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Big Ten Football Round-Up; Cream Starting to Rise?

UM v Neb

The Huskers D needs Robinson to throw more than he runs tonight.

Last Week 4-2

My record wasn’t horrible, but either way I took some lumps in the Big Ten. I had Nebraska and Ohio State to win but I certainly expected it to be by much more so therefore I took it on the chin with those two. This week, a couple of teams can get one huge step closer to winning their respective divisions as Michigan and Wisconsin now have their fate in their own hands.

Indiana (+1 1/2) at Illinois – Both teams are 2-5 and seemingly headed nowhere for winter break. The Hoosiers have been oh so close recently in their five straight losses losing to Michigan State by four, Ohio State by three and then losing to Navy by 1. The Illini have lost four straight but their games have been decidedly one-sided and although Illinois is playing at home, I like the Hoosiers in this one simply because they’ve proven they can score points against just about anyone.

Iowa (+5 1/2) at Northwestern – The Hawkeyes were blasted by surging Penn State at home last week and Northwestern blew yet another lead and this one late to Nebraska in falling by one. The Wildcats are still in contention believe it or not at 6-2 (2-2) for a shot at the Legends Division if they can win out and get a little help. Iowa seemed to be gaining momentum following an overtime win in East Lansing but then looked terrible in their own building against Penn State. While the Wildcats’ defense worries me, I think Iowa lacks firepower on offense. I like Northwestern to win, but I like Iowa with the points.

Purdue (-3) at Minnesota – The Boilermakers are suddenly a hard team to figure out. They enter the Michigan game at home with tons of confidence and expectations and get drilled. Wisconsin comes in and they get drilled again. Only fitting they would go on the road to Ohio State and suffer the same fate right? No, all they did was take the Buckeyes into overtime before losing. Minnesota has three straight after starting 4-0. Head Coach Jerry Kill is again having some health issues and that isn’t good period. I like Purdue to do enough  and get the outright win here.

Joel Stave

Stave may need to throw to free up the Badgers' running game.

Michigan State (+6 1/2) at Wisconsin – Once the odds-on-favorite to represent the Big Ten in Pasadena, the Spartans have stumbled to 4-4 and now have to worry about just getting bowl-eligible with a trip to Madison this week and Nebraska yet to play as well. The Badgers meanwhile, seem to be peaking at the right time. The offense and running game in particular has been dominant in recent weeks behind James White and Montee Ball. MSU will counter with a pretty tough back of their own in Le’Veon Bell, but they must get better play from QB Andrew Maxwell to move the ball and score points. I think this one will be characteristic of recent State-Wisconsin match-ups and will go into the fourth quarter but I like the Badgers to get the win outright with a late touchdown.

Ohio State (-1) at Penn State – The ‘Banned Bowl’ features two teams playing for pride and not much else as neither team can go to a bowl. The Bucks can however, win the division and that means something to them, but this Penn State is doing something pretty magical considering all they’ve had to deal with. OSU has seen its’ defense get exposed a bit in recent weeks and I look for that to continue in Happy Valley. I like the front seven of PSU and they will do enough to keep Braxton Miller at bay. Like the Nittany Lions outright.

Michigan (+1 1/2) at Nebraska – Michigan comes off an extremely physical, intense contest with rival Michigan State while Nebraska needed late heroics to defeat Northwestern in Evanston. For most teams, going into an environment like Memorial Stadium would rattle them a bit, but Michigan is used to big, loud crowds wherever they go and I don’t think it will matter much. Nebraska will need a turnover free game from Taylor Martinez in order to get by Michigan’s top 10 defense. I see no reason this one won’t be close, but I think Michigan has too many options right now offensively and the Huskers’ D isn’t what many thought it was. Take the Wolverines to win outright.

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