Picks, Predictions and Prognoses for Every Week 7 Big Ten Football Game
Halfway through the season already? Where has the time gone, right?
Week 6 wasn't exactly fun for my picks, outside of my call for Indiana to win their first ever game against Penn State, so here's hoping Week 7 is a rebound.
Just four games appear on the docket in the Big Ten this week and they are all cross-divisional games.
Will the Leaders or Legends come out on top?
Three teams from the Leaders Division host games this weekend and that could be a major advantage in these games.
For the second straight week Northwestern is part of the biggest game of the weekend. Who would've said that just a few years ago?
So, let us slide into the picks and prognoses with a reminder of where I'm at so far this season.
Week 6 Picks: 3-2 (1-4 ATS)
Season Picks: 43-12 (28-26-1 ATS) *one push=tie
*All odds are courtesy of VegasInsider.com.
Indiana at Michigan State (-9.5)
Matthew Holst/Getty Images
Saturday, Oct. 12 at noon ET (ESPN2)
Michigan State used some big plays offensively to take down the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road last week and put themselves in a position to make some wonder about writing them off.
Quarterback Connor Cook has gotten better with more time under center (shocking revelation, huh), and last week he completed the most passes of his career (22) for the most yards of his career (277), showing he is making strides.
What I will be watching the most in this matchup isn't Cook or the rest of the MSU offense, but rather Indiana's pass offense vs. MSU's pass defense.
Michigan State leads the conference in scoring defense, total defense and passing defense amongst a host of other categories, but they haven't even come close to playing a passing attack like Indiana can throw at you.
The Hoosiers are second in scoring offense (44.4 points per game) and first in total offense (535 yards per game) and passing offense (346 yards per game) in the Big Ten.
Something will have to give in this matchup. For me the biggest key is that Michigan State has as many interceptions as touchdowns given up through the air (six apiece) and are going up against an offense that has issues with interceptions at times (16 touchdowns to seven interceptions).
Give me Michigan State in a surprising shootout. I'm also not buying the spread in this game either.
Prediction: Michigan State 31, Indiana 24
Nebraska (-14) at Purdue
Saturday, Oct. 5 at noon ET (BTN)
As we all wait and see what is up with Taylor Martinez's health, lets remember how great Ameer Abdullah looked last week against Illinois for a second.
He ran for a career-best 225 yards against the Illini, one of the worst rushing defenses in the Big Ten.
Now, let's take a look at Purdue's rushing defense, which is giving up 183.2 yards a game (10th in the Big Ten).
Anyone see a need to put Martinez out there now? With a bye week coming up the Huskers can make sure Martinez is as close to 100 percent as possible, while also getting Armstrong, Jr. more experience.
All of that while Huskers fans have visions of Abdullah running all over the Boilermakers defense. It truly is a dream scenario for the team most buried earlier this year.
What will be really fun to watch is how Purdue's Danny Etling, making his first career start, does against an improving Nebraska defense.
Honestly, I've been increasingly impressed with the Huskers defense over the past few weeks. It just goes to show you what getting talent healthy and getting youth some experience can do for you.
Could the 14-point spread be too little in this one? I think so.
Prediction: Nebraska 37, Purdue 17
Northwestern at Wisconsin (-10.5)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Saturday, Oct. 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
The last two opponents to face Ohio State square off at Camp Randall on Saturday in what is the marquee matchup of the week in the Big Ten.
Which one of these losers to Ohio State will step up and show its loss to the Buckeyes may have been a fluke?
This game has a lot more than pride on the line between two future division opponents. Simply put, the loser is likely out of its division race (and in the case of Wisconsin those hopes are slim anyway, given OSU's schedule).
I'm also sure Fitz will have some way of using two numbers to help motivate his team: 70 and 23.
Those were the Badgers and Wildcats' scores from their last matchup, respectively. No doubt Northwestern won't forget the 70-23 drubbing it took at Camp Randall in 2010.
However, these teams are in different places than they were then. On the field this is going to be one intriguing matchup.
Can Wisconsin's 3-4 defense match up well against the speed and space Northwestern likes to play with?
Can Northwestern's defense stop the Badgers rushing attack?
Whichever defense stops the other from doing what they do best will win this game.
After picking against the Badgers and for the Wildcats against Ohio State, I'm going with the Badgers in this one—mainly because history suggests Camp Randall isn't kind to Northwestern and I don't trust NU to be able to hold down UW's run game.
Prediction: Wisconsin 33, Northwestern 24
Michigan (-2.5) at Penn State
Saturday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Strange time for a football game in Big Ten country, huh?
That aside, this game is all sorts of strange.
I mean, Michigan is undefeated, yet sliding down the polls on a weekly basis as of late and Penn State as seemingly lost its mojo after suffering its first loss of the season to UCF a few weeks ago.
Penn State also just lost to Indiana for the first time in school history last week and are sitting at just 3-2 overall.
For Michigan, a convincing win on the road at a place like Happy Valley will go a long way towards helping erase the doubts of outsiders.
These two teams haven't met since Halloween weekend in 2010, where PSU took down Michigan by ten points. However, that game means next to nothing to this game, other than being a historical fact, given what has taken place at both schools since then.
What will be key in this one is to see which team can get a consistent game out of their lines—on both sides of the ball.
If Penn State can get penetration on defense it will help ease issues in the secondary and if Michigan's offensive line can get some push against the PSU front we could be looking at a team capable of winning and winning big.
There's a reason this game is just 2.5 points on the spread and its because this is the biggest test either team has faced all season and both have a lot more questions than answers so far this year.
I see Michigan righting their ship sooner than Penn State, though. They get a big win on the road here.
Prediction: Michigan 27, Penn State 23