In the next 48 hours I have to sit for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, and make my way from Columbus to State College for the OSU/PSU game. Needless to say, I'm a bit crunched for time, so I'll keep my explanations short this week. Don't worry though, the predictions remain spot on. Or not.
1. No. 21 WISCONSIN at INDIANA, 12:00 p.m. EST (11/7), Big Ten Network
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts WISCONSIN by 10
Two choices here and I think you'll agree. Wisconsin by 17 - Their defense is peaking and Indiana won't be able to get up for this game after last weeks heartbreaker. Wisconsin by 7 - The talented wide receivers of Indiana have stepped up big all season and Tolzien has folded against big time rushers like Middleton and Kirlew. I'll cut it somewhere in the middle - Wisky has an effective downhill run game that's only been stopped by Ohio State and Iowa, but Bill Lynch's fiery personality drives his team to overperform against the Badgers
LAW BUCKEYE predicts WISCONSIN by 10
There's a reason Indiana keeps giving away big leads: while respectable, they're not a complete team. Meanwhile, the Badgers have an honest shot at a 10-2 season.
2. PURDUE at MICHIGAN, 12:00 p.m. EST (11/7), Big Ten Network
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts MICHIGAN by 10
The hardest game to pick this week. Purdue looks like the better team of late...oh besides the shellacking v. Wisky when the team all but gave up by the 3rd quarter. Michigan is supposedly improved at quarterback...oh besides the three game struggle that Forcier is going through. Last year, Michigan's swoon looked to be ended in West Lafayette, until (former?) Boiler Justin Siller went nuts on the weak UM defense.
Let's look at the matchup. Has Purdue faced a spread run game like RichRods? Oregon ran for 193 yards at Autzen, actually sort of a low number, but the Boilers played inspired ball. Michigan has seen four teams with a large number of shotgun packages - and hasn't stopped a single one of them. But Cissoko is gone, their heavily toasted cornerback, so maybe we'll see improvement?
This from MGo -
As for Purdue, they picked up 140 yards last week, so there's a chance if we catch them on one of their bad Boiler days, but this is an offense designed to tear up the middle of the field with short passes and Michigan is uniquely positioned to not stop this sort of offense. The defense will remain terrible until 2010.
Be honest though - this game is all about cognitive dissonance. Your brain tells you that Michigan can't miss a bowl again or the world will implode. It implores you that the Wolverines are just a year away from 10-2. Well I'll be damned (music swells) if I just follow my head and heart here.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts MICHIGAN by 7
Just because the Wolverines struggled in October doesn't mean they can't re-gain their September swagger. It won't be a perfect finale, but I think Michigan does what it needs to do down the stretch.
3. ILLINOIS at MINNESOTA, 12:00 p.m. EST (11/7), Big Ten Network
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts MINNESOTA by 14
Picking this game comes down to your confidence in last weeks bizarre results. Did Minnesota turn a corner offensively in their MSU victory? Will the Gophers line continue to pass block so well against an Illinois team that runs a similar 4-3 scheme as the Spartans? Was the Juice read option reborn against Michigan? Will the running holes show up for a second straight week?
I imagine the Illini going after Weber, bent on destroying whatever confidence he gained back from last weeks 416 yard performance. I see MarQueis Gray continuing to serve as a change of pace, giving balance and toughness to the Gophers offense. And I don't see Juice being able to run the ball like last week.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts MINNESOTA by 7
Yes, the Illini won big against the Wolverines last weekend. What most forget is that they were an upheld review away from being in the hole 20-9. Minnesota made some big strides last week in the offensive department. If the Eric Weber that shows up Saturday looks anything like the Eric Weber that obliterated Michigan State, this one goes down smooth for the Golden Gophers.
4. NORTHWESTERN at No. 4 IOWA, 12:00 p.m. EST (11/7), ESPN
Bizarro Ricky Stanzi versus the talented Mr. Kafka. Although Northwestern has rolled up a huge number of yards behind the versatile Kafka, they cannot translate that success to points. I think you the reader should have two thoughts here - Should I view last weeks clusterf*** against Indiana as the wake up call that rallies the Hawkeyes? Or was it just another close game where Iowa proved it's inadequacy as a complete football team?
Pat Fitzgerald runs a spread that asks for quick passes and screens - Iowa will eat those up all day, as their zone pass defense only struggles against deeper routes like Indiana was running.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts IOWA by 14
Everyone wants to talk about how Iowa was down 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter of its latest lucky comeback. I want to talk about how these Hawkeyes are good enough to overcome 5 interceptions, to put a team away late. One of these weeks, Bama Hawkeye won't need a defibrillator. This game is as good as any...
5. No. 16 OHIO STATE at No. 11 PENN STATE, 3:30 p.m. EST (11/7), ABC
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts PENN STATE by 7
Simple game to pick, deep analysis be damned. OSU doesn't have a big time run game nor do they have an intermediate passing game. They have Terrelle Pryor, who's struggled mightily and succeeded wildly...And you expect this talented conundrum to succeed in Happy Valley in the biggest game of his career?
LAW BUCKEYE predicts OHIO STATE by 7
Everything in my head tells me that the Buckeye offense will get snowplowed by the Penn State front 7. A springy Sean Lee will play a game of "I Spy" with Terrelle Pryor, and the only reason this one stays close is the Buckeye defense locks the Nittany Lions down through two quarters.
Ohio State can't pass. Ohio State can't kick. But, what the hell. Terrelle Pryor makes a statement on homecoming, and the youngest and hottest rivalry in the Big Ten gets that much more contentious.