Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Ten Picks Week 4

Hey hey! We FINALLY get some real Big Ten conference football. No more cupcakes (well unless you're playing Indiana), and no more directional schools (although there will be some schools going in the wrong direction after this week). After this week, we're going to start to figure some things out about who are for real and who have benefited from Northwestern-esque schedule (like, oh I don't know...Northwestern?!?!?) Onto the picks...

Indiana at Michigan (11am CST ESPN2)
Two undefeated heavyweights ready to square off in the Big House! A battle of the titans...that should last for maybe the first quarter. The Wolverines throttle the Hoosiers because Michigan is not a cupcake or a directional school. A silver lining for Hoosiers fans is they've still got one more week after this for the team to stay above .500.

Michigan State at Wisconsin (11am ESPN)
This, and the matchup involving the state of Indiana's two good football programs, have me perplexed. I flipped a few coins, then played rock/paper/scissors in a best of three, and yet that solved nothing. Michigan State's passing offense has looked good (except for Kirk Cousins' last throw against the Irish. I'm STILL not sure what he was thinking!), but the pass defense has not. Wisconsin has actually looked decent throwing the ball, while their usually vaunted running game can't seem to hang onto the ball. Defensively they've done just enough to keep the Badgers ahead. Somehow, someway I'm picking Sconnie to win this one even though conventional wisdom says Michigan State desperately needs this one to avoid starting 1-3.

Illinois at Ohio State (2:30pm ABC)
On paper this should be a Buckeye blowout, yet the Illini have played Ohio State very tough in the Horseshoe, including the shocking 2007 upset. Before the season started (you know, back when I believed in the Zooker), I was very bullish on Illinois and even then I still didn't have the Illini winning this game, so I'm certainly not going to change my stance on them with their dreadful start. Still, Illinois keeps it interesting.
PICK: Ohio State

Notre Dame at Purdue (7:00pm ESPN)
Have I mentioned how lucky the Irish were to win last week? Like it was about seven steps beyond just having the Luck of the Irish? Without star wideout Michael Floyd, and with QB Jimmy Clausen limited with turf toe, the Boilermakers pull the upset in Lafayette. Charlie Weis hot seat goes from warm to on fire, and then the suddenly dangerous Washington Huskies AND a ticked off USC squad rolls into South Bend the next two weeks. Someone get Cincy's Brian Kelly on the phone because there could be a coaching vacancy in South Ben available soon!

Iowa at Penn State (7:00pm ABC)
Have I also mentioned how much I hate Iowa? More than Notre Dame, if you're wondering, so a lot. Everyone is almost counting the Hawkeyes out simply because they pulled the upset last year then there's NO WAY they could pull it off two years in a row, right? RIGHT? Man I hope so. Iowa's D has been really, really good in two easy wins against Iowa State and Arizona, but then again, it's Iowa State and Arizona, so I'm not sure what that says. Even without LB Sean Lee I think the Nittany Lions can slow down QB Ricky Stanzi and the Hawkeye offense, and on the other side of things, I see Evan Royster having a big night and Daryll Clark using a national, prime time stage to remind folks he's the best QB in the Big Ten this year.
PICK: Penn State

Minnesota at Northwestern (11am Big Ten Network)
I am optimisitcally nervous about this one, or maybe nervously optimistic? One of the two for sure. Northwestern hasn't look good the last couple of weeks against 1-A opponents, and Eastern Michigan and Syracuse aren't exaclty good 1-A opponents. Yes, the Wildcat defense gets starting corner Sherrick McManis back, but how much does that really matter? Honestly, if Eric Decker goes for over 100 yards and two scores last week on All-American SydQuan Thompson, what's he going to do to McManis or anyone else who tries to cover him? Exactly. Neither team can run the ball, and I not only like Minnesota's passing game better than Northwestern's, but I like the Gophers defense a LOT better. Minnesota SHOULD win this game by at least a touchdown, but then again I would have said that last year...and the year before that...and we know how that worked out.
PICK: Minnesota. I hope.

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