So far in 2013, my record stands at 62-12 which is a solid 83%. This however is where things get dicey for a prognosticator. This is the point in the season where teams kind of change who they are based on their records….and there are so many variables that produce this and it makes it so difficult to get a read on things. Factors like coaches on hot seats like Illinois coach Tim Beckman…his seat is probably getting warm…but how will his team react?…will they rally because they like him or not?…teams like Minnesota with interim coach Tracy Claeys…his team has played pretty well since he has taken the reins….but how long will it last?…Will Purdue show some improvement?…is the team behind Darrell Hazell or has he lost them? What’s going on in Ann Arbor?…and what about Nebraska?…how do you figure them out?…and these are just some of items I have to consider when making picks…..so to see how I handle it, read on.
Penn State (5-3, 2-2) @ Minnesota (7-2, 3-2) Noon ESPN2: The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series vs the Gophers 8-4. This has been a series of streaks with PSU winning the first four meetings, the Gophers won the next four and PSU has won the last four…these two teams are right in the middle of the pack statistically speaking. However, Minnesota is hot right now having won three straight and two of those have been on the road. They are coming home where they are 4-1. I think this team is finally playing better and more consistent. I think the Nittany Lions will struggle running the football and more importantly, they will have problems stopping the Gopher running attack. The PSU rushing defense is seventh in the Big Ten and the Gophers are fourth in the conference in rushing….I like Minnesota at home on Saturday…I think their defense will force PSU QB Christian Hackenberg into mistakes…the Gophers are a +6 in turnover margin this year and PSU is a -5….ballgame. Minnesota wins 31-20.
Iowa (5-4, 2-3) @ Purdue (1-7, 0-4) Noon Big Ten Network: Purdue leads the all-time series 46-34-3….Purdue dominates this series at Ross Ade winning 27 times and losing only 14 and a tie. East Corn State is 2-4-1 in the last seven meetings in West Lafayette. It’s been a while since the Boilermakers have shown some life…they have scored one touchdown since September…they have been outscored 114-7 in their last three games…100-7 in their last two home games…but for some unJackson related reason I have a funny feeling that Purdue shows up on Saturday…I don’t think they will win, but I bet they get some Big Ten fans attention. I mean how tough is ECSU to stop?…they run the ball and they stop the run…it isn’t ground breaking stuff they do there in Iowa City…they are back to doing it pretty well, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough to see. I think Iowa wins, but watch Purdue rise from the ashes enough to make it interesting….for a while at least. Hawkeyes send the Boilers to their seventh straight loss 28-17.
Illinois (3-5, 0-4) @ Indiana (3-5, 1-3) 3:30pm Big Ten Network: The Fighting Illini lead the all-time series with the Hoosiers 45-22-2. Illinois has won four of the last six meetings including the last time they met in Bloomtown in 2011. There really hasn’t been a close meeting lately. The last time a final was within a score was in 2006 so the last six meetings have been big W’s. These are the two worst defenses in the Big Ten…can Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase finally deliver a Big Ten conference W?…I think he will, but I don’t think it comes this week…if you love offensive football, then tune it here. The Hoosiers are much more consistent with the ball than Illinois is…and last week Indiana showed that it can make up for the offensive lapses this kind of offensive scheme inherently produces with quick bursts of scoring…I think they will have many quick bursts of scoring on Saturday…I like the Hoosiers to win at home and beat the Fighting Illini…Indiana wins 45-35.
Nebraska (6-2, 3-1) @ Michigan (6-2, 2-2) 3:30pm ABC: Michigan leads the all-time series vs Nebraska 4-3-1…West Corn State is 1-3 in Ann Arbor..each team has beaten the other at home since the Corn joined the Big Ten. These are two average Big Ten teams…they are both right in the middle of the pack in total defense (Nebraska is 8th and Michigan is 5th) and in total offense (Corn is 4th and Michigan is 6th). So what does this mean?…it usually comes down to turnovers right?….Nebraska is a -1 in 2013 and UM is a -2…wash…I think the special team advantage goes slightly to Nebraska as well as generating a pass rush…they have 22 sacks to UM’s 17…Corn QB Taylor Martinez will miss his last shot to play in Ann Arbor and HB Ameer Abdullah has mouthed off about how awful the fans are at Michigan…so that along with the notions that Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has only lost back to back games once in his Michigan tenure and he has yet to lose a home game push the Wolverines to the W here…it will be another scorefest though…Michigan beats West Corn State 34-28. Read the full game preview here: Nebraska at Michigan
BYU (6-2) @ #24 Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1) 3:30pm ESPN: The Cougars won the only previous meeting between the two schools 28-3 way back in 1980 in Madison. BYU had quite an interesting first fortnight of the season….they got beat in Charlottesville to Virginia 19-16, but then bounced back and hammered a then revered Texas team 40-21 by gaining over 400 yards rushing. They did lose to rival Utah, but as we all know…anything can happen in rivalry games. I like this late season, nonconference test for Gary Andersen. The Cougs do have some impressive names on their victory list this year…the aforementioned Longhorns, Georgia Tech, even Boise State…so this should be compelling and I think it will be for a while….but I think the tough defense, the running game and the crowd will play it’s normal role in this Camp Randall affair. I like Badgers to get win #7 on the season with a 38-17…I just don’t think BYU beating up on mid-level nobodies and has-beens will help them much in Big Ten country. Read the full game preview here: BYU at Wisconsin
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