Michigan State (3-2, 0-1) at Indiana (2-2, 0-1) – Big Ten reality continues to settle into the Hoosiers conscious. It’s only a couple days now until fans start asking themselves when Midnight Madness kicks off the basketball season, and the Spartans are going to right the ship on Saturday. Michigan State played a tough game at home against Ohio State last weekend, and theyhave improved over the past couple weeks since a tight game against Eastern Michigan. Indiana isn’t physical enough to bang with the much bigger Spartan front and Le’Veon Bell should punish the Hoosiers on the second and third levels. Indiana was able to put points on the board last week against Northwestern, but touchdowns will be few and far between this Saturday against the Michigan State defense.
Michigan State 37, Indiana 21
Illinois (2-3, 0-1) at Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1) – After blowing the game at Nebraska you might expect a hangover for Bret Bielema and the Wisconsin Badgers. Well consider the Illini a couple ofAdvil and a bacon egg and cheese sandwich, because they’ll clear all the fuzz from the Badgers’ brains and put them on the right track. Illinois made it look like Kerry Collins and Ki Jana Carter were running the show again at last week’s game against Penn State, giving up five touchdowns and looking hopeless doing it. Defensively, Wisconsin has been adequate, but they will look much better against the Illini. Nathan Scheelhaase is still battling an ankle injury that renders him useless behind center – his game was 85% predicated on providing a run threat, so without his legs he is a weak-armed inaccurate quarterback operating an offense that can’t figure out its identity. You think I’m being too harsh on the Illini? Watch Saturday on ABC.
Wisconsin 31, Illinois 10
Michigan (3-2, 0-0) at Purdue (3-1, 0-0) – Michigan’s two losses this year were against teams with big physical fronts: Alabama and Notre Dame. But it’s also worth noting that both those losses were against teams currently nationally ranked in the Top 10. Michigan came off their loss to Notre Dame and went right into their bye week, which was a great way to get healthy and focused on the rest of the season. Brady Hoke has reminded the Wolverines of all their goals that are still attainable, and I fully expect Denard Robinson to stop turning the ball over at an alarming rate and turn back into the feared weapon he has been since 2010. Purdue has issues of their own, such as whom are they starting at quarterback? If you have twoquarterbacks, you don’t have any.
Michigan 34, Purdue 29
#21 Nebraska (4-1, 1-0) at #12 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0) – Despite missing Rex Burkhead for almost the entire year to date Nebraska ranks 5th nationally in rushing, but if they are going to beat the Buckeyes it’s going to be because Taylor Martinez has improved as a passer. Through five games Martinez has over 1,000 yards passing and 11 touchdowns – or in Martinez terms, an entire year’s worth of aerial stats. Ohio State is stout against the run but they’ve been known to miss some tackles and allow home run plays. Nebraska has home run potential in Martinez and Ameer Abdullah, but I don’t think they have enough big plays in them to match Braxton Miller and the Buckeye team at home. Nebraska needed momentum and a late surge to beat Wisconsin last weekend they can’t let Ohio State get out in front.
#12 Ohio State 35, #21 Nebraska 24
Upset of the Week
#24 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0) vs. Penn State (3-2, 1-0) – About a year ago I remember a conversation with a couple Penn State loyalists asking me if I thought Penn State could lure Pat Fitzgerald away from Northwestern. I shook my head and asked, “Why would Fitzgerald leave his alma mater to skydive into that mess?” I doubt Penn State even sent feelers to Evanston, but in the end I think they got their man. The situation at Penn State is horrible, but Bill O’Brien has a tough attitude that has rubbed off on the team and it’s “Me Against the World” in HappyValley, and “Me” is getting better. Penn State physically stomped a downtrodden Illinois team, and although Northwestern is the class of Illinois right now Penn State will still hold the physical edge. O’Brien studied hard with the Patriots and has learned how to exploit every matchup and make tight-ends and fullbacks a threat on offense. If O’Brien wasn’t hamstringed it wouldn’t take him long to emerge in the Big Ten, but give him time; the Lions are improving.
Penn State 28, #24 Northwestern 19