Nov 16, 2017

Big Ten & SEC Week 12 Preview: Michigan Hopes to Hand Wisconsin First Loss

In the 12th week of the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are making visits throughout SEC and Big Ten country, meeting with fans across both conferences in advance of the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.

Here are a few of the top games of the weekend, including a paior our representatives will be taking in this week.

No. 24 Michigan (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) at No. 5 Wisconsin (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) — Noon on FOX

Michigan heads to Camp Randall this weekend looking to extend its winning streak to four against the unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers. The matchup will pit two of the nation’s top defenses against one another, as the Badgers enter the game ranked No. 1 nationally in total defense (247.6 yards per game), rushing defense (81.5 yards per game) and team passing efficiency defense (94.46), and also rank third in FBS in scoring defense, holding opponents to 13.4 points per game.

Michigan, meanwhile, allows just 16.4 points per game, ranks third nationally in total defense (254.8) and passing efficiency defense (95.98), and is second in FBS in passing yards allowed, giving up 144.5 yards per game through the air. That’s not to say these teams can’t move the ball — Wisconsin, specifically, averages 433.1 yards per game and has scored 30 or more points in eight of 10 wins this season — but much like last year, when Michigan topped Wisconsin 14-7 in Ann Arbor, don’t be surprised if the first team to 20 wins.

Kentucky (7-3, 4-3 SEC) at No. 7 Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC) — 3:30 p.m. on CBS

Kentucky will look to get to eight regular season wins for the first time since 1984 on Saturday when it heads to Athens to face Georgia at Sanford Stadium. The task won’t be easy, however, as the Bulldogs are coming off their first loss of the season and boast a stout defense that matches up well with the Wildcats’ strengths.

Offensively, UK is paced by running back Benny Snell, who leads the SEC in rushing touchdowns with 15 and ranks second in the conference with 1,013 rushing yards on the season. Georgia’s defense allows just 277.5 yards per game, however, and ranks fifth nationally in run D, giving up just 103.8 yards per game on the ground. The ‘Dawgs also feature a potent ground attack of their own, racking up an average of 246 rushing yards per game and feature a trio of impressive ball-carriers in Nick Chubb — who passed Bo Jackson to move into fourth on the SEC’s all-time rushing list — Sony Michel and freshman standout D’Andre Swift, who have combined for 2,031 rushing yards so far this season.

Overall, Georgia leads the all-time series between the schools 56-12-2 and has lost just four games to the Wildcats in Athens, with Kentucky’s most recent win between the hedges coming in 2009.

Maryland (4-6, 2-5 Big Ten) at No. 17 Michigan State (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) — 4:00 p.m. on FOX

Michigan State will look to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Ohio State when the Spartans host Maryland on Saturday. The Terps won last year’s meeting between the teams in College Park, the first Maryland victory in the series since joining the Big Ten, but will need to have one of their better offensive showings of the season against a Spartans defense that allows just 111.8 rushing yards and 325.7 total yards per game, good for 10th and 23rd nationally, respectively.

Maryland’s offense has been slowed by the injury bug since it logged 482 yards of offense and posted 51 points in its season-opening win over Texas and will start Ryan Brand — the team’s fourth starting quarterback this season — under center against Michigan State. He’ll likely look to connect early and often with junior receiver D.J. Moore, the Big Ten leader in receptions (64) and receiving touchdowns (8), as the Terps shoot for an upset in East Lansing.

Minnesota (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten) at No. 23 Northwestern (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) — Noon on Big Ten Network

Northwestern will look to win six straight games for the first time since 1996 when the Wildcats host Minnesota in Evanston this weekend. The Minnesota offense has struggled at times this season, and comes into the game averaging 338.7 yards per game, but the Golden Gophers are coming off a 54-point outburst against Nebraska last week — the team’s largest scoring output in a Big Ten game since November 2006.

Against Northwestern, P.J. Fleck’s squad will lean on a rushing attack that ranks 37th nationally and fourth in the conference at 195.7 yards per game, but Minnesota will be challenged by a stout Wildcats front that ranks seventh nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 109.6 yards per game on the ground.

Here are the rest of the ACC and Big 12 games our selection committee members will attend:

Illinois (2-8, 0-7 Big Ten) at No. 9 Ohio State (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten) — 3:30 p.m. on ABC
Nebraska (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) at No. 10 Penn State (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) — 4:00 p.m. on FS1

Other ACC and Big 12 games being played this week:

Rutgers (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) at Indiana (4-6, 1-6 Big Ten) — Noon on Big Ten Network
Mercer (5-5, 4-4 Southern Conference) at No. 1 Alabama (10-0, 7-0 SEC) — Noon on SEC Network
Louisiana-Monroe (4-5, 4-3 Sun Belt Conference) at No. 6 Auburn (8-2, 6-1 SEC) — Noon on ESPN2
No. 16 Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC) at Arkansas (4-6, 1-5 SEC) — Noon on CBS
Purdue (4-6, 2-5 Big Ten) at Iowa (6-4, 3-4 Big Ten) — 3:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network
Wofford (9-1, 7-1 Southern Conference) at South Carolina (7-3, 5-3 SEC) — 4:00 p.m. on SEC Network
UAB (7-3, 5-2 Conference USA) at Florida (3-6, 3-5 SEC) — 4:00 p.m. on SEC Network
No. 20 LSU (7-3, 4-2 SEC) at Tennessee (4-6, 0-6 SEC) — 7:00 p.m. on ESPN
Texas A&M (6-4, 3-3 SEC) at Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4 SEC) — 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2
Missouri (5-5, 2-4 SEC) at Vanderbilt (4-6, 0-6 SEC) — 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network

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