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Since we're officially starting the Big Ten season this weekend, I thought I'd give a little run-down of where each team stands before talking about the games.

 

Illinois - This team is one that still puzzles me. They've had some big wins and proven themselves with the win over Arizona State. However, they've had a huge benefit of playing every game at home and won't travel until they play IU next weekend. In reality, they have a very easy Big Ten schedule, the only ranked teams they play being Michigan and Wisconsin. This team could surprise people

 

Indiana - I expected a bad year, but I didn't expect this bad. They have blown halftime leads and come back from halftime deficits. Twice they've come back from 20+ down to make it at least a one score game. But they've also blown a 3 point lead to a MAC school. And with very hard Big Ten schedule, they'll be lucky to get one more win.

 

Iowa - I was really high on this team, but they haven't really done as much as I thought. That being said, they are set up to have a solid Big Ten season with their toughest game being the season finale at Nebraska. They'll feast on all the bottom feeders and likely come away with 1 Big Ten loss this year. Unfortunately, they play in the same division as Wisconsin

 

Michigan - Good news for them is that Denard Robinson is back. Better news is they could easily run the table up to the showdown against Nebraska in the Big House. The defense seems improved this year, and with Robinson playing like he did last year, that's only good news for the Wolverines and their fans

 

Michigan State - I've mentioned how big of a let down that Edwin Baker was, but in reality, the whole Spartan offense has been a let down. Cousins only has 947 yards (236 yards a game) and 5 TDs this year. Considering the weapons they have, things should be going a lot better. And they are about to walk into a gauntlet of OSU, UM, UW, and NU. Have fun, Spartans.

 

Nebraska - Taylor Martinez and Cornhusker offense has impressed me. They rank 8th in the nation in rushing with 272 yards a game. The defense is where the concerns come. They gave up big points to a couple scrubs, but shut down Wyoming's offense. This game against Wisconsin will be the biggest game of the season for Nebraska.

 

Northwestern - This team has shown me a lot of heart. Minus their leader and overall best player, the team still won two games and have themselves in position for a bowl game. With Persa coming back, I see 3 easy wins, giving them 5 total. They'll sneak in another win and get to a bowl game.

 

Ohio State - This team is as bipolar as any team. They looked dominant against Akron and Colorado and looked awful against Miami and Toledo. In reality, it all depends on what team shows up as to whether they can win. The good Ohio State can hang with most the big dogs in the B1G. The bad team will only beat IU, Purdue, and maybe PSU.

 

Penn State - Just when I write this team off, they come out and looked very good against Eastern Michigan. The 2 QB system still won't win them significant games, but they won't be a bottom feeder this year.

 

Purdue - THIS is a bad team. With Marve, this team still just slightly ranks above a powderpuff team. They barely beat Middle Tennesse, lost to Rice, and beat an FCS school. At best, Purdue wins 2 more games this year.

 

Wisconsin - Save the best for last. This team has a dynamic offense and a stingy defense. They don't have a tough schedule after Nebraska and, if they win Saturday, will soon be hearing talks of a national title berth. Mark my words. They are that good.

 

On to the games for this upcoming weekend. Last week I went 11-2 in my picks and am up to 47-11 for the year.

 

The Bye

 

Iowa - They need to get better to make me not look as dumb.

 

The Bad

 

Penn State @ Indiana - This game won't be pretty. Both teams have struggled. IU blew up their defensive depth chart, as they should have. Offensively, I don't think they should stick with Edward Wright-Baker at QB as he doesn't fit the system, but any QB this year is going to be supplanted by Gunner next year. As for PSU, we all know about the 2 QB system. It works against bad teams. IU only has a chance in this game if they can keep scoring. Against Penn State, however, that won't happen. Penn State wins this game 27-10.

 

Minnesota @ Michigan - This game will be ultra ugly. Minnesota is bad this year and have had all sorts of problems. You almost feel bad for them, but I truly believe Kill will have this team relevant with the next 3-5 years. Denard Robinson is going to have a huge game and this game will be epically bad. Nothing tells me that the Gophers will keep it close. 48-0 Michigan.

 

Notre Dame @ Purdue - Purdue does get back Robert Marve full-time, but that's just going to make the beating slightly less embarrassing. They don't have a good defense and they don't really have a dynamic offense. Notre Dame found their swagger against Michigan State and survived the game against Pitt. They may not be as good as people thought, but they are still MUCH better than Purdue. This will be their easiest game to date. ND wins 31-14.

