Alright, I’m going to get this out of the way right away on this one. For most of us, last week was an absolutely abysmal week of picking. And due to that, we have a new leader in the standings! Dylan fell from grace this past week, going 2-4 after picking Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan State, and Maryland to win. None of them did. His two wins came from Michigan and Ohio State victories, so I mean, can we really even count those if everyone got them right? He’s going to have to step it up this week. In other picks, Nathan also went 2-4 by picking the same games while the rest of the league went 4-2.
Anyway, Week 7 is a new week with a full slate of games in college football. There should be plenty of fun around the country with a bunch of ranked teams squaring off, and in the Big Ten, there are some damn interesting games to be played to answer some very important questions. Questions such as, “Is Illinois or Rutgers the worst team in the conference?” or maybe even “Can #CHAOSTEAM beat Nebraska this week?” There’s even another Top-10 game to be played, folks!
Let’s check out the standings after our third week of picks. Right now, we really have two tiers of standings, as four out of nine of us have taken a week off.
Iowa at Purdue, 11am, ESPN2
Max Brekke: Look, I hate Purdue. I’ve always hated Purdue. And I hate the idea that people think Purdue could be competitive with Iowa. But Iowa isn’t very good this season (at least so far) and I have to think about it. Hawks in an ugly one. Iowa 28, Purdon’t 14.
Nathan Darus (HawkInATX): I know that Purdue is 3-2. I don’t know how. While they put up 231 rushing yards against Illinois, they also only mustered 10 total rushing yards against Maryland. I think Iowa’s defense looks rejuvenated and the hopeful child inside me thinks the offense gets a much needed boost of confidence rushing over a terrible Purdue front seven. Iowa 42, Purdue 21.
Ben Ross: Is it fair to call Purdue’s 3-2 record “quiet?” I don’t care, I didn’t make a living on fairness, so we’re going to call it that. For some reason I think this is the game where Iowa gets its shit together, because that’s what Purdue is for. Gimme 150+ yards rushing between Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels and 250+ yards passing for C.J. Iowa 38, Purdue 17.
John Krzmarzick: Is Purdue terrible? Yes. Is Iowa inconsistent? Yes. This game (like every other game on Iowa’s schedule) scares me. Lose this one, and you might as well take your Motor City Bowl backpack and go home. I’m hopeful that, despite scoring only 14 points last week at Minnesota, the Hawkeyes found a little momentum to propel them forward for the rest of the year. This is not going to be pretty, but I don’t like style points anyway. Iowa 24, Purdue 14.
JPinIC: I have a hard time envisioning Iowa’s offense just figuring things out after what we saw last week. On the flip side, Purdue’s defense is ranked 118 out of 128 FBS programs against the run. So maybe the passing game woes won’t really matter. Iowa 31, Purdue 17.
Rob: Coming into this Saturday, the Purdue Boilermakers are a surprising 3-2 and coming off an overtime victory on the road against Illinois. It’s true that the Hawkeyes have been extremely inconsistent on both sides of ball this season. However, this week feels like it could be the start of turnaround, as the Boilermakers haven’t won back-to-back games in four seasons. Iowa 31, Purdue 14.
Dylan: I'll be at this game in person so Iowa better not lose. I really feel like this is Iowa’s last chance to truly look like the team we thought they could be at the beginning of the year. The game plan should be to go 70% run with play action sprinkled in. For some reason, I think Iowa keeps up the baffling play calling, which stalls the offense. But Iowa’s D continues to bail us out. Iowa 24, Purdue 10.
Alex Fish: Iowa’s stingy defensive performance last week brought back a little bit of my confidence in this team, but the offense really needs to find something before the gauntlet that is the Hawkeye’s schedule down the stretch. Purdue, which somehow won a conference game last week (!!!!), seems like a defense Iowa can move the ball against. Until proven otherwise, though, I’m expecting another low-scoring game. Iowa 20, Purdue 9.
Danny Payne: This should -- emphasis on should -- be a tune-up game before Iowa takes on Wisco next week. The Hawkeye defense is facing an offense that’s just not very good, which is cool. The optimist in me is prevalent as I write this, so let’s say nothing bad happens like it has the last couple weeks. Give me Iowa 27, Purdue 10.
