Week Nine - Get Gamm
We're gettin' to the nitty gritty. Big match-ups are starting to grace the slate in droves around the Big Ten. None this week bigger than PSU at OSU. Penn State hasn't won in C-bus since 1978. Ohio State has owned the Big Ten of late. Penn State has a shot at running the table and getting the national title that eluded them in 1994. OSU still has a shot at getting to a third straight title game. All that for ONE game! How will it all play out? Time to spill...
Illinois at Wisconsin
Call this one the "Disappointment Bowl." Illinois is 2-2 in the league and 4-3 overall and in need of a signature win. Wisconsin in riding a four game losing streak, two of those at home. The Illini need at least two wins to get to bowl eligibility. Wisconsin needs three. To say this game is critical is an understatement. On one hand, I cannot see Wisconsin's offense making the necessary improvements to get this "W." On the other, I cannot see Wisconsin losing a third straight game in Mad-town. QB play is critical for the Badgers' success. QB play is a given for Illinois. The difference is the home crowd and the UW defense. Wisconsin 31 - Illinois 24 in OT.
AndrewJ1313 says ... Who would have thought going into this game that neither of these teams would be ranked? Juice Williams is a rare talent but unfortunately outside of him, the offense struggles. Wisconsin started 3-0, had a bye week and has yet to return from it. Both teams are not living up to the pre-season hype and while Illinois has looked better as of late (and didn't lose to a terrible Michigan team), I think a wounded Badger squad returns home and gets a much needed W. The Badgers can't lose 3 at home - right? That's really all I'm basing this pick on. Wisconsin 32, Illinois 27
Northwestern at Indiana
This season has quickly run away from the Hoosiers. IU was the feel good story in the Big Ten a year ago, but since being bull whipped by Ball State, Indiana hasn't done squat. Part of it is due to the injuries to Kellen Lewis. A bigger part is the loss of 3/4 of the secondary to injury. Neither bodes well with a hot Wildcats team coming into Bloomington. Northwestern has a great, great chance to get to a New Year's Day bowl berth, but has to win games like this to do so. Northwestern squeaks by an inspired Indiana team. Northwestern 34 - Indiana 33.
AndrewJ1313 says ... Northwestern is the second biggest surprise in the Big Ten this year and they are already bowl eligible. Now they can focus on the quality of bowl game they go to. The remaining schedule looks to have two sure wins, two toss ups and a real struggle that will probably be a loss. One of the sure wins should come this weekend against Indiana. The only thing going in Indiana's favor right now is they don't have Ohio State on the schedule. At this rate, Indiana might (MIGHT) have just one win left on the schedule. I hate to see Indiana take such a huge step backwards after a solid 2007. Northwestern 32, Indiana 21
Minnesota at Purdue
Talk about a tale of two teams going in entirely different directions. The promise of a great send off for Joe Tiller is now mired in horrible play and in-team fighting. Kory Sheets blasted Curtis Painter, and Tiller more or less called Sheets ignorant for doing so. Ouch. Not what a team desperately in search of a win needs right now. Meanwhile, Minnesota comes in after a BYE, is a shocking 6-1 and looking to build to a great bowl berth. Two things could happen in W.L. this weekend: Purdue could rally and respond and show some heart while gaining a critical win, or Minnesota could come in and flat out roll a team in turmoil. I want to believe the former, but until Purdue shows me something - anything - I am going with the latter. Minnesota 40 - Purdue 31.
AndrewJ1313 says ... Minnesota is the biggest surprise in the Big Ten this year and Purdue is the second biggest disappointment (see Michigan for the first although Wisconsin is vying for that honor). In Minnesota's one loss, they never stopped fighting. This team, like Northwestern, is bowl eligible and now looking to determine where they go this holiday season and that is going to help this team surge through the remainder of their schedule pulling out at least two more wins. Purdue just hasn't been the same since that blown opportunity against Oregon. The one bright spot is Purdue's defense held both Penn St. and OSU in check keeping both under 20 points but fell apart against Northwestern. Playing at home might help Purdue put together a winning effort this weekend. Minnesota 26, Purdue 24
Michigan State at Michigan
Michigan State is going to run first and foremost. No surprise there. The surprise will be the ease with which the Spartans do so. Ringer will go Cobb & Duckett (200+) on the U-M defense. Hoyer will be sharp enough to keep the M defense honest. No one on the Michigan offense can approach Beanie Wells or Terrelle Pryor in terms of escapability and scare factor. I like the special teams play of the green and white all day, every day over U-M. State jumps out early and often and cruises to its biggest win in the series since 1967 and in the process pretty much cements Michigan's first losing campaign since that same year. Michigan State 31 - Michigan 14. (For my full, biased preview, go to my other blog)
AndrewJ1313 says ... Like Andy said, "U-G-L-Y." That pretty much sums up Michigan. Michigan State was in the wrong place at the wrong time last week when Ohio State's offense finally woke up. I don't think the 45-7 loss is an indication of MSU collapsing again like they did under JLS, I attribute it to OSU playing like they should have all year. I can still see this team getting to 9 wins (mainly because only one of their remaining opponents has a winning record) and possibly playing in the Outback Bowl. Michigan St. 28, Michigan 20
Penn State at Ohio State
Best game in college football this weekend. Winner takes the Big Ten. Winner stays in the National Title race. The Nittany Lions haven't won in C-bus as a member of the Big Ten. Haven't won there since 1978. Ohio State is coming off its best game of the season. The offense and defense clicked together in East Lansing and all the bounces went the way of the scarlet and gray. In a game where literally everything is equal, it comes down to QB play. Daryl Clark is more experienced than Pryor, even if the two are mirrors of one another athletically. Penn State got the Michigan monkey off its back and now they get the C-BUS off their back. Penn State 23 - Ohio State 17.
AndrewJ1313 says ... Game of the week in college football (that pick was easy). No team in the country has looked more complete on all sides of the ball then Penn State. People can pick on their schedule all they want, but the bottom line is Penn State is winning the games they are suppose to the way they are suppose to. Let's see if PSU is as good as advertised. Ohio State FINALLY played like the team everyone thought they were in a dismantling of MSU. The key for this week for both teams will be the defensive line. If OSU's d-line can get pressure and allow the secondary and LB's to roam and make plays like they did last week, I think OSU will dominate this game. If PSU's d-line pressures and contains Pryor we may see Boeckman come in to air out the ball and stretch the field, but we've all seen how Boeckman has handled the pressure of the last three big games he's played in dating back to last year (Illinois, LSU, So. Cal). I really think OSU has found it's grove and needs this game to prove to everyone that this team can perform on the big stage again. GO BUCKS!!! OSU 30, Penn St. 24