Time for that exercise in futility in which the OTE staff gives their picks for all the weekend matchup, only to be proven horribly wrong by what actually happens on the field. One of these days, I swear, one of us will get a TV and actually start watching the games...
But it's a full college football slate across the Midwest--finally! Onto the predictions, where eight writers responded, and Graham and GoAUpher just gave their picks:
Penn State (8) over Illinois (0)
Ted: Penn State takes their frustrations from last week out on Illinois, who is in a death spiral right now. I think Tim Beckman survives through next year, but yeah, it's looking like Illinois made a pretty colossal mistake. And that's a shame, because I thought Becks was going to be a good coach, and I was really impressed with their early season success. That's all gone, though, just like their hope for this game. Penn State 38, Illinois 21.
Hilary: Penn State has this one wrapped up. I didn't believe in Illinois back when their season was shaping up to be better than expected, and I don't believe in them now. Still, I don't have that much confidence in PSU's defense, so this won't be a blowout. 28-17, PSU.
MNW: Illinois could claim a scalp here if Penn State can't get off the schnide from last week. Penn State's defense has been brutal, and Bill Cubit has to be licking his chops to try and get the Illini O back on track. Bill Belton has a big day, though, for the Nits, and they roll up something like 250 on the ground in a flattening of Illinois. Nittany Lions, 34-20
C.E. Bell: Give me the Nittany Lions. Tim Beckman hasn't won in the B1G, much less won on the road in the B1G, and it won't happen here either. Hackenberg has a big bounce-back game, and the Nittany Lion defense comes out fired up and neutralizes (but doesn't stop) Cubit's offense. PSU 28 - Illini 14.
Green Akers: In this week's Hangover Bowl, two teams trying to pick up the pieces from their respective trips to the woodshed stumble into each other. I...have no real idea what to make of it. I made note of PSU's defensive malaise in the picks last week, but Illinois' supposedly decent offense put together something like 150 total yards, a poor figure even against the better-than-the-'85-Bears MSU defense. Plus they lost top WR Ryan Lankford for the season. Welp, I suppose if the dual motivation of coming off a historically bad loss and the rematch with Tim 'I'm In Ur Parking Lot, Stalking Ur Players' Beckman doesn't get the Lions' blood boiling, nothing will, plus the blueprint here is pretty simple: run Belton. The end. PSU 27 Illinois 10
Jesse: Penn State, because Illinois is not that good.
#24 Wisconsin (7) over Iowa (1)
GA: A lot of people are saying Iowa should give Wisconsin a fight, and I guess stranger things have happened. The thing is, Wisconsin doesn't just line up and go straight at you anymore, and their newfound advantage around the edge will probably strain Iowa's athleticism too far. Iowa also doesn't have anyone who can cover Jared Abbrederis, so Bucky can go that route, too, if the run game somehow stalls. I sort of expect this game to look like Iowa-OSU, but I don't think Iowa will have as much success dictating the game against a better Badger front seven. Wisconsin 31 Iowa 16
C.E. Bell: Northwestern ran pretty effectively against Iowa, and did a good job defensively. Wisconsin is much better at running the ball than Northwestern, and better on defense, too. Wisconsin 37 - Iowa 17.
Jesse: Iowa, because I want the world to burn.
MNW: Hey, um, Iowa? I know Mike Trumpy fumbled twice, but that was 225 rush yards you just allowed Northwestern. By the end of the game, the 'Cats were clearing holes for--get this--Mike Trumpy. I don't like what the 4.3 ypc allowed to NU bodes for Iowa, and I think stacking the box might expose that Iowa secondary once or twice. Iowa's offense can't keep up in this one. Badgers, 30-14
Hilary: I know our Iowa writers have been lamenting it all season, but I don't think I really appreciated how conservative the Iowa staff is until I watched him against Northwestern last weekend. Let's face it, for a large part of that game the Wildcats simply weren't playing well, and yet I never felt like Iowa was going to finish the job. That strategy won't work against Wisconsin. Maybe it'll be a low scoring first quarter, but Wisky will pull away and get it done. Badgers 45-20.
Ted: A good running team can cram it down Iowa's throat. MSU, OSU, and Northwestern ran the ball well, and now you have to deal with what is probably the best ground game in the conference. I think Wisconsin wins here, and it wins fairly convincingly. Wisconsin 34, Iowa 14.
#4 Ohio State (8) over Purdue (0)
C.E. Bell: The horror. The horror. OSU 55 - Purdue 0.
