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Chaos reigns in the Big Ten West

Heading into Week 12, the most chaotic division in college football is the Big Ten West, as four teams are tied for the top of the standings with two games to go, none in control of their own destiny. Here’s a look at where things are:

To win the division, all teams need wins in the remaining two games. Y a loss to another team (or two) on the roster.

Iowa has the clearest path to win the division, because the loss they need, Illinois at Michigan, is the most likely. If the Hawkeyes win and finish tied with Purdue for first place, they have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Boilermakers (Iowa 24, Purdue 3 in Week 10).

This list will likely be shortened to two teams after this Saturday, as Illinois it is It is expected to lose at No. 3 Michigan and either Iowa or Minnesota to lose their head-to-head.

The Golden Gophers and Fighting Illini have tougher ways to win the division: Both need an upset loss to Purdue. Illinois would also have to deliver one of the biggest upsets of the year in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

Iowa looks to keep division title hopes alive at Minnesota (MIN -2.5, or/or 32.5)

Best Bets: Iowa +2.5, Under 32.5

The Floyd of Rosedale trophy is up for grabs in Minnesota this weekend: a bronze trophy in the shape of a pig honoring the prize pig Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson won in a bet with Iowa Governor Clyde Herring, on the 1935 Minnesota-Iowa game. The 1935 wager was seen as an effort by the two governors to ease tension between their states after the 1934 edition of the rivalry game was particularly violent, including . The trophy is now seen as a symbol of a friendly rivalry between the two schools.

Iowa has won the Floyd of Rosedale trophy every year since 2015. (David Berding/Getty)

But both teams have more to play for this season as they sit in that aforementioned four-way tie at the top of the Big Ten West standings.

Minnesota (7-3) and Iowa (6-4) both have three-game winning streaks going into this game, though the caliber of Iowa’s last three opponents has been higher than Minnesota’s.

“Optimistic” is the first word of the Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck used to describe his feelings about the team in his presser on Tuesday. The Golden Gophers are coming off a 31-3 victory over the downtrodden Northwestern in which rookie quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis had his first race as a starter in the absence of the injured vet morgan tanner. Fleck said Morgan is progressing well — she suffered an unspecified upper body injury — and medical staff continue to assess her readiness.

In the Week 11 win, Minnesota ran the ball 58 times to lighten the load on Kaliakmanis. “If we have to do that, we have to do it,” Fleck said. “Would I like to be more balanced? Absolutely. But we have to make the routine plays and we have to make the routine pitches.

“When you have a freshman quarterback play, it’s like a rookie in the NFL. He just has to be able to get into his own routine.”

Most of the carries go to the senior running back. Mohammed Ibrahimwhose current streak of 100 consecutive rushing yards is 18, the longest in FBS since 2000. Ibrahim is fifth in college football with 1,261 rushing yards on the season.

“Our style of football is to run the ball. Time management is what we pride ourselves on,” Ibrahim said after the win over Northwestern, in which he scored three quick touchdowns to bring his career total to 51.

Fleck commented on the challenge presented by Iowa’s defense, which ranks third in the nation in yards allowed. “I don’t know if I’ve seen that in college football, where the defense creates the most points throughout the year… It seems like they do it every year.”

In fact, Iowa’s defense hasn’t scored the majority of the team’s points (32 of the team’s 179 this season, if you count PATs for defensive touchdowns), but Fleck’s comment concerns style of play: when the Hawkeyes score, the defense is often responsible for putting the offense in prime position.

iowa coach kirk ferentz he knows that’s the case, and he praised his defense and special teams units for their role in the team’s big win over Wisconsin last weekend.

Ferentz singled out Ibrahim as a priority for the Hawkeyes on Saturday, calling him “the most proven veteran running back” in the Big Ten. He compared it to the Michigan Blake Corumwho ranks fourth on the rushing yardage list this season to Ibrahim’s fifth.

“It looks like maybe there’s nothing there,” Ferentz said, referring to what might be a first impression of Ibrahim’s relative size and speed, “and then the next thing you know, he’s got a 5.8-yard gain. ”.

It’s hard to bet against Iowa this time of year: The team hasn’t lost a game in November since 2019.

