St. 90 (OT)

Purdue shot the lights out at 55 percent, and survived the last-place Penn State in overtime. Conference scoring leader Carsen Edwards exploded for 38 points, and teammate Ryan Cline added 20. Lamar Stevens had 24 points for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions hit 30 free-throws to counter their poor 39 percent shooting.

5 Michigan vs. Iowa: Iowa 74, Michigan 59

Iowa jumped out to a 13 point halftime lead on their home floor and used that to knock off the number five team in the country. Luke Garza and Joe Wieskamp had 19 and 16 points, respectively for the winners. Iowa held Michigan to just 32 percent from the field. Three Wolverines made it into double-figures.

21 Maryland vs. 24 Wisconsin: Wisconsin 69, Maryland 61

Wisconsin used a dominating second half after trailing at halftime to beat Maryland at home. Brad Davidson had 21 points for Wisconsin, and Ethan Happ had an 18 point, 11 rebound double-double as well. Bruno Fernando had a double-double to lead the Terrapins.

Indiana vs. 6 Michigan St.: Indiana 79. Michigan St. 75 (OT)

Despite losing Juwan Morgan in the first half to a shoulder injury, Indiana ended their skid with a huge road upset over Michigan St. Romeo Langford led the winners with 19 points, and Justin Smith had 13 points and 10 rebounds with the game-sealing block. Cassius Winston had a huge night for the Spartans with 26 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists.

Rutgers vs. Ohio State: Ohio State 76, Rutgers 62

Ohio State shot the ball 53 percent to lead to a victory over Rutgers. Kaleb Wesson had 27 points and five assists, and C.J. Jackson had 20 points and seven rebounds. Despite the win, they trailed -11 in the rebound margin.  Eugene Omoruyi had 19 points, eight rebounds, and six rebounds for Rutgers in the loss.

Nebraska vs. Illinois: Illinois 71, Nebraska 64

Illinois balanced scoring and strong defense led them to a win over Nebraska. Kipper Nichols had 18 points off the bench, while Illinois held Nebraska to just 36 percent from the field. James Palmer Jr. had 22 points and eight rebounds for Nebraska, and Tanner Borchardt had 12 points and 18 rebounds.

Minnesota vs. 17 Purdue: Purdue 73, Minnesota 63

Purdue had five players in double-figures and shot the ball 48 percent in a win over Minnesota. Carsen Edwards led Purdue with 17 points, five rebounds, and five assists, and Nojel Eastern had 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals in an all-around effort. Amir Coffey had 22 points for Minnesota, and Daniel Oturu had 19 points and nine rebounds off of the bench.

Standings & Rankings

7 Michigan, 20-2 (9-2 )

9 Michigan St., 18-4 (9-2)

15 Purdue, 16-6 (9-2)

19 Wisconsin, 16-6 (8-3)

24 Maryland, 17-6 (8-4)

20 Iowa, 17-5 (6-5)

Minnesota, 16-6 (6-5)

Ohio State, 14-7 (4-6)

Rutgers, 11-10 (4-7)

Indiana, 13-9 (4-7)

Northwestern, 12-9 (3-7)

Nebraska, 13-9 (3-8)

Illinois, 7-15 (3-8)

Penn St., 7-14 (0-10)

Did Scott Frost Secure His Job With Michigan State Victory?

Nebraska has a signature win. If it’s possible for a team of their stature to have a signature win during a season where they’ve only won four games at this point in the season, that is. It wasn’t a pretty win, but Nebraska fans can’t ask for style points at the moment, and everyone will be proud of it because it’s a gritty win where the defense showed up and held Michigan State to six points for the entire game.

Michigan State, of course, aren’t in the best shape themselves. They came into the game with four losses, and it’s a far cry from when it seemed like they could defy some expectations and jump back into the race for the Big Ten East following a loss to Arizona State early in the season, and a scare against Central Michigan. But it just isn’t the Spartans’ season. Still, despite Michigan State struggling, it’s a big deal for Nebraska to beat them.

It’s the type of win that gets at least some momentum back going into next season, and helps prevent a rookie head coach from losing the locker room before the new regime can get off the ground.

For Michigan State, though, the opposite is true. Blowing a lead in the fourth quarter and doing it by allowing three field goals to give an opponent the win is embarrassing, especially when the three field goals are the opponent’s only points of the entire game. They were without their usual starting quarterback because of injury, but that doesn’t justify Rocky Lombardi’s 3.6 yards per completion and his overall poor completion percentage. Of his 41 passes, only 15 were caught.

