Big Ten Football: Week 11 Predictions
Big Ten Football: Week 11 Predictions
The Big Ten is experiencing it's best week with most ranked teams since non-conference play ended. Last week featured many games that had division title implications as well as postseason chances on the line.
Purdue has seemingly seen their season go from promising to nightmare-ish as they have lost five straight games, not winning a conference game yet in 2012. This was not what people predicted when the season began-- the Boilermakers were the favorite of many people to win the Leaders Division, dethroning Wisconsin.
Iowa and Indiana are both 4-5 and are looking to make a bowl game with two wins in their final three games.
Iowa is looking to make their fifth straight bowl game under Kirk Ferentz and looking to win their fourth bowl in five chances. They will face off against a struggling Purdue team this week and will most likely improve to 5-5 after a promising 4-2 start to the season.
The Hoosiers are looking to make their first bowl game since 2007 in which they played Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl. The last time they won a bowl game-- 1991 against Baylor.
Minnesota is also looking to make a bowl game, which would be their first under second-year head coach Jerry Kill. This team is much improved from a 3-9 squad from 2011 and Kill is a big reason for that. They face a mediocre Illinois team this week that hasn't won a game since week three of the college football season-- the Gophers chances to make a bowl game are good.
Last week: 4-1
Wisconsin vs. Indiana, 12:00 PM
Wisconsin travels to Indiana for a divisional matchup that could be a decisive game for the Hoosiers bowl chances. Wisconsin will have to play their first game without Joel Stave at quarterback since week three and fifth-year senior Curt Phillips will get the start over junior-transfer Danny O'Brien. The quarterback situation will not be an issue for the Badgers as Montee Ball will pick up the slack and run all over a poor Indiana defense. Indiana is much improved from last year, but this will not be their year to go to a bowl game.
Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Indiana 21
Northwestern vs. Michigan, 12:00 PM
Northwestern comes in at No. 24 in the latest rankings and finds themselves in the top 25 for the second time this season, as their first appearance was short-lived. Northwestern will have to face a tough Michigan team in Ann Arbor if they want to reach eight wins for yet another season under Pat Fitzgerald. The Wolverines have played the better part of the last two games without their starting quarterback Denard Robinson and will hope to have him back for a big matchup against the Wildcats. The Wolverines will be okay and will reach seven wins and come one step closer to competing for a conference championship.
Prediction: Northwestern 20, Michigan 35
Purdue vs. Iowa, 12:00 PM
Purdue is quite possibly one of the most disappointing teams in the conference. Not because they are 3-6, more so because they were predicted by many to make it to the Big Ten title game and they have done the exact opposite this year, failing to win a conference game through five games. They must win out in order to make a bowl game, but the chances of that are slim because they must travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes in a game where both teams are fighting for their bowl lives. The Hawkeyes are tough to beat at home and are coming off a tough loss at Indiana last week. Look for James Vandenberg to toss a couple touchdown passes-- finally-- in a win against the lowly Boilermakers.
Prediction: Purdue 14, Iowa 28
Penn State vs. Nebraska, 3:30 PM
Penn State has been the biggest surprise in the conference this year. They have exceeded everyone's expectations and have won six of the past seven games, reaching bowl eligibility-- if it were any other season. The Nittany Lions have a bowl ban in 2012 and will be unable to make any possible trips to Pasadena or another New Year's Day bowl game, which would be possible if they weren't banned. Nebraska has the best offense in the conference and they're coming off a huge win in East Lansing against Michigan State in which they beat the Spartans in the final 10 seconds of the game behind the strong play of Taylor Martinez. This team will continue rolling and Martinez will run all over the Nittany Lions' defense like they did to the top-ranked Spartan defense.
Prediction: Penn State 27, Nebraska 41
Minnesota vs. Illinois, 3:30 PM
Minnesota will make their first bowl game under Jerry Kill if they win against Illinois on Saturday. This is the most winnable game for any team this week if the Golden Gophers can play like they have been all season long. They are a much-improved team from a year ago and should be able to come away with their sixth win of the season. This is a must-win for the Gophers because their final two games of the season are against Nebraska and Michigan State. The Gophers will come away with a win and reach their first bowl in a couple years and will do it with MarQueis Gray at receiver, not quarterback. Yes, the star quarterback is now a receiver and will have a big game.
Prediciton: Minnesota 21, Illinois 13