Hilary: Yeah, this isn't the year that [Redacted] pulls an upset. Buckeyes roll. 63-10.
MNW: It's the Buckeyes heading back into [404 ERROR]. No matter how trying West Lafayette has been for the Bucks, they don't trip up here. Purdue is that bad. Urban doesn't call off the dogs, beats Purdue by something like 60, people are outraged, babaoreally posts Perspective v.2.0. Buckeyes, 59-7.
GA: Yes, the Somethingmakers have historically given OSU problems in Ross-Ade. Yes, they recently gave MSU a much stiffer fight than anyone expected, and had a bye week to rest and prepare for the army of Uruk-Buckhai that Lord Urbuman is unleashing on them. But anyone expecting this game to be close at halftime is straight-up ignoring a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Urbz showed us last week that he's out for blood, or style points, or vengeance, or whatever other motivation you want to assign him but the bottom line is he's running a train on anyone who will lie down on the tracks and take it (heh, train metaphors, thought the Boiler fans would like that) and boy, Purdue is still a crazy young team with a single win over a bad FCS opponent on the year. OSU 56 [null] 10
Jesse: OSU, because Purdue is probably an all-time bad team.
Ted: Let's put it this way. I have three couches in my house. If Purdue beats OSU, I'm burning all three. It's not going to happen, though, as all this Purdue Harbor nonsense stops once and for all Saturday, and this game is over by the end of the first quarter. Urban Meyer will call for a pass on third down to convert the first midway through the fourth quarter, and Matt Hayes will write another 'Urban Meyer is the Antichrist' column about it on Sunday. OSU 51, Purdue 6.
Nebraska (4) over Northwestern (3) over Nobody U. (1)
MNW: Remember how we thought these two teams would be ranked going into this matchup? Yeaaaaaah. Northwestern tries to run the ball down Nebraska's throat, reminiscent of 2011 (man, that last drive was sweeeeet), Nebraska tries to expose a Northwestern defense who I still don't trust against running quarterbacks, and an ugly "shootout" unsues. *flips coin* Nebraska, 27-20
C.E. Bell: The won-loss record is ugly, but don't let that disguise the fact that Northwestern is fixing things. The defense has (believe it or not) improved since the Ohio State game, especially against the run (holding Minnesota to 3.6 ypc, Iowa to 3.3 ypc....Wisconsin got 5.6 ypc, but (a) that's not bad against Wisconsin, and (b) that was much more a result of NU's offense being totally ineffective and unable to sustain drives without Kain Colter and Venric Mark). NU's offense with Kain Colter was MUCH better against Iowa than it was without him against Wisconsin and Minny; take better care of the ball, and NU's offense should be effective against a much inferior defense in Nebraska. I just like Northwestern's mindset (we've been here before and won in Lincoln, we know how to win in November, we want to continue the bowl streak) much more than Nebraska's ("Do I need to say anymore?"; T-Magic's injury; a defense that got pushed around by Minnesota). Northwestern 31 - Nebraska 21.
Ted: Both teams are reeling, Bo Pelini is on the hot seat, and both teams are struggling through very disappointing seasons. Northwestern still looks like they haven't gotten over their loss to OSU a month ago, and I think Nebraska comes out and takes it to Northwestern to try and make up for their stunning loss at Minnesota last week. Or maybe not. Maybe they go in the tank after last week, and it turns into a slapfight. Nebraska is at home and is the more talented team. I'll take them by a touchdown, I guess. Nebraska 27, Northwestern 20.
Hilary: Northwestern has been decimated by injuries. Nebraska has almost no defense. My brain says the Huskers pull this one out and the Wildcats' tailspin of a season continues, but my heart says that Northwestern makes Pelini's hot seat downright scorching. 'Cats 28-24.
GA: Ooh, I forgot we have another strong contender for Saddest Matchup of the Week. Again, I could see this going either way, because who knows what goes on in the minds of teams in the positions these two are? It's also not clear what we're getting from Taylor Martinez, whether Venric Mark will ever play again, if Bo might just be chilling with Carl this week to unwind a little...lot of unknowns here. If Nebraska sticks to putting the ball in the hands of the best player on the field (Abdullah), I'd expect them to win this one. But...just last week they decided to not do that. I also think Northwestern might revert to their Fukkit Let's Just Ruin Other Teams' Season ways of yesteryear, so what the hell, I'll call the upset. jNorthwestern 24 Fire Bo 20
Jesse: Nobody, because nobody wins this right now.
