The Big Ten conference schedule finally opens this week, though Purdue will play their final non-conference game on Saturday. The schedule starts off with a bang as Nebraska travels to Wisconsin for their first game against a Big Ten opponent as a Big Ten member. Other good games this week feature Michigan State traveling to Ohio State and Dan Persa's return for Northwestern at Illinois.
Game of the Week:
Both these teams have scored a lot of points during the non-conference schedule, and both teams have surrendered more points than one would have thought. This game features two of the Big Ten's most dynamic players in Russell Wilson and Taylor Martinez. Wilson has come into Wisconsin and lived up to every bit of the hype surrounding him, throwing for 11 TDs to only 1 INT while completing 75.8% of his passes. Taylor Martinez has barely completed 50% of his passes and has a 4/2 TD/INT line, but he's also added 371 yards rushing and has 7 TDs on the ground. I'm expecting to see a Big 12-ish type high scoring game, but I think Wisconsin's defense is much better than Nebraska's and they'll do enough to come out of this game with a victory.
Prediction: Wisconsin - 38 Nebraska - 30
All the Rest:
Minnesota Golden Gophers 1-3 (0-0) @ Michigan Wolverines 4-0 (0-0) - 12 PM on BTN
Last Week: Michigan won 28-7 Minnesota lost 37-24
Favorite: Michigan (-19.5 o/u 53.5)
All Time Series: Michigan leads 70-24-3
Trophy: The Little Brown Jug
Minnesota should get blown out in this game. If they couldn't stop North Dakota State's mobile QB, then Denard Robinson is going to carve up the defense en-route to another 200 yard rushing day. Coach Jerry Kill may not be on the sidelines on Saturday as he is still getting treatment for his seizures, though he did return to practice on Wednesday. His return would help some, but the Gophers simply aren't talented enough to hang with Big Ten teams right now.
Prediction: Robinson runs for about 400 yards and wins the game singlehandedly 38-14
Northwestern Wildcats 2-1 (0-0) @ Illinois Fighting Illini 4-0 (0-0) - 12 PM on ESPN2/ESPN3
Last Week: Illinois won 23-20, Northwestern DNP
Favorite: Illinois (-8 o/u 50)
All Time Series: Illinois leads 53-46-5
Trophy: Land of Lincoln Trophy
Dan Persa is back for the Wildcats, and while Kain Colter performed admirably in Persa's absense, I'd imagine that the team will be happy to have Persa back under center. Illinois comes into this game having beaten a ranked Arizona State team, and an unranked Western Michigan team by 3 points each. Northwestern is losing its leading rusher by sending Colter to the bench, as Mike Trumpy hasn't done much of anything this year, gaining only 119 yards in 3 games. I don't know what to make of Illinois, but I think they're a more complete team than Northwestern is right now.
Prediction: Illinois - 24 NW - 21
Michigan State Spartans 3-1 (0-0) @ Ohio State Buckeyes 3-1 (0-0) - 3:30 PM on ABC/ESPN
Last Week: Ohio State won 37-17, MSU won 45-7
Favorite: Ohio State (-3 o/u 43.5)
All Time Series: Ohio State leads 27-11
Ohio State will be without the Tat5-1 for one final game this year, can MSU take advantage? So far this year Ohio State's offense has been anemic as they have gotten mostly poor play out of quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman. MSU has done considerably better on offense so far, but they've only played one decent (does Notre Dame still count as decent?) team this year and they were spanked. Still, I think Michigan State will come out of the Horseshoe with a hard earned victory.
Prediction: MSU - 23 OSU - 22
Notre Dame evened their record with an ugly win against Pitt. The Irish have been racking up a ton of yards on offense this year, but manage to keep their opponents in the game by turning the ball over at an alarming pace. The Irish are currently ranked 120th in the FBS in turnovers. Ouch. Purdue needs to hope that trend continues if they hope to upset the Irish this week.
Prediction: ND - 30 Purdue - 17
Bye Week: Iowa