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The Pants Predicts: Week 5 Big Ten Conference Games

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This week’s picks are pretty unanimous, but some of us are upset minded headed into Week 2 of conference play.

Nebraska v Northwestern Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

We’re back for another edition of Big Ten predictions! Last week went pretty well for most of us, as all but one came out of the first week with a winning record (looking at you, Nathan). Unanimous picks of Iowa over Rutgers, Michigan over Penn State, and Minnesota over Colorado State all worked in our favor. The couple of us that picked Purdue look really smart right now (or are really lucky that Purdue pulled one out), but only one of us that picked Wake Forest to defeat Indiana. That pick looms large, as it’s the pick that has Dylan a game ahead in the standings after Week 4 (or Week 1 of picks). A take a look at the standings:

Dylan: 6-1
Max: 5-2
Danny: 5-2
Alex: 5-2
John: 4-3
Jonah: 4-3
Rob: 4-3
Nathan: 3-4
Ben: 0-0

Nathan, Nathan, Nathan... Looks like you’ve got some work to do to climb back to the top of the standings, huh? Ben didn’t make picks last week, as he was at a conference, but joins us this week for picks. The race for a case of Busch Light (or whatever it is) continues on with Week 5 of the college football season.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa at Northwestern, 11am, ESPNU

Max Brekke: C.J. Beathard will hopefully have a field day against a Wildcats team stacking the box to stop Wadley and Daniels. Iowa needs to prove they can move the ball through the air before jNW can respect the passing game, and I think Beathard makes some key connections with Jerminic Smith to open the ground game before Akrum Wadley torches the jNW defense for a third straight season. Hope we don't hurt your boys too bad. Iowa 42, Northwestern 20.
Nathan Darus (HawkinATX): After a demoralizing loss to NDSU and a sleepy win over Rutgers, Iowa needs to look more excited to be on the field. Maybe the Homecoming crowd will help some? Regardless, Northwestern has serious trouble moving the ball on the ground, and their reliance on passing plays right into Iowa’s defensive strength this season. I see a comfortable win here for the good guys. Iowa 27, Northwestern 17.
Rob Donaldson: This game will tell us a lot about just how good this Hawkeyes team actually is, as Northwestern has truly looked like one of the worst teams in the Big Ten through the first four weeks of the season; was last weekend’s poor performance against Rutgers a fluke? I want to believe it was. Iowa 38, Northwestern 13 (missed extra point).
Dylan Dinkla: I don’t see this game going the way of the last couple years, when Iowa has completely outclassed Northwestern. Both teams are desperate and Fitz will pull out all the stops to stop his most hated rival from getting 4 wins in a row. Ultimately though, Iowa’s OL is healthy again and that hasn’t been good news for NW. Iowa’s leaky run defense keeps it closer than it really is. Iowa 31, Northwestern 21.
Ben Ross: I’m actually optimistic following the VandeBerg injury. It might force this offense to get creative and implore C.J. to spread the ball around a little more, which would hopefully lead to good things in the running game. Northwestern might actually have a worse offensive line than Iowa, which is almost impressive. All that being said, look for Anthony Walker Jr. to have his breakout game this week, leading to a bunch of Iowa turnovers and a spoiled homecoming. Beating Iowa is what Pat Fitzgerald was put on this earth to do. Northwestern 24, Iowa 17.
JPinIC: My heart tells me Iowa perseveres after the loss of MVB and leans on a solid run game. My brain tells me Kirk has really struggled with NW over the years, the defense has been run on (a lot) and Fitz will load the box if Iowa doesn't take shots downfield early and often. My brain tells me Iowa loses. I hope it's somewhere in the middle and CJ makes just enough plays and the running games does just enough to get another W. Iowa 27, Northwestern 24.
Danny Payne: This is, of course, a huge one for Kirk and Co. We’ve seen lots of Old Kirk the past couple weeks, and like Rob constantly harps on Twitter, getting Akrum Wadley the ball is key. He’s absolutely thrashed Northwestern both times he’s played Patty Fitz’s squad, and I really don’t expect much to change here. Optimism, for now, I suppose. Iowa 27, Northwestern 20.
Alex Fish: This one scares me after a fairly disappointing outing in Piscataway. Iowa needs to have legitimate success running the ball (especially with VandeBerg’s injury) and control the clock. Wadley has been outstanding against Northwestern the past two years and I expect that to continue. Justin Jackson is a really solid back and Clayton Thorson’s ability to extend plays with his feet is worrisome, however this is an offense that Iowa should be able to pick up some turnovers against, and that will be the deciding factor. Iowa 27, Northwestern 16.

