The past two weeks, I have been able to close the gap on Kevin, though he still hangs on to a pretty large lead that will be tough to overcome.
Because Kevin witnessed one of the best games of the Big Ten season thus far, at the expense of me and my team, nothing would be sweeter than to get revenge this week by inching closer to his season total this week.
The Legends and Leaders division races are heating up and this should be a critical week in determining who the division winners will be by season’s end.
Here are our week nine picks:
Iowa vs. Northwestern
- Kevin’s pick – Northwestern 35-17
Sitting at 4-3, Iowa needs a win. Northwestern is already bowl eligible (meaning they have 6 wins, WOOT!) but they have a shot to get to a much better bowl game if they can win out. Gauged on earlier in 2012, this pick comes down to the Wildcats had a lead and played well in Happy Valley although it was a loss. Meanwhile Penn State destroyed Iowa last week, so I have to go with Northwestern in a close game based on that. But who even knows, like Dustin said in his recap this week, Iowa is the most schizophrenic team in the Big Ten this year.
- Dustin’s pick – Northwestern 29-25
Northwestern has been in nothing but close games this year, and, despite the fact that Iowa is coming off an embarrassing home loss against Penn State, this will be another nail-biter in Evanston. I think the Wildcats get the win this week, and hopefully, HOPEFULLY, we see a little more purple in the stadium this week.
Indiana vs. Illinois
- Kevin’s pick – Indiana 41-31
0-3 versus 0-3. I’m waiting for Kevin Wilson’s football team to turn the corner and win a close, high scoring game unlike the Navy and Ohio State outcomes during the previous two weeks. Illinois and Indiana are equal in record but the difference is Wilson is in his head coaching sophomore season, so I’ll give the Hoosiers the advantage even on the road. Like I said, Indiana has shown potential while Illinois looks to be 1 or more years away to beating anyone in the conference. This might turn out to be Kevin Wilson’s signature win (expectations are low in Bloomington), unless they can beat Purdue at the end of the year. Too bad for the great writers at The Champaign Room who happened to start their Illinois blog during this dismal first season under Tim Beckman.
- Dustin’s pick – Illinois 36-34
I like Kevin’s input here, but I just don’t think the Hoosiers can get the job done on the road. I think this is a team that is just a few plays (or players) away from being a bowl-eligible team. Having said that, last week’s loss at Navy doesn’t give me enough confidence to pick them this week. I think the Illini get their only conference win of the season this Saturday.
Purdue vs. Minnesota
- Kevin’s pick – Purdue 35-21
Another battle of teams who are winless in the conference. I don’t get Purdue. No, check that. I do. The Boilers might be the most schizophrenic team in the Big Ten. They blow big games even if they have enough talent to win some of them, but they never do. And they like to act like they are worthy enough to pipe dream a Big Ten title birth by murdering non-conference games and almost beating Notre Dame in South Bend (not to mention Columbus last week). Oh well, a victory in Minnesota will still not get us a real read on if the Boilers will make it back to back Pizza Bowls this year.
- Dustin’s pick – Purdue 31-10
Purdue has reached a desperate point in the season, if you ask me. Minnesota knew it was in for another year of “rebuilding.” The Boilers were supposed to be atop the conference, battling for a conference championship game appearance. And yet, I’m not sure they make a bowl this season, sitting currently at 3-4. I think they get a relatively easy win at Minnesota this week, but we will see if that helps swings momentum in West Lafayette.
Michigan State vs. #25 Wisconsin
- Kevin’s pick – Wisconsin 21-9
Michigan State is unwatchable this season. For some reason Wisconsin has played down to lesser opponents, so the newly improved running game and being in Madison makes them the favorite. Why am I so down on the Big Ten this year? This should be a marquee match-up. I guess I am just piling on the trend of hating on the conference like everyone else. But I do hope I’m proven wrong during the bowl season. Probably not considering the two best teams are not eligible for bowl games this year. With that said, moving on…
- Dustin’s pick – Wisconsin 28-14
Again, Kevin hits the nail on the head with the analysis that this should be a big time game and it’s not. Nowhere even close, actually. Wisconsin is heading in the right direction, while Michigan State has been nothing but disappointing. This should’ve been a match-up of two great defenses and two great running backs (Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball). Unfortunately for Big Ten fans, this probably won’t be much of a contest in Madison.
Ohio State vs. Penn State
- Kevin’s pick – Ohio State 24-23
Ohio State struggled at home against Purdue while Penn State dominated Iowa in Kinnick Stadium, so just based off that I was ready to pick against Ohio State for the first time this year. In Happy Valley the Bucks need to be prepared from the first minute, which they have had a hard time with. We also are going to see a vulnerable Braxton Miller against Penn State’s solid front seven and they need to rattle him early. Although if it comes to it, I have all the confidence in world in back-up Kenny Guiton. Yes I’m chugging the Kenny G kool-aid and pick that he will have a clutch role in the game. Starting at 5:30pm EST will end up under the lights and I expect it to be one of the most exciting games of the weekend.
- Dustin’s pick – Penn State 22-19
Ohio State has played just well enough to win in its past few contests. Penn State has been rolling since the first couple of weeks of the season. Yes, this is going to be the “ineligi-bowl,” but it should be an excellent game. I think Urban Meyer suffers his first loss at the helm of OSU, and the Nittany Lions get a huge home victory.
#22 Michigan vs. Nebraska
- Kevin’s pick – Nebraska 23-21
Nebraska is going to give their fans a heart attack again this weekend, this time in Lincoln. Besides the Ohio State game, their halftime adjustments have been miraculous when they get down early. Could happen again this weekend making another nail biting Husker win. Or they could come out quick, dominate Michigan’s defense and blow them out. But Michigan has looked just as competitive as any team in conference play so I would not bet on that. I’m curious to see if Denard Robinson can run and throw to make enough big plays to pull it out on the road or if the Nebraska defense will not let another dual threat quarterback to embarrass them. I say advantage Lincoln under the lights.
- Dustin’s pick – Michigan 34-24
Nebraska just hasn’t proven enough to me to get the nod this weekend. Yes, they have played good football at times, but at other times they have struggled. Same with Michigan, although it has been much more entertaining to watch the Wolverines in the conference slate. I think Denard Robinson and Michigan sets the down early in Lincoln and takes the crowd out of the game, giving them complete control of the Legends division.