Sorry I don’t have a clever intro for this week’s column. I wrote one about how my predictions are always 100 percent accurate and my jokes are too clever to be believed but I had to deep-six it because that would be a false start.
I only missed one game last week, but that’s okay because everyone else missed it too. Let’s review:
Wisconsin at Illinois
I said Wisconsin 40, Illinois 7; actual score, Illinois 24, Wisconsin 23.
The blueprint was there for beating the Badgers: Hold off the big run and make the Badgers pass, then hope you catch some lucky turnover breaks. But I don’t think anyone thought Illinois was going to be the team to pull it off. No shame here, no one saw this coming.
Purdue at Iowa
I said Iowa 20, OMHR 13; actual score Iowa 26, OMHR 20.
With no thanks to the refs.
Indiana at Maryland
I said Indiana 31, Maryland 13; actual score, Indiana 34, Maryland 28.
It’s crap like this that made me overestimate Maryland in the first place. Are you a good team or a bad one, Maryland? The world needs to know.
Ohio State at Northwestern
I said OSU 34, jNWU 0; actual score, OSU 52, jNWU 3
jNWU scored on Ohio State, so they’re obviously a very dangerous team just ripe to upset the Iowa Hawkeyes this week. That offense has turned itself around.
Michigan at Penn State
I said PSU 33, Michigan 17; actual score, PSU 28, Michigan 21.
Harbz is totally going back to the NFL, you guys. Don’t believe his denials. And don’t blame him.
Minnesota at Rutgers
I said Minnesota 42, Rutgers 0; actual score, Minnesota 42, Rutgers 7.
That’s my “dang, he almost nailed it exactly” for the season. You’re welcome.
And now for this week’s games.
#13 WISCONSIN (6-1) AT #3 OHIO STATE (7-0) (11 am CDT, Fox)
See my recap of last week’s Badger game above. What are the odds that Wisconsin will suddenly find a solution on the road against the nation’s third-ranked team, particularly when that team doesn’t appear to have any defensive flaws that can be exploited? Nope, Wisky is going to come crashing back to the pack now.
Soaring 38, Boring 13
ILLINOIS (3-4) AT PURDUE (2-5) (11 am CDT, BTN)
This is one of those games that doesn’t attract much attention and may not be watchable but you sort of guess both teams have been looking at this game as one they could win. Purdue is obviously missing Rondale Moore but still has enough field-stretching weapons to blow up an Illini team that is obviously better than last year’s but still isn’t good.
Walking Wounded 28, Dead Cat Bounce 20
LIBERTY (5-2) at RUTGERS (1-6) (11 am CDT, BTN)
This is going to hurt, Rutgers. Real, real bad.
Falwell 21, Falling Badly 10
MARYLAND (3-4) AT #17 MINNESOTA (7-0) (2:30 pm CDT, ESPN)
Minnesota is undefeated, all alone atop the Big Ten West, and -- look out -- with a little help from OSU making the playoffs, on track for its first Rose Bowl bid since 1961. For a matter of perspective, Indiana has gone more recently than that. Indiana. This is mostly a result of the Gophers playing a schedule that’s as soft as the questions at a Chinese press conference, but I digress. Maryland is not good and not consistent. I don’t see much to suggest that they can derail the P.J. Fleck Greatness Express. Gophers, handily.
Smelling Roses 34, Just Plain Smelling 24
#6 PENN STATE (7-0) AT MICHIGAN STATE (4-3) (2:30 pm CDT, ABC)
It’s been a great season so far in Happy Valley and an unhappy season in East Lansing. It’s clear now that Sparty has fallen out of its former near-elite status in the East, now vying with its in-state rival over who is the third-best team in the division and who is the fourth-best. That isn’t going to change any time soon, unless Indiana gets good. I think Penn State has a turkey of a game inside of it, but there will be no gobbling here. It won’t be a blowout but I expect the Nits to control this game, as Sparty has no credible offensive threats.
Nit Picking 24, Not Picked 13
INDIANA (5-2) AT NEBRASKA (4-3) (2:30 pm CDT, BTN)
Got a little note from our old buddy Husker Todd! It reads: “I have come to realize that regression to the mean is an inevitable outcome. Our success as a program had little to do with our state and its flagship university and a lot to do with us having hired and retained two excellent coaches over a 35-year period. With the benefit of hindsight and its usual acuity, I now believe it was a mistake to oppose Frank Solich as much as I did in the final years of his tenure, and it is also clear that Craig Bohl can, in fact, coach his way out of a paper sack. Alas, there are no mulligans in life and time’s arrow points in a single direction: forward. Therefore, I am going to be patient with Coach Frost, whose Nebraska bona fides are beyond questioning. I do expect my beloved squad to win, but it would be hubristic of me to think that this team can blow anyone off the field.”
I don’t know what they’re giving him, but I want some.
Harvesters 27, Harvested 24
#8 NOTRE DAME (5-1) AT #19 MICHIGAN (5-2) (6:30 pm CDT, ABC)
It’s a big game, an important game, and yet I can’t seem to find much to say about it. Michigan isn’t great. PSU had the Wolverines on the ropes all day last weekend, but couldn’t finish the job. Now comes Notre Dame, objectively not as good as Penn State, and yet equally objectively better than Michigan. How to pick? You should know by now what I do when I’m truly stumped
“Magic 8-Ball, will Michigan beat Notre Dame?”
Yeah, that was my thought too.
Kelley’s Heroes 31, Denver Broncos Practice Squad 27
And, naturally …
#20 IOWA (5-2) AT NORTHWESTERN (1-5) (11 am CDT, ESPN2)
I know not to take Nate Stanley on the road against a good team, but what about against a bad one? And honestly, the hot mess in Evanston is about as bad as I’ve seen it under Fitz. My fourth-grade flag football team ran a better offense, despite the fact that I was playing for it. But we all know what we all know about this game. It’s Fitz’s Grudge Match; the Hawkeyes must pay for his abbreviated NFL career, since they’re the reason he lost so much motion. I’m pretty sure he’s been hiding some things, holding back in preparation for this game, but there can’t be too much in the Bag of Tricks since jNWU’s record is what it is. So … low-scoring contest, critical turnovers by the Hawkeyes, and a narrow win that doesn’t satisfy anyone. Just like … almost every game this season? Almost every Iowa win over Northwestern? Whatever. Just book your Tampa hotel room now.
In Kirk We Trust Because The Alternative Is Unthinkable 20, Fitz Has A Tantrum 10
Last week: 5-1 (.833)
Season: 56-12 (.824)