Predicting the Big Ten's week 12 matchups ...
Northwestern at Michigan State: Point Spread = Michigan State -7
Andy Reid: The Wildcats have had plenty of trouble closing out wins - which the Wolverines excitingly found out last weekend. But they have started strong, and that might spell trouble for the Spartans, who have struggled to consistently move the ball.
Expect Northwestern to jump out to a lead, and although Michigan State will eventually pose a comeback, it will be too little, too late.
Score: Northwestern 24, Michigan State 21.
Kevin Minor: Sure, Michigan State has had two full weeks to prepare for the Northwestern, which it has defeated in four-consecutive matchups, and Spartans will have the motivation of fighting for bowl eligibility.
But MSU has not won a conference game at Spartan Stadium in 2012, and the Wildcats ran all over a good Michigan defense at the Big House.
I think NU responds to the demoralizing loss to U-M a week ago and plays hard, but an athletic MSU defense does just enough to shut down Kain Colter and the Northwestern offense.
MSU wins, but doesn't cover.
Score: Michigan State 24, Northwestern 21
Indiana at Penn State: Point Spread = Penn State -14
Andy Reid: The Nittany Lion defense has been serviceable this season - good enough to stifle the Indiana offense enough in this game.
Is it good enough to allow Penn State to win by more than two touchdowns, though?
I'd say yes - only because the Nittany Lions are going to score in heaps Saturday. The Indiana defense is dreadful. The Hoosiers are No. 99 nationally in total defense, surrendering 445.8 yards per game. And Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin is playing the best football of his career.
The Hoosiers might put up big numbers - but the Nittany Lions will completely light up the scoreboard.
Score: Penn State 49, Indiana 30
Kevin Minor: Indiana made me look like a fool last week for picking them to cover against Wisconsin and, as a result, I predict they will look foolish for a second-consecutive week, this time in a blowout loss to Penn State.
The Hoosiers rank last in the conference in both rushing defense and total defense, and were not able to score nearly enough to even appear competitive with the Badgers a week ago.
I think IU responds poorly to the thrashing, and Penn State's solid signal caller Matt McGloin has a career day against an abhorrent IU defense in Happy Valley.
Score: Penn State 42, Indiana 27
Ohio State at Wisconsin: Point Spread = Wisconsin -2.5
Andy Reid: The Badgers look like they've finally gotten their vaunted run game going after a disastrous start to the year. Montee Ball is sharing carries with James White, and the combination of the two have sparked something.
But the Buckeyes have the No. 16 rush defense in the country, giving up just 107.9 yards per game. Wisconsin's run defense is also pretty good (giving up 102.4 yards per game), but the last true dual-threat quarterback it faced was Taylor Martinez, who led the Nebraska offense to 259 rushing yards.
Braxton Miller will be able to do enough to win this one.
Score: Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 20
Kevin Minor: Wisconsin will certainly not rumble for 500+ yards against a good OSU defense, but the record-breaking 564-yard rushing performance against a porous Indiana defense last week was certainly a welcome sight in Madison.
The Buckeyes will crowd the box to make unproven fifth-year senior quarterback Curt Phillips beat them, and whether he can efficiently man the offense will be a deciding factor in this one.
The Badgers will get theirs on the ground, but the one-two punch of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde will be the difference in a slugfest.
By the way, Urban Meyer coached teams are 32-2 when having more than a week to prepare for a foe since 2001.
Score: Ohio State 28, Wisconsin 24
Purdue at Illinois: Point Spread = Purdue -6.5
Andy Reid: It pains me to have to pick this game. Watching Purdue-Illinois should offend football fans everywhere, because the product is not going to be entertaining, interesting or good.
But I have learned one thing: no spread against Illinois is too high.
Take Purdue to cover easily.
Score: Purdue 31, Illinois 13
Kevin Minor: Despite a five-game midseason losing streak, Purdue still has a chance to attain postseason eligibility with winnable games against Illinois and Indiana to close the season.
Illinois, on the other hand, hopes to stumble upon its first conference win since Oct. 8 2011. Tim Beckman's first season has been an abomination, and an Illini offense that sits last in the conference in scoring offense, total offense and rushing offense is in for a real treat with future pro Kawann Short lined up at defensive tackle for the Boilermakers.
The thought of PU winning two-straight road games seems ludicrous, but so does Illinois covering a spread in the near future.
Final Score: Purdue 24, Illinois 14
Minnesota at Nebraska: Point Spread = Nebraska - 20
Andy Reid: Jerry Kill has a knack for getting his teams to play their best football at the end of the year. In mid-October of 2011, Minnesota was one of the most depressingly awful teams in the history of the Big Ten; by the end of the year, the Gophers were competitive and tough.
This year, you can track the same sort of progression. Never count Kill's Gophers out. While I don't see them pulling off the upset, it will be a much closer game than Vegas thinks.
Score: Nebraska 34, Minnesota 24
Kevin Minor: Nebraska's top-position in the Legends Division is largely predicated on the ability to play from behind, and stun opponents with late second half comebacks. I don't foresee the Huskers replicating this feat again during the regular season, because I can't envision a situation in which NU will be trailing in the second half.
The Gophers will surely battle, but do not have the horses to run with the conference's top ground attack, and an improving Blackshirt defense should be able fluster a UM offense that will be starting a freshman quarterback in a hostile environment.
I know it is not what Maize and Blue faithful want to hear, but Nebraska trounces Minnesota.
Score: Nebraska 48, Minnesota 25
OUT OF CONFERENCE GAME OF THE WEEK
Andy Reid: Kansas State at Baylor: Point Spread = Kansas State -10
The Baylor Bears can score some points. But Kansas State has proven it can slow down high-flying offenses, holding Oklahoma to 19 points, West Virginia to 14 points and Texas Tech to 24 points.
Baylor might put up big numbers, but expect Colin Klein and the Wildcat offense to run roughshod over the Bears. Baylor is dead-last nationally in total defense (519.8 yards per game), No. 98 in run defense (198.7 ypg), No. 122 in passing defense (321.1 ypg) and No. 118 in scoring defense (39.4 points per game).
Whatever the Bears do on offense, Kansas State will do much, much more.
Score: Kansas State 45, Baylor 28
Kevin Minor: Oklahoma at West Virginia: Point Spread = Oklahoma -11.5
West Virginia has faltered in four-consecutive contests, mainly because of an atrocious defense that ranks last in its conference in scoring defense (41.4 points per game), last in pass defense (343.6 yards per game), and ninth in total defense (478.1 yards per game).
Big 12 foes seemed to have figured out how to contain a Mountaineer offense that sprung out the gate early in the season, and Oklahoma possesses the top pass defense in the Big 12 (170.2 yards per game), which should be able to do enough to negate WVU's top weapon, senior quarterback Geno Smith.
OU senior quarterback Landry Jones will have another solid game, and the Sooners will coast to a win.
Score: Oklahoma 51, West Virginia 36
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