Big Ten: game-predictions-092911

Predictions: Big Ten Week 5

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
9:00
AM ET
Big Ten play kicks off Saturday, which means no more freebies (OK, a few freebies). But it's time to get serious. Bennett has proven himself in nonconference play, but he'll be ridiculed -- along with his hair color -- if he doesn't succeed in Big Ten play. Rittenberg? He looks like the Big Ten neophyte so far. Just a miserable start.

Neither blogger has recorded a spotless week this season, so the quest for perfection continues.

Let's get picky ...

PENN STATE at INDIANA

Brian Bennett: Here's one game where it won't matter whether Matthew McGloin, Rob Bolden or Joe Paterno starts at quarterback. Penn State adds to the Hoosiers' woes with a dominating defensive performance. ... Penn State 31, Indiana 13

Adam Rittenberg: Paterno at quarterback? I do love the fullback dive. Penn State needs to get its run game going, and this should be the week to do it. Silas Redd, this is your last chance, pal. ... Penn State 34, Indiana 10

MINNESOTA at NO. 19 MICHIGAN

Adam Rittenberg: Denard Robinson needs to build confidence as a passer. Presenting ... Minnesota's defense, ranked 108th nationally against the pass. "Shoelace" and his receivers get it going in this one, as Michigan improves to 5-0. ... Michigan 33, Minnesota 17

Brian Bennett: The Gophers are reeling, and if they couldn't handle the North Dakota State Bison, they're not going to slow down Robinson. Michigan goes for the Little Brown Jug-ular ... Michigan 35, Minnesota 14

NORTHWESTERN at NO. 24 ILLINOIS

Brian Bennett: Dan Persa's back, but I have to believe he'll be a little rusty. Illinois' defense has been merciless and Mercilus. The Illini three-headed running back committee makes the difference in a tight one. ... Illinois 24, Northwestern 21

Adam Rittenberg: If this was Persa's second game and not his first, I might pick the Wildcats in a mini-upset. Illinois looked like a team asking to get beat for portions of last week's game. But Northwestern's defense doesn't excite me at all. Illinois' does and the Illini have a much better ground game. Illinois 28, Northwestern 24

MICHIGAN STATE at OHIO STATE

Adam Rittenberg: Another very tough game to choose. I'm a believer in Michigan State's defense, and the Spartans will give Braxton Miller trouble in this one. I give Ohio State a decided edge in special teams, as the Buckeyes surged last week, while Michigan State has had several breakdowns. Beating Ohio State would be huge for the Spartans, and they'll find a way to get it done. ... Michigan State 23, Ohio State 21

Brian Bennett: I like Sparty here, too, mostly because that No. 1-ranked defense will cause all kinds of problems for an already pretty one-dimensional Ohio State offense. The Buckeyes will stop the run, so Kirk Cousins will have to lead the way with his passing and not turn it over in what I expect to be a low-scoring affair. ... Michigan State 16, Ohio State 14

NOTRE DAME at PURDUE

Brian Bennett: The Boilers have had two weeks to get ready and really need a breakthrough win. However, I think Notre Dame's defensive front can slow down their run game, and a big night from Michael Floyd powers the Irish to a fourth straight win in this series. ... Notre Dame 27, Purdue 17

Adam Rittenberg: It's tough to get a read on Purdue, which has played a really soft schedule and has had mixed results. The additional prep time should help and I expect a decent performance from Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers, but Purdue doesn't have enough on defense to slow down Notre Dame. ... Notre Dame 30, Purdue 24

NO. 8 NEBRASKA at NO. 7 WISCONSIN

Adam Rittenberg: Wisconsin doesn't lose many games in Madison, and the offense has been operating in fifth gear for nearly a year now. Nebraska's special teams and big-play offense will keep this game very close, but ultimately, Russell Wilson makes enough plays in the fourth quarter to secure a big W. ... Wisconsin 31, Nebraska 26

Brian Bennett: I see a lot of points in this one, as I'm not sure Nebraska's defense can win the point of attack or whether Wisconsin can contain the speed on the edge of the Huskers offense. I think the Badgers are a little more balanced, especially in the passing game, and that makes the difference. ... Wisconsin 38, Nebraska 28

Bye: Iowa

SEASON RECORDS

Rittenberg: 33-13 (.717)

Bennett: 36-10 (.783)

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