Ohio State v Oklahoma Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Rutgers at #2 Ohio State, 11am, BTN

Max: Urban Meyer laughs at Chris Ash for leaving fOSU and doesn’t run up the score, but wins comfortably. Urban Meyer 38, Chris Ash 0.
Nathan: Rutgers might be better than we all thought, but they’re not even close to being *that* good. OSU just has too much talent and too much depth, and Rutgers no longer has a playmaking threat at WR in Janarion Grant, not that one player would have made the difference here. OSU is going to run away with this one. OSU 45, Rutgers 7.
Rob: Ohio State is one of the top programs in college football and, well, Rutgers isn’t. Ohio State 52, Rutgers 7.
Dylan: No. Just no. Ohio State is on a tear and Rutgers couldn’t beat Iowa when Iowa arguably looked its worst. Ohio State names the score. Ohio State 48, Rutgers 13.
Ben: J.T. Barrett. Ohio State 55, Rutgers 20.
JPinIC: Not. Even. Close. No analysis needed here. OSU 55, Rutgers 3.
Danny: What everyone else said. Ohio State 45, Rutgers 13.
Alex: Yeahhh...this won’t be pretty. Ohio State 52, Rutgers 17.

NCAA Football: Nevada at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue at Maryland, 2:30pm, BTN

Max: I picked Purdue to win last week and they squeaked it out for me. I’m running with the Boilermakers. Neither team plays defense, but Maryland runs like hell and Purdue throws the ball at will. David Blough with 5 TDs for OMHR. In a shootout, Purdue 49, Maryland 41.
Nathan: Purdue already got more wins than I expected from them this season. But this could be a heck of a fun one to watch if you’re into high scores and all that. Purdue can and will throw the ball all over and Maryland has a very potent rushing attack, and neither team is particularly strong on defense. My quick take: whatever the over/under is on this game, take the over. Maryland 51, Purdue 38.
Rob: Both Purdue and Maryland have already surpassed the expectations I set for them this season, as they’ve both looked at the very least competent on both offense and defense to start the season. However, the truth remains that you couldn’t pay me to watch these two teams play each other. Maryland 31, Purdue 28.
Dylan: Don’t look now but Purdue is above .500! I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect from either squad considering their competition so far. I do know that Darrell Hazell has won 2 B1G games in 3 years. Holy crap. Maryland 38, Purdue 28.
Ben: For some reason I actually like this Maryland team. Perry Hills is a competent quarterback, and Maryland’s jerseys are just gross enough to keep you watching. Purdue has never been good at anything, and what better way to welcome Maryland to the Big Ten than introduce them to the conference doormat? Maryland 30, Purdue 14.
JPinIC: So you're all on Maryland huh? I'd love to play devil's advocate and go with Purdue here but I just don't see it. Maryland 34, Purdon’t 24.
Danny: Every time I see Perry Hills I think of Peyton Hillis, who graced the cover of Madden once. Just needed to get that out there. As for the actual game, Maryland’s an OK-ish squad, Purdue’s ex-quarterbacks are now playing in the SEC. Maryland 31, Purdue 17.
Alex: Purdue screwed me last week by looking halfway competent against Nevada. I still don’t see them winning any games in conference this season. Maryland 27, Purdue 14.

