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The Obligatory Predictions Competition - Week 12


It's hate week.  It's also the last chance you'll have to pick Big Ten matchups before the bowls.

1. No. 10 OHIO STATE at MICHIGAN, 12:00 p.m. EST (11/21), ABC



Vegas seems to understand the possible game flow here. Law Buck wrote two articles, one decrying the death of UM and one giving the Wolverines hope for Saturday’s showdown. These contrasting perspectives will do fine in tracing Ann Arbor's emotions. The Wolverines can score points against top defenses (28 versus Iowa, 24 versus Wisky), so the zone read runs could be effective enough to keep UM in the game. But the Buck’s give up points grudgingly and Pryor has been less mistake prone of late, signifying that the better team should run away. I’ll be holding my breath in the first quarter, hoping for a close contest. 


If you try to tune into this game, but think you're watching Nebraska don't be confused.  It's just Ohio State, participating in a Nike promotional stunt paying homage to the 1954 National Championship team by wearing these modern classic threads.  It might be an unintentional hubris, treating an away game with its biggest rival like a fashion show, but these Buckeyes have plenty of motivation.  They have the chance to become the first OSU team ever to beat the Wolverines 6 times in a row.

I've already outlined what Michigan needs to do to stay in this game.  But what do I really think will happen?  A scarlet inside and out rushing attack -- featuring an edge scouter (Dan "Boom" Herron), and a pile pusher (Brandon Saine) -- that rushed for over 200 yards against Iowa, will sustain Ohio State drives.  We'll also see a great deal more scripted runs for Terrelle Pryor, who can afford to earn a few bangs and bruises with a 41 day layover before the Rose Bowl.  The Achilles Heel for the Wolverines is undoubtedly linebacker play -- which means if the Buckeye offensive line is getting holes, you'll see a gluttonous Ohio State team tear off yardage in chunks. 

Michigan plays inspired, and keeps the lid on the pot for the first half, but eventually its offense wears down and makes mistakes.  It's going to be another long winter in Ann Arbor. 

Go Bucks!

2. MINNESOTA at No. 13 IOWA, 12:00 p.m. EST (11/21), ESPN


GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts IOWA by 10

I love this Iowa team, all blood and guts and with their backups playing above their skill level. I dislike this Minnesota team with its lack of offensive cohesion and weak offensive line. We saw what Vandenberg can do with the help of McNutt. We also saw what the Mini offense can do against South Dakota State (zero touchdowns).

LAW BUCKEYE predicts IOWA by 55 14

It's easy to forget if you're talking to a Penn State fan entertaining BCS at-large ambitions, but Iowa is without question the second best team in the conference, and they're a lot closer to the first, than the third.  James Vandenberg's valiant efforts in Columbus came up just short -- but that doesn't mean that he'll shrink from the occasion to blast a few pesky rodent rivals.  Iowa runs and passes at will on its way to a blowout.

3. No. 16 WISCONSIN at NORTHWESTERN, 3:30 p.m. EST (11/21), Big Ten Network



Well, if Hmlee was going to have her heart split in two pieces by this matchup, it mine as well be over two improved squads having solid years. I have a growing respect for the Wisconsin defense and it’s linebacking corps…I also have no idea who will block O’Brien Schofield.


The Badgers have rushed for more than 200 yards in three straight games.  But don't forget that Scott Tolzien threw 4 touchdown passes in last week's victory over Michigan.  Northwestern is vulnerable to the rush, having given up 212 yards to the Illini last week in a closer-than-it-should-have-been win.  Wisconsin gains momentum on the ground before blowing the game open in the air.

4. PURDUE at INDIANA, 3:30 p.m. EST (11/21), Big Ten Network



An early theme from the Purdue side of things was that if Purdue was a 5 win team and battling to get in a bowl against Indiana, there was no way they would lose. Well the pressure is off for both squads and it will probably result in these effective passing games running roughshod over the horrendous defenses. I loved how Purdue played on the road in East Lansing, but I also respect the fight that Indiana has put up in almost every single conference game. Purdue hasn’t been stopped of late and Bloomington doesn’t afford that much home field advantage.

LAW BUCKEYE predicts PURDUE by 7

Anyone who requires proof that the Big Ten is up in stock need look no further than the Boilermakers and the Hoosiers. These perennial cellar-dwellers have provided to be dedicated and dynamic gunners, with colorful offenses and inspired defenses.  Purdue is the slightly better team, and has two more conference wins to prove it.  They'll get their fourth Saturday.  Neither team will go bowling, but both should keep their heads high -- there's promise for the future.

5. No. 14 PENN STATE at MICHIGAN STATE, 3:30 p.m. EST (11/21), ABC



I love Michigan State’s linebacking corps, but their pass defense has been shredded weekly this Fall. How do they slow Daryll Clark with limited pressure from the front four? They don’t. Elliot, Tolzien, Weber, Kafka…all had huge numbers against the staid 4-3 of Narduzzi.


Both these teams have been major disappointments in 2009, although one still stands to earn an at large bid to the BCS.  Penn State will be without backup tailback Brandon Beachum, and wide receiver Chaz Powell when they enter Spartan Stadium, a place where they're four of six all time.  Michigan State, meanwhile is 2-0 in November, on the hands of senior receiver Blair White.  If the Nittany Lions can't get their act together on special teams, the Spartans just might be able to pull the upset, but ultimately, Daryll Clark gets in rhythm, and Penn State carries the day.