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Thursday, October 6, 2011
Predictions: Big Ten Week 6

By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett

Both of us achieved perfection in Week 5.

Let's do it again, shall we?

Week 6 features five games -- all within the Big Ten -- on the slate. How will things play out Saturday? Unlike last week, we disagree on one of the picks.

Here's our best stab at forecasting the action ...

MINNESOTA at PURDUE

Brian Bennett: Someone has to win, right? At least Purdue has beaten an FBS team that has a victory this season, unlike Minnesota. Given all the Gophers' problems and the fact this game is in West Lafayette, the Boilers get their first Big Ten win behind a nice day for Twitter expert Robert Marve. ... Purdue 28, Minnesota 17

Adam Rittenberg: Both teams have serious problems, but Minnesota has more and will be on the road. It'll be an ugly first half at Ross-Ade before Purdue quarterbacks Caleb TerBush and Marve feast on the Gophers' secondary. ... Purdue 30, Minnesota 17

NO. 19 ILLINOIS at INDIANA

Adam Rittenberg: Illinois will make some mistakes in its first road appearance, but the Illini once again will have the talent to overcome its miscues. The Nathan Scheelhaase-to-A.J. Jenkins connection works, and the Illini defense forces two turnovers as the Fighting Zookers improve to 6-0. ... Illinois 35, Indiana 17

Brian Bennett: When this is your only road game in the first seven weeks, the schedule-makers have been kind. The Hoosiers hung around with Penn State last week, but Illinois is much better offensively. I predict a 100-yard rushing day for Donovonn Young and an easy Illini victory. ... Illinois 38, Indiana 14

IOWA at PENN STATE

Brian Bennett: The Hawkeyes have owned the Nittany Lions for most of the past decade. And while Penn State's defense will throw some major roadblocks in James Vandenberg's way, the Nittany Lions just don't have enough offensive firepower to keep up. ... Iowa 23, Penn State 16

Adam Rittenberg: Penn State linebacker Glenn Carson spiced up the rivalry this week, and he and his fellow defenders back it up. The Lions' sputtering offense gets a bunch of help from the defense and edges Iowa in a low-scoring game. Not a 6-4 repeat, but close. ... Penn State 12, Iowa 10

NO. 12 MICHIGAN at NORTHWESTERN

Adam Rittenberg: Dan Persa is the type of quarterback who will test Michigan's secondary and give us a better gauge on how much the Wolverines' defense has improved. Persa will make plays in this game, but I can't see Northwestern's defense stopping an offense like Michigan's or a quarterback like Denard Robinson. ... Michigan 38, Northwestern 30

Brian Bennett: Scares me a little how much I agree with you. I believe in the Persa-Jeremy Ebert combo. I do not believe in Northwestern's defense. Another solid day of passing for Denard, and some late heroics. ... Michigan 35, Northwestern 28

OHIO STATE at NO. 14 NEBRASKA

Brian Bennett: Finally a cure for the Blackshirts' defense: the sputtering Ohio State offense. I think the Buckeyes move the ball a little better this week with Mike Adams helping the run game, and they get help from another costly Taylor Martinez turnover. But it's still not enough to win in Lincoln against a team that can actually, you know, score. ... Nebraska 24, Ohio State 16

Adam Rittenberg: Martinez is mad and Bo Pelini was embarrassed by the Nebraska defense's performance at Wisconsin. This isn't a good situation for a reeling Ohio State team to enter. The Buckeyes' defense keeps this close for a while, but the offensive struggles continue as the Huskers lock it down. ... Nebraska 27, Ohio State 14

BYE: Michigan State, Wisconsin

SEASON RECORDS

Bennett: 42-10 (.808)

Rittenberg: 39-13 (.750)