Big Ten Preview: Ax not what Jim Delany can do for you

The forecast has Big Ten country looking like Southern California this Saturday as clear skies and 70 degree temperatures dominate the region. With most of the over/under's in the 50s and 60s, Vegas apparently expects to see scores reminiscent of the Mountain West. Some of the traditional rivalry games are underway this week, and the number of undefeated big ten teams will necessarily drop from four to at least three, as Michigan and Michigan State face off in Ann Arbor.

Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio State Buckeyes (12:00, ESPN)

71 and sunny; OSU -22; O/U 57.5

The Hoosiers were as good as advertised on offense last week against Michigan, and as bad as advertised on defense. They get a little lucky heading into Columbus this Saturday as the quad that Terrelle Pryor injured in the second half against Illinois last week still isn't fully healed. Ben Chappell and Indiana's high octane passing attack is even more fortunate that OSU safety Tyler Moeller is out for the year and will be replaced by freshman Christian Bryant. Nevertheless, OSU's front seven should be able to get plenty of pressure on Indiana to slow down their passing game, and look for the Buckeyes to have a field day running the ball against what's likely the worst defense in the Big Ten.

Prediction: Ohio State 38 - Indiana 20

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Wisconsin Badgers (12:00, Big Ten Network)

78 and partly cloudy; Wisconsin -22; O/U 58

Wisconsin is a much better team than Minnesota, but there's a fair chance they don't play like it as they'll be sulking from last week's loss to Sparty and looking ahead to next week's game against Ohio State before they travel to Kinnick in two weeks. Minnesota's a mess, and Tim Brewster is likely headed out the door, but he has managed to keep his team focused even as they've lost four straight. The Golden Gophers are 1-4, but 3-1 against the spread. Look for a similar result here for Goldy, with a loss on the scoreboard, but a win for the gamblers. This is my favorite bet of the weekend, and I actually think there's an outside chance that Minnesota could shock the world, be the rare unranked team to win in Camp Randall and take home Paul Bunyan's Ax.

Prediction: Wisconsin 31 - Minnesota 27

Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Wolverines (3:30, ABC/ESPN)

74 and sunny; Michigan -4.5; O/U 64

The biggest Big Ten game of the day is a rivalry game between our realish rival, Sparty, against the team that some want to be our rival, Michigan. Those who think Penn State has a legitimate rivalry with Michigan often forget about how important this game is for the residents of the Great Lake State. If you think Michigan fans are arrogant when they confront Nittany Lions, you ain't seen nothing yet. They are outright dismissive of their neighbors from East Lansing, and the Spartans know it. This game is even bigger this year given that both teams enter undefeated. The Spartans deserve their record, but Michigan probably doesn't. They only beat Notre Dame because Dayne Crist was concussed, and they haven't played anyone of significance otherwise. Meanwhile, the Spartans are running high after their impressive victory against Wisconsin last week and the pending return of Coach Mark Dantonio. I think Michigan State's the better team, but I think that Denard Robinson finds a way to keep Michigan in this game and the Wolverines steal the victory late at home. But I do like MSU to cover; they're the better team and should not be more than field-goal underdogs.

Prediction: Michigan 33-Michigan State 31

Purdue Boilermakers at Northwestern Wildcats (7:30, Big Ten Network)

80 and mostly sunny, Northwestern -10; O/U 50.5

Purdue had a bye last week to get over their 11 point loss to Toledo and prepare redshirt freshman quarterback Rob Henry to take over for Robert Marve, who suffered a season ending knee injury. Northwestern deserves their undefeated record, but they were given a good scare against Minnesota last week and against Central Michigan the week before. If Northwestern is for real, they need to cut down on the mistakes and play more consistently. Purdue might just be happy to have enough healthy players to field 11 guys on offense. In addition to Marve, the Boilermakers have lost their best wide receiver and starting tailback. Northwestern is kind of the opposite of Minnesota: solid win-loss record, but terrible (1-3) against the spread. I think they start to correct that math this weekend.

Northwestern 28 - Purdue 13

Illinois Fighting Illini at Penn State Nittany Lions (12:00, ESPN 2)

73 and sunny; Penn State -8; O/U 42

See all the BSD staff picks tomorrow

BYE: Iowa  

I went 2-3 against the spread and 5-0 picking winners last week.

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