I will tell you what folks…this has been a really strange season…my record is as good as it has ever been this late in the season…much of that I attribute to a couple of things….one..there hasn’t been a ton of upsets this season…there really hasn’t. Second..I haven’t picked a lot of upsets…which I usually do…I attribute that to tying up the Jackson, gagging him and stuffing him in a trunk for the conference portion of the season…I could still hear him from time to time, but at that point I just turned up the tv. Let’s get to the action of the last regular season week in the Big Ten as we know it…remember..as much as you wanted to push it out of your memory, Maryland and Rutgers come calling next year…ughh.
Friday, November 29th
Iowa (7-4, 4-3) @ Nebraska (8-3, 5-2) Noon ABC: The Annual Corn Bowl… The Corn lead the all-time series 23-9 and have won the last five games in the series. Iowa has lost five straight in Lincoln and hasn’t won there since 1943….in fact..the Hawkeyes have only won three of the 18 meetings in Lincoln. When push comes to shove, this may be the best game of the weekend…Nebraska scores a lot of points, but Iowa prevents people from scoring..and I know the Hawkeyes are playing well…but they are on the road and they are playing a team that flat out is just winning right now…a hail mary to beat Northwestern…a late TD to beat Michigan on the road…and then an OT win at Beaver Stadium to beat Penn State…I think the difference again is Ameer Abdullah and I like Nebraska to close out the season with a home W…West Corn State beats East Corn State again…Nebraska wins 19-15.
Saturday, November 30th
Minnesota (8-3, 4-3) @ #11 Michigan State (10-1, 7-0) Noon Big Ten Network: Michigan State leads the all-time series vs Minnesota 28-17…The Spartans have also won the last three meetings and three of the last four in East Lansing. These are the kinds of games that can be pretty tough to pick…How fired up is Minnesota going to be going into this one?…they just lost the axe to Wisconsin, they are going on the road…then how fired up is MSU going to be?..that question may be a little easier to answer…they want a BCS birth…and to get that, they simply cannot lose this game…if they lose it, then they have to beat Ohio State to get their BCS birth…if they beat Minnesota, a close loss to Ohio State may still get them to Pasadena IF the Buckeyes get to the National Championship game…or is a Wisconsin trip to Pasadena more attractive to the Rose Bowl folks…their only losses would be OSU and a climbing Arizona State team…while that MSU loss to ND would be sticking out like a sore thumb….interesting…I can’t even imagine the fallout in East Lansing if that scenario plays out…I like the Spartans to win on Saturday 28-13.
#3 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) @ Michigan (7-4, 3-4) Noon ABC: Michigan leads the all-time series 58-45-6. The Buckeyes have won ten of the last twelve meetings, but lost the last time they played in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes will roll into Ann Arbor having won 23 straight football games…the Bucks have gone 23-1 since that loss in Michigan Stadium. Even the most hardened Michigan fan has given up hope. I am also getting the sense that all of the ‘Michigan Men’ who were standing up out of their plush cashmere smoking chairs applauding the hire of Brady Hoke are now twitching uncontrollably in a fold-up lawn chair that they salvaged 14 years ago in the street-side fires of East Lansing. It has come full circle in Ann Arbor recently…from awful to exhilaration back to awful…it’s up to Brady Hoke how quickly it turns back to decent. OSU beats Michigan in Ann Arbor 35-14.
Purdue (1-10, 0-7) @ Indiana (4-7, 2-5) 3:30pm Big Ten Network: Purdue leads the all-time series with Indiana 70-37-6. The Boilermakers have won 13 of the last 16 games and have won four of the last five in Bloomtown. Will the chilly temps slow down the Indiana passing game?…it could. If that happens, a Purdue defense which has been much better that last two weeks (may have something to do with opponents) but is it enough to beat your rival on the road?…it could be. You can look at all the intangibles you want…but when it all comes out in the wash…Indiana has been playing much better football for a longer time this season…and closing it out at home with a chance to hammer your rival is the way to close the season. I like Kevin Wilson to stop the bleeding and get some things fixed this weekend…Hoosiers will beat Purdue in the Basketball Bowl 31-17.
Penn State (6-5, 3-4) @ #15 Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1) 3:30pm ESPN: The Badgers lead the all-time series vs the Nittany Lions 9-7. Penn State has won three of the last four games but they have lost two of the last three in Camp Randall. The Badgers can sniff a possible BCS birth and to let that chance slip through those fingers would be criminal. So I fully expect the fans at Camp Randall to embrace the temperatures, cheer even louder if it snows and go absolutely crazy when that offense gets on the field for the first time…when it’s all said and done, PSU QB Christian Hackenberg won’t be able to get it done in such an environment. The Badgers will finish this season with double-digits in the W column for the fourth time in the last five seasons…and they will get W number ten on Saturday…Wisconsin beats Penn State 28-10.
Northwestern (4-7, 0-7) @ Illinois (4-7, 1-6): The Fighting Illini lead the all-time series vs the Wildcats 54-47-5. Northwestern has won three of the last five games but lost the last time they played in Champana in 2011. Pat Fitzgerald cannot stand Illinois…I am sure that Tim Beckman doesn’t like Northwestern either, but it’s a bit different between the two dislikes…Fitzgerald lived through and played in the rivalry…so his disdain for the Fighting Illni is on a whole different level. But the question is…will that emotion get onto the field on Saturday…I don’t know how it doesn’t…I am sure Fitzy has been hammering on it all season long…and I would not bet against the Wildcats seven game losing streak ending this weekend…..or would I? Tim Beckman sat through last years’ huge loss to Northwestern…but his team stumbled last week, and still got the W…and I think that will help…Tim Beckman gets Big Ten win number two as the Illini get their biggest W of the season…Illinois beats Northwestern (with a sudden urging from the Jackson) Illini win 31-28.
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