College Football Zultan's Fearless Forecast: Big Ten Plus Five in Week 13

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College Football Zultan's Fearless Forecast: Big Ten Plus Five in Week 13
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Here we are at long last at the end of the season.

All the questions we had in September have been answered, for the most part. Some teams exceeded expectations while others fell short. 

Most of the perennial favorites remained where they always reside––at the top.  

For Week 12, Zultan failed three times––at Iowa, Nebraska and Miami. Miami lost by two touchdowns and Iowa and Nebraska, each by three points.  Besides sharing a border, the Hawkeyes and Huskers shared mutual pain as time ticked down irrevocably on their season.

A dozen did better than Zultan and guest prognosticator, Craig Bancroft. These prophetic soothsayers will be listed at the end of the article along with appropriate kudos. 

Be sure to click here to match wits with Zultan himself for the last time in this regular season finale.

As the 2010 regular season fades into the history books, it is time to look forward to Bowl Season. It promises to be another sizzler. But in the meantime let us look at lucky Week 13 picks:

Game 1: (24) Iowa at Minnesota

After another devastating loss 20-17 to one of the big guys in the Big Ten, Iowa (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) heads north to play the Minnesota Gophers (2-9, 1-6, Big Ten) at TCM Stadium in Minneapolis.

David Purdy/Getty Images

The Gophers finally won a Big Ten game on the road at Illinois.

Buoyed, Minnesota will be looking forward to a disheartened Iowa team sitting on their doorstep, poised for another loss.

Iowa, however, after suffering through a two-game losing skid, will be on a mission to end their season on a positive note by defeating the Gophers on the road. 

Hopefully, the end result for the Hawkeyes will lead to another great Bowl game someplace warmer than chilly Iowa City.  

Pick Iowa

Game 2: (10) Michigan St. at Penn State

Last Saturday Michigan State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) hung on to defeat Purdue after trailing for most of the game. In the end Purdue turnovers cost them––35-31.

At the same time, Indiana hung tough with Penn State (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) for the first half before Matt McGloin took charge of the Lion’s offense. 

QB McGloin threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns as Penn State upended the Hoosiers 41-24.

This week the Spartans must travel to Happy Valley to end their regular season.

After a number of close calls and last minute saves, the Spartans will not be able to overcome a deficit in Beaver Stadium. 

In an upset special, Zultan predicts that Sparty will fall this coming weekend.

Pick Penn State

Game 3: Northwestern at (7) Wisconsin

Wisconsin (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) is determined to make that trip to Pasadena representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.

All the Badgers must do is win this game at home against a Northwestern team without its offensive leader, Dan Persa.

Last Saturday Wisconsin shot out to a 24-0 lead at halftime––but Michigan came back to score 21 points in the third quarter with their quarterback Denard Robinson leading the charge.

The problem came on defense for Michigan who could not stop Wisconsin all afternoon and also could not keep pace with the Badgers on offense, losing 48-28.

Northwestern (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten) without Persa was outplayed by Illinois in a game held inside Wrigley Field 48-27.

Pick Wisconsin

Game 4: Michigan at (8) Ohio State

Denard Robinson may be the Big Ten quarterback of the year but he does not have the requisite offensive power behind him to make a difference, at least not this year. 

David Purdy/Getty Images

Michigan (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten), however, has found the key to their future. 

The Wolverines need to make huge strides in restoring its defense to top ten form. 

Ohio State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) did enough to win against Iowa whose defense could not stop the Buckeyes on a critical fourth and ten.

Terrell Pryor scrambled to gain the needed yardage and put the Hawkeyes out of their misery.

On Saturday, the Buckeyes will not let their hard-earned 20-17 victory be for naught.  They will go ahead and win and wait to see where the chips fall on Bowl Selection Day.

Pick: Ohio State

Game 5: Indiana at Purdue

Both of these teams reside close to the bottom in Big Ten Conference standings. 

Right now Purdue (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten) and Indiana (4-7, 0-7 Big Ten) have identical win-loss records of 4-7. Neither team has a chance to become bowl eligible.

Nonetheless each has played excellent football periodically in several games. The problem with both teams is their inability to sustain excellent football for four quarters. 

They cannot hold on to momentum in the closing moments of games. Against teams with more power and more reserves, they lose. 

As they meet each other on the field for their last game of the season, it would be great if both could bring home a victory.  But, in the end, you just have to stick with home field advantage.

Pick: Purdue

Game 6: (5) LSU at (12) Arkansas

Both LSU (10-1, 6-1 SEC) and Arkansas (9-2, 5-2 SEC) battled mightily to secure a win in Week 12 and both succeeded.

