It's another bad week of games. One rivalry trophy, yes, but even that game is clouded by Jerry Kill's untimely retirement from coaching (thanks for the memories, Coach) and a struggling Minnesota team. Nonetheless, we carry on.
All games Saturday, all times CST, you fools.
Illinois at Penn State (-6) || ESPN2 (wait seriously?)
SU: Penn State, 13-5.
ATS: Illinois, 11-7.
87townie: I think this is going to be a great game. Illinois has the tools to beat Penn State. Their defensive line broke Joel Stave...and then gave up a million yards to Bart Houston. Their D-backs are ball hawks. They have three of the top ten slots for most INTs in the Big Ten. On offense, Wes Lunt is a solid drop back quarterback. He has an NFL caliber receiver in Geronimo Allison. Probably most important, their punter is good. He has the ability to flip the field...troubling for PSU so far this year.
I expect them to sell out against the run and put their defensive backs on islands. However, they struggle on the edge. Against Wisconsin, they gave up huge runs to speedster Alex Erickson on sweeps - 4 attempts for 81 yards. Penn State loves that play.
On offense, Illinois is in big trouble. Their running game isn't great and PSU has the best sack stats in the B1G. I see this as a brawl, with the team that has a better running game wins. PSU wins and covers.
Andrew Kraszewski: Give me the Ghost Beckmans in the straight upset here. I still don't trust PSU's offense to do more than hand it to Saquon Barkley and stand back hoping he does something cool. Of course, that's the kind of thing that's ripped Illinois apart in the past...but Bill Cubit picks up his signature win in his continuing bid to fail upwards into a permanent gig.
alnamiasIV: Tough matchup. PSU still has offensive issues and Illinois has the defense to take advantage. Still, two losses in a row, Illini offense sputtering a bit. My gut says Illinois pulls the upset, but I'll go against my gut. PSU: 20, Ill: 17
MNW: I'm with Al. Illinois looked...competent against Wisconsin, but the Illini still can't get out of their own way. YOLOHack means the Nits put up some points, but Cubit's offense keeps up appearances. *Penn State, 24-20.*
Thomas Speth: Illinois has a good defensive line. Penn State has guys pretending to be an offensive line. Penn State suffers a letdown after their big win over their not rivals. Wes Lunt goes crazy and the other QB in this game throws 3 picks in between getting scraped off the field by his right guard Traffic Cone. Illinois straight up.
Ray Ransom: Did Happy Valley Community College suddenly become a good team with a functional offense? I fear we may be re-entering the dark days of Penn State being good at football which makes me sad. PSU by a mile.
GoForThree: Jesus, Illinois isn't even the second-best coaching vacancy in the B1G anymore. Enjoy another 8-4 MAC coach. This game will be all about YOLO Hack. Huck it over the top, see what shakes out. Barkley off tackle. Two base plays all day long. PSU wins and covers.
StewMonkey13: PSU has to win with the Barkley, as Chunky feasts on Hack. IL keeps it close in a fairly ugly game.
Jesse Collins: I'm losing the picks contest, right? Right... Time to get real folks.
Illinois at Penn State (-6): Illinois as my ill-advised pick of the week. I think Hack is a Houston Texans David Carr shell-of-himself at this point and that Illinois d-line will get pressure. Sure, Barkley might be the real deal, but the Illini do just enough to win this game. How about 28-24.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: I'm not going to lie. I care so little about this game that I can't even fake it enough to come up with a terrible pun. PSU should take care of business.
Creighton M: I think there's no doubt that Illinois is playing better than any of us expected, but Christian Hackenberg has been a model of efficiency at QB the last few weeks. Illinois' defense will keep it close, but give me Penn State.
Nebraska (-10.5) at Purdue || ESPNU
SU: Nebraska, 18-0.
ATS: Nebraska, 13-5.
87: Oh Purdue, can you come out of the bye week and compete? Sources say "no". UNL wins and covers.
AK: This week's Baja Blast Sad Trombone Glissando Bold n Brassy Blastoff Upset Selection is brought to you by the Covermakers, who I expect can keep it close enough to make Nebraska fans panic at the notion of yet another entrail-spilling heartbreaker. But, in the end, Riley's squad holds on for what would actually arguably be the best win of the Mike Riley Era to this point. Let that wash over you for a moment, Big Red Nation.
al: Rest of UNL sked includes PU, MSU, RU, Iowa. UNL needs this (plus one major upset) to go bowling. UNL wins, covers. Hazel creeps toward the firing block if he's not there already.
MNW: Nebraska keeps the bowl dream alive, Tommy Armstrong or not. Terrell Newby goes for 175 and a pair of scores. I could not say a single positive thing about Purdue if I cared enough to pay attention to them. *Nebraska, 31-21.*
TS: Oh my God this is going to be an ugly game. I have no further commentary. UNLol wins and covers
RR: Neborkski couldn't even mess this one up. Could they? Is it possible? What would happen if that went down, commentariat? O/U on couches burned?