“Really good teams should peak in November,” Iowa QB petras spencer said Saturday.

Petras will have his work cut out for him: Minnesota is one of four teams ahead of Iowa in points allowed this season at just 13.1 per game. The Hawkeyes are allowing 13.9 on average, so this should be a solid defensive game with a lot riding on it.

Prediction: Iowa seems to be making leaps and bounds, and with a division title on the line, they’ll do enough to get it up close on the road. The bass should be in play given the defensive strengths of these teams. (Hopefully, though, the total score will be higher than the temperature, which is forecast at 17 degrees on Saturday afternoon.)

Illinois hopes to defeat No. 3 Michigan in Ann Arbor (MICH -17.5, or/or 40.5)

Best bets: Michigan -17.5, over 40.5

The Fighting Illini’s hopes of making the Big Ten title game are likely to end in Ann Arbor this weekend, where they are outclassed in almost every way. The most significant team stat Illinois (7-3) has over Michigan (10-0) is passing yards per game, in which the Illini average 10 more than the Wolverines.

Given the Illinois quarterback tommy de vitoUnable to find a rhythm last week at home against Purdue (18/32, 1 TD, 1 INT), that passing yards stat may not help them much on the road at Michigan. And in other areas of Illini strength, the Wolverines should have an answer:

  • Illinois has the nation’s leading rusher in brown chase (1,442 yards). Michigan has the nation’s leading rush defense (72.7 yards/game).
  • Illinois is 7the in the nation in run defense (85.9 yards/game). Michigan Blake Corum he is the fourth most productive rusher in the nation (1,379 yards).

The only danger for Michigan in this game is that the team could be stuck heading into Week 13, when they face Ohio State in a matchup that will likely determine the winner of the conference and, by extension, determine a playoff berth. . .

michigan coach jim harbaugh focuses on preventing Brown from making an impact on the ground. “Our race wall has been very good,” Harbaugh said Tuesday. “It will be tested this week probably like no other so far.”

For its part, Illinois needs to win this game and its Week 13 game at Northwestern, and needs Purdue to suffer an upset loss to either Northwestern or Nebraska in the past two weeks, to win the Big Ten West. It is a difficult task.

As Harbaugh, Illinois coach Bret Bielema he is wary of this week’s rush attack, calling Corum “as good as anyone in the country.”

Prediction: Michigan’s run defense should kill Illinois’ running game, making it difficult for the Illini to keep pace in Ann Arbor. Michigan wins easily with the Over at stake.

More week 12 predictions

The team of NBC Sports EDGE He’s taken a deep dive into this week’s Big Ten slate and is featuring his favorite plays for the week. Here’s a preview:

Northwest @ Purdue: 2North Dakota Middle Purdue -8.5 (-110)

Zachary Kruger (@ZK_FFB)

One of the worst offenses in the nation, Northwestern has gone for 20 or more points just once in its last seven games. The Wildcats rank 128th in the nation in points per game (15.3) and 83rd in points allowed per game (28.2).

This weekend, Northwestern travels to Purdue to take on the Boilermakers offense that racks up 29.6 points per game over opposing defenses while ranking 50th in yards per game (407.8) and 17th in passing yards. per game. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell (2674-18-11) continually torches bad defenses through the air. To Northwestern’s credit, they’re allowing the 12th fewest passing yards per game in the nation (182.8), but to cover this 8.5-point margin in the second half, they’ll need to find a way to get on the board multiple times. themselves.

Northwestern managed just 14 points in this matchup last season and was outscored 19-7 in the second half. In two of their last three meetings, Purdue has outscored the Wildcats by double digits in the second half.

The first half of the 10.5 number felt something of a steep hill to climb when you consider the two-point spread between the first and second half of the lines. While I’m confident Purdue can get the points needed to cover this one, I’m equally confident in Purdue’s ability to limit an offense that has been less than productive against most of the opponents they’ve faced this season.

For more Big Ten analysis and Week 12 tips from the EDGE team, click here. And if you’re looking for a deeper dive into Week 12 in college football from a bettor’s perspective, join NBC’s college analyst team at 11 a.m. PST. NCAA College Football Betting Questions and Answers on the NBC Sports YouTube page.

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