- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Allstate Sugar Bowl officially wrapped up the Big Ten season and also settled the season-long picks battle between the two bloggers.
New guy for the win.
I took a slim one-game lead into bowl season but widened the gap with a stellar 9-1 showing in the bowls. Adam went a respectable 7-3, which is still a record the Big Ten wishes it had during the postseason. I'll put my picks trophy next to the one I won in our fantasy challenge earlier this season. My mantel is getting crowded.
Let's review our picks ...
Little Caesars Bowl
Bennett's pick: Purdue 34, Western Michigan 33
Rittenberg's pick: Western Michigan 31, Purdue 27
Actual score: Purdue 37, Western Michigan 32
20-20 hindsight: We both predicted a close game with a lot of points, even though we didn't see it being as wild as it turned out. Rittenberg has less confidence in the Purdue defense, which gave up plenty of points and yards but also created seven turnovers. I correctly predicted a big night for the Boilers' running game -- they ran for 265 yards -- though my somewhat tongue-in-cheek pick of a blocked kick at the end didn't happen.
Bennett's pick: Oklahoma 27, Iowa 20
Rittenberg's pick: Oklahoma 31, Iowa 24
Actual score: Oklahoma 31, Iowa 14
20-20 hindsight: Neither of us thought Iowa had enough firepower without Marcus Coker to hang with the Sooners, and the Hawkeyes didn't even score until the fourth quarter. Adam nailed the Sooners' point total, while my prediction of two James Vandenberg interceptions was one too many.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Bennett's pick: Texas A&M 35, Northwestern 31
Rittenberg's pick: Texas A&M 42, Northwestern 31
Actual score: Texas A&M 33, Northwestern 22
20-20 hindsight: Adam can take a bow for correctly pegging the margin of victory. He must have talked the Aggies into kicking that field goal with 30 seconds left. Neither of us liked the chances of Northwestern's defense slowing down A&M, and the Wildcats surrendered 409 yards while falling behind 30-7 before a late rally.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Bennett's pick: Illinois 17, UCLA 9
Rittenberg's pick: Illinois 14, UCLA 10
Actual score: Illinois 20, UCLA 14
20-20 hindsight: We both foresaw a low-scoring game, and if not for UCLA's late cosmetic touchdown, I would have almost nailed the total combined points. I predicted that the Illinois defense would dominate and that Whitney Mercilus would record two sacks; he was credited with 1.5. Adam said Nathan Scheelhaase would score a late touchdown. Well, he did throw a 60-yard score to A.J. Jenkins with less than six minutes left.
Bennett's pick: Houston 31, Penn State 24
Rittenberg's pick: Penn State 28, Houston 24
Actual score: Houston 30, Penn State 14
20-20 hindsight: I predicted that Case Keenum would throw a couple of early touchdown passes and that Penn State would have trouble responding. That looked pretty smart as Keenum threw for two first-quarter scores and the Nittany Lions laid a defensive egg. I almost had Houston's score on the nose and probably wouldn't have given Penn State's offense that much credit had I known for sure that Matt McGloin wouldn't play. Adam's pick of a 200-yard plus day for Silas Redd was a little bit off, as Redd mustered only 53 yards on 14 carries.
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Bennett's pick: Ohio State 24, Florida 23
Rittenberg's pick: Ohio State 21, Florida 17
Actual score: Florida 24, Ohio State 17
20-20 hindsight: Ah, my only setback. We both gave the Buckeyes a little too much credit and didn't see the big Florida special-teams plays that would swing this outcome. I predicted impressive days for Dan Herron and DeVier Posey; Herron ran for 82 yards and Posey had only 38 yards receiving. We both thought Braxton Miller would star for Ohio State. He threw for two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough.
Bennett's pick: Michigan State 17, Georgia 14
Rittenberg's pick: Michigan State 21, Georgia 20
Actual score: Michigan State 33, Georgia 30 (3 OT)
20-20 hindsight: We both saw a low-scoring game and a close Spartans victory, and I nailed the margin of victory. Neither of us predicted a triple-overtime thriller, or that Michigan State would fall behind 16-0 before a huge rally.
Capital One Bowl
Bennett's pick: South Carolina 20, Nebraska 17
Rittenberg's pick: South Carolina 24, Nebraska 21
Actual score: South Carolina 30, Nebraska 13
20-20 hindsight: We both thought the Huskers would keep it close, and they should have. But Nebraska made way too many mental errors, and the Gamecocks turned a game that was 16-13 going into the fourth quarter into a blowout win. I didn't think Nebraska could pass the ball effectively, and Taylor Martinez only threw for 116 yards. Neither of us gave South Carolina's offense enough credit.
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
Bennett's pick: Oregon 35, Wisconsin 30
Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 38, Oregon 35
Actual score: Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38
20-20 hindsight: Kudos to Adam for correctly predicting Wisconsin's final score, and it was 38-35 going into the fourth quarter. But they play 60 minutes for a reason. We both saw a high-scoring game but not a record-breaking Rose Bowl. Adam was right to say Jared Abbrederis would have a big game, but Wisconsin's defense let him down. I said Montee Ball would have a big day (check) but that the Badgers couldn't contain the Ducks in space. Uh, yeah.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Bennett's pick: Michigan 24, Virginia Tech 13
Rittenberg's pick: Michigan 27, Virginia Tech 21
Actual score: Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 (OT)
20-20 hindsight: We both came within a point of one team's score, though neither of us predicted overtime. I liked Michigan to win big while Adam forecast a closer game. He was right on that -- but not right enough during bowl season to beat me.
Brian Bennett: 82-26 (.759)
Adam Rittenberg: 79-29 (.732)
20hMax Olson and Jake Trotter