1. INDIANA at NORTHWESTERN, 12:00 p.m. EST (10/24), Big Ten Network
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts NORTHWESTERN by 7
Wildcat mania has taken a backseat to the overall mediocrity of this Northwestern team. Mike Kafka has done everything he’s been asked to do, but the 34-47, 290 yard performances aren’t leading to any points. With all that said, the Wildcats defense has vastly improved and Vegas (NW -6) seems to believe Ryan Field will be friendly to Pat Fitzgerald this weekend. I’m trusting Vegas here in a close one
LAW BUCKEYE predicts NORTHWESTERN by 7
From a motivational standpoint this could be the best game of the week. Both Indiana and Northwestern need two wins to become bowl eligible and both Indiana and Northwestern only have two "winnable" games left on their schedule. Would you be surprised if I told you that Saturday was one of them? I believe the winner of this game will go bowling and the loser will stay home. Everything else being equal, I like the Wildcats to slow down the pistol offense. Mike Kafka and Zeke Markshausen can take over from there. Still, don't expect anyone to lay down and die with the season on the line.
2. ILLINOIS at PURDUE, 12:00 p.m. EST (10/24), ESPN 2
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts PURDUE by 14
At the beginning of this season, this reads "blowout, Illinois." Now? I don’t think any readers will pick Illinois on the road. And I’m inclined to agree at first glance. My defining factor is confined to Illinois’ inability to play a complete game. 400 yards of total offense against Indiana…led to 14 Illini points. A great defensive gameplan against Mizzou…helped hold the Tigers to 37 points when the defense wore out under the offensive’s immense ineptitude.
Things working in Purdue’s favor – Cohesive passing offense and three legitimate playmaking wide receivers (Carlos, Smith, Valentin)…Home crowd freshly excited from rushing the field against Ohio State…Playing against Juice Williams…
LAW BUCKEYE predicts PURDUE by 10
Picking the Illini to beat Indiana last week was my last olive branch. It's time to send the black sheep of the conferene to reform school. Before Purdue smashed Ohio State, I called them the best 1-5 team in the history of college football. It's finally time to call them what they are: a force on the rise. If Purdue can win the turnover battle they take this one without breaking a sweat. Expect Ryan Kerrigan to have another big day.
3. No. 13 PENN STATE at MICHIGAN, 3:30 p.m. EST (10/24), ABC
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts MICHIGAN by 7
Most of you will pick Penn State because you believe the Michigan defense is soft. Most of you believe Michigan may gash some runs early, but won’t be able to continue their success as the game wears on against Odrick and Josh Hill. Most of you believe, at least for this year, Michigan is no better than a 7-5 team which shows flashes of brilliance. Oh, and most of you think Tate Forcier is too small to survive another murderous defense akin to Penn State’s.
I’m inclined to agree with most those statements. But I think the Wolverine’s can get up for this one, plus I’m going to need some upset points, ala two weeks ago and Miami/Oklahoma. Penn State hasn’t 1) seen a spread run offense and 2) hasn’t played a team with the speed of Michigan. The Wolverines are healthy and rested – I don’t believe in this pick, but oh hell, let’s see what the Run Spread can do against the monster 4-3 of PSU.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts PENN STATE by 10
I think how you pick this one is more of a reflection on Michigan than Penn State. Do the Wolverines -- whose September 18th 1-point triumph against then No. 18 Notre Dame seems like a long time ago -- have another upset left in the tank? If they do, who gets the bequest? Is it a Nittany Lion team they always seem to frustrate? (Joe Pa hasn't won at the Big House since 1996). Or, are they saving something special for their good buddies in the Buckeye state? Don't get me wrong, I think Michigan's program is on the right track, but I see a statement game coming saturday for a team whose national discussion always seems to get prefaced with, "we don't really know how good they are." Daryll Clark might be the only quarterback in the Big Ten. A steadily improving Nittany Lion offensive line paves the way for a big day for Evan Royster. Penn State has four receivers with 20 or more catches. UM has none. Clark goes to the air early and often and -- with the help of WR Derek Moye -- puts this game out of reach by the mid-point of the third quarter.
4. No. 6 IOWA at MICHIGAN STATE, 7:30 p.m. EST (10/24), Big Ten Network
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts IOWA by 10
Most important game of the weekend, no question, but that’s because every game Iowa plays while undefeated is #1 on the Big Ten’s radar. Iowa has slowed two good offenses in their home stadiums, which is exactly what they’ll do in East Lansing. Scott Tolzien was on FIRE, until he met the Iowa pass defense zone…and wilted. Same goes for the rattled Daryll Clark. Kirk Cousins is just as good as both of them and probably has better wide receivers. Vegas says pick ‘em, but it doesn’t matter. I won’t bet against this Iowa defense until I have to.
On a side note, Iowa’s wide receivers have been spectacular of late. Trey Stross made a couple Adam Decker-esque catches against Wisconsin, while DJK and Tony Moeaki made big plays in Madison and two weeks ago versus UM.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts IOWA by 14
Come on. You know you want to pick the Spartans. Iowa has lost the last four times they've played in East Lansing. Michigan State has rebounded from a 1-3 start to be staring down the barrel of the Big Ten race. Greg Jones is everywhere. If there's one thing these Hawkeyes haven't done is win big. I think it all clicks Saturday night under the lights as Stanzi plays smart, takes care of the football, and Tight End Tony Moeaki does the rest. Just like that, Iowa is off to its first 8-0 start, ever.
5. No. 8 TCU at No. 16 BYU, 7:30 p.m. EST (10/24)
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts TCU by 10
Great article in SI a couple weeks ago about how TCU takes 3 star running backs and converts them to defensive players. Apparently they recruit these 200 lb athletes and add 50 lbs, then sit back and watch as these players turn into All-Americans. Not a bad idea – in fact it’s led Texas Christian to the brink of the BCS Top 8. I hitched my star to BYU this year and was rewarded with a 5 touchdown thrashing at the hands of Florida State. What does FSU and TCU have in common? Mmm speed. The Horned Frogs ran into a perfect storm last year, losing to two of the top three teams in the nation, Utah and Oklahoma. This victory in Provo will spur them closer to a BCS berth.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts TCU by 10
Want to tune in for this mid-major marathon? Me too. Too bad it won't be covered on network television. The best of the Mountain West come together in Provo Saturday. Last year the Horned Frogs snapped the Cougars 16 game winning streak in conference. Senior BYU Quarterback Max Hall will try to avoid the warts of last year's 2-interception performance against the number four defense in the country. Sure, BYU shocked then No. 3 Oklahoma in their season opener. But who hasn't? I think TCU's
horny, ahem, thorny defense suffocates BYU in the thin night mountain air on its way to the BCS.