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Big Ten picks: Week 8

10/22/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The good news is I won't go .500 again this week because it's mathematically impossible. After a pretty mediocre first half, let's hope things turn around down the stretch.

Ohio State 24, Minnesota 7: Terrelle Pryor seemed more relaxed when he addressed reporters Wednesday night, and I think he'll actually be loose when he takes the field Saturday. Pryor won't light up a good Gophers defense, but he'll make more plays and fewer mistakes than he did a week ago. The sophomore records two touchdowns (1 rush, 1 pass), and Ohio State's defense shuts down a Gophers offense that can't seem to find much consistency.

Northwestern 27, Indiana 24: The teams are evenly matched and these games always seem to be close. Neither team can run the ball, and both quarterbacks (Ben Chappell and Mike Kafka) are executing at a high level. Both Chappell and Kafka throw for multiple touchdown passes, but Northwestern's defense forces a key turnover down the stretch as the Wildcats hold on at home.

Purdue 28, Illinois 17: The Boilers build on their big win against Ohio State and take advantage of an Illinois defense that really struggled against the pass last week. Joey Elliott throws three touchdown passes and doesn't commit a turnover, and running back Ralph Bolden turns in another big game. The Illini come out tight and commit several turnovers before rallying late behind Juice Williams, only to fall short again.

Penn State 23, Michigan 21: I went back and forth on this one throughout the week, but Penn State finds a way to snap its losing streak in Ann Arbor. Lions running back Evan Royster rushes for 120 yards, and Daryll Clark leads the game-winning drive in the closing minutes. Tate Forcier and the Wolverines once again fight until the end, but they struggle to score against Penn State's ferocious defense.

Iowa 19, Michigan State 14: I learned my lesson last week in picking against Iowa, which once again finds a way to win a tough road game. The Hawkeyes fall behind early but rally behind quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who hooks up with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for a third-quarter touchdown. Iowa's veteran defense stifles Michigan State's young skill players and forces a turnover or two down the stretch.

Bye: Wisconsin

Week 7 record: 3-3

Season record: 40-17 (.702)