Friday, October 24, 2008

Big 10 Picks

It's a week of interesting lines in the Big 10. We've made a big deal of the travshamamockery that is Purdue being favored by a point over the ranked 6-1 Golden Gophers. But that's not the only one...

Illinois (-2) at Wisconsin

The thinking here is that a) the one thing Wisconsin does well is run b) Illinois isn't very good at stopping it (72 nationally) and c) there's just no freaking way Wisconsin loses at home at Camp Randall to fall to 0-5 in the Big 10. No way. Well you know what? Yes way. For one thing this seems to be everybody's "Upset Special!" Well is it really an upset if everybody's picking it? Of course not. For another thing, all the "the Badgers are playing for pride!!" talk can't mask the fact this Wisconsin team just isn't very good this season. Illinois is a better team, The Juice gets loose, and the defense slows down The Wisconsin Winnebego enough to lead Illinois to a close win.

Northwestern (-8) at Indiana
I said earlier in the week that we won't learn anything more this week about whether Northwestern is a legit team or not. I suppose a beating on the road, even in Bloomington, would do something, but I'm still reserving judgment on this team until the schedule toughens up in November.

Michigan State (-4) at Michigan
Things that fall in late October: the temperature, leaves, and Michigan State out of the Big 10 race. After getting embarrassed by Ohio State last week it'd be easy to say it's just another season and the Spartans will fall on their faces at the Big House. Well not this year. Michigan's players talked SO much smack last year after knocking off their state rivals, you have to believe Michigan State has had this game circled on the calendar for the last 12 months. The Spartans still look to me very much like a Green and White version of Wisconsin, but you can put the Annual Michigan State Fall Fall on hold for at least a week.

Penn State (-2) at Ohio State
I'd like to thank the rest of the country for turning what should have been the Big 10 Game of the Year into the "Whoever Wins Still Sucks" Bowl. Awesome. Thanks for that. Everyone outside of Big 10 Country wants you to believe that no matter who wins this game, it's proof that the Big 10, and their BCS representative, is no good. If Penn State wins, it's proof Ohio State truly IS the Worst Team in the History of Mankind (or WTHM for short. Oh, and I know "Mankind" is politically incorrect, but it sounds better. So deal with it), and the Nittany Lions are undeserving national title contenders because nobody in the conference is any good. If Ohio State wins, well then the Joe Pa's and the Big 10 must be REALLY bad if the WTHM is the best the conference has to offer.

Well don't you believe them. Win or lose, Ohio State is still a really good football team, and one of the 10 best in the nation (to all those in the SEC and Big 12 whining about the Buckeyes: instead of scheduling a bunch of cream puffs in your non-conference, maybe try playing some real team. In fact, take a trip out to USC and play before 90,000+ on a Saturday night in the Coliseum on national TV. Let me know how that goes for you). Their defense is impressive and the offense is...well it is what it is. It's a lot of Beanie Wells left, Beanie Wells right, and Beanie Wells up the middle. Terrelle Pryor really has no idea what he's doing, and yet he hasn't lost a start yet. Still, this is a good football team, and they're extremely tough to beat at the Horseshoe.

However, Penn State IS a legit National Title contender, and they're going to march into Columbus Saturday night and win a close game. Daryll Clark is playing like an All-American as is tailback Evan Royster, and Clark has weapons galore at receiver. Defensively they're not the most glamorous unit they've had in Happy Valley, but it should be enough to slow Wells and Pryor. Who cares what the rest of the country thinks- this WILL be the Big 10 game of the year!

Minnesota (+1) at Purdue
I think you get it by now: the Gophers will win in West Lafayette for the first time in eons. Mark it down. Go Gophers!

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