Friday, October 30, 2009

Big Ten Picks Week 9

We haven't seen a slate of games this one sided since week 1, when everybody in the Big Ten were playing non-conny cupcakes. This week, we seem to have all the Big Ten heavies from the top half of the standings picking on the guys in the bottom. The Minnesota vs. Michigan State tilt is the only game in the conference that looks like it should be relatively close- and of course that's if you believe IF the Gophs can hang with Sparty without Eric Decker. Anyway, onto a bunch of seemingly one-sided matchups...

New Mexico State @ #17 Ohio State (11am Big Ten Network)
Nice that after his breakout performance against Minnesota last week, Terrelle Pryor gets a bye-week to prepare for Penn State...actually, it's better than a bye week, since playing his own defense in practice would prove tougher than facing the Aggies. The Buckeyes are favored by about six touchdowns in this one, and while I don't see them beating NMSU by 44+, they won't have any problems in this one.

Purdue @ Wisconsin (11am ESPN2)
Hard to believe that Purdue has won two straight while Sconnie has lost two, but it's been that kind of year in the Big Ten. Purdue's recent success has been because they've finally stopped giving the ball away so much, and recorded their first game without a giveaway in their 24-14 win over Illinois. The Badgers have lost two straight because they had to play by far the two best teams on their schedule in Ohio State and Iowa (they don't play Penn State this year), so you can't exactly fault them for the losses. If this game was in West Lafayette Purdue has a chance, but in Camp Randall, especially coming off a bye week, you just can't pick against the Badgers. I think Wisconsin wins out (their only tough opponent left- Michigan- has to come to Madtown too) and they nab a New Year's Day bowl spot and at worst 4th place in the conference.

Indiana @ #4 Iowa (11am ESPN)
The Hawkeyes seem to play to the level of their competition- they struggled to beat Northern Iowa and Arkansas State, but have looked good against everybody else, all of whom are BCS conference teams who are at least .500 right now. IU keeps playing Jeckyl and Hyde, and it's impossible to predict who is showing up. They play horribly in wins over Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan and the worst loss for any Big Ten team all year when they went to Virginia and got whacked 47-7, yet looked good in spanking Illinois and also playing very well in losses to Michigan and Northwestern. I expect Indiana to make this one closer than it should, especially as Iowa adjusts to playing without leading rusher Adam Robinson, but Ricky Stanzi's heorics saves the day yet again.

Michigan @ Illinois (2:30pm ABC)
Boy ABC has to be excited about this regional beauty, doesn't it? Yikes. Illinois is flat awful, and may not beat a 1-A team all year. To make matters worse, their AD has come out and said The Zookers job is safe for next year. Really? Your kids have quit on this guy, and now they're being told that the coach is coming back no matter what? That'll be good motivation. Speaking of which, after the beating Michigan took last week at the hands of Penn State, as well as with more controversy swirling in Ann Arbor around coach Rich Rodriguez, the Maize and Blue will be plenty motivated to crush Illinois handily.

#12 Penn State @ Northwestern (3:30pm ESPN)
I made the mistake of picking against the JoePa's last week, but won't make it again in this one. Penn State is firing on all cylinders, and after hammering Michigan, they're going to go into Ryan Field and route the Wildcats in front of maybe 15,000 fans- most of whom will be Nittany Lion fans. Northwestern is just not very good. No really, they're not- their wins this year came against 1-AA Towson, Eastern Michigan, Purdue (the Boilers were up 21-3 in the first quarter before turning it over on six of their next eight possessions), Miami of Ohio, and a one point win against Indiana. They're not very good, but what's sad is that with those five wins, plus Illinois still to come in what will be the Slap Fight of the State of Illinois, they're probably going to be bowl eligible.

Michigan State @ Minnesota (7pm Big Ten Network)
At 3-2 in the conference (and because they don't play Ohio State), the Spartans are still in the running for at least a top five conference finish and a pretty good bowl. As much as I hope the Gophers rally around coach Tim Brewster, as much as I hope they're fired up by all the doubters who think that one of the worst offenses in the country can't possibly be better without Eric Decker, as much as I hope we see offensive coordinator Jed Fisch get crazy with his schemes and play-calling, and as much as I hope we see much more of MarQueis Gray than we do of Adam Weber....I think the Spartans are too much and too good. I'm hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. Let's hope the Gophers prove me wrong (I hate that I'm saying this for the third straight week and am STILL waiting/hoping to be proven wrong!!!)

Happy Halloween everybody. Stay safe, have fun, and GO GOPHERS!!!!!!!

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