NCF Nation: Cal-Poly Mustangs
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's time for the final round of regular-season picks. Rivalry week in the Big Ten brings some intriguing matchups, especially the one in State College. Let's see if I finish strong or fall on my face in lucky Week 13.
Ohio State 31, Michigan 14 -- It will take a complete performance from Michigan merely to have a chance, and the evidence against the Wolverines is simply too strong. They might play well for a quarter or a half, but mistakes are inevitable, particularly on offense. Ohio State won't take Michigan lightly despite its record, and running back Chris "Beanie" Wells continues his November brilliance in what could be his final game at Ohio Stadium.
Purdue 28, Indiana 27 -- Given Joe Tiller's impact at Purdue and as an offensive innovator in the Big Ten, it'd be nice if the Boilers offense showed up in his final game. This hasn't been a typical season for Tiller at Purdue, which won't be going bowling and ranks last in the league in scoring (21.3 ppg). Indiana is finally healthy, and the Hoosiers will play hard in the season finale. But Purdue comes up big at the end with a game-winning touchdown drive.
Penn State 30, Michigan State 23 -- When it comes to talent, Penn State has the edge at most positions. But the Lions are trying to regain their swagger and need to stop questioning the offensive play calling. Michigan State might be the most cohesive team in the Big Ten, and the Spartans will perform a lot better than they did against Ohio State. But Daryll Clark eventually will get things together, and a big-play offense led by Evan Royster and Derrick Williams proves too much for Michigan State.
Wisconsin 40, Cal-Poly 27 -- This won't be an easy game for Wisconsin. Cal-Poly can put up a ton of yards and points, and the Badgers' defense has been anything but air-tight this season. The difference, as usual, will be Wisconsin's power run game. Cal-Poly defenders will be no match for bruising Badgers running backs P.J. Hill and John Clay, both of whom rush for 100 yards or more in the regular-season finale.
Northwestern 28, Illinois 24 -- A very tough game to pick. Illinois has more overall talent and needs a win to get bowl eligible, but it's impossible to ignore the inconsistency the Illini have shown through the first 11 games. Games are won and lost in the red zone, and Illinois ranks eighth in the league in red-zone offense, while Northwestern ranks third in red-zone defense. Corey Wootton and the Wildcats do enough to slow down Juice Williams on senior day.
Minnesota 24, Iowa 21 -- What's the final week of picks without an upset? Sure, Minnesota could be emotionally spent after last week's loss to Wisconsin, but star wide receiver Eric Decker returns to an offense that functioned well at times against the Badgers. Iowa has done nothing significant on the road this season, and though Shonn Greene will have another huge game, the Hawkeyes commit a critical turnover or two down the stretch and come up short.
Season record: 66-16 (80.5 percent)
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Before I go enjoy a beautiful Seattle afternoon -- yep, I'm in Pac-10 country this weekend for my cousin's wedding -- here are a few items to browse tonight or this weekend. Hope you enjoyed the first week of our blogs. Tuesday is Big Ten day -- Blue Ribbon previews and lots of stuff on my blog -- so come and check it out. The Space Needle beckons ...
- Left tackle Gerald Cadogan looks to be the next stud lineman to come out of Penn State. I wonder how his little brother will fare in State College? On second thought, I shouldn't call Nate Cadogan little. He's 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds. Mercy.
- In a sport where the regular season is actually relevant, every game becomes a must-see event. So it's no surprise Wisconsin already has sold out six of its seven home games for the fall. If you missed out, you can still get seats for the Cal Poly game on Nov. 22? Anybody want to see the mighty Mustangs? Anybody? Bueller?
- Penn State players weren't the only ones helping out a good cause Friday. Kudos to the 26 Iowa Hawkeyes who donated blood.
- Bleacher Report has a list of six reasons why Michigan will succeed this fall. I don't agree that the schedule is overly beneficial, but reasons one through five work for me.