I finished with a 3-2 record last week as Wisconsin and Indiana showed some life and upset Illinois and Northwestern. One thing that accomplished besides ruining my picks was creating more separation within the conference standings. With a relatively bland set of matchups this week, I'm hoping to better my record.
MINNESOTA at Northwestern 5 1/2. Northwestern turned in a poor performance last week with CJ Bacher throwing for only 155 yards and 2 interceptions. This loss gives away important placing within the Big Ten as teams scramble for automatic bowl bids based on conference placing. To make matters even worse, RB Tyrell Sutton is out for the rest of the regular season, and CJ Bacher is questionable for this weekend's game. The Wildcats defense will need to return to early season form and exploit some weaknesses in Minnesota's O-Line to have a chance at winning this game. On the flip side, Minnesota is ranked and on a roll. QB Adam Weber and WR Eric Decker are still on the same page, with 833 yards and 5 TD's resulting from their synergy. Not to mention a defense that has intercepted the ball 12 times this season. If CJ Bacher does not play, expect them to add a couple more picks to their total.
Minnesota 34 Northwestern 21. Minnesota beats the spread.
Wisconsin at MICHIGAN STATE 5. Michigan State is coming off a big win against in-state rival Michigan last week. They also still have a healthy Javon Ringer who is still leading the nation in rushing and will go against a run defense that has allowed 133 yards a game this season. They have also seen their QB Brian Hoyer, who has struggled most of the season, turn in a solid performance under pressure. Wisconsin, however, has given the Spartans trouble in recent years, winning 8 of their past 11 matchups. They'll have to do it this week without star TE Travis Beckum, who underwent season-ending surgery on his left fibula. That is a boon to the Spartan secondary, who have battled injuries all season long. Defense will win this game as both teams feature strong running games and less than stellar passing games. First one to 150 rushing yards wins.
Michigan State 38 Wisconsin 31. MSU beats the spread.
Michigan at PURDUE 1 1/2. Blech, two terrible teams matchup in this one to determine who will have the honor of sitting with Indiana at the bottom of the Big Ten standings. Michigan lost to MSU last week in a game that should have been a bigger blowout than it was. It seems that the Referines (get it referees+Wolverines) wanted to make this one exciting and overturned a ruled out of bounds catch and made it a touchdown. We then later received the rules from the NCAA official rulebook explaining that somebody messed up, big time. didn't matter though as Michigan QB Steven Threet is just plain awful. But hey, so is Purdue's Curtis Painter, who has 10 INT's on the season. Although, at least the Boilermaker's have a decent RB in Kory Sheets. Man, just writing about this game is making me feel depressed and worthless.
Michigan 28 Purdue 24. Michigan upsets in a game no one cares about.
Central Michigan at INDIANA 2 1/2. Another MAC opponent for the Big Ten mid season. And they wonder why people say the Big Ten is over-rated as a BCS conference. Indiana needs to win this one to build on their win against Northwestern last week. Backup QB Chappel has been good, but the running game has been almost non-existent for Indiana the past couple weeks. I'm going to go with the upset on this one, Chippewa QB Dan Lefevour appears to be healthy, and the MAC will want to add to their Big Ten win total more than Indiana wants to avoid becoming as terrible as the Michigan Wolverines
Central Michigan 21 Indiana 17. CMU upsets.
Iowa at ILLINOIS 1 1/2. This game will be hard to call. Both teams have been wildly inconsistent this year, showing flashes of greatness, and then showing flashes of mediocrity. It all really comes down to what teams decide to show up, this could be a great close game, or a blow-out, for either team. Illinois has versatile QB Juice Williams, who has 18 TD passes and 5 Rushing TD's. Iowa has RB Shonn Greene, who is arguable the second best rusher behind MSU's Ringer. Iowa also has a defense that has gobbled up 14 INT's this season. This will be the game to watch this week in the Big Ten. On paper, no team has that much of an edge over the other. I guess this is why they play the games.
Iowa 35 Illinois 31. Iowa upsets.