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Big Ten Championship Week Picks and Predictions—rivalry trophies invented also

Can Northwestern catch lightning in a bottle?

Ohio State v Northwestern Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Rivalries! Big Ten Championship Game!

We pick them below.

Because we’re trying this new thing of “making up rivalry games” (how’d that work, Bucket Game?) but also kinda power-matching these games, we’re also going to make up a rivalry trophy for each game. Or, really, I’m going to make one up and the writers are going to ignore me.

All times CT.

Friday, December 18

Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-5) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-5)

6:30pm | BTN | UNL -6.5 | O/U 54

Straight-Up: Rutgers, 6-4
Against the Spread: Rutgers, 8-2

My Suggested Rivalry: The Battle for the X
Superimpose a “trend down” over the top of a “trend up” graph, and you’ve got the trajectories of these two programs, respectively. So why not commemorate the Big Ten’s longest-distance relationship with something befitting what should be a power-matched crossover game for years to come?

pkloa: What the hell is this betting line? I don't gamble, so is this anything more than name recognition? Huskers have been a mess, give me Rutger, straight up.

Trophy: I gave up on trying to combine a pork roll with a runza and call it a trophy. Friday will be only the fifth time the schools have played, these teams just don't mix. Wait, water and oil also don't mix... Love Puddle and runza grease? Sure.

Stew: rutger plays relatively fundamentally sound, relatively mistake free, and ugh, I barely care enough to shit on UNL. Anyway, ruter wins.

As for the trophy, how about some bronzed Benjamins? Only reason they’re playing each other as a conference game.

MC ClapYoHandz: Rutgers is the team I predict the least well, so take this for what you will, but I’ve got Rutgers winning this one outright. I’m more confident in the odds of Good Schiano showing up than I am in the husker flash in the pan productivity.

MNW: It really does feel like it comes down to the formula Rutgers has used this year—be just efficient enough on offense to make it work, get after the quarterback, and rely on a few mistakes in crunch time.

No idea if Noah Vedral—who sure has reason to be motivated—will be ready to go, but does it matter whether it’s him or Artur Sitkowski at QB? I don’t mind Isaih Pacheco pounding away at the Hoodies’ defense in the cold of Piscataway after what the Gophers did to Nebraska last weekend. But with the up-and-down nature of both teams this year, it feels like it’s time for a course correct. This time the Huskers and the Luke McCaffrey draw come up with the goods. Nebraska, 30-27



This poll is closed

  • 17%
    (23 votes)
  • 82%
    (109 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now

Saturday, December 19

Big Ten Championship

#14 Northwestern Wildcats (6-1, B1G West Champions) vs. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, B1G East Participants)

11am | FOX | OSU -20.5 | O/U 57 | Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Straight-Up: Ohio State, 9-1
Against the Spread: PUSH, 5-5

My Suggested Rivalry: The Charitython
One alumni base that loves to throw their money at charities—just ask us how generous we are! The other, an alumni base that likes to receive charity, whether it’s a Big Ten Championship Game appearance, a 28th free throw for Jared Sullinger, or an auto-bid to the College Football Playoff. There’s something for everyone!

pkloa: I'll be glad to put another season of Buckeye self love behind us. Hoping Northwestern can keep it closer than three touchdowns.

Trophy: A giant Buckeye nut, because what's good for Ohio State is good for the syndicate, which is good for you.

MC ClapYoHandz: I question if OSU will cover just because I think Northwestern’s defense will be revved up for this and can certainly keep it within three scores. Ultimately, I still think OSU believes they need “style points” and I still think they are capable of getting them.

Stew: It’s a dumb game in a dumb season. jNW excels at those, they cover.

A rivalry, non-Big Ten Championship related trophy between these two teams? Does is matter?

MNW: You know what? Fuck it. It doesn’t matter, and I can be wrong, and nothing will change. I don’t know if and when I’ll get to do it again. Brandon Joseph and Greg Newsome II turn out to be for real in the ‘Cats secondary, they control the clock with a barely-efficient run game, and I drink myself into oblivion celebrating this.

Either way, I drink myself into oblivion. Northwestern, 31-24.


Big Ten Champions will be

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Ohio State in a cover-the-spread romp
    (78 votes)
  • 22%
    Ohio State, but Northwestern gets a moral victory
    (43 votes)
  • 37%
    (73 votes)
194 votes total Vote Now

Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-3) at wisconsin badgers (2-3)

3pm | BTN | wisc -12 | O/U 46.5

Straight-Up: wisconsin, 7-3
Against the Spread: Minnesota, 6-4

pkloa: 50% chance of snow in Madison on Saturday, 100% chance of hate. Gophers row to victory.

MC: I’m still confident that Wisconsin is the better team; I’m not as confident they can score enough to justify the spread with the prospect of missing Jalen Berger, Danny Davis, and Kendric Pryor still on the table. My heart says Badgers by 30, but they have to show they can do it first.

Stew: wisconsin is probably better, but anyone that thinks they can cover a double digit spread is an idiot.

MNW: Did...did Minnesota show something last weekend?

Well, they at least showed Mohamed Ibrahim. That’s where it starts, that’s where it ends, unless Tanner Morgan and Chris Autman-Bell can take on the badger secondary. But Iowa showed you can break the wisconsin defense down.

I honestly don’t know if I can pick the badgers at this point. To be fair, they’ve lost to two elite defenses and also Iowa, but Graham Mertz has been a shell of his Illinois self, the badger running game hasn’t been the same, and outside P Andy Vujnovich, I can’t point to one part of wisconsin that shows me they’ll beat Minnesota. So fuck it. Gophers, 24-21.



This poll is closed

  • 44%
    (65 votes)
  • 55%
    (81 votes)
146 votes total Vote Now

Illinois Fighting Illini (2-5) at Penn State Nittany Lions (3-5)

4:30pm | FS1 | PSU -15 | O/U 52

Straight-Up: Penn State, 10-0
Against the Spread: Penn State, 8-2

My Suggested Rivalry: The Governor’s Participation Trophy
Just like the rest of you, I don’t know why this is happening. Just like the Minnesota-Penn State trophy game, we’re gonna phone this one in.

pkloa: Terrible matchup, but it had to happen. Lions win and cover.

Trophy: No team names, no game results, just Tim Beckman standing on a road in a trench coat with a boom box over his head.

MC: Unless this is one of those weird cases where the head coach is fired and the team immediately gets way better, I think Penn State easily covers here.

Stew: With Lovie getting canned, I almost expect a dead cat bounce, but nah. They’re still shitty.

pkloa already came up with the obvious one, so how about some weird linebacker type thing? Like some giant mostrosity with LaVar Arrington and Dick Butkus.

MNW: Nope. Penn State, 41-14.



This poll is closed

  • 65%
    (88 votes)
  • 34%
    (46 votes)
134 votes total Vote Now

Michigan State Spartans (2-5) at Maryland Terrapins (2-3)

6:30pm | BTN | MD -2.5 | O/U 50.5


My Suggested Rivalry: The Battle for the Dagger
Korie Lucious presents the trophy to the winning side while Maryland polishes its most recent national championship trophy.

pkloa: Both teams have been hot and cold all year, either could easily lose. The Terps have been slightly better, but their soul-crushing loss to Schiano is fresher in their minds. I'll take Sparty.

Trophy: Head down to Tuscaloosa during the next renovation of Bryant-Denny Stadium and pick up a chunk of the foundation. Bear Bryant and Nick Saban were molded at these two schools, and dammit, shoehorning a football reference is important.

MC: RIP. The trophy is a homeopathic coronavirus remedy.

Happy Championship Week, friends.