Illinois at Rutgers, 11am, ESPNEWS
Max: Hahahahahaha oh man. I have to pick this game? Rutgers is atrocious at football again, while Illinois is not very good at all under first-year head coach Lovie Smith. My home state’s school in a stupid one where Rutgers scores some points for the first time in weeks. Illinois 27, Rutgers 10.
Nathan: If this game were played in December, it would be called the Toilet Bowl. Both of these teams have looked atrocious, but Rutgers has allowed 136 points in just their last two games. Illinois 35, Rutgers 13.
Ben: What would it have to take for Rutgers to cancel its football season? A seven-score loss to Illinois? Let’s see it happen. Illinois 52, Rutgers 6.
John: I don’t see the Scarlet Knights resurrecting in time for this game after being put in a bodybag last week by Jabrill Peppers and Michigan. Then again, Lovie Smith teams don’t score points. Illinois 24, Rutgers 10.
JPinIC: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 0-0 game, but this might be the first. Seriously, barf. Neither of these teams has looked very good and as bad as I think Rutgers is, I feel like at some point they have to make a comeback. Their defense looked OK until they started playing decent teams. Illinois is not a decent team. Rutger 24, Illinois 17.
Rob: Let’s be honest, not even Rutgers and Illinois fans will be tuned into this game, as the Scarlet Knights are coming off one the worst beatdowns in the past decades at the hand of Michigan and … well .. Illinois is coming off a home loss to Purdue. Illinois 14, Rutgers 13.
Dylan: Obviously both teams are not good. But Illinois has at least looked semi competent at points during the season. Without Janarion Grant, Rutgers is screwed. 10th year senior Wes Lunt gets it done. Illinois 31, Rutgers 14.
Alex: I think it’s safe to say people aren’t falling over themselves to watch this pillow fight in Piscataway. Lovie Smith hasn’t been the immediate savior Illini fans dreamed of (see: last week’s loss to OMHR), but I still think Illinois beats Rutgers in an ugly game. Illinois 16, Rutgers 10.
Danny: I gave Rutgers way too much credit a couple weeks ago ahead of Ohio State. Illinois 35, Rutgers 9.
Minnesota at Maryland, 11am, ESPNU
Max: We saw what Minnesota is capable of last weekend, and I’m not sure what Maryland is capable of after being obliterated by a mediocre Penn State squad (Maryland threw for exactly 100 yards last week!!). I’m taking Maryland this week, solely on the idea that Perry Hills comes back and is able to throw a football around against Minnesota’s fairly porous defense. Maryland 24, Minnsota 20.
Nathan: Minnesota has a pretty legit defense and a pretty suspect offense. Also, Leidner is out, leaving the Gopher offense in the hands of a RS Junior QB who has attempted only 2 passes in three years. I think Maryland takes this one. Maryland 31, Minnesota 24.
Ben: Does the Conor Rhoda era start now for the Goofers? It doesn’t matter, because Minnesota isn’t a good football team, and Maryland is just fine. Which is more than the Gophers can handle. Maryland 28, Minnesota 10.
John: I’m very, very, very quietly counting my blessings and thanking the good Lord that Iowa does not play Maryland this season. Maryland 27, Minnesota 10.
JPinIC: Well, at least it isn’t Illinois and Rutgers! Minnesota looked totally incompetent last week. Iowa’s offense was brutal and Minnesota found a way to be worse. Maryland has shown flashes of both being decent and terrible. I’m going to go against the grain here and take Minnesota in a bounceback. Minnesota 27, Maryland 24.
Rob: Again, let’s be honest, not a whole lot of people are going to be interested in this game, nor should they be. However, if you like a strong and effective ground game and suspect defensive play, this may actually be the game for you! Maryland 28, Minnesota 24.
Dylan: Maryland appears to be on the rise and their offense is pretty solid but overall they are inconsistent. I do think Minnesota’s defense can slow them down, but Minnesota will be without its starting QB. On the other hand, that QB isn't very good anyway and it may force them to run like they should be. This game has the feel of Iowa’s first trip to College Park a few years ago. Minnesota may have more experience and talent, but I don't think it will be enough away from home. Maryland 31, Minnesota 21.
Alex: This game would be a bit more compelling if Mitch Leidner were healthy. As it stands, I don’t think the Gophers have enough firepower to beat a decent Maryland team on the road. Maryland 27, Minnesota 13.
Danny: A part of me kind of likes this Maryland squad. Not “I like them so much I’m glad they’re in the Big Ten” like, but more “Eh this might be decent football” like. Maryland 23, Minnesota 6.
