We're down to it. Go time. The nitty gritty. Three teams control their destinies, a few more are hoping for some miracles. The ESPN B1G bloggers break it all down quite well for us today.
Minnesota at Northwestern, Noon EST (BTN)
Don't just assume that the Gophers are playing out the string. Minnesota is trying to build a foundation for a rebound in 2012 and this would be a good way to get there. Meanwhile, Northwestern is seeking a sixth win and this week is easier than the finale (MSU). This will be a high-scoring, entertaining affair, but in the end, the Wildcats have more to play for and get the W. NU 34 - Minnesota 27.
Mayo says ... Minnesota is starting to figure out how to play some tough football and Northwestern is showing what it could have been all season. I really do like the fight that I’m seeing in both clubs, but right now Northwestern has shown me more and will pull out a nice win for Fitz. Minnesota 22 – Northwestern 31
Indiana at Michigan State, Noon EST (BTN)I'm bummed that my bad back has me missing Senior Day in EL. This class has left a remarkable set of memories for fans, students and alumni alike and has set a stage of high expectations that I truly love and appreciate. Indiana is building for the future but doesn't have the firepower or the defense to get in the way of a 14th straight home win for Sparty. Michigan State rolls with two 100-yard plus rushers. Michigan State 41 - Indiana 14.
Mayo says ... In the Spartans protected rivalry for the Brass Spittoon. Although Indiana has played much better lately, this Spartan defense is one of the best and most physical in the land. Defense wins this one big. Indiana 12 – Michigan State 31
Nebraska at Michigan, Noon EST (ESPN) - Game of the Week
Talk about a toss up. Both teams sport spectacular running games and weak passing attacks. Either defense can step up on any given Saturday. That may leave it to special teams. I think Nebraska has the definite upper hand in this area. But, the Wolverines have a new found advantage at home since the suites keep the noise inside. I like an OT thriller with Michigan sealing the deal for rival MSU. Michigan 38 - Nebraska 37 in 3 OTs.
Mayo says ... A lot of writers in Detroit are saying these two teams are very similar. In some ways I see the point, but Michigan’s offense just seems to have peaked and although this team is much improved, the likes of Nebraska have not been seen this season. Although I’m sure the Michigan D will have a pretty decent second half, Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead is a menacing runner who I envision running wild enough in the first half to get a decent lead that will hold throughout the game. Nebraska 27 – Michigan 24.
Iowa at Purdue, Noon EST (BTN)
This one is very interesting. Iowa is reeling after the smackdown at home last weekend. Purdue is sky high after an improbable OT win over Ohio State. Iowa has the six requisite wins, Purdue is one shy. Iowa is playing for positioning and Purdue always has the Bucket game next week to get to six. I think Iowa will be motivated to silence some of the demons and get a nice road win. Sorry Phats, I'm not going with you this time! Iowa 27 - Purdue 23
Mayo says ... Both teams need to win this one, Iowa has shown some flashes, and Purdue has as well. This game will show what Purdue has left after taking down Ohio State last weekend. Iowa is a head scratcher this year, dominating some opponents and then losing to Minnesota. I’m gonna go all Phats this week and predict a Boiler win. Iowa 23 – Purdue 29.
Wisconsin at Illinois, Noon EST (ESPN2)
Hmmmm, another very intriguing game. Illinois has gone from 6-0 to Fire Zook in a heartbeat. Wisconsin is rolling again and has an eye on a rematch in Indy. The once touted Illini D is looking very soft right now while Wilson and Ball and Toon are white hot. Wisconsin rolls to set up a win and in game with Penn State. Wisconsin 33 - Illinois 13.
Mayo says ... I don’t remember a better hand-picked successor ever coming along than Bret Bielema. Usually those don’t work out very good, but he has put together one of the most solid programs to follow a legend that I have ever seen. Illinois has been slipping since starting 6-0 and that slope just turned into the edge of an abyss at this point. Queue up ‘On Wisconsin’ several times today and see if Montee Ball can break some more rushing records. Wisconsin 51 – Illinois 24.
Penn State at Ohio State, Noon EST (ABC)
Call this one the Shame Bowl. Had OSU simply made it's PAT last week, this would be even bigger in the Leaders race. Still, OSU can make a dent in the title chase. Penn State needs to win and see UW upset to clinch Indy. But how focused is the team? Maybe it will do them good to leave State College. OSU is motivated to play and takes advantage of a shaky Penn State offense. Ohio State 20 - Penn State 14.
Mayo says ... A spectacular matchup most years, this one is tainted with scandal on both sides of the field. Ohio State couldn’t wait to start the season this year to get the bad taste of the previous 9 months out, and now Penn State finally gets to get out of Happy Valley and all the media attention that has fallen on them. In what could be the only matchup between Luke Fickell and Tom Bradley, I’m going with Ohio State in a nail-biter. Penn State 13 – Ohio State 17.