There are two key match-ups in the West division, with Iowa facing Northwestern and Nebraska traveling to Minnesota. In the East, the battle of Michigan is the game of the day in college football. Rutgers travels to Indiana for a must win! Let's get into it, and as always, use the spreads for legal means only.
Iowa at Northwestern 12:00PM ABC/ESPN2
Line: Iowa -1.5
I think the Kirk Ferentz comeback tour has been fascinating and it will be an interesting game against Northwestern, who are licking their wounds from last week's whooping in Ann Arbor. Northwestern's defense crumbled and their offense is simply not good. Iowa is much more balanced and is playing with a ton of confidence. I think the good times in Iowa City continue and the Hawkeyes become the clear favorites in the West division.
Prediction: Iowa wins handily 27-10
Purdue at Wisconsin 12:00PM BTN
Line: Wisconsin -24
Wisconsin survived last weekend against Nebraska to move to 4-2 and now their schedule gets much easier. Their next four games are home against Purdue, at Illinois, Rutgers at home and at Maryland. Purdue took a beating last week at home to Minnesota. After playing Michigan State tough on the road, the wheels have fallen off. I expect that to continue as the Badgers defense has a chance at shutting out the Boilermakers.
Prediction: Wisconsin 34-3
Michigan State at Michigan 3:30PM ESPN
Line: Michigan -7.5
This is the game of the year in the Big Ten so far and should be a classic. There is no love lost between these two schools and Michigan's resurgence has overshadowed what was supposed to be the Spartans dream season. Michigan has one of the best defenses in the country, but they haven't faced an offense close to as good as MSU, with the exception of Utah. Connor Cook and his receiving core were the reason they beat Rutgers last week. I expect the Spartans to be fired up for many reasons, one being that Michigan students painted the Magic Johnson statue on MSU campus blue and maize. That is crossing the line. Michigan State is a tough team that will not go down easily, and I don't think they will Saturday in the Big House. Coach Harbaugh has restored a winning culture at Michigan, but they aren't all the way back yet.
Prediction: Michigan State 24-21
Nebraska at Minnesota 3:30PM ESPN2
Line: Minnesota -2
This is a match-up of two teams that are hard to figure out so far. Nebraska has four losses, all coming on the last play of the game. WOW, that is not the consistency Cornhusker fans were looking for when Mike Riley replaced Bo Pelini. Minnesota hasn't played well on offense until they exploded last week against Purdue. I think Nebraska is not nearly as bad as their 2-4 record indicates. Minnesota will struggle to score points and while their defense will keep it close, it won't be enough.
Prediction: Nebraska finally pulls a close one out, winning 24-14
Penn State at Ohio State 8:00PM ABC
Line: Ohio State -19
Penn State is walking into a hornet's nest with Ohio State holding their first ever "blackout" game. OSU has not fulfilled their potential yet this season, but may be starting to get into rhythm after last week's 4th quarter performance against Maryland. Now that Urban Meyer has established a quarterback rotation, with J.T. Barrett working in the red zone, we may see them start to roll. Penn State has a tough defense and should put up a fight, only to fall apart in the 2nd half. PSU simply does not have enough weapons on offense to keep up.
Prediction: Ohio State 35-13
Rutgers at Indiana 3:30PM BTN
Line: Indiana -6.5
Rutgers is coming off their best game of the season, their head coach returns, and Indiana is banged up at key positions. Not only is this game a must win to keep bowl hopes alive, it's a game we have no business losing. I know it's important to show improvement against the big dogs of the conference, but I think it's more important that we beat Indiana and Maryland at a minimum, every season. As bad as this year has been so far, and as much of a laughingstock this program has become to the national media, beating Indiana and Maryland proves things are not as bad as pundits say they are. If this team can't build off of last week and ride the emotional lift of their coach returning, on top of playing a wounded team, then this team has more serious issues than I thought. The outcome of this game will go a long way in determining which direction the rest of the season goes. If the coaches come out with an aggressive game plan and attack on both sides of the ball, we should win going away.
Prediction: Rutgers 38 Indiana 17
Head to Head Results: Last week 5-2; Season 58-11
Season Against The Spread: Last week 3-4; Season 30-31-1