Last week was my worst in picking games straight up, incorrectly picking Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State. However I nailed the Rutgers pick, predicting a 31-20 win so I have that going for me. Headed into the final game of the regular season, there is lots to play for during rivalry week. Iowa looks to clinch an undefeated regular season, Michigan State looks to win the East and advance to play the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship, Ohio State and Michigan continue their rivalry and hope Sparty stumbles, and of course, Rutgers fights to clinch a 5th place finish in the East division. Lots to cover, here we go, and as always, use the spreads for legal means only.
Iowa at Nebraska 3:30PM ABC
Line: Iowa -1.5
This game is traditionally played the day after Thanskgiving and is always a fun rivalry game. The fact the stakes are high for both teams adds intrigue and it should be a great game. Iowa clinched the West title already but has playoff aspirations after being ranked in the top 4 this week for the first time all season. Nebraska has won two games in a row and a win today would make them bowl eligible and end a frustrating regular season with their biggest win. I think it will be a high scoring affair and go down to the wire, much like last season's wild finish. This year the Kirk Ferentz revival tour continues, and Iowa gets revenge for last season and clinches their first ever undefeated regular season.
Prediction: Iowa pulls it out on the road, winning 38-35
Ohio State at Michigan 12:00PM ABC
I whiffed last week on these teams, picking Ohio State to beat Michigan State and Michigan to lose to Penn State. The opposite happened and now the stakes have changed. Whichever team wins has to hope that Michigan State loses to Penn State. If that happens, the winner advances to the Big Ten Championship against Iowa. If Ohio State wins and then defeats Iowa, they have a chance to make the college playoff final four. Michigan has exceeded expectations and would be thrilled to add to the disappointment of Buckeye fans. I think this will be a great game but despite the momentum on the side of Michigan, I think Ohio State will pound them with Ezekiel Elliot and continue their recent dominance of this rivalry.
Prediction: Ohio State 31-24
Indiana at Purdue 12:00 PM BTN
Line: Indiana -6.5
Indiana fell behind Maryland 21-3 last weekend, before pulling a "Rutgers style" comeback, scoring 27 unanswered points and ultimately winning, 47-28.They are one win away from clinching a bowl berth for the first time in the Kevin Wilson era. Playing rival Purdue, the offensive dynamic duo of quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard should flourish. Purdue hasn't been able to match their performance against Nebraska, and should go quietly against a motivated Hoosier team.
Prediction: Indiana 55 Purdue 14
Maryland at Rutgers 12:00 PM BTN
Line: Rutgers -1
The setting for this game is night and day from last season, when both programs had winning records and were the surprise of the Big Ten. This season, they are arguably the worst two teams in the conference, except for Purdue. Amazingly, Rutgers can finish 5-7 and in fifth place of the Big Ten East with a victory on Saturday. And just to dispel any misconception, I absolutely want them to win and would never think otherwise. That being said, I can't bear the thought of Kyle Flood boasting how well the team overcame adversity, how close they were to being bowl eligible, the future is bright, and how they will be 1-0 every upcoming weekend through next August. I think the difference will be the senior captain trio of Leonte Carroo, Paul James and Quentin Guase willing Rutgers to victory. The three of them deserve a proper sendoff and all had great careers on the banks. They will be missed.
Prediction: Rutgers 26 Maryland 20
Northwestern at Illinois 3:30PM ESPNU
Line: Northwestern -3.5
I am surprised this spread is so low after Northwestern went into Wisconsin last week and left the victor. The 9-2 Wildcats continue to surprise this season and should suffocate the Illini with their top flight defense. Interim head coach Bill Cubit has done a masterful job this season and has them one win away from bowl eligibility. This is an old school rivalry but I don't see the Illini pulling the upset.
Prediction: Northwestern stifles the Illini 24-10
Penn State at Michigan State 3:30PM ESPN
Line: Michigan State -10.5
It's simple, Michigan State wins and they are champions of the East division and head to the Big Ten Championship with playoff hopes alive. If they lose, the winner of Ohio State-Michigan takes the East and marches on. The big question mark is whether senior quarterback Connor Cook plays after missing last week's game. MSU completely surprised Ohio State, running a completely different offense than usual without Cook. The option offense kept them off balance and led them to victory. Penn State has a great defense and will be better prepared for the option if Cook is unable to play. However, I think Mark D'Antonio is the best gameday coach in the Big Ten and will have another wrinkle ready to implement. I do think it will be a closer game, but ultimately Sparty deservedly marches on after overcoming countless injuries this season.
Prediction: Michigan State 20 Penn State 14
Wisconsin at Minnesota 3:30PM BTN
Line: Wisconsin -2.5
This is a great rivalry and Minnesota will be fired up after getting new head coach Tracy Claeys his first victory. The Gophers are one win away from bowl eligibility and host the Badgers a week after losing a tough game at home to Northwestern. I think coach Paul Chryst has done a great job this season with a limited offense and their own rash of injuries. Corey Clement was arrested a few weeks ago and there has been no confirmation of his status for Saturday. However, either way I think their defense will bring their best and Joel Stave plays well in the battle for the Axe, winning their 12th straight in this rivalry.
Prediction: Wisconsin 23 Minnesota 16
Head to Head Results: Last week 4-3 ; Season 88-17
Season Against The Spread: Last week 3-4; Season 50-47-1