It’s what head coach Mark Dantonio pointed to afterwards as one of the main reasons for the loss. “We had too many drops, I felt. If you had to point to one thing in the football game, you got to look at the dropped passes,” he said after the game.

He also explained the decision to start Lombardi in the first place. “We just felt like we needed to rest Brian [Lewerke] this week until he was able to sort of settle himself a little bit, settle his shoulder. He could have played.”

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez hardly had a better game, but Nebraska was able to get three more points than Michigan State at the end of the day after kicking a field goal to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Could this be a win that helps head coach Scott Frost in keeping his job?

It seems unlikely that he would be fired after one year, but Nebraska is having their worst season in forever and adding one more win adds some more security. Especially if this isn’t the only win they pick up before the end of the season.

While things are mostly lost at this point, Nebraska would do well to fight hard for a win in their final game against rivals Iowa. Momentum is what’s important right now. And Scott Frost managed to pick up some of it by coaching the team to its best defensive performance this season… Even if that performance came much later than any Nebraska fans would have wanted.

Michigan State Will Try To Avoid Falling “A Little Short” This Season

Michigan State will start the season off with a big challenge. They have to face the number one team in the country in their opening game, and a loss wouldn’t start things off on a very good note. They’d lose their place in the top ten, and miss out on whatever chance they had to move up from their current number ten ranking. With a win, they can surprise some people and help establish the Big Ten as one of the better conferences early on.

But MSU isn’t just thinking about their season opener, they’re thinking about the way last season ended. And the way the season before that ended. Both times, the Spartans were out in the second round and went out to teams that they were supposed to beat, on paper at least.

“Our expectations haven’t changed any from previous years. Last year, it’s hard to look at a 30-win season and say we fell a little short, but we did… But coming off one of the best regular seasons in the history of this school and winning 30 games, I think there’s a lot of things we could build from there,” said head coach Tom Izzo, recently.

Junior guard Joshua Langford was there for both disappointments. As a sophomore, he had 22 points in the Spartans’ opening tournament win against Bucknell, but only 3 in the loss to Syracuse. And the seniors? They’ll have some not so fond memories of losing to Middle Tennessee State as a two seed going up against a fourteen seed. The last years haven’t been kind to Michigan State in the postseason.

“I try not to think about it anymore, because I don’t have a time machine, so I can’t go back in the past and change anything. But I still say it doesn’t take away the great season we had as a team, because we did do some things,” Langford said.

Those things included a conference championship in the regular season, but MSU fans expect more than that. This is a school that has competed for titles in recent memory, reaching the Final Four for the 2014-15 season and the Elite Eight the year before. And then, they seemed to hit a brick wall with the Middle Tennessee State loss, although running into top seeded Kansas the year after didn’t exactly help the Spartans.

Where will they finish this year? We’ll have some idea of what kind of quality this team has soon, when they face the number one team in the nation, Kansas. But then again, Michigan State could get it done against top teams last year. They just couldn’t hang on when the pressure to get a win was at its highest.

Jim Harbaugh Quiet Going Into Michigan vs Michigan State

Michigan versus Michigan State is the biggest game of the week. Not just because it’s a rivalry and because it will decide bragging rights for the state of Michigan, but because of the implications this game has for the conference standings. The winner of the game will still be in the running to catch Ohio State, which is second in the division at the moment but higher in the national rankings. The loser, however, will have been dealt a crucial conference loss.

For Michigan, it would be their first of the year and would severely hurt their chances. For MSU, that second conference loss would kill their hopes. It’s a big game for a reason, but going into it, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh hasn’t given much away or provided any quotes that will be bulletin board material.

While the last press conference wasn’t exactly exciting, some interesting things were said.

“Again, better each week. He finds another thing to be really good at every single week. This past week, his running ability, his ball-handling was superb with the fakes, with the carrying out the fakes, with the decision-making, ball security,” Harbaugh said about his quarterback, Shea Patterson.

The Ole Miss transfer threw for only 124 yards and no touchdowns against Wisconsin, but had three touchdowns the game prior against Maryland. During the Wisconsin game, Patterson had no turnovers, and that’s another point that Harbaugh mentioned. “He does a great job of taking care of the football. He had one that he forced in this ball game last week, but that’s the first one I can remember in a while, in several games anyway. Does a great job making decisions. Team trusts him.”