Their head-to-head game in Week 13 is for all the marbles, as the saying goes.

Either Arkansas wins and stays in the hunt for a BCS Bowl bid or they drop down and out of contention with three losses.

LSU, with one loss in the conference, must win to stay above the two-loss teams nipping at its heals in the powerful SEC West Conference.

The Tigers remain only one behind currently undefeated Auburn.  LSU is playing at Arkansas.

The Razorbacks led by their tenacious quarterback Ryan Mallett suffered losses in 2010 to Alabama and Auburn.  This is a tough one but Zultan lives for challenges. When in doubt stay home.

Pick: Arkansas

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Game 7: (13) Oklahoma at (9) Oklahoma State

The finalists in another conference title game will be determined by the outcome of this game in Week 13.

If Oklahoma State (10-1, 6-1 Big 12) wins this game, they win the Big 12 South and play the winner of the Big 12 North. 

If Oklahoma (9-2, 5-2 Big 12) wins, however, and Texas A & M defeats Texas, there could be a three-way tie for the lead in the Big 12 South.

As is generally the case at this time of year, much is riding on this game.  Oklahoma has not generally been a good road team this year, although they took care of business at Baylor.

Oklahoma State, however, has been good on the road and at home. The Cowboys only loss came at the hands of Nebraska at home in Stillwater. Once again, the nod goes to the home team.

Pick Oklahoma State

Game 8: (2) Auburn at (11) Alabama - Friday

Auburn (11-0, 7-0 SEC) remains undefeated.

Alabama (9-2, 5-2 SEC) has two losses––one to South Carolina by two touchdowns and another to LSU by three points. Both losses were on the road. 

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This game is a must win for Cam Newton and Auburn. Any chance to participate in the BCS Championship Game will fall by the wayside if the Tigers lose to Alabama on Saturday. 

Similarly, Alabama is playing to stay relevant for a potential BCS Bowl bid. The Crimson Tide also feels compelled to make a statement about their team and the future.

Alabama must be prepared to give thanks galore if they manage to upset Auburn on Saturday.

Pick: Alabama

Game 9: (21) Arizona at (1) Oregon - Friday

The Arizona Wildcats (7-3, 4-3 Pac-10) travel to Eugene to meet the No. 1 ranked Oregon Ducks (10-0, 7-0 Pac-10) who  may be without the services of wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei for the game on Friday.

Arizona is returning after a bye week and hoping to stop their current two-loss skid, losing to Stanford and then to USC.

The Ducks also had a week off after their near-miss against Cal 15-13.

Oregon fully expects to remain undefeated by upending Coach Mike Stoops’ troops––then ending the season against in-state rival Oregon State at Corvallis.

Arizona may give the Ducks some tense moments but the Wildcats are no match for the speed and power of Oregon, especially at home.

Pick Oregon

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Game 10: (4) Boise State at (19) Nevada - Friday

Boise State (10-0, 6-0 WAC) is the first ranked team Nevada (10-1, 5-1 WAC) has faced all year. 

For Boise State Nevada is their third ranked team.  Previously the Broncos met Virginia Tech in the first game of the season when Tech was ranked No. 10. Boise State won that nationally televised game 33-30.

Then the Broncos met and defeated Oregon State 37-24 when the Beavers were ranked No. 24. 

Nevada’s only loss came at home to Hawaii who sits right behind Boise State in the WAC.  Zultan fears there is no way for the Wolf Pack to survive the Broncos.

Pick Boise State

The Rest of the Story.

Guest Prognosticator Craig Bancroft went 7-3 during his turn reading the elusive crystal ball for Zultan. There were some tough losses to absorb during Week 12 of the college football season. Twelve dialed-in denizens outguessed him, including one perfect on the day. Congratulations to:

10-0: Jack Darland, Jr. - Cedar Falls, IA

9-1: Phillip Murphy - Muscatine, IA; Rick "Turk" Steffens - Wilton, IA; Ryan Sparrow - Channahon, IL; Chris Seberg - New Brighton, MN

8-2: Siddharth Killekar - Mumbai, India; Dallas Palmer - New Virginia, IA; Eric Lawhead - Bolingbrook, IL; Michael Crisp - Spencerville, OH; Craig Hill - Summerfield, FL; Kenneth Zuerner - Iowa City, IA; Joel Greer - no city given

Be sure to click here to enter your own slate of winners for your last chance of the regular season. 

The Zultan contest has been sponsored by Sports Then and Now where we look at sports today as well as looking back at famous sports moments of the past.

Winners of the season-long contest will be revealed after Saturday’s games so stay tuned for that!  

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