Another weekly prediction battle between TheWolverine.com staff writer Andy Reid and intern Kevin Minor
Indiana at Illinois: Point spread = Illinois -1.5
Andy Reid: It says a lot about Indiana that Vegas is taking Illinois in this game. Because make no mistake about it - Illinois is a really bad team.
I have liked what I've seen from the Indiana offense this season though. Coach Kevin Wilson hasn't built a champion, yet - but he can score points, and the Fighting Illini haven't shown that they can stop anyone, defensively.
The Hoosiers are going to out-race Illinois in a barnburner.
SCORE: Indiana 35, Illinois 31
Kevin Minor: There isn't a team in the country that I believe Illinois should be favored over.
Indiana is a hungry team that possesses the conference's most potent passing game, and has played with resolve against some of the Big Ten's top teams.
Illinois. on the other hand, has folded when pressed. I think Indiana wins this one against a poor Illini defense, and it won't close.
SCORE: Indiana 48, Illinois 17
Purdue at Minnesota: Point spread = Purdue -6
Andy Reid: How disappointed are Purdue fans right now? The Boilermakers were anointed kings of the Leaders Division when it became apparent that Wisconsin had plenty of offensive problems.
But the Gophers are starting to put it together, while Purdue can't quite get over the hump. Still, Minnesota doesn't have much of an identity right now. The Boilermakers quick-strike offense will be successful early and often. Purdue to cover.
SCORE: Purdue 38, Minnesota 24
Kevin Minor: It is clear that Minnesota is playing for the future in starting freshman quarterback Philip Nelson and moving senior leader MarQueis Gray to wide receiver, and I think the rest of the Gophers will take notice.
Purdue has played well below expectations this year, but UM is in complete shambles.
Even at home, UM will struggle mightily against a PU team that absolutely needs a win to stay in the Leaders Division race.
Purdue's front seven will take advantage of Minnesota's freshman signal caller, and the Boilermakers roll.
SCORE: Purdue 28, Minnesota 7
Iowa at Northwestern: Point spread = Northwestern -6
Andy Reid: Since the Michigan game isn't until this evening, Wolverine fans have all day to check out college football - and this is a game they're going to want to pay attention to. If the Wildcats win, Michigan can grab a two-game lead in the Legends Division with a win over Nebraska tonight.
The problem is, Northwestern hasn't been able to hold onto a lead this year. I expect the Wildcats to pounce early, but for the Hawkeyes to claw their way back into. I'm taking Northwestern to win, but Iowa to cover.
SCORE: Northwestern 28, Iowa 24
Kevin Minor: With sophomore running back Mark Weisman a game-time decision with an ankle injury, Iowa's backfield continues to be a revolving door and senior quarterback James Vandenberg has been far from consistent this year.
Northwestern has struggled to hold leads throughout the year, but I think junior standout running back Venric Mark will make enough plays on both offense and special teams to ensure that a fourth-quarter comeback for the Hawkeyes will not be a concern.
SCORE: Northwestern 34, Iowa 17
Michigan State at Wisconsin: Point spread = Wisconsin -5.5
Andy Reid: These two programs can finally meet to decide who is having the more disappointing 2012 campaign. Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Badgers have looked pretty good in the last few games, and running back Montee Ball has started to run the ball like he did last season.
The Spartan defense is obviously good, though. I think Wisconsin wins this one, but not by enough to cover the Vegas line.
SCORE: Wisconsin 17, Michigan State 14
Kevin Minor: They have to rebound sometime, right?
I understand that the game is being played in Camp Randall, but Michigan State has a defense that can nullify the effects of a raucous crowd.
Mark Dantonio and company are fighting for their lives in the Legends Division, and will play like it.
Wisconsin senior running back Montee Ball and junior running back James White will both prove effective, but I think MSU pulls this one out of a hat
perhaps on a trick play.
SCORE: Michigan State 17, Wisconsin 16
Ohio State Penn State: Point spread = Ohio State -3
Andy Reid: The Buckeyes have a chance to finish off a 12-0 season - but there are some tough games still ahead of them. And this one is extra-tricky because no one really knows whether Braxton Miller will be 100 percent after a vicious hit knocked him out the game last week.
Even with Miller in the lineup, I like the home-standing Nittany Lions in this one. The Matt McGloin-led offense is really starting to look potent, and PSU gets it done of defense. I'm taking Penn State to win.
SCORE: Penn State 31, Ohio State 24
Kevin Minor: Despite an offseason marred by scandal, the Nittany Lions are on a roll that no one would have expected.
This game will come down to the quarterbacks, and sophomore Braxton Miller may be shaky after being rushed to the hospital following a hard hit a week ago - especially considering the running nature of Urban Meyer's offense. Penn State fifth-year senior Matt McGloin, on the other hand, has improved on a weekly basis and will carry PSU.
Penn State at home.
SCORE: Penn State 35, Ohio State 32
Out-of-conference game of the week
Oregon State at Washington: Points spread = -4
It's hard to believe it, but the Beavers are actually good this year. They might have the best defense in the country (no, that's not an overstatement, and yes, I remember the Alabama game), led by some aggressive cornerbacks and a stout front seven.
And they're getting quarterback Sean Mannion back this week, to throw the ball to Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton. Oregon State is going to roll.
SCORE: Oregon State 34, Washington 14
Notre Dame at Oklahoma: Point spread = Oklahoma -9
Go big or go home.
I am going with Notre Dame to cover in the country's most anticipated game of the week.
The Irish have yielded only six touchdowns this year, and I think the pass-happy Sooners will struggle more than they are used to against a stout ND front seven.
Still, in Norman, I think Oklahoma wins
but this one will go down to the wire.
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