Big Ten Bold Predictions: Week Seven of Conference Play
Iowa is trying to hang on and get closer to its first Big Ten Title since 2002, while Ohio State and Penn State meet in a two-team elimination game.
Here is a look at each game and a forecast of how they might turn out after week seven of conference play.
Western Michigan at Michigan State
It is Sparty's turn to go out of conference, and they could use it. After two straight losses, Michigan State has turned from a conference contender into simply trying to get to a bowl.
Michigan State will take advantage of playing at home with stakes on the line. If they lose this game, they could be sitting home for the holidays.
This game may be surprisingly close, but the physicality of Michigan State's offensive line and running game will wear down Western Michigan.
Prediction: Michigan State 34, Western Michigan 17
Illinois at Minnesota
Illinois got up off of the mat last week and found its Juice. From nowhere, the Illini finally lived up to their talent level and ambushed a Michigan team that is in a free fall.
Likewise, Minnesota decided that it was time to show all of the inhabitants of the Twin cities what a real, live offense looks like. They were able to come from behind to stun Michigan State.
Both Illinois and Minnesota have struggled on the road. Minnesota, on the other hand, has played well at home. The trend continues as Minnesota is able to get just enough done to beat an Illinois team that is just beginning to find itself too late in the season.
Prediction: Minnesota 27, Illinois 20
Purdue at Michigan
Both teams hoped for much more this season. Purdue's false sense of confidence after beating Ohio State was badly exposed last week.
What was once thought to be a Michigan team headed back to the front of the Big Ten appears to now be a team headed to the front of the pizza line. Yes, that's right—the newest bowl sponsor is Little Caesars for the contest formerly known as the Motor City Bowl.
I give the edge to edge toppings to Michigan, mainly because after a loss they are hungry for a win...and pizza. Oh yeah, and the game is at home in the Big House.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Purdue 23
Wisconsin at Indiana
News flash: Quietly, Wisconsin is having a very good season. They have just two losses (both in conference) to six wins, yet nobody is taking notice.
Indiana has some talent, but still not enough to run with the big boys. I predict this is at least a two gum throw kind of game for Bill Lynch because his team will be outmuscled by Wisconsin.
Run, run, run, and then pass with play action. We have seen the ingredients of a Wisconsin team since Barry Alvarez took over. It will be no different this game. Wisconsin will pound away at Indiana and win methodically.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Indiana 17
Northwestern at Iowa
How will this game play out? Let's take a quick stab based on the season for Iowa thus far: Iowa will struggle through the first half and then finally get their act together on some flukey play and steamroll from there.
I am not betting against Iowa because they keep finding a way to get a win despite being the ugly duckling of college football this year.
On the other hand, Northwestern does have the type of offense and quarterback that could give Iowa fits. If Iowa's defense sits back and lets Mike Kafka make plays with his arm and ultimately his legs, Iowa could be in trouble.
The reality is that Iowa will find a way to win, somehow, some way, to many folks' chagrin.
Prediction: Iowa 27, Northwestern 21
Ohio State at Penn State
This is by far the marquee matchup of the day in conference and plays only second to Alabama vs. LSU this weekend.
Ohio State will be looking to avenge the loss to the Happy Valley Crusaders at home last year, while a win by Penn State would turn them into Buckeye fans next week for a shot at gaining at least a piece of the Big Ten crown.
While Ohio State's defense has been tremendous this year, the offense has not been able to move the ball consistently against a big-time defense. There aren't too many more big-time defenses than Penn State's.
I fully expect Penn State to load up against Terrelle Pryor and pressure him all over the field. He has not excelled against teams that can get a rush, and Penn State fits that profile with 32 sacks in Big Ten play.
Can you catch the slant on this one yet? I think Ohio State will come to play, but I don't think they will be able to do much against Penn State's defense in Happy Valley.
I don't think Penn State will do much against Ohio State's defense either, but they will put enough drives together to win.
Prediction: Penn State 17, Ohio State 13
The fun begins at noon on Saturday. Stay tuned for week eight of the Bold Big Ten Predictions next Thursday...
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