Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 10 Big Ten Football Game
As the calendar turns to November, that means one thing in Big Ten country—rivalries.
Things heat back up between old foes Iowa and Wisconsin for the first time since 2010, and the intra-state battle between Michigan and Michigan State takes place in Week 10.
Don't worry, the Legends Division pecking order isn't on the line or anything... Oh wait, it is?
Last week we saw an unexpected upset as the Minnesota Golden Gophers took down the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Could we see another one happen this week?
With some potential mismatches on the docket, could it be time to call an upset special?
Come inside to find out how Week 10 will go down.
Last Week: 3-1 (1-3 ATS)
2013 Picks: 53-15 (34-33-1 ATS)
*All odds are courtesy VegasInsider.com. All rankings are official BCS rankings.
No. 24 Wisconsin (-9.5) at Iowa
Saturday, Nov. 2 at noon ET (ABC)
This has always been one of the most intense rivalries in the Big Ten, and recently, it has added an actual trophy—the Heartland Trophy.
Wisconsin vs. Iowa has also been one of the hardest fought rivalry games out there, with the series tied at 42-42-2.
However, for a lot of the players on the field on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, this will be the introduction to the rivalry as it hasn't been played since 2010.
That said, both programs appear to be very close to where they were that season, and this could be one of the best cross-division games in the Big Ten this year.
Breaking down this game is pretty simple—who will run the ball better?
Iowa has pounded the ball with Mark Weisman a ton this year, with Weisman carrying the ball 149 times for 732 yards already.
On the other hand, Wisconsin hits opponents with a one-two-three punch of capable running backs. Melvin Gordon and James White are first and third in rushing yards per game in the conference, while also ranking first and fourth in raw rushing yards as well.
They will receive a test from one of the best linebacking groups in the conference, and the Hawkeyes will need them to step up in a big way if they want to win on Saturday.
However, the difference for me is Wisconsin's rush defense is better—giving up just over 87 yards a game and just three touchdowns to anyone not in an Arizona State uniform.
Look for this to be one of the fastest games in the country on Saturday because they run so much. These two teams combining for over 80 carries total shouldn't be that surprising, and if so, look for Wisconsin to come out ahead.
Pick: Wisconsin 37, Iowa 20
Illinois at Penn State (-10)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at noon ET (ESPN)
Can either team stop each other's offense?
Seriously, these two defenses just gave up 63 points and 56 points, respectively.
That doesn't bode well for Penn State in this one, and here's why: Illinois is capable of getting into, and winning, a shootout with the offensive style they play with.
Penn State can do it, too, but that's not how they like to play the game.
These offenses both average 30 points a game and are actually only separated by one-tenth of a point technically.
The key for a Nittany Lions victory may be in the hands, and on the legs, of running back Bill Belton.
He has taken over as the primary running back in recent weeks and with good results.
Illinois rush defense has been vulnerable to say the least, giving up an average of 219.3 yards a game.
Penn State would be wise to pound the football and keep the Illini offense on the bench, and if they do that, they win.
This game feels ripe for an upset over conventional thinking, especially considering the lofty 10-point spread.
Pick: Illinois 37, Penn State 31
No. 4 Ohio State (-31) at Purdue
Saturday, Nov. 2 at noon ET (BTN)
For the second straight week, the Ohio State Buckeyes take on a freshman quarterback, and we all know what happened last week, right?
But this is Ohio State vs. Purdue, and that means anything goes between these guys. Especially after last season's 29-22 Buckeye victory and 2011's 26-23 upset by the Boilermakers.
Purdue clearly has had a habit of scaring the crap out of undefeated Ohio State teams in the past.
However, this isn't an Ohio State teams of the past and besides, have you seen that Purdue defense?
It isn't exactly giving opposing offenses nightmares or anything—ranking 11th in total defense, 10th in rushing defense, fourth in passing defense and, more importantly, 10th in pass defense efficiency.
Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde have to be licking their chops, especially considering they just got done combining for 481 yards of total offense against Penn State.
The duo is averaging a combined 477 yards of total offense and has a total of 11 touchdowns over the last two weeks.
So, can Purdue's offense help keep OSU's impressive offense off the field?
Not likely because Purdue's offensive output isn't much better than its defense, in fact it might be worse on the season (ranking last in total and rushing offense and scoring).
Look for Ohio State to dominate this game up front on both sides of the ball, but also look for them to turn the ball over a time or two through the air as Purdue keeps it close for three quarters.
Eventually Ohio State pulls away and pulls away big, big enough to cover this crazy 31-point spread, too.
Pick: Ohio State 48, Purdue 13
Minnesota at Indiana (-9.5)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET (BTN)
In years past, this game would've been shrugged off completely.
Really, Indiana vs. Minnesota? Who cares?
But, that isn't the case in 2013 as both have become much more competitive and each own a signature win this season already (Indiana over Penn State and Minnesota over Nebraska).
This game also happens to be perhaps the most intriguing of the weekend because it is a complete styles-clash.
We all know Minnesota loves to pound the football on the ground and Indiana likes to do it through the air and via a quick-strike offense.
Something will have to give in this matchup, and because the calendar flips to November for this game, that means defense becomes paramount.
It also means that's trouble for the Hoosiers, who have been exposed repeatedly on that side of the ball and given up a B1G-worst 221 yards-per-game on the ground.
While it is tempting to take the home team and the more-fun offense, defense wins games in November in the Big Ten, and Minnesota has the better one of those by a long shot.
Expect David Cobb to have a massive game and for the Gophers to have a massive advantage in time of possession, and that will carry them to victory.
Pick: Minnesota 27, Indiana 20
No. 21 Michigan vs. No. 22 Michigan State (-6)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Big brother versus little brother, in-state rivals or whatever you want to call it—this game means a lot.
That's all without even pointing to the fact that the winner of this game could be in the driver's seat of the wacky Legends Division race.
A win by Michigan State really separates it from the rest and could put them just one win away from really locking up the division.
On the other hand, a Michigan win throws the race wide open once again.
The Wolverines come into this contest after a week off, following their historic and record-setting win over Indiana two weeks ago.
Now the question is, which version of the Wolverines will we see? The one that lost to Penn State on the road or the one that could put up 63?
Going up against the Spartans' defense, which is ranked in the Top 5 nationally in rushing, passing, total yards, scoring and passer efficiency, Michigan needs to find more of the latter and less of the former version of its offense.
The flip-flopping offense isn't limited to Michigan, though, as the Spartans also have had issues keeping the offense going at times.
However, they are going up against a defense that isn't even close to being as tough as what they face every day in practice.
It would be wise to choose the better defense in this one, and that's Michigan State.
Expect that defense to do what they did to Devin Gardner's predecessor, Denard Robinson—get after him early and rattle him into mistakes all game long.
Pick: Michigan State 27, Michigan 13
Northwestern at Nebraska (-7)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET (BTN)
This was a game many had circled as a hugely important game in the Legends Division race, but that hasn't materialized.
Instead this game features a Northwestern team trying to find its first win in Big Ten play and a Nebraska team reeling from a historic loss to Minnesota last week.
This was also supposed to be a game full of stars, but it appears as if Saturday's game will be devoid of Taylor Martinez and Venric Mark at a bare minimum.
Kain Colter came back last week, so at least there is that.
Despite all of that, this game takes on huge importance in different ways.
Northwestern is searching for its first Big Ten win, and Nebraska is looking to stay in the Legends Division race.
With Martinez out, it will be up to both Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Ron Kellogg III to get the job done, but trusting them to win games against an opportunistic defense like Northwestern's is a scary proposition.
Look for the Huskers to pound the rock with Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross, and that will make all the difference between winning and losing.
Pick: Nebraska 34, Northwestern 23