Another Big Ten football weekend is upon us, so it’s time once again to talk about No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan as they plow toward their Nov. 26 showdown in Columbus. Each team should win easily at home Saturday. Injury-plagued Indiana, in the midst of a six-game losing streak, will play at Ohio State, and Nebraska will be at Michigan.
Toss out Ohio State’s surprisingly close 21-7 win last week over Northwestern. Weather is a great equalizer on a football field, and the weather for this game was terrible. Rain, wind, and more wind. Michigan found itself down at halftime for the first time all season last week when the Wolverines trailed Rutgers 17-14. The second half was all U-M. The Wolverines outscored Rutgers 38-0 in the final two quarters and won 52-17.
Are the Illini slipping?
Here are some questions and answers to consider as we look forward to the other Big Ten football games Saturday: How good is the Illinois offense? Maybe not as good as advertised. The Illini were stopped five times on fourth down last week by Michigan State, and came up empty on three trips inside the red zone, which hurt the Illini in a 23-15 loss. How bad is the Nebraska offense? Bad.
The Huskers scored on their first two possessions last week against Minnesota and Nebraska took a 10-0 lead, but the next six Huskers’ possessions ended with a punt, including five three-and-outs, and the Gophers won 20-13. Has the Iowa offense finally found its mojo thanks to a freshman running back? It looks like it. Kaleb Johnson ran for a career-high 200 yards last week in a 24-3 win over Purdue, becoming the first Iowa rusher to hit the 200-yard mark since Akum Wadley had 204 yards on the ground in 2015. Has Wisconsin finally found its mojo in interim coach Jim Leonhard? Yes. The Badgers are 3-1 since the former defensive coordinator was promoted.
Big Ten football games Saturday and picks
— Indiana (3-6, 1-5) at No. 2 Ohio State (9-0, 6-0), noon EST, FOX (Take Ohio State -40)
— Purdue (5-4, 3-3) at No. 21 Illinois (7-2, 4-2), noon EST, ESPN2 (Take Illinois -6.5)
— Rutgers (4-5, 1-5) at Michigan State (4-5, 2-4), noon EST, Big Ten Network (Take Michigan State -10)
— Nebraska (3-6, 2-4) at No. 3 Michigan (9-0, 6-0), 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC (Take Michigan -30.5)
— Wisconsin (5-4, 3-3) at Iowa (5-4, 3-3), 3:30 p.m. EST, FOX Sports 1 (Take Iowa +1)
— Maryland (6-3, 3-3) at No. 14 Penn State (7-2, 4-2), 3:30 p.m. EST (Take Penn State -10.5)
— Northwestern (1-8, 1-5) at Minnesota (6-3, 3-3), 3:30 p.m. EST, Big Ten Network (Take Minnesota -17.5)
How I did last week (3-4)
— Ohio State 21, Northwestern 7 (I took Ohio State -38) LOST
— Iowa 24, Purdue 3 (I took Purdue +3) LOST
— Minnesota 20, Nebraska 13 (I took Nebraska +16) WON
— Wisconsin 23, Maryland 10 (I took Wisconsin -4) WON
— Michigan State 23, Illinois 15 (I took Illinois -17) LOST
— Penn State 45, Indiana 14 (I took Indiana +14) LOST
— Michigan 52, Rutgers 16 (I took Michigan -25.5) WON
— My season record: 9-7-1