Chicago Colleges: game predictions

Big Ten predictions: Week 13

November, 21, 2012
11/21/12
9:00
AM CT
After a historic week off the field, the Big Ten steps between the lines Friday and Saturday for the final time in this regular season. All 12 teams are in action, and several rivalry games are on tap, highlighted by The Game between Michigan and Ohio State.

As for the blogger predictions race, Brian Bennett is sort of like his old league, the Big East. On life support. He's six games behind Adam Rittenberg with only one week to go.

Let's get to the predictions ...

Friday

No. 14 NEBRASKA at IOWA

Brian Bennett: Iowa needs a hero and will be holding out for one until the end of the night. Not happening. Nebraska is on a roll right now, and will push around a Hawkeyes team that has little to play for and no ability to keep up with the Huskers on the scoreboard. Taylor Martinez puts up one last argument for Big Ten offensive player of the year honors with 100 yards rushing and 200 yards passing as Nebraska punches its ticket to Indy. ... Nebraska 38, Iowa 17

Adam Rittenberg: As you wrote last week, there's no stopping the Huskers now. Bo Pelini's team knows what it needs to do, and everyone has taken care of business against Iowa's flat-lining defense in recent weeks. Martinez continues his major awards push with four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing), and RB Ameer Abdullah adds a long scoring run as Nebraska leads throughout and earns the right to represent the Legends Division at the championship game. ... Nebraska 35, Iowa 10

Saturday

No. 19 MICHIGAN at OHIO STATE

Adam Rittenberg: The Game has become a lot more interesting for two reasons -- Devin Gardner's emergence at QB for Michigan, and Ohio State's progress on the defensive side. Gardner will make some plays and get Michigan out to an early lead on a scoring pass to Roy Roundtree, but Ohio State will respond behind RB Carlos Hyde, who will get the ball more (as Urban Meyer said he would) and finish with 120 rushing yards and two scores. The Game lives up to its billing and goes down to the wire. Braxton Miller scores the game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds left. ... Ohio State 24, Michigan 21

Brian Bennett: Meyer said Tuesday he would open up the offense after getting conservative at Wisconsin. Combine that with Gardner and Denard Robinson on the other side, and I think we're in for a shootout. I could see either side winning, but after 11 straight wins, how can you pick against the Buckeyes? Miller wills them to another victory, finishing with 375 total yards and four touchdowns. ... Ohio State 35, Michigan 31

ILLINOIS at NORTHWESTERN

Brian Bennett: Both schools want to be known as Chicago's team. Unfortunately for Illinois, it has become the Cubs of the Big Ten. The Illini have given us no reason to think they will win a Big Ten game since the middle of last season, and that's not going to change in the finale against Northwestern. The Wildcats' defense steals the show here, holding Illinois without a touchdown in a low-scoring win. ... Northwestern 21, Illinois 9

Adam Rittenberg: Tim Beckman's squad will fight hard for a quarter or so, but if Northwestern's backfield of QB Kain Colter and RB Venric Mark is healthy, the Illini are in trouble. Mark breaks free for a long scoring run, and Northwestern pulls away early in the third quarter. The Wildcats record another defensive touchdown and end their mini slide against the Illini, who finish 2-10. ... Northwestern 27, Illinois 13

INDIANA at PURDUE

Adam Rittenberg: Purdue clearly has more to play for, but I kind of like Indiana to play Boiler Spoiler. Cameron Coffman rallies the Hoosiers with three second-half touchdown passes, and while Purdue gets good performances from QB Robert Marve and WR Antavian Edison, a fourth-quarter turnover allows the Hoosiers to win The Bucket in Ross-Ade Stadium and end Purdue's season. ... Indiana 31, Purdue 28

Brian Bennett: I agree this one will be close, but I think Purdue is hungry to get back to a bowl and atone for a terrible 0-5 start to Big Ten play. The Boilers have found a spark since Marve became the starting QB, and their defense has gotten healthier. Marve throws three TDs, and Josh Johnson picks off two passes as the Boilers hold on. ... Purdue 28, Indiana 27

MICHIGAN STATE at MINNESOTA

Brian Bennett: Really tempted to pick Minnesota here, but the Gophers are banged up on both sides of the ball. Assuming Michigan State comes to play, the Spartans' physical style will take its toll. Minnesota jumps ahead early, but the Spartans mount a comeback in the second half and go ahead for good on an Andrew Maxwell TD pass to Dion Sims. Michigan State -- finally -- wins a close game to go bowling. ... Michigan State 24, Minnesota 17

