1. NORTHWESTERN at INDIANA, 12:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
GRAHAM predicts NORTHWESTERN
The Hoosiers defense doesn't hit you, they don't pressure you...and when your talent averages 2.3 stars across the board, toughness and gap integrity are the kind of things you wish existed. NW builds off its near miss v. State and beats on Indiana in a closer game than expected.
JON predicts NORTHWESTERN
I don't get it. The Wildcats take a Top 5 Michigan State team to the wire last week, and people still are going "back and forth" on this game. Neither defense may be very good, but Northwestern has a group of well-coached players capable of battling with the upper echelon of the conference. I like Indiana and the improvements Bill Lynch has made but they're nowhere near Pat Fitzgerald's club. Take the team that had the Spartans down by 17.
Northwestern - 3
2. No. 5 MICHIGAN STATE at No. 18 IOWA, 3:30 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)
GRAHAM predicts IOWA
I can envision so many damn things happening in Iowa City. But I'm not the person to ask here. Graham's big game track record this year:
Wisky@MSU. Graham picks Wisky: wrong.
OSU@Wisky. Graham picks OSU: wrong.
Wisky@Iowa. Graham picks Iowa: wrong.
So I'll just throw a personal hail mary here and pick Iowa to win a tight one. I just can't imagine the Spartans going undefeated.
JON predicts IOWA
In what's becoming a weekly tradition in league play here we are faced with another gigantic matchup with Rose Bowl implications. A lot has been made about Vegas' lack of confidence in the scrappy Spartans. One oddsmaker even referred to them as "fool's gold." Meanwhile, fans talk about a magical, ephemeral quality to the season. What's the problem? It's that Michigan State isn't dominating like a Top 5 team. Except for their win over Michigan, the Spartans have a disconcerting habit of having to call risky plays to escape with victories late in the fourth quarter. Although I love the team's attitude, I side with the MSM on this one. The Spartans are playing on the road against an extremely experienced Iowa team that's still sore over forfeiting a chance at the Big Ten title last week. The Hawks will be out for blood and their defense will keep Kirk Cousins in check for long enough to put together a first half lead. The crowd will stay in the game and make calling plays miserable for the Spartans in the second half. And just when you thought the Big Ten race couldn't get any more interesting...
Iowa - 4
3. No. 6 MISSOURI at No. 14 NEBRASKA, 3:30 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)
GRAHAM predicts NEBRASKA
Hardest game to pick this week. Sure, Mizzou is undefeated and looking like one of those rare "complete" teams. But Nebraska's homefield advantage and explosive runners didn't magically disappear after the loss to Texas. I'm waiting for Mizzou's quick pass offense to fall apart one week, with aggressive corners jumping routes and interior linemen waiting eagerly for those slow developing draws. This is the week - Nebraska wins at home.
JON predicts MISSOURI
No offense to Michigan State fans, but for me this is the hardest pick of the week by far. On one hand Nebraska has a more disciplined defense than the skinny Oklahoma unit the Tigers moved the ball on at will last week. On the other their best win is over an overrated Oklahoma State squad and the Cornhuskers showed they're anything but invincible at home two weeks ago when Texas came to town. I'm going against my gut and picking a Missouri team that's as confident as it's ever been after beating up Boomer Sooner. Aldon Smith gets in Taylor Martinez's face, Blaine Gabbert spreads the ball all over the field, and the Tigers control their own destiny in the Big 12 North.
Nebraska - 7.5
4. No. 25 BAYLOR at TEXAS, 7:00 p.m. (FSN)
GRAHAM predicts BAYLOR
Wow, who knew this would be such a closely contested matchup. I have this vague feeling that this would be like Indiana going to play OSU in the Shoe...and the Hoosiers were favored. Major, major weirdness. I'll buy the hype, plus I bet Jon sticks with the bluebloods. Baylor wins on the road and OMG Hot Texas Girl Gif continues her run of Internet dominance. (Google OMG Hot Texas Girl btw, it's worth it. And the reason she's so popular is that she's good looking enough to be a hottie, but not hot enough to be unattainable. Ah, college.)
JON predicts TEXAS
Betcha never thought you'd see this matchup on the OPC. But Texas' inconsistency and Baylor's opportunistic play have made this a game worth prognosticating. I could go on at length about the Longhorn's offensive ineptitude, but at the end of the day I think a full week of enduring Mack Brown's wrath has scared the steers straight. Texas plays like Texas, and there's nothing the state legislature can do about it.
5. MICHIGAN at PENN STATE, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)
It's one thing to play a true freshman quarterback. It's another thing to play the guy behind your true freshman quarterback. The Wolverines emerge from the bye week healthy and confident and get the win in Happy Valley.