- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Weeks like this allow me to quote the late, great Curt Hennig.
You have just witnessed perfection. Nobody beats Mr. Perfect. ... Nobody!
That's right. After seven long, blemished weeks, a Big Ten blogger had a perfect week of predictions. And not surprisingly, it was yours truly. Although I had my doubts -- late Saturday afternoon, I texted Bennett to express concerns of a possible 3-3 week -- but thanks to late rallies by Nebraska, Michigan and Navy, and a splendid effort from Penn State in Iowa City, I came out unscathed.
Bennett needed to gain ground in Week 8. Instead, he lost it and now sits five games back in the season standings. Unless Ron Washington starts managing my predictions, I think I'll be getting a nice dinner at St. Elmo's in Indy and sticking Bennett with the check -- NFL-rookie style.
In case you missed them, the Week 8 Big Ten predictions.
WEEK 8/SEASON RECORDS
Adam Rittenberg: 6-0, 54-14 (.794)
Brian Bennett: 4-2, 49-19 (.721)
Rewind time ...
Purdue at Ohio State
Bennett's pick: Ohio State 38, Purdue 17
Rittenberg's pick: Ohio State 42, Purdue 17
Actual score: Ohio State 29, Purdue 22 (OT)
20-20 hindsight: Aside from coming pretty close on Purdue's points total, this one didn't go as we expected. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller left the game in the third quarter, and he and Carlos Hyde (138 combined rush yards) didn't come close to the massive rushing totals we predicted (Bennett: 250; Rittenberg: 300). Hyde and Miller combined for three touchdowns, one shy of my prediction, and Purdue had 347 yards, 32 more than I had predicted.
Minnesota at Wisconsin
Bennett's pick: Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 17
Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 20
Actual score: Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 13
20-20 hindsight: One of our better picks of the week as I nailed Wisconsin's score, while Bennett came close on both scores. I had Wisconsin running back Montee Ball for 150 yards and two touchdowns, while Bennett had Ball for three scores (he finished with 166 rush yards and 2 touchdowns). I correctly predicted Wisconsin to surge in the second half after Minnesota hung around for a while. The Badgers defense eventually shut down the Minnesota quarterback, but it was Philip Nelson who called signals, not Max Shortell, as Bennett had predicted.
Nebraska at Northwestern
Bennett's pick: Nebraska 38, Northwestern 31
Rittenberg's pick: Nebraska 34, Northwestern 28
Actual score: Nebraska 29, Northwestern 28
20-20 hindsight: I nailed Northwestern's score, while Bennett correctly predicted the Wildcats would have a tough time slowing down Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez (342 pass yards, 65 rush yards, 4 total touchdowns) and running back Ameer Abdullah (101 rush yards). Northwestern's Venric Mark and Kain Colter combined for only one touchdown, not four as I had predicted, and while my forecast of a big fourth-quarter surge by Nebraska came true, running back Rex Burkhead wasn't on the field for it (he aggravated his knee injury early on).
Michigan State at Michigan
Bennett's pick: Michigan 16, Michigan State 9
Rittenberg's pick: Michigan 24, Michigan 16
Actual score: Michigan 12, Michigan State 10
20-20 hindsight: Kudos to Bennett for the better score prediction and for predicting Michigan's Brendan Gibbons would make three field goals and be the hero for the Wolverines (he hit the game-winner from 38 yards out with five seconds left). Michigan State came up with one takeaway, not the two Bennett had predicted, while Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson fell 24 yards and two touchdowns shy of my prediction for him (120 rush yards, 2 touchdowns). I did, however, peg Michigan S Jordan Kovacs for a key second-half takeaway (his interception set up a field goal).
Indiana at Navy
Bennett's pick: Indiana 24, Navy 21
Rittenberg's pick: Navy 38, Indiana 35
Actual score: Navy 31, Indiana 30
20-20 hindsight: Indiana had a more balanced approach offensively than either of us expected. Although Shane Wynn led the Hoosiers with seven receptions for 76 yards, he didn't get in the zone, as Bennett predicted he would twice. Navy racked up 257 rush yards and two touchdowns, but it was Indiana's inability to get into the end zone that cost it the game as the Mids erased a 9-point deficit in the final six minutes.
Penn State at Iowa
Bennett's pick: Iowa 19, Penn State 17
Rittenberg's pick: Penn State 21, Iowa 17
Actual score: Penn State 38, Iowa 14
20-20 hindsight: Neither of us saw a Penn State blowout coming, but Lions quarterback Matt McGloin came through for me with two touchdown passes and linebacker Michael Mauti made me look smart with his third interception of the season. Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg threw a touchdown pass, as Bennett predicted, but there were no heroes for the Hawkeyes this time, at running back or anywhere else.