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Thursday, November 6, 2008
Big Ten picks for Week 11


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

After going 2-3 in a wild Week 10, my chance for redemption has arrived. The weather could be a major factor in three of the four outdoor games, as rain and potential snow showers are forecasted for Iowa City (where I'll be), East Lansing and Evanston. It'll be room temperature in the Metrodome and Ford Field.

Here's the rundown.

Ohio State 28, Northwestern 13 -- It's simply not a good matchup for Northwestern, and though the Wildcats' much-improved defense could keep things close for a while, Ohio State eventually breaks through behind running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. Northwestern still has injury issues at key positions -- check back later for the official injury report -- and Ohio State's defense seems to be hitting its stride in the second half of the season. This won't be nearly as ugly as the last three seasons, but the Buckeyes prevail.

Wisconsin 31, Indiana 21 -- Both teams have been big disappointments, but Wisconsin's offense appears to be finding a rhythm with quarterback Dustin Sherer and running backs John Clay and P.J. Hill. Indiana's defense continues to regress outside from a few players (Matt Mayberry, Jammie Kirlew), and the Badgers' ground game will be too powerful. Indiana's hopes hinge on its ability to attack the Wisconsin secondary with young wideouts Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher.

Michigan State 23, Purdue 14 -- Bad weather could turn this one into the Javon Ringer show, especially since the Michigan State senior running back is recovering well from a stomach virus. Purdue got going last week behind Justin Siller, but the quarterback spot remains unsettled and Michigan State's defense will capitalize on a banged-up Boilermakers offensive line. It won't be pretty -- then again, it never is with Michigan State -- but the Spartans survive on Senior Day.

Minnesota 28, Michigan 17 -- The Wolverines don't have much to play for and likely will be without starting quarterback Steven Threet. At least they have history on their side, never having lost in the Metrodome. Minnesota comes off a tough loss, which in the past would trigger a collapse, but the Gophers have stronger leadership this year, from the head coach on down. Tim Brewster said this won't be a real rivalry until Minnesota starts winning. The Gophers get the job done, using their familiar formula of forcing turnovers and capitalizing for points against a mistake-prone Michigan team.

Illinois 38, Western Michigan 31 -- This is a tough one. Illinois hasn't won consecutive games since Sept. 6-13. The Illini have had some internal discord and head into an odd environment -- Ford Field, which won't be close to capacity -- to face a high-powered Western Michigan team. Quarterbacks Juice Williams and Tim Hiller both have big days, but Illinois' secondary forces a critical takeaway in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

Penn State 24, Iowa 14 -- The bad weather and the bye week lead to a slow start for Penn State, but Daryll Clark gets things going by attacking Iowa down the field with senior wideouts Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood. Iowa boasts an excellent defensive front seven that can limit the run game, but Clark will have some deep options. Iowa will be fired up at home, but without much offense besides running back Shonn Greene, the Hawkeyes fall short.

Season record: 58-13 (81.7 percent)