FTW! is the Black Heart Gold Pants weekly guide to Big Ten watching and wagering.
Michigan State at Illinois (BTN, 11:00)
Why Watch? Do you find yourself staring at car wrecks? Do you enjoy the Caddyshack 2? Do you watch Jon & Kate Plus 8? Then this is your game! We're finally going to figure out which FAILFORCE is greater: The combined force of ineptitude that we know as Sparty, or the singular laser-like focus on failure that is the Zooker. Throw in a Disgruntled Backup Quarterback Body Language Battle Royal between Juice Williams and Keith Nichol, and the comedic potential is endless.
Why Pass? Because you're attending the Black Heart Gold Pants tailgate in Iowa City!
Who Ya Got? MSU -3.5, O/U 54.5. I have no idea what's going to happen in this game, which makes wagering a dicey proposition. Given Michigan State's proclivity for melting down (three times in five games, Sparty has conceded go-ahead touchdowns with less than 6:00 to go) and the Illini's long-overdue quarterback change, I'll shoot myself in the head and take Illinois as a home underdog.
Purdue at Minnesota (ESPN2, 11:00)
Why Watch? Purdue has to be the only 1-4 team in the country with a positive margin of victory; they have lost their last four games, to teams of varying ability, by a total of 18 points. Had they not committed six turnovers last week, they would have murdered Northwestern. They're on the verge of competence, and no team does more to help its opponents realize their uncultivated potential than Minnesota. The mere possibility of watching Purdue turn the corner and bury Goldy at the same time sounds sublime.
Why Pass? Because Pam Ward is involved. Also, you'll be busy at the Black Heart Gold Pants tailgate!
Who Ya Got? Minnesota -3, O/U 51.5. With that said, I like Minnesota here. Essentially, this is a pick 'em adjusted for home field advantage, and nobody can tell me that Purdue is yet equal to Minnesota. They have played two capable opponents effectively at home, and Purdue isn't yet capable. It's far from a lock, but the logical choice is with the Gophers.
Northwestern vs. Miami (OH) (BTN, 11:00)
Why Watch? No reason, other than when Northwestern is inevitably up by less than 7 with 5:00 to go. Miami is winless, and Northwestern probably should be. This game is going to be awful.
Why Pass? Did I mention the Black Heart Gold Pants tailgate?
Who Ya Got? jNWU -18.5, O/U 54. I love Miami here, for no other reason than Northwestern won by only 3 against equally-hapless Eastern Michigan and should have been killed last week.
Eastern Illinois at Penn State (ESPN Classic, 11:00)
Why Watch? It's our one chance to check in on former Hawkeyes Jake Christensen and Austin Signor, who are propelling the EIU Panthers to a 4-1 record and putting some points on the board. Rumor has it that the EIU coaches have both realized that Christensen is left-handed and adjusted their offense accordingly. It's more than can be said for KOK.
Why Pass? Do you really want to relive 2007? Do you really want to see visions of that crapfest at Beaver Stadium? Wouldn't you rather be talking football at the Black Heart Gold Pants tailgate?
Who Ya Got? No lines. Boo.
WIsconsin at Ohio State (ABC, 2:30)
Why Watch? It's the second-best Big Ten game of the day. More importantly, it's undefeated Wisconsin's first true test. Wisky's bringing their newly-minted quarterback Scott Tolzien -- who has looked disturbingly competent at times -- into his first serious road game one week after he struggled in a road win at Minnesota. If Ohio State stops the running game, it could be a recipe for quarterback implosion. Also, we still have no idea what's going on with OSU; their only game against a legitimate opponent resulted in a home loss.
Why Pass? You're probably thinking about your next beer at the Black Heart Gold Pants tailgate.
Who Ya Got? OSU -16.5, O/U 47. Mark my words: Wisconsin will be able to run on Ohio State. Their line is as good as Ohio State has seen so far, and John Clay is no slouch. If Wisconsin runs the ball effectively and Tolzien doesn't singlehandedly blow it with multiple Stanzi-like interceptions, Wisconsin covers the 16.5 points with ease. Also, the under could well be in play.