Indiana (6) over Minnesota (2)
GA: I like the Hoosiers in this one. I'm not really buying the 'Minnesota is bowl eligible so now they'll quit caring' theory I've seen bandied about, I just think that Indiana's offense will neutralize the Gophers' biggest strength- that excellent D-line- with the quick-hitting passing game they do so well. As for whether they can slow down the Golden-I...well, no. They can't slow down anyone. But I've got to think Indiana's a helluva lot more comfortable in a shootout than Minnesota is. Indiana 48 Minnesota 42
MNW: This game matters more than Northwestern/Nebraska. THINK ABOUT THAT. It'll be a game of offenses: can Minnesota's control the clock with time-eating drives, and can Indiana's outscore Minnesota's? I think the celebration ends for a week for the bowl-bound Gophers, as Nate Sudfeld goes pass-happy and drops a 3-spot on Minnesota. Hoosiers, 35-27
C.E. Bell: Mild upset here, as I think Kevin Wilson's pass-wacky offense can exploit a suspect Minny secondary, with the O-line giving the IU QB (whoever ends up playing most of the game) just enough time to get the ball out. IU 37- Minny 31.
Ted: If Minnesota can run the ball, control the clock, and keep Indiana's offense off the field, they have a legitimate shot here. and if they can run the ball against Nebraska, they can run it against Indiana. However, at 3-4, Indiana has to win this game to find a realistic path to a bowl game. They will be favored against Illinois and Purdue, but their other two games are Ohio State and Wisconsin. Minnesota's defense is okay, but they'll need to win the turnover battle. Indiana's offense is almost impossible to contain, and I don't know that the Gophers can keep up with them score for score. This will be a good game, but I'll take Indiana in this one. Indiana 35, Minnesota 27.
Hilary: Can IU's defense actually step up and stop somebody? If there's any time do it, now would be it. Minnesota has been riding high on two big wins, but I think they'll suffer a letdown against the Hoosiers and the IU offense will put up enough points to pull this one out. IU 35-21
Jesse: Indiana, because that would be the #B1G thing to do for Minnesota, right?
(ed note: Graham and GoAUpher both chose the Gophers. BOO THE HOMER.)
Michigan State (7) over Michigan (1)
Jesse: Michigan (See: Wisconsin @ Iowa)
C.E. Bell: I actually think this is the easiest non-OSU pick on the board this week. Michigan State is FAR better than Michigan, and Brady Hoke's team doesn't play well on the road. MSU 31 - Michigan 14.
Hilary: Earlier in the season, I would have said that Michigan would manage to overcome State's stout defense and pull just enough ahead to win this one. But, now that MSU seemingly has a functioning offense, I think Sparty manages to win this one. MSU 35-31.
MNW: Defense wins championships. I don't know if it wins Paul Bunyan games, though. I foresee an ugly game from Connor Cook, as Greg Mattson sells out to stop that offense. Michigan State finds a defensive touchdown somewhere, Mike Sadler punts at least 8 times, and Sparty wins in the new B1G-est of B1G games. Spartans, 20-17
Ted: There's trouble brewing just below the surface in Ann Arbor, and if MSU puts a whuppin' on Michigan, which I think they will on Saturday, they'll start bubbling up. I'm not saying Brady Hoke's seat will get hot, I'm not even saying it will get warm, but the Hoke Honeymoon will definitely be over, and 2014 will be a make or break season for him. Michigan can't run the ball, and when the calendar turns to November in this conference, if you can't run, you've got a lot of problems. And do you think it was smart of Fitz Toussaint to wheel out the 'little brother' bulletin board material this week, against that defense? No? Me either. MSU's offense has progressively gotten better throughout the season save for one bad performance against Purdue, they don't turn it over, and their defense is not only really good, it's also very opportunistic. I think Fitz is going to wish he hadn't said what he did. Silly, silly Fitz. Michigan State 27, Michigan 10.
GA: I don't like how everyone except The Joker Collins is picking MSU to win this one. I see how you are all conspiring with your jinxy jinx pick jinxes, don't you get it man, you puppets are playing right into Delany's hands, it's exactly what he wants you to do...but I feel reasonably secure about a victory this weekend, though I have a feeling it's going to be one of those games that we make harder than it needs to be. Fun fact: every year since Mark Dantonio arrived at MSU, Michigan has scored fewer points when playing State than in the season before. Last year, Michigan only managed 12. Ergo- MSU 19, Michigan 10
You've got us on the record, now tell us where we messed up! Give us your picks in the comments.