Get Gamm - Week Seven
Ladies and gentlemen, we officially have a nice race in the Get Gamm contest. For a change, I prevailed last week, though St. Louis Spartan gave me a run for my money. A couple more toughies on the slate this go around could lead to more separation.
To see the BigTen.org previews, read here. Otherwise, here are my thoughts for the week...
Minnesota at Illinois - This could be one of those "point-a-minute" games. Minnesota truly is improved, not only over last season but even the start of this season. The Gophers are playing some pretty good defense and have a great pitch and catch duo in Weber to Decker. Illinois got back on track last week with a whipping of the Wolverines, in Ann Arbor. While the Illini defense leaves a bit to be desired, Juice Williams is among the best at his position in the nation. Arrelious Benn is a bona fide NFL first round draft pick and the Illini are hungry to get on a roll. It will be closer than last season's 44-16 romp in the Homer Dome, but Illinois prevails. Illinois 38 - Minnesota 30.
Iowa at Indiana - This is a must win situation for both teams. Both are in a three game free fall, though it is easy to see that Iowa's is not nearly as alarming since the Hawkeyes have lost the last three by a combined 9 points, versus the 44 Indiana has lost by. The Hoosiers seem to be trying to redefine themselves, playing Kellen Lewis less and less at QB and more everywhere else on the field. Iowa has its definition - pound with Shon Greene. Look for Greene to have a big day in Bloomington and for Iowa to get back on track, while Indiana continues to falter. Iowa 27 - Indiana 23.
Toledo at Michigan - This is a perfect opponent for a struggling Michigan team. Toledo isn't doing much of anything on the field this year and while Michigan isn't either, the Wolverines have a lot more talent than the Rockets. After this one, the maize and blue have Penn State and Michigan State on successive weeks, so now is a good time to build some confidence and momentum. This is the worst M team I have seen in my lifetime but Toledo will not give them a scare. Michigan 31 - Toledo 10.
Michigan State at Northwestern - One of the more underrated national games of the week. Michigan State is on its first 5-game win streak since 2003. Northwestern is 5-0 for the first time in 46 years. Something's got to give. These teams have played some barn-burners the past few seasons. Last year, the Wildcats got revenge for the largest 1-A comeback in history (MSU's 41-38 win after being down 38-3 in Evanston in 2006) by passing to a 48-41 OT victory in East Lansing. Two main questions exist going into this one. One, can Northwestern stop Javon Ringer? They couldn't last year. Two, can MSU stop CJ Bacher and the NU passing attach? They couldn't last year. Northwestern has a better defense but hasn't exactly played an offensive juggernaut. State struggled in its one game thus far versus a no-huddle, spread offense. Call it homerism, but I'm going with my gut on this one. Michigan State 33 - Northwestern 30 on a last second Swenson field goal.
Purdue at Ohio State - Is this a potential trap game for OSU, coming off a big win in Madison and before a trip to East Lansing, which is followed by a potentially HUGE home game against Penn State? I don't think so. Purdue blew it against Oregon and hasn't been the same since, even with that sweet little comeback over Central Michigan. ND and Penn State made the Boilers look average at best. What will an increasingly confident Buckeye squad do to them? Painter's confidence is shaken and without a sharp C.P., Purdue has no chance. Ohio State 31 - Purdue 17.
Penn State at Wisconsin - Back to back night games in one of the most raucous stadiums around. Did the Badgers lose last weekend because the naughty band was barred from the game? Hey, maybe. On second thought, no. Wisconsin has lost two straight heartbreakers because of the play, or lack of, from the QB position. For years the Badgers offense has been predicated on a great ground game and a signal caller who manages the game and makes few to no mistakes. Evridge has flat out made too many mistakes in the last two games. That cannot happen this week, not with a balanced, strong Nittany Lion squad coming to Mad-town. On one hand I hate to pick against a team with such a home field advantage. On the other, Penn State looks for real to me. Penn State stuns the Badgers late. Penn State 27 - Wisconsin 24.