Penn State v Michigan

#8 Wisconsin at #4 Michigan, 2:30pm, ABC

Max: Man, oh man. I picked against Wisco and I regret it. Gonna do it again. Michigan’s defense is so legit and I don’t see anyone figuring out how to crack it just yet. Jack of all trades Jabrill Peppers scores on a punt return this week and also scores on offense to add insult to injury. Michigan 38, Wisconsin 13.
Nathan: Wisconsin has alternately looked shaky and terrific depending on the game you watched. Michigan has just looked flat out strong. But a healthy Corey Clement makes this game a closer one than I previously would have thought. Michigan 31, Wisconsin 24.
Rob: Now we’re talking! Aside from Louisville-Clemson, this is the game I’m most excited to watch this Saturday, as it features a Wisconsin team coming off the heels of an impressive victory against Michigan State and a Michigan team that has looked dominant thus far against inferior competition. Michigan 28, Wisconsin 24.
Dylan: Wisconsin has exceeded everyone’s expectations and it’s not even October. Michigan, however, has looked like a complete juggernaut outside of the first half against Colorado. Michigan won’t commit the same types of turnovers MSU had, especially in the Big House. Wisconsin would be a playoff contender if they won this game. I think Michigan stops the Badgers. Michigan 35, Wisconsin 17.
Ben: I kind of like Wisconsin until I heard Vince Biegel would be out. Biegel was a force on the inside, and is a big blow for this Badger defense. Look for Michigan to exploit some mismatches and pull away towards the end. Michigan 44, Wisconsin 21
JPinIC: It's been fun Wiscy, but time for this run to come to an end. I'm not betting against Michigan until they see OSU. I think Wisconsin’s D is legit and they seem to have found something on offense. But I don't think it's enough this week. Michigan 31, Wisconsin 17.
Danny: Wisconsin’s looked like a damn good football team thus far, as has Michigan. There’s always that one contest that seems to escape the Badgers every year, but I don’t think it’s this one. For the hell of it, why not, let’s go against the grain here and say Wisconsin beats the Harbaughs on a last-second field goal. Wisconsin 24, Michigan 21.
Alex: Game of the week right here. Wisconsin looked mighty impressive last week in East Lansing - it’s really tough to pick against them after that showing. On the flip side, Michigan easily has one of the most talented defenses in the nation and Wilton Speight and co. have looked surprisingly efficient on offense. I’m taking Michigan in a close, epic showdown. Michigan 27, Wisconsin 23.

Western Michigan v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Illinois at #15 Nebraska, 2:30pm, ESPN2

Max: Illinois is not good, even though Lovie Smith (please come back to Chicago bae) is their savior. Nebraska gives up some points because Wes Lunt is pretty good, but not enough points for Illinois to win, because Lovie Smith teams don’t like to throw the ball. Tommy Armstrong runs for 150 on a pretty mediocre defense. Nebraska 48, Illinois 24.
Nathan: How is Wes Lunt *still* in college? For that matter, how is Tommy Armstrong? How have both of these guys been playing for so long? Illinois is terrible. Nebraska is, sadly, not. The bucking P.J. Fleck Broncos of Western Michigan rowed (I’m so sorry) over Illinois, holding them to 3 yards rushing on 15 attempts. Nebraska’s defense will probably do something really similar early on, and force the Illini to go to the air. With Lunt at the helm, they’ll get some yards, but without a ground attack to counter with, they just won’t have the firepower. Nebraska 27, Illinois 7.
Rob: Illinois still very much looks like Illinois this season and the Cornhuskers have been playing some impressive ball as of late. Nebraska 38, Illinois 10.
Dylan: Nebraska hasn’t looked too shabby and they’re playing in Lincoln. Illinois sucks. Tommy Armstrong will continue completing passes to the players in red jerseys instead of those wearing white. Nebraska will avenge last season’s bewildering comeback loss to the Illini and it won’t be close. Nebraska 30, Illinois 10.
Ben: This could be a trap game for Nebraska, which has to travel to *checks schedule* uhhhh Bloomington after a bye week. Yeah, this one won’t be close. Nebraska 38, Illinois 9
JPinIC: Lovie Smith or not, Illinois gonna Illinois. Add to that the fact that Tommy Armstrong has done more than just punt thus far and this one should be in hand early for Nebby. Nebraska 35, Illinois 6.
Danny: If Illinois is ever going to do anything under Lovie, it’s not going to be this year or the year after that or the year after that, or maybe even the year after that. And would you look at that, Jordan Westerkamp is somehow still in college and the Huskers are actually pretty good. Nebraska 31, Illinois 14.
Alex: File Nebraska under another team that has looked pretty damn tough so far. Armstrong seems to have taken a step forward as a passer and I like the Huskers’ rushing attack. On the other side, Wes Lunt can’t do it all himself. Nebraska 34, Illinois 13.