Harbaugh also said a little bit about his team’s quietness coming into this important matchup. “I think we could all use a break from the clichés that have been plowed so thoroughly on both sides.”

However, fans will have to wait until the actual game to find out more specific details. Harbaugh stated that he wouldn’t talk about injuries or schemes, meaning we won’t know which of Michigan’s injured players could show up for this game. Rashan Gary is the most notable of those players, and the star defensive lineman is listed as questionable.

But even with the high stakes, and with Gary potentially being out, Harbaugh isn’t panicking. It remains to be seen how much of that calmness is real, and how much is coach-speak. “The way it always has been, the way it is, the way it always will be. Approach it the same as it always has. Big game.”

Big Ten Football Preview & Viewing Guide For Week Five

It seems like the season just started, but we’re already five weeks into college football. This week doesn’t have as many marquee matchups, but it does have some games worth watching and Saturday evening will be capped off by one of the biggest games of the year, both in the Big Ten Conference and nationally. All of the Big Ten teams that are playing this week will have their games today, with no early midweek games this time around.

What games can fans check out?

Rutgers vs Indiana, 12:00 PM on BTN

The Big Ten Network is televising one of the first games of the day, with a noon kickoff. This isn’t one that’s going to draw in neutral fans, however, because it’s between Rutgers and Indiana. The Scarlet Knights are looking for a better showing in front of their home fans after MAC contenders Buffalo came into their house and beat them 42-13 last Saturday.

It wasn’t a pretty showing for Rutgers. They gave up two touchdowns to both the top quarterback and top running back for the Bulls, and while UB is 4-0, it’s still not a good loss considering the lower conference that Buffalo plays in. Also, losing 42-13 at home to MAC opponents isn’t a good way to keep fans in the seats for the rest of the season.

Indiana is in a better place and has three wins so far, their only loss to nationally ranked Michigan State. Based on momentum, an Indiana blowout win isn’t out of the question.

#21 Michigan State vs Central Michigan, 12:00 on Fox Sports 1

This one is the first Big Ten game of the day that features a ranked team. That ranked team is Michigan State, which should come out guns blazing and look to bounce back from the decent performance but overall loss against Arizona State, in a game where a good amount of people penciled them in as the winner. The Spartans have had a long break since that game, which was on September 8.

All of that doesn’t help Central Michigan, a team that’s 1-3 and coming off of their sole win… Which was against FCS opponent Maine. They lost all three of their opening games, but to their credit, they did face SEC opposition Kentucky as well as the Big 12’s Kansas. While neither of those schools are powerhouses, they have much more in the way of resources than the Chippewas do.

Their passing defense is actually decent, they haven’t allowed an opposing QB to throw for more than 200 yards this season after all, but they gave up almost 300 yards on the ground to Kentucky and will likely give up a lot to the Michigan State running attack led by L.J. Scott.

You can watch this game on Fox Sports 1 if you want, but don’t put too much faith in CMU to pull an upset here. Not with MSU having extra time to prepare to bounce back after their loss to ASU.

Nebraska vs Purdue, 3:30 PM on BTN

This one is interesting for the wrong reasons. Well, more specifically, it’s interesting because everyone wants to see if Scott Frost is going to pick up another loss in his rookie season as the head coach of the Huskers. It would be hard to imagine things starting this way before the season, but Nebraska’s most recent result was a blowout loss at the Big House where their defense gave up 56 points and looked like it was closer to a FCS level.

Purdue, on the other hand, has had good form in the past couple of games. A win over Boston College, a very close loss to Missouri that featured an important bad call from the referee. They were upset by Eastern Michigan before that, but it was by one point. Purdue has played everyone close this year and should come in as the favorite. Form matters, and Nebraska’s form is historically bad while Purdue has stayed in every game.

This one won’t be televised on Fox Sports, though, and you’ll have to tune into the Big Ten Network if you want to watch it at 3:30.

Northwestern vs #14 Michigan, 4:30 PM on FOX

The first of the two Big Ten games that feature top fifteen teams is Northwestern versus Michigan. The Wolverines have to go on the road for this one, and it shouldn’t be too hard of a task for them. Northwestern is struggling this season and has a couple of bad losses already after winning their season opener and looking decent in it.