Adam Rittenberg: Like you, it wouldn't shock me to see Minnesota win, but the injuries combined with a young quarterback facing a ferocious defense prove to be too much. The Spartans have their typical red zone stalls in the first half but come alive following a pick-six by CB Darqueze Dennard. Michigan State takes a second-half lead, and holds on behind Le'Veon Bell and the run game to squeak into a bowl. ... Michigan State 20, Minnesota 16

WISCONSIN at PENN STATE

Adam Rittenberg: Penn State will have the emotional edge on senior day, but how well has that worked out for the Lions this season? It didn't help against Ohio in the opener or Ohio State under the lights in an electric atmosphere. Even an emotionally charged game at Nebraska didn't go the Lions' way (thanks in part to the replay crew). Penn State takes its customary early lead, but Wisconsin chips away behind two touchdowns from Montee Ball and moves ahead in the fourth quarter. However, the Lions have one final push, and senior QB Matt McGloin sneaks into the end zone with 10 seconds left and does the discount double check move as Penn State prevails. ... Penn State 21, Wisconsin 20

Brian Bennett: It should be an emotional day for Penn State's seniors, who will be remembered by Nittany Lions fans for a long time. I don't see how Wisconsin, coming off an overtime loss to Ohio State and knowing the Big Ten title game is next week, can possibly match Penn State's energy. The Badgers come out flat against the hot-starting home team and never catch up. Ball gets the touchdowns record, but it's not enough as McGloin and Allen Robinson continue their assault on the Penn State record books. ... Penn State 24, Wisconsin 14

Season records

Adam Rittenberg: 71-19 (.789)

Brian Bennett: 65-25 (.722)

Notre Dame prediction: Week 11 at BC

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
9:00
AM CT
Upset special? Not a chance.

When Notre Dame has the ball: Boston College ranks 116th nationally against the run. Who have the Irish faced that is worse? Miami (119th). How did that work out? Notre Dame rushed for 376 yards, including 197 in the third quarter, when the Irish ran the ball on 19 of 21 plays. The Irish have rushed for more than 200 yards in each of their past three games and should have a field day pounding it against the Eagles defense.

When Boston College has the ball: Quarterback Chase Rettig is coming off a three-turnover performance in a loss to Wake Forest, but the Eagles average better than 289 passing yards per game. They will try to take advantage of Alex Amidon, who has six 100-yard receiving games this season, including the past three weeks. Their ground game ranks 118th nationally and has virtually no shot of making anything happen against the Irish's stout run defense.

Intangible: Boston College is actually first in something -- punt returns, averaging 25 yards per return. The Irish's special-teams woes have been pretty well documented. BC also has the history on its side, ruining perfect Notre Dame seasons in 2002 and 1993, games current Notre Dame players have said are not on their minds. (Who can blame them?) Coach Brian Kelly, who has said that history will play no role with this year's team, will also be experiencing a homecoming of sorts in the Boston area.

Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Boston College 6. This will be the Navy and Miami games all over again.

ND prediction: Week 4 vs. Michigan

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
9:00
AM CT
I got a taste of humble pie by whiffing on last week's prediction. You'll have to forgive me if it happens again, because there is no telling what can happen whenever the Irish and the Wolverines take the field together. Michigan has pulled out three straight against Notre Dame by four points each time, and each contest was decided in the final minute. Can the Irish put an end to the misery and start 4-0?

When Michigan has the ball: Denard Robinson. Denard Robinson. Denard Robinson. The man is capable of a big play every time the ball is in his hands, and Notre Dame's defense cannot get caught snoozing at any point. The Irish's front seven will need to get pressure on Shoelace and force him into some untimely throws, which will make life easier for Notre Dame's depleted secondary. Fortunately for the Irish, they should have no problem winning the battle in the trenches against the Wolverines.

When Notre Dame has the ball: The Irish found great success in last season's game by pounding it up the middle early, and they should do that again. Notre Dame has three very good running backs and an offensive line that will be facing a significantly easier task than the ones they had against the fronts of Purdue and Michigan State. A sound attack will suit the Irish well, as it won't require Everett Golson to do too much and should create some openings in the passing game when Michigan decides to blitz.

Intangible: Notre Dame has better personnel than Michigan. The Irish have played better football than the Wolverines through the season's first three weeks. They are playing at home, under the lights, with a chance to atone for last season's letdown and head into the bye week at 4-0. But there is the stigma of Robinson and Michigan, who have tortured Notre Dame lately and always seems to come up big when it matters most. The Irish must block that out and play their game, which is good enough to win.

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Michigan 21. The Irish jump out to an early lead, withstand a late charge from Robinson and ultimately have enough to end the Wolverines' reign of terror against them.

SPONSORED HEADLINES