I hope every had a very filling and joyous Thanksgiving yesterday!
Usually around this time, I am full of stuffing and turkey and there is literally nothing I can do except sit on the couch and watch football, or basketball as the case may be this weekend when the Wildcats are (hopefully) winning the South Padre Island Invitational. Yes, if there was a weekend to sit around and do nothing, doing it on the weekend when there is just too much food in my stomach is the perfect one.
This weekend features a smorgasbord of football to watch as the Big Ten races come to a close before next week’s championship. Friday, the Cornhuskers take on the Hawkeyes with the Legends Division on the line for the Cornhuskers. Michigan will know whether it has to defeat Ohio State for a chance at a Rose Bowl spot or not before Michigan takes the field in Columbus on Saturday.
And then of course there is the big game for the #LOLHat. Northwestern and Illinois. The ONLY game that truly matters on Saturday. Yearly bragging rights are on the line and the Wildcats want to send the Illini back south with their tail between their legs for the next year.
Northwestern has a lot to play for this weekend. And an opponent to feast on. Yum!
On to the picks (I slathered them in gravy for you!) for this week. Last week, I went 5-1 to bring my record to 70-20 (.778 win percentage) and LTP went a perfect 6-0 to get to 61-24 (.718 win percentage). On to this week’s picks:
No. 16 Nebraska (9-2, 6-1) vs. Iowa (4-7, 2-5) — Friday, 11 a.m. CT/ABC
PRR: Nebraska has the chance to wrap up the Legends Division with a victory at Kinnick Stadium on Black Friday. The Hawkeyes will be the ones wearing black though. Should we take that as an omen? No, we should not. Iowa has had an awful year of inconsistency and disappointment. That will come to a merciful end when Nebraska helps Iowa wrap up its season. The Hawkeyes will have some motivation to ruin the Cornhuskers’ season and the short week may help but it will not be enough. Taylor Martinez and his Huskers will wrap things up.
Nebraska 28, Iowa 14
LTP: Iowa fans are actually more nervous about getting a red out in the stands then they are about the outcome. That’s because Hawkeyes fans have mailed in hope this season as they are on the verge of one of the worst seasons since Kirk Ferentz first couple of seasons. The wind is going to be brutal and perhaps the Hawkeyes are hoping they can catch the Huskers on the Turkey Day hangover. I’m thinking this one gets very close just to rub it in to ‘Cats fans, who know that had we beat Michigan, this game would be for an Indy title game berth.
Nebraska 24 Iowa 16
No. 21 Michigan (8-3, 6-1) vs. No. 7 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) — 11 a.m. CT/ABC
PRR: The Wolverines will know whether they have much to play for when it comes to the Big Ten Championship Game well before this game begins. That might not matter because this is The Big Game, after all. The Wolverines will not want to see the Buckeyes finish undefeated. Ohio State will have to figure out what is going on with Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson. Both appear to be set to play and the Wolverines have not named a starter. That probably will not come until right before kickoff. Ohio State has been good this year, but the team also has had some close calls this season. At some point it will catch up to the Buckeyes. Braxton Miller is the entire team in much the same way Denard Robinson was for Michigan. The Wolverines might have their day.
Michigan 28, Ohio State 24
LTP: What an odd game. Should Nebraska win, this game really means nothing more than bragging rights, which in this series is ALL that matters. From our perspective though, I’m concerned about the Devin Gardner era, as he has a much higher upside than Shoelace. I simply think Braxton Miller is that much of an “X” factor that it will be the difference in what could be a classic game that puts Ohio State at 12-0 and shining a light on how poorly the administration handled self-imposed bowl bans.
Ohio State 27 Michigan 21
Indiana (4-7, 2-5) vs. Purdue (5-6, 2-5) — 11 a.m. CT/BTN
PRR: The Hoosiers and the Boilermakers both faced disappointing seasons this year. Indiana had the offense to compete with just about anyone. Purdue seemed to have the ability to compete with anybody but got off to a slow start in the Big Ten. These teams seem made for each other. The Boilermakers inconsistency on offense though will be the difference in this game. Indiana can put up points and it seems like the team should be able to do that against Purdue too. The Boilermakers season will end in ultimately disappointment with a loss in missing a bowl game.
Indiana 35, Purdue 28
LTP: Another rivalry game with something pretty big on the line for Purdue – a bowl game -which seemed unimaginable just a month ago. Indiana’s high flying offense should make this a pretty entertaining contest, but I’ll tip the scales to the home team in a very close one.
