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Thursday, October 1, 2009
Big Ten picks: Week 5

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


Let's not attempt to sugarcoat this: it was an absolutely brutal week for the picks, as I went 2-4. Just typing that hurts my fingers. I took a few chances, nearly hit on one with Purdue and Notre Dame, but ended up with a losing record. At least Michigan State, Illinois and Purdue know how I feel.

Here's hoping for better results in Week 5.

Michigan 38, Michigan State 37 -- Both teams have issues on defense, and both are capable of putting up points. But Michigan has the more dynamic offense, and while freshman quarterback Tate Forcier could make some mistakes in his first road start, he'll make enough plays against a flawed Spartans secondary. Michigan State holds the lead most of the way before Forcier leads another game-winning drive.

Wisconsin 28, Minnesota 26 -- Another tough one to call, but I'm going to finally buy into Wisconsin. Minnesota's secondary has struggled the past two weeks, and Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien takes advantage with another big game. Gophers star wideout Eric Decker drives Wisconsin nuts, but the Badgers' opportunistic defense forces two key second-half turnovers to retain Paul Bunyan's Axe.

Purdue 37, Northwestern 33 -- This has all the makings of a shootout as both defenses have struggled this fall. Purdue might own the lesser record, but the Boilermakers have looked more impressive than the Wildcats, who are still waiting for their veteran-laden defense to show up. Boilers running back Ralph Bolden has a big day against a vulnerable NU defensive line, and Wildcats quarterback Mike Kafka once again falls short in the clutch.

Iowa 30, Arkansas State 10 -- Expect a slow start for the Hawkeyes, who come off an emotional win against Penn State. But quarterback Ricky Stanzi delivers a steady and complete performance against the Red Wolves, finding Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for two touchdowns. Arkansas State gets an early Reggie Arnold touchdown before the Hawkeyes defense clamps down.

Penn State 26, Illinois 17 -- A desperate Illini team comes out strong and attacks Penn State's untested secondary with star wideout Arrelious Benn. But Penn State eventually gets to Juice Williams with pressure and forces mistakes that turn the game around in the third quarter. Lions running back Evan Royster gets on track after a rough game against Iowa and eclipses 100 rushing yards in Champaign.

Ohio State 27, Indiana 14 -- This won't be an easy game for the Buckeyes, who face a confident Indiana team playing on its home field. The Hoosiers jump out to an early lead before Ohio State's defense tightens up despite not having safety Kurt Coleman (suspension) on the field. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his running backs gash Indiana's defense in the second half as Ohio State eventually pulls away.

Season record -- 27-11 (.711)