Back to back home losses followed that win, against Duke and Akron. This is the last game of that home stand before Northwestern has to head back on the road to face the other major team in Michigan, the Spartans. But it doesn’t seem like they’ll get a win in front of their home crowd.

Michigan rushed for 285 yards against Nebraska while only allowing 39 yards on 30 attempts. Realistically, it’s a good result for Nebraska to make this a competitive game and not fall victim to the same fate as Michigan’s last opponent, a blowout loss where everyone couldn’t wait for it to be over by the time the fourth quarter arrived.

This game is being broadcast nationally on FOX, meaning neutrals will hope for it to be a close result.

#9 Penn State vs #4 Ohio State, 7:30 PM on ABC

It doesn’t take much explaining why this is the best game of the week. The circumstances around the meeting between these two budding rivals means that the division title may be on the line, and in turn, a trip to the Conference Championship Game and potentially a trip to the College Football Playoff. If neither team slips up for the rest of the season, it will mean that this was the game that decided the Big Ten East.

Penn State is ranked lower, but you can through rankings out the window. They’re going to change after this game no matter what the result is, anyway. Penn State can make a large gain by winning, but the loser will almost certainly fall significantly after taking their first loss. Not only that, but two Heisman contenders are battling at the quarterback position in Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Trace McSorley.

The game is a White Out, something that Penn State has mastered. You can be sure that the atmosphere will help, and it makes the result even harder to predict. If you care about the Big Ten at all, or just want excitement, this is the game to watch tonight. With it starting at 7:30, the rest of the Big Ten will have played already by the time this one kicks off.

Michigan State: Overlooking ASU Would Be A Grave Mistake

Strange things happen during west coast night games. That sounds like an empty platitude, just like “intangibles” or “the it-factor.” But ask anyone that stays up to watch the late night PAC-12 games, and they’ll tell you that the conference has a reputation for some of its best moments happening when many college football fans are sleeping.

When Michigan State travels to Tempe to face the Arizona State Sun Devils tonight, they would be crazy to think that it’s impossible for them to end up on the wrong side of a wild game. After ASU hired Herm Edwards, they were made fun of by both their rivals and various neutral fans. Many asked why ASU had hired a coach that’s roughly 20 games under the .500 mark in NFL winning percentage.

Meanwhile, archrivals Arizona pulled in Kevin Sumlin, former Texas A&M head coach and someone that’s already experienced the college game and had decent success there. Sumlin would help Arizona improve following a mediocre season, right? Well, so far, Edwards is 1-0 with the Sun Devils and Sumlin is 0-1 with the Wildcats after losing to BYU in the season opener.

While Arizona didn’t look that good against BYU, Arizona State ensured that they’ll enter their second game with momentum. They won by a margin of 49-7, which is impressive even if the opponent was a poor UTSA team. They aren’t expected to win many things like this, but it flashed their potential.

Michigan State will have to be careful of wide receiver N’Keal Harry in specific. Out of his six catches in the UTSA game, two of them were touchdowns. He also had an average of 23.3 yards per reception, and 140 total yards on 6 catches. It was against a bad defense, maybe, but it’s not easy to get those kinds of numbers even against lesser competition.

The ASU defense is a concern for them, and Michigan State’s star duo of L.J. Scott and Brian Lewerke should be able to put up points, but their offense is good enough to make this interesting. Furthermore, Harry was the only ASU receiver to have more than two catches. They could spread the ball around more in this game, giving the Spartans some offensive looks that they haven’t seen yet.

On the other hand, Michigan State enters after looking uninspired at times in a game where they almost blew a lead to Utah State. It’s hard to imagine lightning striking twice, but it shows that hurting the Spartans is easier than some would think. The running game in particular didn’t produce as well as it could have, as Scott finished with less than 100 yards.

If Michigan State expects Lewerke to do everything on offense, they could end up with another scare on their hands. It’s also worth remembering that the game is one of the biggest of the season for Arizona State, and should be their biggest home game other than the one against USC later this year. Some of their biggest matchups are on the road, meaning the atmosphere for this one should be top notch.

There’s no guarantee that Arizona State wins. But if the Michigan State team doesn’t have the possibility in mind, the circumstances are definitely in place for the Sun Devils to give them a run for their money in what would be one of the more exciting games of the week.