Predictions: Big Ten Week 9

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
9:00
AM ET
The Big Ten bloggers need to pick themselves up off of the mat after a lousy performance in Week 8. All 12 conference teams are in action Saturday, providing a six-pack of matchups that could make us or potentially break us.

Bennett holds a slim one-game lead in the overall standings and hopes to create some breathing room before the November stretch run. Rittenberg must bounce back from a losing mark in Week 8 after three perfect weeks of picks to begin Big Ten play.

Let's get to it ...

NORTHWESTERN at INDIANA

Brian Bennett: Northwestern has finally found a pass defense worse -- or at least as bad -- as its own. Dan Persa may be hobbled, but his pimp walk is good enough to slap three touchdown passes on the Hoosiers. ... Northwestern 41, Indiana 28

Adam Rittenberg: Your ignorance of this series is showing, BB. It's always close between these two. Indiana is actually only 45th nationally in pass defense, but Persa being out there will be the difference for Northwestern. Tre Roberson makes some plays, too, but Persa and Jeremy Ebert hook up for two touchdowns as Northwestern wins a close one. ... Northwestern 34, Indiana 31

PURDUE at NO. 18 MICHIGAN

Adam Rittenberg: I really like what I'm seeing from Purdue, and the Boilers will be in this one until the end. Expect Michigan's defense to bounce back a bit, however, and Denard Robinson will record a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second half to lift the Wolverines. ... Michigan 28, Purdue 21

Brian Bennett: Al Borges has had two weeks to come up with all kinds of new twists, and there shouldn't be Wizard of Oz-style winds to deal with. Robinson bounces back in a big way and Michigan comes up with two key turnovers to hold off a tough Boilers bunch. ... Michigan 31, Purdue 23

NO. 11 MICHIGAN STATE at NO. 14 NEBRASKA

Brian Bennett: Winning in Lincoln won't be tough, but I just don't see how Nebraska is going to mount a passing attack against Michigan State's defense. This will be a grind-it-out game that comes down to who makes fewer mistakes and a late field goal. The Spartans continue the magic. ... Michigan State 23, Nebraska 20

Adam Rittenberg: I've gone back and forth all week on this one. Picking against Michigan State burned both of us last week. and this looks like a special season. Then again, the Spartans haven't been overly impressive away from East Lansing. Nebraska desperately wants to prove itself after the Wisconsin debacle, and Huskers players recognize what this game means. The Huskers make a few more plays in space on both sides of the ball, and Taylor Martinez scores late to lift Big Red. ... Nebraska 24, Michigan State 23

IOWA at MINNESOTA

Adam Rittenberg: James Vandenberg and Marvin McNutt have to be licking their chops. The Iowa quarterback and wide receiver connect for two touchdowns and Marcus Coker continues his midseason surge as the Hawkeyes regain control of the pig. Minnesota makes a bit of noise on offense. ... Iowa 38, Minnesota 17

Brian Bennett: Oink, oink. Floyd is about all Minnesota has left to be proud of this season, but he's on his way back to Iowa City. Are the Hawkeyes any good? Still not sure. But I know Minnesota isn't. ... Iowa 42, Minnesota 14

ILLINOIS at NO. 21 PENN STATE

Brian Bennett: I expect the Illini to bounce back a little, because they are better than what they've shown the past two weeks. The problem is that Penn State defense. Silas Redd gets another 100 and a key interception seals the deal for the surging Lions. ... Penn State 21, Illinois 17

Adam Rittenberg: Redd's health concerns me a bit, as he suffered a stinger against Northwestern but still ran wild. But Penn State should be able to generate a better ground game than Illinois, which has been extremely limited when the Scheelhaase-Jenkins connection isn't cranked up. This one could go either way, but Gerald Hodges and the Penn State defense come up big again. ... Penn State 19, Illinois 17

NO. 15 WISCONSIN at OHIO STATE

Adam Rittenberg: The Badgers have a mini hangover early in this one as Ohio State jumps ahead. But Wisconsin won't stop itself as much as it did last week. The offense delivers a more efficient performance in the second half as Wisconsin gets out of Columbus with its league title hopes still alive. ... Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 17

Brian Bennett: Ohio State has the defense to give the Badgers some trouble, but even Michigan State gave up 31 to Russell Wilson and Co. last week. The Buckeyes will try to pound the ball with Boom Herron to keep the Wisconsin offense on the sideline, but it just doesn't have enough firepower to keep up. ... Wisconsin 28, Ohio State 20

SEASON RECORDS

Brian Bennett: 52-15 (.776)

Adam Rittenberg: 51-16 (.761)

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/27
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12