GF3: Well, Riley can't fuck them ALL up, right? Nebby with the win and cover.
Stew: I'm middling this because Armstrong may not play, and if that's the case, I could actually see Purdue winning this in front of a raucous crowd of dozens in Ross Ade.
JC: In the year 2015, Nebraska loses to Pur... LOL no. Nebraska wins this game, but looks incompetent for great swaths as backup - and former walkon - QB Ryker Fyfe does all he can to hand the ball off consistently. I'm not picking a score here, but I'm going to assume Nebraska gets the cover on some really dumb late score that is totally Purdue's fault. This game is going to be unfun to watch.
WSR: If Purdue wasn't terrible, I'd waver more on this game. Nebraska should win, but I'm probably wrong and the Boilermakers are going to come out and trainrace Nebraska.
CM: I don't know what the hell is going on in Lincoln, but Nebraska has enough talent to play like garbage and still beat Purdue by double digits, right? RIGHT?
Rutgers at Wisconsin (-20.5) || BTN
SU: Wisconsin, 18-0.
ATS: Rutgers, 12-6.
87: Rutgers rallies after the OSU debacle. Only loses by one score. Wiscy wins, but doesn't cover.
AK: I considered RU to cover after with the news that Wisco center Dan Voltz is down for the count, but ultimately I'll take Wisco to cover. The Badger offense wasn't going to be a dynamo this season anyway, but the injured list is getting a bit out of hand. Of course, their defense is still mostly intact and still excellent, so Rutgers probably can't score enough to spring the upset, especially on the road, but I do think Wisco only covers via some late broken plays.
al: Clement returns (in limited action), Voltz out. Bigger question is who is quarterback? UW O remains inconsistent. Beats RU, but doesn't cover. UW: 31, RU: 24
MNW: That's not a very nice thing to say about UW-Oshkosh, Al. Speth's gonna get mad at you. ... Oh, you mean Bart Houston and/or Joel Stave? Yeah, Rutgers'll cure what ails ya. The Badgers get to Laviano enough to make Rutgers' day miserable, but the Scarlet Knights get some hot backdoor cover action. *Wisconsin, 31-14.*
TS: So Wisconsin on Saturday had a two deep at RB consisting of guys who were a CB until fall camp last year (Ogunbowale) and a guy who was a LB until 3 weeks ago (Ingold). Then spent 3 quarters using a QB who had more punts than pass attempts in conference play in his career (Houston). To top it all off, the only offensive lineman who actually was playing like a Wisconsin and not Penn State lineman tore his ACL (Voltz). I'M SORRY I SAID YOU DIDN'T EXIST INJURY GODS. I BELIEVE. Fortunately Delany was nice enough to give us a non conference game this late in the season so we could schedule Rutgers. The Bart Houston Hype Train may be in full swing if Stave doesn't play. The good news is Corey Clement is supposed to play and he will make life miserable for everyone on the schedule and still probably run for a thousand yards because we have 6 games left and this is still Wisconsin damn it. Oh Iowa is winning the division? Have fun losing to Indiana and Nebraska because this is still our division. Wisconsin wins and covers.
RR: After the glimmer of hope provided by the MSU/IU games was shattered by the hammer of Thor/Barrett, I don't see a lot of optimism for this game. That said, I think Laviano and Co. cover. The RU run defense is strong enough to at least keep the game from getting completely out of hand and the offense should put up points in droves. I don't see a win on the horizon, but I see us earning back a little respect after the laugher last week.
GF3: FIRE THE CANNON! Rutgers keeps it close, loses.
Stew: 20.5 is a lot of points for a team already having OL issues and then losing their All-B1G caliber center.
JC: Wisconsin. I don't know the score here either, but Wisconsin. Rutgers is sort of bad at football right now.
WSR: This is going to be a lot closer than any wisconsin fan probably wants, but they'll get the win.
CM: I think Wisconsin's defense is one of the most dangerous units (heh... units) in the league right now, but something tells me lovable ol' Rutgers will come out swinging. Still though, Wisconsin by a couple of TDs.
Maryland at #10 Iowa (-17) || ABC/ESPN2
SU: Iowa, 18-0.
ATS: Iowa, 11-7.
87: I like this game. Maryland is scrappy and pissed off. Iowa is cocky and looking ahead. Is this the trap game for the rising Hawkeyes? Nope. Iowa wins, but doesn't cover.
AK: I can't help but think Maryland might have left everything on the field last week. Hawkeyes cover, then insult your deadlift form.
al: Iowa grinds this one out. Runs away with it in 4th quarter. MD gets a garbage TD to cover. 250+ yds rushing. This isn't Iowa's trap game. Next week against IU is. Iowa: 35, MD: 20
MNW: I remain unconvinced that I actually saw Maryland put up 30 on a pretty good defense. This week leaves me believing that was a mirage. *Iowa, 34-10.*
TS: Please win Maryland. You're not going to, but I expect you to try. Iowa's defense is good. This concludes my positive comments about Iowa for the day. Iowa wins, Maryland covers. Also Al, UW-O is really inconsistent but the only games we lost were 2 point games to NAIA schools and we beat Whitewater so they might as well hand us the national championship right now.
