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Spanning The Empire--Your Saturday Conference Open Thread

I think it's safe to say that at the end of the day, we will have a clear idea of who's going to win the Big 10...or the race will be more muddied than ever.  How's that for searing analysis?

Michigan State and Northwestern kick it off, and a win by MSU keeps them the pace setter, but a win by Northwestern and it's literally a six or seven team race.  MSU should win this game, but this is exactly the type of game that MSU tends to let slip away...and Northwestern tends to win.  Expect a wild one at Ryan Field.  Our marquee matchup is Wisconsin heading to Kinnick Stadium to face a surging Hawkeye team.  If Wisconsin wins, they're still right in the thick of it, but a loss pretty much knocks them out of the Big Ten title and a BCS bowl.  Tough game for the Badgers after coming off and emotional win over OSU, and I am interested to see how they will respond on the road.

Speaking of Ohio State, they host Purdue...who they are currently looking up at in the Big Ten standings.  Last week's loss was probably a mortal blow for the BCS title game, but OSU still has a lot to play for in terms of a BCS bowl and a Big Ten title.  They don't control their own destiny, but they can still win the conference.  Purdue has showed a lot of resilience in dealing with crippling injuries, and they'll need to draw on all of that today in Ohio Stadium.

At the other end of the conference spectrum, we have winless Penn State going to winless Minnesota, who has a new coach.  Will that produce a new result?  Penn State needs to win this to get to the six win threshold, and Minnesota needs this to get some self respect back, and a win in a rivalry game.

Finally, Indiana plays Illinois, and the loser of this game probably can't make it to six wins and a bowl.  It will be a battle of exciting quarterbacks in Ben Chappell and Nathan Scheelhaase, and both will be playing for their post season lives.  I like Illinois, primarily because they're at home, and they have a stout defense.

Let me know how it goes, as I will be spending the day with the in-laws.  Hooray.

Enjoy the games!!