I am 57-11 so far in 2013…which is almost 84%. This is the biggest week of the season as far as predictions go. If I can get through this week with a record over .500 I will be in control. But that is easier said than done…Why you say?…look at this schedule and you tell me where the easy picks are…and if you are so bold, leave your picks in the comments sections below the article…let’s see who does a better job.
Illinois (3-4, 0-3) @ Penn State (4-3, 1-2) Noon ESPN: The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series vs the Fighting Illini 16-4. Penn State has won four of the last five games and has won seven of the eight meetings in Beaver Stadium. This game will mark just the second time all season that Illinois has left their home state to play a football game in 2013. That seems remarkable to me…really Big Ten schedule-makers?…once?…it’s friggin November. Whatever…the numbers say Illinois can score points…around 30 per game…and to be fair, they have played two pretty decent defensive teams the last couple times out…but how will they fare vs a Penn State defense that was completely embarrassed in front of the nation last Saturday night? Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase will keep Illinois close, but the Nittany defense will make a stand late in the third quarter that will change the momentum of the game. Penn State bounces back with a big W and beats Illinois 34-24. The seat under Illini coach Tim Beckman will get just a bit warmer too…Read the full game preview here: Illinois at Penn State
#24 Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1) @ Iowa (5-3, 2-2) Noon ABC: The series is dead even at 42-42-2…The Badgers have won three of the last five meetings including two of the last three in Kinnick. These are two of the top defenses in the Big Ten…the Badgers sit at number two and Iowa at three. These are the kinds of games historically I would take Iowa (or East Corn State). They are coming off a big home win and turn right around and play another big home game. This week may be a little different. The Badgers are coming off a bye week and they are very good at stopping the run game. There are only four Big Ten teams that give up less than 100 yards rushing a game and Wisconsin is one of them. This may be the last hurdle on Bucky’s schedule to going 10-2 other than all of a sudden a pretty interesting nonconference tilt next week vs BYU. I usually don’t like picking road teams in November in pretty evenly matched opponents. But this week I will make an exception…I like Wisconsin to go into Kinnick and beat the Hawkeyes…and pretty big too. Badgers roll 38-21.
#4 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) @ Purdue (1-6, 0-3) Noon Big Ten Network: The Buckeyes lead the all-time series against the Boilermakers 39-14-2. OSU has won seven of the last ten meetings but they have lost three of the last four times they have played at Ross-Ade. Jackson…be quiet!….I am aware of the fact that OSU just doesn’t play well in West Lafayette…Luke Fickell lost his only game to Purdue in West Lafayette in 2011..even Jim Tressel was just 2-2 in Ross-Ade. OSU overall is just 12-8 at Purdue. I also saw OSU light up Penn State last week. Have you Jackson, seen Purdue play this year?…they are easily the Big Ten’s worst team hosting the Big Ten’s best team. There is no way the Boilers beat OSU this year…I know Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell has Buckeye ties and that would be one of the stories that the talking heads would grab and run with….but it just isn’t going to happen this year….those days are way behind Urban and the Buckeyes…they are trying to gain voters’ attention to get into the final BCS title game. No way Jackson…I will not do it…no…my eyes tell me the Bucks clobber Purdue this Saturday…OSU wins 70-10.
Minnesota (6-2, 2-2) @ Indiana (3-4, 1-2) 3:30pm Big Ten Network: The Gophers lead the all-time series with the Hoosiers 37-26-3. Minnesota has won three of the last four meetings but has lost three of the last four meetings in Bloomtown. When you look at all of the games played so far in the Big Ten this season, Minnesota’s victory over Nebraska last week may have been not only the biggest surprise, but it may have been the most important as well. A win like that could turn the entire support and morale for the Gopher program around. Beating a team like Nebraska in the manner in which they did has to be the best win for Jerry Kill since he began at Minnesota…even though technically he wasn’t the coach…but he had to be thrilled. Sooo..I ask you how much would it hurt the Gophers to lose the very next game?…for middle-tier Big Ten teams, going on the road and getting a W is tough. Especially heading to Bloomtown after the Hoosiers two losses in the state of Michigan. I think IU bounces back better this week. I think Kevin Wilson has worked on his defense enough to stop the Gophers a few more times than Minnesota will stop his team….Hoosiers beat the Gophers 45-35.
#21 Michigan (6-1, 2-1) @ #22 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) 3:30pm ABC: Michigan leads the all-time series with the Spartans 68-32-5. MSU has won four of the last five meetings and has won the last two games in East Lansing. Yes…it is a rivalry and yes you can throw out the records when Michigan and Michigan State get together. Throw them out when they play football, basketball, hockey, baseball, checkers or even lawn darts…actually having Michigan and Michigan State on the same field together with foot-long darts may not be one of the better ideas. Just eyeballing these teams…MSU looks to be the better, more consistent team. I have said from the get-go that the Spartans defense will keep them in most games…and I think it wins them this one. If somehow Brady Hoke has all of a sudden learned how to win on the road , UM QB Devin Gardner can play well without turning the ball over multiple times and if the UM offensive line plays better than they have all season, then I think UM has a chance, but odds are none of those things happen this Saturday. MSU gets back to its winning ways vs the Wolverines with a 20-14 victory. Read the full game preview here: Michigan at Michigan State
Northwestern (4-4, 0-4) @ Nebraska (5-2, 2-1) 3:30pm Big Ten Network: The Corn leads the all-time series with the Wildcats 4-2. Northwestern is 1-2 in Lincoln, but won the last meeting there. Boy…what happens to the loser of this game? If the Wildcats go on the road and lose, it would be their fifth straight loss. NW coach Pat Fitzgerald lost six straight in his first season back in 2006 and he did lose five straight in 2011…but with the team he had coming back this year, a losing streak of any kind wasn’t expected. But that’s what he will be staring at if he can’t win this Saturday. If he does win, that would mean Nebraska (or West Corn State) would have lost its second home game of 2013 and they still have Michigan State and Iowa coming to Lincoln. But what may be bigger is that I feel a loss this week would put Bo Pelini in big trouble as far as his future in WCS goes. I am just not so sure Northwestern can shake off the troubles it has recently had this week on the road….but it also doesn’t get any easier the next couple of weeks at home with a bye, then Michigan and MSU coming to town. If you must take your eyes off of the game in East Lansing for some reason, I would put them on this game…I think Pelini buys some more time with some late game heroics from his QB Taylor Martinez….West Corn State beats Northwestern 38-31….in OT.
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