Thursday, September 24, 2009
Big Ten picks: Week 4
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It was another mostly forgettable week for the Big Ten and my picks, as I went 7-3. At least the Iowa-Arizona and Minnesota-Cal scores were close.
As Big Ten play kicks off Saturday, here's hoping for better results all around.
Michigan 33, Indiana 17 -- The Hoosiers' improved defense could keep this close for a while, especially if defensive ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton put pressure on Tate Forcier. But Indiana hasn't faced a team boasting Michigan's talent and speed, and the Wolverines have too many playmakers. Running back Carlos Brown has another big day as Michigan pulls away in the second half.
Michigan State 30, Wisconsin 27 -- A tough call here, but I'm going with the more desperate team. Michigan State simply can't afford to start 1-3, and the Spartans' defense will pick things up behind linebacker Greg Jones after two lackluster performances. Kirk Cousins comes back strong after last week's late stumble and leads Michigan State to the game-winning touchdown in the final minute.
Northwestern 26, Minnesota 24 -- This could be the week that the Gophers' offense catches fire, especially against a suspect Northwestern defense. But Minnesota's continued problems in the run game are a red flag, especially on the road. Gophers wide receiver Eric Decker has another huge day, but Northwestern gets a little healthier on defense and contains the run. Quarterback Mike Kafka leads the decisive drive after falling short last week.
Ohio State 31, Illinois 20 -- The Illini will finally have their entire offense together, but Ohio State's defense seems to be hitting its stride. Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn make plays, but Terrelle Pryor has a bigger day against an Illinois defense missing Martez Wilson. Ohio State beats Illinois at home for just the fourth time in the last 11 meetings.
Penn State 21, Iowa 17 -- Both teams have accomplished quarterbacks, suspect offensive lines and ferocious defensive fronts. Iowa has been tested more than Penn State, but the Lions are at home at night, which usually works in their favor. This was a very tough one to call, but I just can't see Daryll Clark letting Penn State lose this one, especially after how he struggled last year in Iowa City.
Purdue 35, Notre Dame 31 -- I can't really figure out Purdue, but the Boilers have weapons on offense and Notre Dame's defense is nothing special. Plus, the Fighting Irish will be without standout wide receiver Michael Floyd, while Purdue's secondary gets healthier with the return of cornerback Brandon King. The Boilers' season gets wackier as Ralph Bolden runs wild in a fairly major upset.
Season record -- 25-7 (.781)