Thursday, November 3, 2011
Predictions: Big Ten Week 10
By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett
We're all square in predictions through the first nine weeks. Will anything change in Week 10?
The lineup of games isn't too exciting and features four games with heavy home favorites (Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan State). The one truly intriguing matchup, barring a surprise, takes place in Iowa City as No. 15 Michigan visits an Iowa team that hasn't lost at home this season.
Let's get picky ...
MINNESOTA at NO. 17 MICHIGAN STATE
Brian Bennett: It was great to see the Gophers go hog wild and get their moment last week. That moment won't last against a Spartans team that plays at a different level at home. Jerel Worthy and William Gholston make life miserable for MarQueis Gray. ... Michigan State 31, Minnesota 3
Adam Rittenberg: The Spartans get their groove back in East Lansing, and an offense that simply didn't show up in Lincoln takes advantage of Minnesota's secondary. Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham connect for two touchdown passes as Michigan State starts a bit slowly before opening things up in the second and third quarters. ... Michigan State 34, Minnesota 10
INDIANA at OHIO STATE
Adam Rittenberg: This is the perfect opportunity for Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes' offense to build off of a strong finish to the Wisconsin game. Miller and Dan Herron run wild on a young and overmatched Indiana defense. While the Hoosiers are running the ball well, Ohio State's defensive line is playing at another level right now. ... Ohio State 37, Indiana 6
Brian Bennett: Indiana has allowed at least 41 points in its last four Big ten games, and opponents are averaging more than 50 a game in that span. Yikes. The Hoosiers' lone attribute right now is their offense, but John Simon and the Silver Bullets shut that down. ... Ohio State 41, Indiana 10
NO. 15 MICHIGAN at IOWA
Brian Bennett: Big Ten teams have had trouble on the road all season, and the Hawkeyes are a much better team at Kinnick. But I just can't pick a team that just got beat at Minnesota and has way too many defensive issues right now. Iowa's James Vandenberg makes it interesting, but too much Denard Robinson keeps Michigan in the Legends hunt. ... Michigan 35, Iowa 27
Adam Rittenberg: This is a tricky one as Iowa will be motivated to atone for last week's shocking defeat and maintain its unbeaten record at home. Michigan is a bit banged up right now, but the Wolverines have the better defense and an offense that will make enough big plays to overcome its mistakes. Iowa leads at halftime, but Michigan, as it has much of the season, comes on strong in the second half behind the run game. ... Michigan 35, Iowa 31
NORTHWESTERN at NO. 10 NEBRASKA
Adam Rittenberg: Nebraska is on a roll, and the Huskers offense should run all over a Northwestern defense that can't stop anybody. Northwestern will move the ball in this game, as it has all season, but the Huskers will limit points and get plenty of their own from Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez. ... Nebraska 42, Northwestern 20
Brian Bennett: Northwestern is allowing 38 points per game in Big Ten play, and while Nebraska won't exploit its pass defense as much as others have, the Huskers will still score at will. The Blackshirts will have a little tougher time than they did against Michigan State's predictable attack, but Alfonzo Dennard slows down Jeremy Ebert and gets a pick six. ... Nebraska 45, Northwestern 24
PURDUE at NO. 20 WISCONSIN
Brian Bennett: Caleb TerBush hits Justin Siller on a 60-yard pass with one second left as the Boilers ... Nah. Wisconsin might suffer a bit of a hangover from the previous two gut-wrenching losses, but they'll still mash Purdue at home with another three touchdowns from Montee Ball. ... Wisconsin 38, Purdue 17
Adam Rittenberg: I agree Wisconsin might be a little off its game early on, but soon enough the Badgers will look around and realize where they are. Wisconsin's dominance on its home field continues, and Camp Randall Stadium continues to be a house of horrors for the Indiana schools. Russell Wilson records three touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) and James White reaches the end zone once. ... Wisconsin 41, Purdue 14
Bonus pick alert! You might have heard a thing or two about this game ...
NO. 1 LSU at NO. 2 ALABAMA
Adam Rittenberg: Most folks seem to be picking Bama at home, and I get it. The Tide linebackers are out of this world, and Trent Richardson is a beast. But LSU has repeatedly impressed me, not just with its play and its across-the-board talent, but with its ability to overcome adversity time and again. The Tigers once again will be in a tough spot Saturday, but I like The Hat and his crew to come out of T-Town with a win. ... LSU 17, Alabama 14
Brian Bennett: Adam, you won't get served at Dreamland with a prediction like that. I get the feeling LSU is a bit better overall, and you never bet against The Hat. But home field is just enough of an advantage between two extremely good teams. Richardson makes his Heisman statement, and Penn State enjoys the BCS bump as Alabama escapes. Let the rematch debate begin. ... Alabama 21, LSU 17
Bennett: 55-18 (.753)
Rittenberg: 55-18 (.753)