Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 8 Big Ten Football Game
Last week saw matchups go down to four overtimes, and the biggest game of the day end up being a complete beatdown. So will Week 8 provide more of the former or the latter?
Doubtful we'll be seeing the former happening, considering the lack of top-level teams playing each other...but we've been fooled before this season in the Big Ten, so don't totally count that out.
With only two ranked teams, schools like Michigan and Michigan State are looking to get into the Top 25 with wins in Week 8.
Can they win and get into the Top 25?
Before we get into this week's uninspiring lineup of games, let me remind you of where I stand on the season.
Last Week: 3-1 (2-2 ATS)
2013 Picks: 46-13 (30-28-1 ATS)
*All odds courtesy VegasInsider.com.
Minnesota at Northwestern (-12.5)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at noon ET (ESPN2)
The last time we saw both of these teams, they were on the losing ends of complete beatdowns. So to say Minnesota and Northwestern want a win badly just might be a huge understatement.
Minnesota is coming off a bye week and confirmed yesterday that redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner will be the starting quarterback this week for the Golden Gophers. It means Minnesota will feature a big time power running game once again.
That could spell trouble for Northwestern, who have been pounded on the ground over the past two weeks, so much so that they've given up 534 yards on the ground to Ohio State and Wisconsin combined.
If Northwestern has any hopes of getting back in the Legends Division race, it needs to get more physical on the lines, which is something Minnesota has gotten better at this season, but still aren't great there, either.
For me, the two guys who will tell you a whole lot about this matchup and who's winning won't be the quarterbacks or running backs, but a pair of defensive linemen.
If you are noticing Northwestern's Tyler Scott or Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman, then this will be a slugfest, and whomever is being noticed more is likely to have their team ahead on the scoreboard. This game will be won or lost in the trenches.
This could be a trap game, especially if Kain Colter and Venric Mark aren't able to go.
I expect Northwestern to bounce back, but it won't be easy against a physical Minnesota squad. Look for the under in this matchup.
Prediction: Northwestern 27, Minnesota 20
Purdue at Michigan State (-27.5)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at noon ET (BTN)
Poor Danny Etling. Talk about a baptism by fire, huh?
For your second career start, get out there and face the best defense in the country. Good luck, son.
Purdue has all sorts of problems, and the offensive line is one of them. Facing the likes of Shilique Calhoun, Max Bullough and Darqueze Dennard is enough to put fear in the most veteran of quarterbacks, let alone a true freshman making his second start ever.
Add in a Michigan State offense that has gotten it going offensively over the past few weeks against much better defenses (yes, Indiana's defense is better) than Purdue throws out there, and you have a major mismatch.
This game could really put Michigan State into the race for the Legends Division title, because they're going to make a statement in how bad they beat down Purdue.
Look for a defensive touchdown and three touchdowns from running back Jeremy Langford.
Prediction: Michigan State 37, Purdue 7
Indiana at Michigan (-7.5)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET (BTN)
If ever there was an example of what not to do in a college football overtime game, it was what Michigan put on tape last weekend.
However, this week, the Hoosiers of Indiana come to the Big House, and expecting an overtime game is a bit much considering these two teams.
The good news for Michigan is that its best offensive lineman, Taylor Lewan, is likely to play after having a "hip issue" late in the Penn State game last week.
The other good news? Michigan's offensive line is going up against one of the worst defensive lines in the Big Ten and that means Brady Hoke and Al Borges may try out some new combinations in search of something that will spark the running game.
Speaking of the running game, that is the area that worries me most against Michigan's defense, as people continue to sleep on Tevin Coleman and the Hoosiers run game as a whole. They average 172 yards a game as a team, and Coleman averages just over 92 yards a game on his own—not bad for a "pass first" team, huh?
But I'm sure being slept on in the run game is just fine by Kevin Wilson, who continues to use that to his advantage. Just ask Michigan State last weekend, who saw Coleman go 64 yards untouched for a touchdown last week.
There is a reason this game's spread is as close as it is as we sit here on Wednesday, and for me, it could be even closer than that.
Ultimately, it comes down to which defense is better and can get a stop when needed, and I trust Michigan's defense just a bit more, especially with Jake Ryan back.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Indiana 28
Iowa at Ohio State (-17)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Vegas doesn't think much of the Iowa Hawkeyes in this game, but I do, and here's why:
Iowa's defense is vastly underrated—ranking third in scoring defense (16.8 points per game), total defense (290 yards per game), rushing defense (88.5 yards per game) and passing defense (201.5 yards a game) in the Big Ten. Hard to be more consistently good in every facet of the game so far this season, huh?
That said, there is no question this is going to be the biggest test it has faced so far this season, and considering what Michigan State did to it, the narrative of Iowa's defense not being as good as you'd think has begun in some circles.
However, what killed Iowa in the MSU game were big plays and not getting off the field on fourth down. After a week off, expect some of those issues to be corrected.
What I will be watching to see is if Iowa can do what Wisconsin and Northwestern couldn't—stop Carlos Hyde.
There's no doubting the talent scale tips in the favor of Ohio State, but it's not as large as some think, and Jake Rudock makes Iowa's offense so much more dangerous than people know.
If this game was in Kinnick I'd be picking an upset, but look for this to be another nail-biter for the Buckeyes.
Prediction: Ohio State 33, Iowa 27
Wisconsin at Illinois (-13.5)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. ET (BTN)
A night game in Champaign? This really could get interesting to say the least.
If you know the recent history of these two teams, then you come into Saturday night's contest expecting the unexpected.
Two years ago it was 17-7 Illinois at the half, before the Badgers pulled away; and this past year the Badgers were up just 10-7 at the end of three quarters before scoring 21 points in the final stanza to win 31-14.
However, what kept Illinois from winning each of the past two years was an offense that sputtered and couldn't keep it moving. That isn't the case this year, as Nathan Scheelhaase has found a second wind and is second in passer efficiency and third in passing yards per game in the Big Ten.
On the flip side, though, Illinois can't stop the run game, and that's a major problem when you are facing the best running team in the conference and a running back who's third in yardage nationally.
Look for Melvin Gordon and James White to both go over 100 yards (what else is new), Gordon to run for a touchdown of over 50 yards and for freshman Corey Clement to join that duo with a touchdown each as the Badgers cruise.
This just isn't a good matchup for the Illini, who I think will win at least 5 games this season and stop the crazy conference losing streak at some point soon—just not on Saturday night.
Prediction: Wisconsin 37, Illinois 10