1. NORTHWESTERN @ No. 24 ILLINOIS, 12:00 p.m. EST (10/1)
GRAHAM predicts ILLINOIS
Illinois is better than NW, but take this game off the betting table because of #PersaQuestionMark. Illinois wins
JON predicts ILLINOIS
If I actually believed Dan Persa was going to play like Dan Persa, I might be tempted to take the Wildcats. But this is not your typical Illinois team. A balanced offense and aggressive defense are hallmarks of the most promising team Ron Zook has fielded since 2007. Leaders 1, Legends 0.
GRAHAM predicts MICHIGAN
Too much terrible Gopher football to pick the upset. Michigan wins.
JON predicts MICHIGAN
Normally, the Wolverines are the team I can't figure out. But Al Borges' shifty shotgun attack, and Greg Mattison's zombie (as in, back from the dead) defense, have elevated my confidence in the maize and blue. Not that they'll actually get tested against a moribund Minnesota squad. The Gophers have played exactly two quarters of decent football all season. The rest has been largely forgettable. The same will be true for this game after the second quarter.
I picked MSU to win this game preseason. But the ND performance changes everything. OSU wins.
JON predicts OHIO STATE
This game comes down to one key matchup. How will the struggling Spartan offensive line fare against a talented, but shorthanded Buckeye front seven? I give an edge to the home team. Notre Dame's defense eviscerated Michigan State's ground game and the Spartans don't have near enough speed to go all Lamar Miller on Storm Kline and Co. To be sure, I think it's going to be close, very close. But ultimately, the Bucks take advantage of several short field situations and will their way to a win. Leaders 2, Legends 0.
4. No. 13 CLEMSON @ No. 11 VIRGINIA TECH, 6:00 p.m. EST (10/1)
GRAHAM predicts VIRGINIA TECH
VT to the National Title Game - says OTE's resident bowl expert. Nahhh, but I'll bet they're better than Clemson at home as we all wait for the Tigers to fall apart. VT wins.
JON predicts VIRGINIA TECH
So far, Clemson has a much better resume with wins over defending-national champion Auburn and Florida State. So why do I like the talented, but untested Hokies? Two words: Lane Stadium. It's the Autzen of the East.
5. No. 8 NEBRASKA @ No. 7 WISCONSIN, 8:00 p.m. EST (10/1)
GRAHAM predicts WISCONSIN
Wisconsin at home is money in the bank, especially because they're proven...Unlike Nebraska. The Badgers will put so much pressure on the struggling Nebraska defense. Wisky wins.
JON predicts WISCONSIN
It's the biggest B1G matchup since 2006, when No. 2 Michigan saundered into Ohio Stadium to take on the No. 1 Buckeyes. It was tough sledding for the visiting team that day, and Saturday night will be no different. Nevermind the fact that Camp Randall will be the toughest away environment the Cornhuskers have experienced in decades. Nebraska's defense is incomplete without Jared Crick, and they're going to need all the help they can get to slow down a triple-headed Badger attack. To borrow a phrase from Alabama assistant coach Scott Cochran, "They're wearing black because they're going to a motherfu*king funeral." Leaders 3, Legends 0.