NCAA Football: Colorado State at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota at Penn State, 2:30pm, BTN

Max: I have to pick a team to win this game? I can’t choose meteor? You sure? Okay fine. Where is this game being played? Oh, at Penn State? Fine. Future NFL quarterback Mitch Leidner throws one touchdown and the Gophers win. Minnesota 24, Penn State 13.
Nathan: Minnesota will continue to play against the “States” of football (Indiana State, Colorado State, Oregon State and now Penn State). I expect Penn State to break that winning streak over state schools, as Minnesota played two of those teams close and only performed well against Indiana State, a middling FCS program. They still allowed Indiana State to score 4 touchdowns, though. Reeling from a spanking from Michigan, Penn State wins a blowout. PSU 45, Minnesota 14.
Rob: Another year under James Franklin, another year of mediocre football from the Nittany Lions. Minnesota didn’t look great last week but Penn State hasn’t looked great all season. Let’s go ahead and give this one to the Gophers. Minnesota 24, Penn State 17.
Dylan: I said last week that I don’t believe in James Franklin and after last week’s beatdown from Michigan, I haven’t changed my mind. I don’t believe in Minnesota quite yet either. Their win over Colorado State was less than impressive. But Penn State has no identity on offense and Saquon Barkley can’t do it all by himself. I am taking Minnesota to win on the road in an ugly, ugly game. Minnesota 24, Penn State 21.
Ben: It’s cute how every year Minnesota thinks it deserves a seat at the big boy table after playing through a laughable schedule only to be exposed by a real football program around week six. Now, Penn State is pretty gross team itself, but I think playing this one at home is enough of advantage to give them the edge over the Gilded Rodents. Penn State 24, Minnesota 17.
JPinIC: I don't love what I've seen out of either of these teams but someone has to win. I think Minnesota is the better team but playing at PSU is still tough. Penn State 27, Minnesota 24.
Danny: This is about as underwhelming of a game as you can give me, and I watched Iowa play Rutgers last week. After a lot of mundane football, in front of a gross fanbase, Minnesota comes out on top because there is some good in this world. Minnesota 14, Penn State 12.
Alex: Penn State has been extremely underwhelming thus far, while Minnesota is getting some buzz as a darkhorse in the West. I see this as a true toss-up game; tie goes to Beaver Stadium. Penn State 24, Minnesota 20.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

#17 Michigan State at Indiana, 7pm, BTN

Max: Uh… Indiana is going to the Rose Bowl this year. Michigan State’s offense showed me absolutely nothing last week to prove to me that they can do anything. Like, even if it weren’t Wisconsin, Tyler O’Connor was throwing the ball all over the place in the worst possible way. I think Indiana is okay at football and I don’t have much faith in Sparty this year. Indiana 28, Michigan State 13.
Nathan: How in the world do you pass for nearly 500 yards in one game and 611 yards of total offense and *still* lose? By not packing a defense. Indiana is the Big 12 school of the Big Ten. Michigan State will rally behind their beleaguered and disrespected coach, Mike Dantonio and hold Indiana to less than 500 yards passing on their way to a win. MSU 24, Indiana 21.
Rob: Last Saturday, the Spartans definitely played some ugly football against the Badgers. However, this is their week to get back on track against an Indiana team that just last week dropped a game against Wake Forest. Michigan State 45, Indiana 21.
Dylan: Michigan State was pretty thoroughly humiliated by Wisconsin last week. And based on the games I’ve seen so far, they don’t have quite the same edge that last year’s B1G Championship squad had. I think they’ll beat Indiana because Indiana is well...Indiana. But I don’t think it will be a shootout. MSU’s offense leaves a lot to be desired and they really need to cut down on the turnovers (obviously). But Indiana just isn’t good and their offense isn’t the same without Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard this year. MSU 27, Indiana 21.
Ben: And here we have the bounce back game. Indiana doesn’t know what zone coverage is, and wouldn’t be able to stop me from cutting it up for 300 yards through the air and another 120 on the ground. Michigan State 42, Indiana 28.
JPinIC: I still think Michigan State is a damn good team. Indiana has no defense whatsoever and Sparty is due for a bounce back. Michigan State 45, Indiana 24.
Danny: Indiana is going to rack up a lot of yards in the first half and probably a bunch of points overall, but as things go, Michigan State will have its fair share of points against the Hoosiers in Kevin Wilson’s final season before he becomes Iowa’s OC. Michigan State 42, Indiana 31
Alex: Michigan State doesn’t have the same talent that got them to Indianapolis, and there’s something about playing in Bloomington that seems conducive to sleepwalking. With that said, Dantonio is a good coach and Sparty just got embarrassed last week. They’ll come out with something to prove. Michigan State 38, Indiana 27.

What do we have right and wrong? Make your picks in the comments.