Big Ten Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for Week 4
Hello, friends, and welcome to another exciting week of Big Ten football. I'm Adam, and I'll be your tour guide...I'm sorry, you have a question? Already?
You're wondering what that is over there? That smoldering pile of rubble?
Perfectly reasonable question to ask. That is the Big Ten's reputation after Notre Dame obliterated Michigan State 20-3 last Saturday night, knocking yet another Big Ten contender from the ranks of the unbeaten before the conference season could even get started.
So we're going to try a different approach in Week 4. We're just going to schedule a bunch of no-names. Also, we're giving Indiana the week off, and we are not going to comment about the rumors that we're trying to sell the Hoosiers to the MAC so please stop asking about that.
Yes, it'll be a nice weekend of smooth sailing, especially now that Michigan canceled its game against Notre Dame.
What's that? It's still on? What do you mean, "you don't get to cancel games a week before?!" Our entire plan depended on just that!
Any chance you folks can just conduct your own tour by yourselves? I think I need to lie down or something.
12:00 PM: UTEP at Wisconsin
The Badgers are back, babaayyy! A rip-roarin', rompin'-stompin' rock-and-roller of a win over mighty Utah State is all Wisconsin needed to get back on the Rose Bowl path, and—you're not buying this, are you?
Sigh. Of course you're not.
Wisconsin needed a late missed field goal (and the fortuitousness of an offensive pass interference call a few plays before that) to escape Utah State 16-14. In the process the Badgers benched starting quarterback Tom O'Brien in favor of redshirt freshman Joel Stave.
Now, UTEP is bad at football so this should be a relatively easy win for Wisconsin, but when all season long have you been able to trust the Badgers to do anything right on offense? The defense is pretty well on track—as near as we can tell given the competition, anyway—but just like everyone else, UTEP won't let Bucky run away with this one.
Final Score: Wisconsin 24, UTEP 13
12:00 PM: Central Michigan at Iowa
This is arguably the worst game on the Week 4 docket for the Big Ten, and considering the fact that there are two FCS teams on the schedule this week, that's saying something.
Central Michigan burned its bye week last week, fresh off a 41-7 shellacking at the hands of Michigan State, and the Chippewas' only win of the season was a 38-27 squeaker over FCS Southeast Missouri State.
So what we're saying is...they're bad at football.
And yet so is Iowa, a team that's more of a sideshow at this point with its hilariously horizontal passing attack and destructive effect on its running backs. The current star ball-carrier is walk-on backup fullback Jacob Weisman, who carried the ball 24 times for 113 yards and three scores in a 27-16 win over Northern Iowa last week.
And you thought CMU was the only team that could win by 11 over an FCS team! Don't watch this game.
Final Score: Iowa 4, CMU 3
12:00 PM: UAB at Ohio State
It's getting to the point where Ohio State's the only team in the Big Ten worth watching. That's not a compliment for Ohio State, it's pointing out that the other 11 teams are just rancid.
Ohio State shouldn't get much of a challenge from UAB, who is exceptionally bad at football. South Carolina put a 49-6 thrashing on UAB last week; expect more of the same this go-around.
That's good for Big Ten fans because we'll get to see Braxton Miller run up and down the field basically unimpeded for two and a half quarters before Urban Meyer no longer sees the sport in such a massacre and brings in the backups.
Final score: Ohio State 51, UAB 9
12:00 PM: South Dakota at Northwestern
Just as we all suspected coming into the season: After three weeks, Northwestern has 75 percent of the entire Big Ten's wins against BCS conference opponents (including Notre Dame).
And yet Northwestern still barely looks competent because the wins have been close. Just because the opponents have been from BCS conferences doesn't make them, you know, good.
You should also not watch this game.
Final Score: Northwestern 37, South Dakota 17
12:00 PM: Temple at Penn State
Penn State's still not a good team, but the Nittany Lions are at least better than the 1-2 record would indicate at first glance. So those hoping for Temple to pick up its first win in this rivalry in over 70 years (1941 was the last win, and Penn State owns the series 37-3-1) are probably going to go home disappointed.