Purdue 34 Indiana 31
Michigan State (5-6, 2-5) vs. Minnesota (6-5, 2-5) — 2:30 p.m. CT/BTN
PRR: The Spartans disappointing regular season ends with a really good chance to secure a victory against the Golden Gophers. Minnesota has had a solid year, but the Michigan State defense is still one of the best in the conference and should be able to hold down Minnesota’s inconsistent offense. Le’Veon Bell will have a big game running against this defense — like Venric Mark and Northwestern did — in an easy victory at Minneapolis.
Michigan State 38, Minnesota 21
LTP: I’ve actually been impressed by Sparty’s resolve despite the weekly heartbreak. You can bet this team won’t want the embarassment of being bound to home during bowl season after back-to-back double digit win seasons. The Gophers D is just too pourous to contain Le’Veon Bell and the defense, as we saw, will give Minnesota fits.
Michigan State 21 Minnesota 13
Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3) vs. Penn State (7-4, 5-2) — 2:30 p.m. CT/ESPN2
PRR: The Badgers are going to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. They want to avoid the embarrassment of actually finishing third in their division. That is not what Wisconsin or the conference wants. Penn State is a strong team and one that would have deserved a solid bowl game (likely the one Northwestern is going to) if the team could. It will be an emotional senior day at Beaver Stadium. Penn State will want to end the season on a high note to leave warm feelings for this strange season. Penn State’s defense is up to the challenge of slowing Wisconsin.
Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21
LTP: Can you say coin flip? The Badgers lose and they further embarass the Big Ten as a third place team will represent the Leaders Division. Penn State wins and they lay claim to second place and a very impressive season that wasn’t supposed to be. This one has significant impact on the ‘Cats. Should Penn State win and Northwestern beat Illinois, we’ll be headed back to the land of the cursed Pirate Ship and the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Something tells me that’s where we will be facing a team from that area in our quest to end the bowl drought. If you’re looking for an “easier” opponent, you may want to root for the Badgers. I just can’t pick against Matt McGloin in a senior day grudge match.
Penn State 30 Wisconsin 24
Illinois (2-9, 0-7) vs. Northwestern (8-3, 4-3) — 11 a.m. CT/BTN
PRR: Somehow, Northwestern is a 17-point favorite. I do not think Vegas has watched much Northwestern football this year. Or ever. Illinois though is struggling a ton this year, so maybe there is something to that point spread. I am not willing to go that high at this point. The Wildcats offense has been a little inconsistent and there are still questions about Venric Mark and Kain Colter’s health. Northwestern is still good enough to win and win easily . this one. The Illini have struggled that much. And they are not that good. Illinois will struggle to score and that is why Northwestern will win more than anything else.
Northwestern 34, Illinois 21
LTP: Let’s see, last week I picked NU to win 24-20 (they won 23-20). Two games ago I picked NU to beat Iowa 28-17 (they did). I feel like I may have some pixie dust in picking, despite losing to PRR on the big scoreboard. I really, really, really, want to relax in a fourth quarter, although I don’t know if that is possible. The chilly forecast and the Illini weak rushing D spells a 2003 gameplan with a potential season high rushing attempts for the ‘Cats. Of course, I have no clue as to Venric Mark’s health or even Kain’s for that matter. Fitz stating Kain is going to start could very easily be a decoy. And, the ‘Cats have yet to have a “bad loss” (loss to a team they were favored to beat) and when you throw in Tim Beckman’s obsession of beating Northwestern, you know we’re going to get a motivated Illini team. I think it is close for a while, but just like 2008, we pull away late to improve Fitz’s stellar senior day record.
Northwestern 30 Illinois 10
Other Games to Watch
Syracuse (6-5) travels to Temple today at 11 a.m. CT.
Vanderbilt (7-4) travels to Wake Forest at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU. The Commodores got Derrick Dooley fired with a 41-18 win over the rival Volunteers last week. Always good to do that.
Boston College (2-9) visits North Carolina State at 2 p.m. CT. Boston College lost 30-23 to Virginia Tech last week.
South Dakota (1-10) is done with their season. South Dakota lost to South Dakota state 31-8 last week.
Looking Ahead to 2013
California (3-9) is done with their season. California fired head coach Jeff Tedford following the team’s 62-14 loss to No. 17 Oregon State.
Western Michigan (4-8) is done with their season. Western Michigan lost last week to Eastern Michigan 29-23.
Maine (5-6) is done with their season. Maine defeated Rhode Island 55-6 last week.