Last week a commenter suggested that I review my previous week's picks and comment on the games. I thought that sounded like a pretty good idea, so I'm going to do it.
Central Michigan at Michigan State: I said Sparty 48, CMU 0; actual score, Sparty 31, CMU 20. Is there such a thing as being satisfyingly wrong? If so, this is it. Central Michigan has a Ferentz on staff, after all, so I'm glad this was an uncomfortable game for Sparty.
Purdue at Nebraska: I said Purdue 24, Nebraska 21; actual score, Purdue 42, Nebraska 28. Clearly a transposition error on my part. I should get credit for this.
Michigan at Northwestern: I said UM 37, jNWU 27; actual score, UM 20, jNWU 17. I am not sure whether I gave one or both teams too much credit, but I am quite sure I either did or didn't. Or something like that.
Ohio State at Penn State: I said OSU 30, PSU 24; actual score, OSU 27, PSU 26. James Franklin got a lot of credit for his "we're good but we're not elite yet" comments after this game, and got blame for his somewhat questionable 4th-down playcall. I maintain that no football game ever actually comes down to one play because every play of the game affects the circumstances of every play that follows it; therefore, every play matters. Also I maintain that Ohio State is, in fact, an elite football team, and it should beat Penn State more often than not, even on the road.
Indiana at Rutgers: I said IU 41, Rutgers 17; actual score, IU 24, Rutgers 17. What can I say? Rutgers is so bad at football it doesn't even know the right way to be a bad football team.
A lesser prognosticator would point out that he went 5-0, but I am above such things. Also, four of those five games were obvious mismatches. Nonetheless, this was fun, and I shall do it again with this week's picks, which begin immediately after this punctuation mark:
Maryland at Michigan
Michigan has quietly become one of the okayest teams in the East, a distinct notch below Ohio State and Penn State, but probably now the equal of Sparty. Maryland is a hot mess, capable of running with anyone, but it's easy to tell the Terps are going nowhere this season. They have no depth. Michigan doesn't have much more. That's enough to make the difference here. Michigan 34, Maryland 28.
Northwestern at Michigan State
I checked and, unfortunately, one of these teams has to win this game. Don't shoot the messenger. It'll probably be Sparty, which isn't a great team this year, but Northwestern lost to Akron.
Then again, Sparty's ranked but shouldn't be, and the football gods have ways of punishing illicitly-ranked Big Ten teams in catastrophic and humiliating fashion. Losing to a 1-3 Northwestern team would do it, but sometimes I think the devil sold his own soul to Mark Dantonio. Admit it, that would explain a lot. Michigan State 23, Northwestern 14.
Indiana at Ohio State
Look, I'm not calling for some sort of amazing upset here. I'm just saying that Ohio State is quite possibly hung over, there's a decent chance the Buckeyes are looking past the Hoosiers, OSU's defense isn't perfect, and Urbz has had his struggles against the boys from Bloomington. Can IU win? LOLNOPE. But could this game be tied at a really low score at halftime? Possibly. That's as far as I'll go with that. Ohio State 30, Indiana 13.
Illinois at Rutgers
Rutgers 0, Illinois 0, Football [dies in tragic gardening accident].
Nebraska at Wisconsin
I get the feeling that when Scott Frost called Purdue "a winnable game" it was in contrast to this game, which wasn't seen as winnable by anyone outside Nebraska and by no more than twelve people within it.
Pray for those twelve people. They all have Huskers podcasts. Wisconsin 56, Nebraska 17.
Minnesota at Iowa
Can we be real for a minute? There's no great reason to think of this as "Hate Week." The rivalry between Iowa and Minnesota is like the rivalry between dogs and hydrants. These games have all the suspense of those movies on the Hallmark Channel. Wondering what's going to happen is like watching House Hunters and thinking they're going to pick the house that's full of stick-on floor tile and rental furniture. The Gophers might have their cute little chant but from our perspective, they're not good enough to hate. It's like bearing an ancient grudge against the San Diego Padres--why? What have they ever done to you? Or anyone?
Save your hate for more worthy targets. But feel free to hope that Kirk opens up the playbook and burns the Gophers with some big plays. They did kill Jack Trice, after all. Iowa 34, Minnesota 10.
LAST WEEK: 5-0