#10 Nebraska at Indiana, 2:30pm, ABC/ESPN2
Max: YO THE PICKS FOR THIS GAME ARE UPSET MINDED. People are finally getting on board with the Hoosiers. I’m going with Indiana, as I think I have every week that they didn’t play Ohio State, because Richard Lagow wears 21 and Indiana is going to the Rose Bowl. I also hate Nebraska. Indiana 50, Nebraska 35.
Nathan: Indiana held OSU to a season low 38 points last week. Not something I thought I’d hear knowing that the Buckeyes took on Oklahoma earlier in the season. Incidentally, Indiana also scored the second most that OSU has allowed this season (only Oklahoma scored more). Indiana steals this one and catches Tommy Armstrong on a bad day. Indiana 45, Nebraska 28.
Ben: I love, love, love the idea of Nebraska getting exposed in Bloomington. I also love Hoosier quarterback Richard Lagow, who rocks No. 21. Give me the Hoosiers, and pencil in a nice little Sunday spent on Corn Nation for Schadenfreude purposes. Indiana 51, Nebraska 24.
John: It’s now week 7 of the regular season, and Tommy Armstrong actually doesn’t look completely horrible. We all know that means he is due for a multi-interception performance. Armstrong against a quarterback who is still gutsy enough to wear number 21? Give me the Hoosiers. Indiana 31, Nebraska 24.
JPinIC: it’s the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. Or more accurately, the (usually) incapable passer meets the total lack of a defense. I have no faith in Indiana, and apparantly I’m the only one in that camp. Either it’s the booze talking or I’m about to make some serious strides in the standings this week. Nebraska 31, Indiana 27.
Rob: Five games into their season, Nebraska hasn’t looked as impressive as their record or AP ranking may indicate. With that said, I believe that they are a much better team than Indiana who is still trying to find an identity on offense. Indiana 27, Nebraska 34.
Dylan: Yeah yeah I know Indiana is looking pretty good lately. And Nebraska hasn't exactly faced murderer’s row. But it may very well be that Nebraska is last year’s Iowa. Indiana’s D is improved, but Nebraska has a pretty terrific running attack and I think that will be enough to keep the upset-minded Hoosiers at bay. Nebraska 35, Indiana 24.
Alex: I want to pick Indiana in this game so badly. The Hoosiers have looked pretty strong the last couple of weeks and Bloomington has a tendency to lull visiting teams to sleep. With that said, I see Nebraska leaning on its running game en route to a close win. Nebraska 31, Indiana 27.
Danny: I’ve felt more compelled here to pick Indiana then I’ve felt compelled to pick a game in a while, but I don’t think I can do it. Nebraska’s just too good, and I hate it as much as I hate Jordan Westerkamp’s stupid mustache. Nebraska 38, Indiana 31.
Northwestern at Michigan State, 2:30pm, BTN
Max: Look, both these teams are bad. It’s funny because these were the teams people thought wouldn’t be bad. But they are. Northwestern’s offense has looked flat out bad against everyone not named Iowa, and Michigan State has looked bad against everyone not named Notre Dame (but oh wait, Notre Dame is also bad). I’ll pick the ‘Cats solely because of Anthony Walker, who will terrorize O’Connor on Saturday. Northwestern 30, Michigan State 13.
Nathan: A tale of the two “coulda-shoulda-woulda” teams in the B1G. This is already the most losses MSU has had in a whole season since 2012. And Pat Fitzgerald has had two weeks to prepare for this game against an MSU whose only win of consequence is against a less than stellar Notre Dame. Northwestern takes this one and Mark Dantonio cries about how nobody respects the Spartans in the post-game press conference. Northwestern 17, MSU 10.
Ben: Wow, some of us are taking Northwestern here? Michigan State is coming off a beating from BYU, but I like to think Mark Dantonio did enough during the week to get this team up to speed and ready to beat a Northwestern squad that had no business beating Iowa. There I said it. Michigan State 24, Northwestern 10.
John: jNW is coming off a bye week, and I’m starting to think this Michigan State team has completely thrown in the towel after getting embarrassed by BYU. They have three (3) quarterbacks listed as co-starters on the depth chart? Doesn’t exactly make me exude confidence in the Spartans. jNW 31, Michigan State 17.