But this game isn't a lock for Penn State—not with Matt McGloin at quarterback, a ramshackle gang of skill position players on offense and an equally thin defensive back seven. A couple twisted ankles and all of a sudden Temple's beating Penn State in the numbers game. Scary thought, that.
Still, let's not be fatalistic, even though if there's ever a year in the Big Ten (and at Penn State especially) to be fatalistic it's this one. But that attitude is poisonous to fandom. Don't be that guy. Or chick. Or person. Let the bad thing actually happen before you start complaining about it.
Final score: Penn State 19, Temple 16
3:30 PM: Idaho State at Nebraska
Now we're into the afternoon slate of games and one of the two is an FCS game. Great. Thanks, Big Ten. Good looking out. Idaho State isn't even a real university. Probably.
Anyway, the big story this week is a return to action for Rex Burkhead and Bo Pelini. Burkhead's been rehabbing a sprained MCL while Pelini left Memorial Stadium in an ambulance on Saturday; he returned to work a few days later.
This game won't be competitive. If you need a Saturday afternoon nap, perhaps a couple hours to sleep off the adult sodey-pops you had at the tailgate before one of the early games, this is the perfect game to have one.
Final Score: Nebraska 56, Idaho State 6
3:30 PM: Eastern Michigan at Michigan State
Hey, Michigan State? Chin up, buddy. You're in a safe place now. Notre Dame can't hurt you anymore. Look, we got you this Eastern Michigan opponent so you can just go about coming back as slow as you want.
We promise Eastern Michigan is harmless. Promise. Illinois State beat the Eagles 31-14 just a couple weeks ago. Their starting quarterback is actually a two-foot tall Duplo structure.
You'll get through this, Michigan State. No, check that—we'll get through this, one game at a time. The bad men in the gold helmets are gone for the rest of the year.
OK, get some sleep. G'night. We still love you.
Final Score: Michigan State 48, Eastern Michigan 3
7:30 PM: Michigan at Notre Dame
We like to deal in jokes and comedic exaggerations around here from time to time, but it's time to get completely serious: If Michigan loses at Notre Dame, this Big Ten season will officially be awful before its conference season even begins.
Seriously, we won't be able to handle a world where Notre Dame would be the best team in the Big Ten. It was so much more gratifying when we could pencil in five losses for the Irish, which was basically every year of the last 20 or so. You never like to see the insufferable fans get a good football team. It's always wasted on them.
Anyway, we're hoping for one last fireworks show from Denard Robinson, because if there's one thing that sets the world back right on its axis, it's Denard Robinson annihilating the Notre Dame defense.
Final score: Michigan 34, Notre Dame 28
8:00 PM: Syracuse at Minnesota
Minnesota gets a prime opportunity to pick up a fifth BCS conference victory for the Big Ten as Syracuse comes to town, and...ugh, seriously? Are we going to spin it like that? A win over Syracuse as a point of pride?
No MarQueis Gray means this game will be no fun to watch. Although it is under the lights and TCF Bank Stadium does sell beer so fans can maintain the level of "lubrication" they spent all day cultivating at the tailgates. So if things start going south for the Gophers we can always count on boorish fan behavior.
"And I said, well that's the one thing we've got."
Final score: Syracuse 38, Minnesota 28, Fans Arrested 185
8:00 PM: Louisiana Tech at Illinois
Points? Oh, there'll be points in this one. Illinois' defense is prime for the shredding, as Arizona State can happily attest, and Louisiana Tech's defense is about as stout as a wet paper towel.
It's time for Illinois to get its quarterback situation straightened out, what with actual football looming in the form of the Big Ten schedule. The stakes are plenty high on this front too, as Purdue could very well be Illinois' toughest competition en route to a bid in the Big Ten Championship.
Actually winning the Leaders Division will be more difficult since Ohio State can technically win that, but Illinois only needs to worry about Purdue, Wisconsin and Indiana in order to get to Indianapolis. And nobody worries about Indiana.
We digress. The point is that if Illinois doesn't come out of this game with at least a strong sense of where its quarterback situation is now that Nathan Scheelhaase is expected to play, that team is in trouble going forward.
Oh, and if the vaunted front seven of the Illini can actually take down a high-powered (seriously) Louisiana Tech offense, so much the better.
Final score: Illinois 33, Louisiana Tech 30