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Thursday, October 8, 2009
Big Ten picks: Week 6



Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


A 4-2 record last week with some in-the-ballpark score predictions. As the coaches say, let's try to get one week better.

Minnesota 28, Purdue 24 -- The Gophers know what happens when they let emotions linger after dropping their last five games in 2008. The Big Ten's most experienced team bounces back and limits mistakes on its home turf. Eric Decker goes for 120 receiving yards and DeLeon Eskridge rushes for a pair of touchdowns against Purdue, which drops another close one.

Northwestern 31, Miami (Ohio) 17 -- After generating six takeaways last week, Northwestern faces a Miami team that leads the nation in giveaways with 18. RedHawks freshman quarterback Zac Dysert makes plays early on, but NU cornerback Sherrick McManis and safety Brad Phillips force some mistakes. The Wildcats also get their running game on track.

Penn State 41, Eastern Illinois 10 -- Last week's win at Illinois gave Penn State some much-needed confidence in the run game, and the Lions will continue their momentum against Eastern Illinois. Running back Stephfon Green turns in another big performance, and defensive tackle Jared Odrick steps up for the line. Former Iowa quarterback Jake Christensen connects on a touchdown pass, but Penn State rolls.

Michigan State 31, Illinois 23 -- Eddie McGee gives a desperate Illini team an early spark, but Illinois reverts to form in the second half. Kirk Cousins tosses two touchdown passes and Larry Caper adds two more on the ground as the Spartans continue their momentum and avoid a letdown in Champaign.

Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 17 -- John Clay and an opportunistic Badgers defense gives Wisconsin a chance at The Shoe. Clay starts to produce in the second half, but Ohio State gets a big game from its own running back, Brandon Saine, while safety Kurt Coleman forces at least one turnover in his return as the Buckeyes hold on.

Indiana 20, Virginia 17 -- Tough one to call, but I like Indiana's chances because defensive ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton face a Virginia team that ranks last nationally in sacks allowed. The Hoosiers rack up five sacks and Kirlew forces a key fourth-quarter fumble that leads to the game-winning field goal.

Iowa 26, Michigan 21 -- Something tells me Iowa's streak of 33 consecutive quarters without a rushing touchdown allowed ends against the Wolverines, but the Hawkeyes' defense still stands strong in the end. Tate Forcier makes some plays for Michigan, but his counterpart Ricky Stanzi turns in a big second half as Iowa stays unbeaten at home.

Week 5 record: 4-2

Season record: 31-13 (.705)