I started Big Ten play with three perfect weeks, while Brian Bennett finished the league slate by posting an unblemished mark. Bennett's 6-0 record in the final week of regular-season picks puts him two games ahead in the season standings. Fortunately, the Big Ten has 10 bowl-eligible teams, so there's still some chances for me to catch him.
Here are the Week 13 predictions.
Brian Bennett: 6-0
Adam Rittenberg: 5-1
Brian Bennett: 73-24 (.753)
Adam Rittenberg: 71-26 (.732)
It's rewind time ...
Iowa at Nebraska
Bennett's pick: Nebraska 28, Iowa 20
Rittenberg's pick: Nebraska 31, Iowa 24
Actual score: Nebraska 20, Iowa 7
20-20 hindsight: We both expected much more from the Iowa offense, which failed to score in the first half for the first time since 2007 and went nearly 57 minutes before getting on the board. Bennett correctly predicted a big game for Huskers I-back Rex Burkhead (team-record 38 carries, 160 rush yards, 1 TD), while QB Taylor Martinez fell three touchdowns shy of my prediction for him.
Michigan State at Northwestern
Bennett's pick: Michigan State 34, Northwestern 27
Rittenberg's pick: Michigan State 27, Northwestern 21
Actual score: Michigan State 31, Northwestern 17
20-20 hindsight: We weren't too far off on our score predictions and would have been closer had Northwestern finished several promising drives. I correctly predicted Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham would produce late in the game, although he had two second-half touchdowns, not one. Brian's prediction that the Spartans' physical style would eventually overwhelm Northwestern also proved true.
Ohio State at Michigan
Bennett's pick: Michigan 24, Ohio State 14
Rittenberg's pick: Michigan 27, Ohio State 13
Actual score: Michigan 40, Ohio State 34
20-20 hindsight: Count both of us among those who were surprised by Ohio State's offensive awakening behind dynamic freshman QB Braxton Miller, who accounted for 335 yards of offense and three touchdowns. Michigan QB Denard Robinson more than doubled Bennett's prediction of two touchdowns with five, while I correctly pegged Wolverines RB Fitzgerald Toussaint for another 100-yard rushing effort (he had 120).
Purdue at Indiana
Bennett's pick: Purdue 35, Indiana 17
Rittenberg's pick: Purdue 34, Indiana 24
Actual score: Purdue 33, Indiana 25
20-20 hindsight: We both nearly pegged Purdue's score exactly, and my Indiana prediction wasn't far off, either. Bennett's correctly forecast a big day for Purdue RB Ralph Bolden (54 rush yards, 63 receiving yards), while Boilers WR Antavian Edison came through for me with a touchdown, although not of the breakaway variety (5-yard run). Purdue also only forced one turnover, not two.
Illinois at Minnesota
Bennett's pick: Minnesota 21, Illinois 17
Rittenberg's pick: Illinois 24, Minnesota 20
Actual score: Minnesota 27, Illinois 7
20-20 hindsight: This was the only game on which we differed, and Bennett's Gopher pick worked out brilliantly. We both still expected more from Illinois, which once again looked lifeless on offense for most of the game. Minnesota QB MarQueis Gray came through for Bennett with 252 total yards and three touchdowns (2 rush, 1 pass), while Duane Bennett had a quieter day (57 rush yards). My prediction of a big day for Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins fizzled as he had only four receptions for 30 yards.
Penn State at Wisconsin
Bennett's pick: Wisconsin 28, Penn State 17
Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 31, Penn State 20
Actual score: Wisconsin 45, Penn State 7
20-20 hindsight: We both expected a more competitive game and didn't give Wisconsin enough credit for its track record of eviscerating the opposition at Camp Randall Stadium. Badgers QB Russell Wilson tossed two touchdown passes in the first half, not the second, as I predicted. Bennett correctly pegged a Matthew McGloin interception to turn the tide, as Wisconsin converted the miscue into the go-ahead touchdown and never looked back.