JPinIC: MSU has looked lost following the defeat at the hands of Bucky. And jNW has seemed to find their way a bit. I could sit here and say I told you so at the beginning of the season, but then you’d know I’m full of it since I wrote them off like everyone else following their two non-con losses. All that said, I think MSU bounces back here. Michigan State 27, Northwestern 24.
Rob: So, here’s the thing … I have absolutely no clue what to make of this Michigan State team. From top to bottom I’m able to easily sit here and say that the Spartans are the more talented team on both sides of the ball. However, they just haven’t put it together yet; I’m still giving them the edge. Michigan State 24, Northwestern 13.
Dylan: I'm getting tired of giving MSU the benefit of the doubt. But Ben is right in that Northwestern had no business beating Iowa. NW is not good (even though Iowa made them look like it). They won't have the same offensive success other teams have had against MSU. I give Sparty the edge at home in an ugly ugly game. Michigan State 23, Northwestern 17.
Alex: Michigan State’s season seems to be spiraling out of control before our very eyes. Normally in a tossup-ish game I’d give the tie to the home team, but with the way Sparty has been playing lately I’m giving the edge to NW. Northwestern 23, Michigan State 20.
Danny: What’s happened to Sparty? Was Connor Cook really that good? This is one of the most underwhelming Dantonio squads in recent memory, but I still don’t buy Northwestern. So, barring a disaster from Michigan State, it walks out on top. Michigan State 21, Northwestern 20.
#2 Ohio State at #8 Wisconsin, 7pm, ABC
Max: MY BODY IS READY FOR THIS GAME. It’s going to be so great to watch Wisconsin get manhandled by Ohio State. Fuck the Badgers. Yeah, I said it. Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 10.
Nathan: Now here’s a game. OSU played Indiana way closer than I would have ever expected. But Wisconsin’s roster looks like it’s full of the walking dead. Without Vince Biegel manning the edges of Wisconsin’s 3-4 look, J.T. Barrett is going to have a field day. OSU 48 - Wisconsin 17.
Ben: A night game at Camp Randall! College Gameday in Madison! I wish both these teams could lose! But since they can’t, I’m going to flip a coin. I actually have Ohio State slotted to win the National Championship this year, but something deep in my plums tells me they don’t come out of Camp Randall unscathed. This one is going to be low-scoring and boring but it will be B1G and that’s all that matters. Wisconsin 17, Ohio State 10.
John: I think it’s time for everybody to realize something, and I hope it happens this week: Wisconsin is not that good. They just aren’t. Do they have a great defense? Yes. Can they score points? NO!!! Especially not on this Ohio State defense. Remember the B1G Championship in 2014? Badger fans are still trying to forget. This game will re-open that wound. Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 10.
JPinIC: This is the game we’re all looking forward to. Unfortunately, I think it’s a giant letdown. OSU is good. Like, really good. Wisconsin is OK. They have a very good defense that continues to be beaten up with injuries. Their offense leaves much to be desired. While I think that D can keep them in this one for a while, OSU is just too good. Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 13.
Rob: This is the game I’m most excited to watch this weekend but for some reason I feel like it’s going to be a blowout. The Buckeyes come into this game looking like arguably the best team in the country and although the Badgers have played phenomenally well on the defensive side, their offense lacks any kind of identity or effectiveness. That’s a killer when you play a superior team like the Buckeyes. Ohio State 45, Wisconsin 21.
Dylan: Wisconsin is the opposite of MSU for me this year. I keep doubting them and waiting for them to trip and get exposed. This is the week it happens. Without Biegel, their LB corps takes a bit of a hit. Wisconsin’s offense is not the rushing juggernaut it was the past decade and the O will need all the help it can get. OSU seems to be on a mission this year and I think they leave no doubt. Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 10.
Alex: Clearly this is the game everyone will be looking forward to Saturday night. OSU struggled more than expected last week against Indiana, but it’s very possible they were looking past the Hoosiers a bit towards this game. Night games in Camp Randall are always tough for the visitor, especially in a huge game like this with College Gameday present. At the end of the day, though, the Buckeyes are still the most talented team in the B1G and I think that will shine through tomorrow. Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 17.
Danny: This game is going to be AWESOME. I’m especially excited to see Big Ten Twitter and Cubs Twitter take each other on, which should be one for the ages. As should this game. Nobody’s giving Wisconsin any love in our picks, and I don’t see any reason to change that trend. Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 20.