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RIVALRY WEEK: Big Ten Week 8 Picks and Predictions

RIVALRY WEEK minus the Bucket :( will we all miss the Bucket?

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

I wore a gray crewneck Northwestern sweatshirt to the chiropractor this morning. As I’m on the table, he goes “So I don’t know if you know this, but Northwestern football won the Big Ten West this year.”

Oh, buddy.

Illinois Fighting Illini at #14 Northwestern Wildcats

11am | ESPN2 | NU -14 | O/U 40.5

Straight: Northwestern, 15-1
Against the Straight: Illinois, 12-4

BoilerBettor: Classic lookahead spot? Definitely possible. Honestly, if I’m Northwestern, I call a no contest here to have the same amount of rest as Ohio State. Northwestern takes the Hat but Illinois hangs around longer than they should.

Stew: MIDDLE ALL THE GAMES!! Oh, you want some analysis? jNW is involved, and it’s a 14 point line. I mean, come on. I know it’s Illinois, but 14 points is way too many for jNW to swallow.

BRT: Northwestern should win this—but wouldn’t it be funny if they didn’t? I honestly could see Illinois pulling this one out. Maybe they find that “playing teams named NU” is their lane.

MNW: “Teams named NU” would just apply to the one team that Lovie Smith has lost to every year ;) them’s the rules.

The only comfort I take in this game with regards to BoilerBettor’s point is that Northwestern was in a similar situation two years ago—you remember, it was the last time you idiots let Northwestern win the Big Ten West—and took care of business on the road at Minnesota and then at home in a slow, slogging affair against Illinois when the ‘Cats pulled Clayton Thorson and the starters by the fourth but had to sweat it out as Illinois came back.

I see something along those lines again, but Brandon Peters and Isaiah Williams do give me pause. The Northwestern defensive performances against both Luke McCaffrey and, some-fucking-how, Rocky Lombardi have shown us that scrambling QBs are effective against this defense.

Which, of course, means Lovie Smith will have Peters play almost exclusive as a pocket-passing quarterback. For...reasons.

Here’s hoping T.J. Green gets a swan song or Hunter Johnson sees the field again. Fitz plows ahead with Drake Anderson and sends a message to the receiving corps to get right after the disaster that was Michigan State. But his own slow-it-downness prevents Northwestern from running it up—and getting any momentum to sneak back into the Top 12 with a win. ‘Cats, 23-14.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

11am | FS1 | UNL -10.5 | O/U 59.5

Please make sure you’re taking time, as you appreciate CHAIR, to remember those in need and consider making a donation to the Gopher or Husker foundations for the Bits of Broken Chair Trophy.

Straight-Up: Nebraska, 11-5
Against the Spread: Minnesota, 11-5

BoilerBettor: This is a game that will be played. I went with the coin flip method for my picks. So it looks like Nebraska wins and Minnesota keeps it within the line. That’ll do.

Stew: Minnesota hasn’t played in several weeks, has been mostly putrid all season. UNL played their best game of the year last week. So, yeah, who knows? But that’s a very big line for what has mostly been a very bad team, and Mo Ibrahim is still playing.

BRT: That is a big line for a team that seems to hate to win and has typically struggled to close out games this year. I think Nebraska can win this, but that’s not the same thing as thinking they will. But I’m trying to manifest positive things, so let’s end on a high note, Huskers. Get that chair back to Lincoln so it can be “lost” again.

MNW: Nebraska has a bowl in the cards if they go runner-runner here (and maybe even if they don’t, since I could see some craven bowl in Texas taking a losing record Nebraska on the promise of asses in the seats), so they have incentive.’ll have to tune in to the podcast today to find out my conspiracy theory on why they’re playing.

Adrian Martinez seemed to find his form against Purdue, and at the very least, there’s no way Nebraska can shoot itself in the foot that many times again...right? Huskers, 34-20.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Maryland Terrapins

11am | BTN | MD -7 | O/U 58

Straight-Up: Maryland, 12-4
Against the Spread: Rutgers, 9-7

BRT: Oh dear. Um, Maryland? I guess?

Stew: Again, I really have no idea who’s actually going to win the game, so gimme dat sweet, sweet middle. I really think this comes down to rutger stopping big plays by Maryland and being able to sustain drives on offense. I could see a relatively close game, but one where rutger has a vast advantage in the every important ToP.

MNW: Rutgers is a fun, random, and dumb wild card at this point—enjoy the ride, because Noah Vedral ain’t the future but OC Sean Gleeson is just rolling the dice and seeing what comes up for Bo Melton and all the Knights playmakers.

I can see Rutgers bullying Maryland with Isaiah Pacheco on the ground, but I like the explosiveness of the Terps offense a little more. Give me a bounceback game for Taulia Tagovailoa. Terps, 34-28.

Michigan State Spartans at Penn State Nittany Lions

11am | ABC | PSU -14.5 | O/U 47

Straight-Up: Penn State, 13-3
Against the Spread: Michigan State, 12-4

BRT: Penn State will win, and end the season on a high(ish) note, and quell panic about James Franklin. Or maybe not. If there’s one team that’s been hard to predict this season, it’s MSU. What is going on in East Lansing anyway?

Stew: MSU seems to be a bit of a random number generator, and the Land Grant trophy is on the line, throw out the records when these teams play. Which tells me to be like Jimmy Eat World, and be “In the Middle”.

MNW: Honestly?

Consider this a third prediction. If Payton Thorne’s nipples shoot lasers, they win. If not, Nittany Lions, 35-17.

Wisconsin Badgers at #16 Iowa Hawkeyes

2:30pm | FS1 | wisc -1.5 | O/U 41.5

Straight-Up: Iowa, 10-6
Against the Spread: Iowa, 9-7

Stew: “Wait,” you’re thinking inside your OTE raddled mind, “Did Stew really just middle a 1.5 point line?” To which I say:

BRT: Ooof, this game will be tough to watch. Those are some rough offenses right there. Iowa has uglied its way out of a lot of games this season, and may well do the same here. On the other hand, if there’s one team that’s likely to put a stop to underperforming ugliness, it’s probably Wisconsin. I kind of like the Badgers here, but I can also see this game being like 10-6 and completely stupid and unwatchable.

Stew again: Yeah, what BRT said.

MNW: That’s not the news I’m getting—Stew likes the badgers to win. He picked ‘em. Look at the graphic.

Stew loves wisconsin.

Seems odd.

As for me? I will not respect Spencer Petras the quarterback until he..., it appears I will not respect Spencer Petras. An early Isaiahh Loudermilk sack (I just had a quota of h’s to fill and Isaiahh is helpful for that) rattles Petras, who spends the rest of the game throwing darts into the snow. The badgers rediscover Jalen Berger and this rock fight gives us a couple good field goal tarts, too. I’ll take wisconsin, 12-10.

Issue with polls today; tell us picks in the comments.

Need more previews? The podcast and Thump’s Infographics will be coming later! Leave your picks in the comments.

Thanks for reading OTE!