 

The Good

 

Northwestern @ Illinois - Call me a critic, but I'm still not sold on Illinois. While ASU was a big win for them, they have had every game at home and haven't beaten a good team outside of ASU. Northwestern has had Persa with the team for practice and should be fully acclimated to the team. I think he could do enough to keep Northwestern in the game. Illinois will win, but it's close. 31-27.

 

Michigan State @ Ohio State - This game will be a HUGE proving grounds game for both teams. If Michigan State comes out and wins at Ohio State, they could very well put themselves back on the tracks and gain a ton of momentum heading into their gauntlet of the schedule. If Ohio State wins, they gain a lot of momentum themselves heading into their own gauntlet. We'll call this the Momentum Bowl. OSU wins because of the home crowd 27-24.

 

The Great

 

Nebraska @ Wisconsin - I'm calling this now. It's the game of the year for the Big Ten. That's how big this game is going to be. At first thought, I thought this game might be a shoot-out based on how good the offenses are. But Nebraska has shown they can play up to the competition. Nebraska has played great defense all year. But considering how great these offenses are (Nebraska is 7th in the nation rushing, Wisconsin 13th), I'm not sure they could be held intact. Wisconsin certainly has a better defense, but Nebraska probably has the best playmaker on the field in Taylor Martinez. He averages 260 yards a game on the ground and through the air. Honestly, I think he could have a big game and keep Nebraska in this game. That being said, Wisconsin's overall talent is going to be too much. Wisconsin wins this game, but these two teams will meet against in late November. Wisconsin 27-21.

 

Next Best 3

 

1. Alabama @ Florida - This will be the biggest test for Alabama to-date and probably their biggest game before LSU comes in. Florida has a big-time offense going up a bigger-time defense. As the old adage goes, defense wins champions. Saturday night, defense will win Alabama this game. 20-13 Alabama.

 

2. Texas A&M @ Arkansas - A preview of what will become the norm for TAMU. Arkansas is coming off that shellacking at the hands of Alabama. TAMU, however, is coming off a more devastating loss to OK State by a point. The game is in Dallas and is technically a road game for TAMU, but don't let them fool you. This is a make or break game for both teams. The loser will completely be out of any national title of BCS bowl contention. I went back and forth on this pick, but TAMU wins this game 21-17.

 

3. Clemson @ Virginia Tech - Virginia Tech and the world might finally be introduced to Sammy Watkins. Who is that you ask? Only the leading receive on Clemson who had 141 yards and 2 TDs last week. Virginia Tech hasn't had a big game yet this year and I foresee them laying a stinker. They seem to do it every year early on and they are due for one. Clemson wins behind Watkins big day 28-13.
September 29, 2011  01:17 AM ET

Great blog.

September 29, 2011  01:17 AM ET

The Hoosers have a shot at beating a bad Boilermakers team.

September 29, 2011  01:18 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

The Hoosers have a shot at beating a bad Boilermakers team.

That'll be their only other win this year

September 29, 2011  01:23 AM ET

Northwestern could be a shootout they could pull out.

September 29, 2011  01:24 AM ET

3-9, they win 2 Big 10 games.

September 29, 2011  01:28 AM ET

Where is Minnesota? That is a game IU could win. If they were on your schedule.

September 29, 2011  01:33 AM ET

Minnesota is worse off than Purdue imo.

September 29, 2011  01:56 AM ET

I just realized I skipped over Minnesota in the team-by-team thing. I'll add them tomorrow morning

September 29, 2011  11:07 AM ET

Ohio State wins at home? I like it, but I think I have to, hoping you're right. If the Linebackers can cover the slants and the screens, I think they can win. Offense needs to let #5 play his game and let him throw a little more.

September 29, 2011  06:27 PM ET

Michigan State beats Ohio State.

September 29, 2011  06:29 PM ET

Ohio State's QB situation is a little shaky. The Spartans have a better overall team. Ohio State fans need to be happy if they can go 8-4, maybe 9-3.

September 29, 2011  06:32 PM ET

http://espn.go.com/college-football/team/_/id/194/ohio-state-buckeyes

7-5, 4-4 in the Big 10 is a real possibility.

September 29, 2011  08:38 PM ET

Can't wait for that NEB-WI game!!!

September 30, 2011  09:19 AM ET
QUOTE(#11):

Michigan State beats Ohio State.

QUIET YOU!!!!

September 30, 2011  09:20 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

Can't wait for that NEB-WI game!!!

That's gonna be a great game tomorrow.

 
September 30, 2011  09:48 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

Ohio State's QB situation is a little shaky. The Spartans have a better overall team. Ohio State fans need to be happy if they can go 8-4, maybe 9-3.

I wouldnt say shaky as much as inexperienced at this point, and 8-4 at this point would be solid if the youngins get some solid experience.

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