RR: How is this only a 17 point spread? We're still talking about football right? Iowa wins by a mile, probably with a shutout.
GF3: I'm calling Maryland to almost pull the upset, because Iowa is a pack of saltines trying to masquerade as Chex-Mix. Iowa squeaks out a win.
Stew: Iowa just runs all day, protecting a still banged up Beathard, and just controls the game going away. I can leave at halftime to get back to my daughters in time for trick-or-treating.
JC: I think Maryland finds a way to cover this spread. Just seems like the type of game that Iowa doesn't put away early even though they are the far better team. This won't be a particularly close game, but the score will suggest otherwise.
WSR: This is probably going to be quite the shellacking. [ed. note: Niiiiiiice.]
CM: Even this far into the season, it still feels really weird to see Iowa favored by double digits. Like, even when they play well and win a lot of games, those games usually end up being a rock fight. This year, GERG has completely quited the haters (like your's truly) and has put together an Iowa offense that...makes...big...plays? Iowa's bye week let a lot of injuries heal up, they shouldn't have too many problems. Side note: Halloween games at Kinnick are one of my favorite football traditions. I'm super jealous of everybody that gets to be there.
#13 Michigan (-14) at Minnesota || ESPN
SU: Michigan, 14-4.
ATS: Michigan, 11-7.
87: Minnesota is game, but the worms don't have machine guns. The Harbaughs win by ten and fail to cover.
AK: I wondered over the last few seasons what Minnesota's ceiling would be if they didn't create a passing offense. They've cracked their collective skull on it a couple times already this year, and I expect another example of that. Michigan's defense is too good to bring a one-dimensional attack against, and I expect they'll have some pent-up anger to vent after The Greatest Play In The History Of The Multiverse was the last thing to happen to them in a game setting. The Jug's travel abroad comes to an end and Michigan covers.
al: UM angry, Minny has that QB problem. UM pounds Minny and gets the jug back. UM: 34, Minny: 6
MNW: Hey Minnesota it's really fun when you play Michigan without an offense that can throw the ball no seriously I promise it is what do you mean I'm crying bleach no no these are tears of joy. Glad I saw the Jug in Mankato while I had the chance.
Later edit: I want to believe that playing for Jerry Kill, the Gophers will come out with their ears pinned back and fighting. Unfortunately, I don't think that motivate does any more than keep it close longer. I added a field goal to the Gophers' final tally. *Michigan, 27-10.*
TS: Hey Goofers, remember when you guys were great and this was the year you're winning the Axe back? Well you better because if you don't you're probably not going bowling. Michigan wins and covers. Bonus prediction- Harbaugh says something dumb in his press conference, Michigan fans love his mad genius, MSU fans fellatiate Dantonio despite nothing MSU related being relevant (good thing they'll get those late TDs against bye, thus confirming he would handily outcoach Vince Lombardi), everyone else loses brain cells.
RR: Michigan wins. Everyone has something in their eye.
GF3: The wrong UM wins. The right UM realizes things will never be the same. Merchergern wins and covers. Minnesota might not score a point.
Stew: I really want to pick MN to win one for Kill. Alas, they are still pretty bad, and I doubt very much that MI will allow them to even come close.
JC: Minnesota with the upset. TCF, Jerry, and all the world giving them good vibes. I have now picked really poorly and will take my lumps accordingly. At minimum, I should get the spread here. I don't see the Gophers losing by 14.
WSR: Too much emotion in a football game can be a bad thing. You can come out and make big mistakes from being too hyped up. I fully expect Michigan to take the lead. But the kind of raw emotion that's going to be on display Saturday night is the kind that doesn't go away because of a bad bounce or a stupid angle that leads to a long touchdown. Throw in the fact that it's a night game on Halloween, and the crowd is going to be electric. The Gopher defense will go out and handle Jake Rudock the same as they did last time he came for a visit (OH GOD! HAWKEYE BLOOD EVERYWHERE!), and the offense may appear slightly different to the untrained eye as Matt Limegrover takes new cue from interim Head Coach Tracy Four Verts. Sober cabs and wolverine tears for everyone. JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!
CM: Originally I had Michigan, but I decided to flip flop. Jerry Kill was my favorite non-Iowa coach in the country. I haven't seen many things as heartbreaking as seeing Jerry just plain run out of gas this week. This is going to be a popular/cliche upset pick this week, but I think Minnesota goes and wins the jug for Jerry.
AK and MNW have managed to keep themselves 3 picks back of Stew, staying in the war of attrition. Creighton needs just one pick better than Stew to catch him. I'm getting really sick of Iowa fans.
Against the Spread:
Babaoreally continues his lead, followed closely by Townie. Graham is currently living under an overpass somewhere in downtown Lansing.
As always, thanks for reading and picking. Vote in the poll and leave your picks in the comments!