Minnesota at Northwestern – Big Ten Network 12pm – Even with their loss against California, the Gophers showed me a lot in that game. I feel that they are a mid level Big Ten team that should go bowling again this year. On the other hand you have the Wildcats, who I thought had a chance to be a surprise team, but as the competition gets tougher, we’re finding out that they are struggling a little more on both sides of the ball. The talent that Minnesota has on offense will be too much for Northwestern, who will be lucky to get to a bowl game at the end of the year. Minnesota 31-14.
Indiana at Michigan – ESPN2 12pm – As I read previews from around the country, I am surprised to see how much respect this Indiana team is getting. I have to admit, I didn’t have them beating Akron last week, but they have shown me nothing on the defensive side of the ball that makes me remotely think that they can hold the Wolverines to under 30 points. As the weeks go on, the defense of the Wolverines will get better under new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. Easy win for Michigan in the Big House. Michigan 37-13.
Michigan State at Wisconsin – ESPN 12pm - The Spartans wear a Kevin Cousin’s blunder from taking Notre Dame into overtime last weekend. I would not be worried about the offense if I was a Michigan State fan, but the defense has given up 27 and 30 points in consecutive weeks. Wisconsin had an easy game with Wofford last week after winning in OT at home against Fresno State. This is the Badgers 4th home game in a row, and it will be their first loss of the season. The disparity of Michigan State’s offense versus Wisconsin’s defense will be the different. I expect Cousins’ to learn from his mistakes and protect the ball. Michigan State 28-24.
Illinois at Ohio State – ABC 3:30pm – The Buckeyes bounced back after losing to USC by taking it to Toledo 38-0. It is the same Toledo team that took Colorado to the woodshed in Boulder a week earlier. The Illini are coming off a bye week and start their toughest stretch of games on their schedule with Ohio State this week, followed by Penn State and Michigan State. If they want to establish themselves as a Big Ten title contender, at worst they must go 2-1 in this stretch. I’ve seen Ohio State play a few times and I still believe they are the team to beat in the Big Ten, while Illinois had a lot of ground to make up on them after losing to Missouri. Juice Williams is a great talent, but I think now he has become more of a liability. He’ll turn the ball over in this game which will lead to a Buckeye score as Ohio State wins comfortably. Ohio State 35-17.
Notre Dame at Purdue – ESPN 8pm – If Notre Dame had a defense, there is no doubt in my mind that they would be a Top 10-15 team. In their past two games they have averaged giving up 34 points. Purdue is not the offensive juggernaut that Michigan and Michigan State are, but I expect them to get in the 20s. The Irish are banged up as Jimmy Clausen has turf toe and they lost leading receiver Michael Floyd for the year. Purdue is a jeckyll-hyde team. They looked promising against Oregon, then bad against N. Illinois last week. I know what I am going to get from Notre Dame’s offense and that is about 30 points so I’m sticking with what I know. Notre Dame 34-21.
Iowa at Penn State – ABC 8pm – Fans are calling this a revenge game as it was Iowa that derailed Penn State’s chances for the BCS title game last year. Word from Happy Valley is not good for those hoping Sean Lee would play. All-American linebacker Navarro Bowman will play this week after sitting out two weeks with a sore groin. One has to wonder how effective he will be playing on a wet field. Iowa has been impressive after their first week close shave against Northern Iowa. Keys to this game will be if Penn State can establish a running game and keep the Iowa linebackers and secondary guessing. Also, will the Iowa offensive line be able to gel and give Ricky Stanzi time and the running backs room to run. Remember the strength of the Penn State defense is their line. Iowa has won 6 of the last 7 meeting and I expect this one to be close coming down to the wire. Stacking up the talent on both sides of the ball, I give the slight edge to Penn State in this one. However, if Paterno goes conservative, Iowa could once again ruin the Valley. Penn State 24-20.
Last week: 8-2 (.800)
Overall: 27-7 (.794)