Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Big Ten picks rewind: Week 9
By Adam Rittenberg
From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, this is the story of my picks the last two weeks.
After recording the first perfect week of picks in Week 8 (6-0), I didn't just take a step back with the Week 9 predictions. I fell flat on my tuchus. It's hard to go below-.500 in picks, but I managed to do it, finishing 2-4. Brian Bennett didn't do much better, going 4-2, but he had the right selection on both games where we differed. My faith in Purdue cost me yet again, while Michigan State and Ohio State made both of us look like fools.
As a result, we have a race heading into the final month of the season. My lead in the season standings is down to three games. Maybe Bennett will get out of buying dinner after all.
WEEK 9/SEASON RECORDS
Adam Rittenberg: 2-4, 56-18 (.757)
Brian Bennett: 4-2, 53-21 (.716)
As the condemned says to the executioner, let's get this over with ...
Iowa at Northwestern
Indiana at Illinois
- Bennett's pick: Northwestern 23, Iowa 17
- Rittenberg's pick: Northwestern 24, Iowa 20
- Actual score: Northwestern 28, Iowa 17
- 20-20 hindsight: Both score predictions came close, and Bennett actually nailed Iowa's score. We both correctly forecast Northwestern's rushing surge, especially from QB Kain Colter, who accounted for all four Wildcats touchdowns (3 rush, 1 pass). Iowa never took the lead, as I had predicted, and it was Damon Bullock, not Mark Weisman, who eclipsed 100 rush yards for the Hawkeyes.
Michigan State at Wisconsin
- Bennett's pick: Indiana 28, Illinois 27
- Rittenberg's pick: Indiana 31, Illinois 27
- Actual score: Indiana 31, Illinois 17
- 20-20 hindsight: I nailed Indiana's score, but of the three Hoosiers receivers I expected to catch touchdowns, only Shane Wynn did. RB Stephen Houston, meanwhile found the end zone three times. Bennett had one of his best predictions in pegging backup QB Nate Sudfeld to come off the bench and provide a lift. Sudfeld fired one second-half touchdown, not two, as Indiana recorded its first Big Ten win since 2010.
Purdue at Minnesota
- Bennett's pick: Wisconsin 17, Michigan State 14
- Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 20, Michigan State 13
- Actual score: Michigan State 16, Wisconsin 13 (OT)
- 20-20 hindsight: We both came close on the score predictions, but neither of us expected Michigan State to end Wisconsin's 21-game home win streak. As Bennett predicted, Wisconsin QB Joel Stave played very well and found Jacob Pedersen for a touchdown. Had he stayed healthy, he likely would have led the Badgers to victory. Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell had 77 rush yards, 43 shy of my prediction.
Ohio State at Penn State
- Bennett's pick: Minnesota 20, Purdue 19
- Rittenberg's pick: Purdue 23, Minnesota 17
- Actual score: Minnesota 44, Purdue 28
- 20-20 hindsight: Bennett had the right winner and correctly pegged Gophers QB Philip Nelson to elevate his game after a week to prepare. Nelson fired three touchdown passes, but none to MarQueis Gray, as Bennett had predicted. The only thing I had right was the line, "I've been burned before," and Purdue burned me again. WR Antavian Edison had a touchdown for the Boilers, but neither he nor Gary Bush did much in this one.
Michigan at Nebraska:
- Bennett's pick: Penn State 28, Ohio State 21
- Rittenberg's pick: Penn State 27, Ohio State 24
- Actual score: Ohio State 35, Penn State 23
- 20-20 hindsight: A big swing and a miss for both of us here. Although Penn State QB Matthew McGloin fired two touchdown passes (Bennett had him for three) and Lions TE Kyle Carter made me look smart with a team-high six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown, we both underestimated Ohio State's defense and QB Braxton Miller, who looked fine after the neck injury and led the Buckeyes to victory. Penn State RB Bill Belton, who I pegged for 115 rush yards and two touchdowns, had just 26 yards and no scores.
- Bennett's pick: Nebraska 28, Michigan 23
- Rittenberg's pick: Michigan 26, Nebraska 24
- Actual score: Nebraska 23, Michigan 9
- 20-20 hindsight: My prediction might have come true had Denard Robinson remained healthy, but Michigan had no chance after No. 16 went down late in the first half. Taylor Martinez wasn't as brilliant as Bennett thought he'd be, but the Nebraska QB played a solid game and provided a rushing threat to complement Ameer Abdullah. Nebraska lost only one fumble, not the two I had predicted.