It's all good in Wisconsin, as long as you don't bring up the Brewers or their idiot manager.
Oh, this isn't about baseball. Sorry.
Last week: 7-5
Wisconsin at Illinois: I'm not proud of the fact that I really want to pick Illinois to win this game. However, something has me thinking that Wisconsin will rise up. The Badgers haven't really played well on defense at any point. Yes, they allowed 13 points to UNLV, but UNLV is terrible. The Badgers almost lost to a bad team, in large part, because their defense struggled on numerous occasions to get off the field.
Anyway, this isn't a cakewalk for the Badgers. Ron Zook's recruiting helped energize the team, and now a 4-1 (2-0 Big Ten) start has energized the fans. They have talent all over the field, and they are going to present a host of problems for a Badger defense that needs to prove it can stop a spread-oriented offense.
I know I'm babbling here, but it's an important game. If Wisconsin can somehow emerge unscathed, the chances that the game at Ohio State will be a battle of unbeatens will increase dramatically. I'm going to go against my better judgment and predict a Wisconsin win, if only because I'm going to be really mad if they lose.
The pick: Wisconsin
Minnesota at Indiana: As I mentioned above, the Gophers are 1-4 and have managed a few embarrassments along the way. What do I mean? Witness:
See? Pretty embarrassing, huh?
So is "losing to Florida Atlantic". Maybe the Gophers confused them for "South Florida".
Indiana, meanwhile, is carving out a pretty nice story for themselves. The Hoosiers are 4-1 (1-1 Big Ten) and appear to be a virtual lock to attain bowl eligibility, even if they don't win this game. Bill Lynch had a tough task, taking over after Terry Hoeppner died over the offseason, and he's done a very good job. The Hoosiers' stated goal of "Play 13" comes one step closer to reality after this weekend.
The pick: Indiana
Northwestern at Michigan State: For both teams, this is an important game. The Spartans lost no credibility with that defeat at Wisconsin last week. They're off to a great start and appear to be vastly improved. However, a loss to Northwestern erases all that progress. For the Wildcats, it's time to win. They came close last week, but couldn't finish off Michigan. In a tough environment like East Lansing, they're not going to find the sledding any easier.
The pick: Michigan State
Iowa at Penn State: When I saw that Iowa lost to Iowa State, I figured this would be a rough season for the Hawkeyes. But they rebounded with a good effort in Madison two weeks ago. I never dreamed they'd lose at home to Indiana. It's a sign of how IU has progressed (already discussed) and how far Iowa has fallen. Iowa has now lost seven straight Big Ten games dating back to last year, and it's not going to get any easier. Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan State loom in consecutive weeks after this game, meaning the once-mighty Iowa Hawkeyes could reasonably start Big Ten play 0-6.
The pick: Penn State
Ohio State at Purdue: I don't trust Purdue. I just don't think their defense is very good, and I'd like to see that offense rack up some yards and points against someone good. Their chance for that comes this week, but Ohio State is too strong for them.
The pick: Ohio State
Eastern Michigan at Michigan: Looks like Mario Manningham will miss this game for Michigan, as Lloyd Carr again picks a really good time to discipline a player for a "violation of team rules". Whatever. Michigan is off to a good Big Ten start and they'll win this game. They're starting to distance themselves from that crappy-looking team we saw the first two weekends. Just in time to play another team that runs a good spread offense (Purdue) next week.
Good thing Indiana's not on the schedule. Ron English could probably get himself fired trying to stop Kellen Lewis.
The pick: Michigan
Kentucky at South Carolina (Thursday): Last week was really good for home underdogs. Not sure you can classify Carolina as a "dog", but they've got a task. OBC (Ol' Ball Coach, if you're wondering) has to commit to running the ball on a weak defense. The Wildcats will slow down the air attack, but they're awful against the run.
Meanwhile, Andre Woodson is every bit the super player he was said to be. The kid has poise, mobility, and great arm strength. He'll carve up South Carolina's defense, and Kentucky will stop the run enough to frustrate OBC and get a huge SEC road win.
(Then again, with my recent history of picking weeknight college football games, this might not be a good thing for UK.)
The pick: Kentucky
Kansas at Kansas State: I'm not about discrediting Ron English at all. That was a great win at Texas last week, and the KSU program is clearly making strides back towards the heyday of Bill Snyder with how they've been playing. However, it's worth noting that KSU did not have much sustained offense against Texas, relying heavily on turnovers, kick returns, and field position to whip the Longhorns. Those are the kinds of things that can come and go during a football season, and it's not wise to rely on them.
Kansas hasn't played ANYONE of note so far, but they've certainly taken care of business. The Jayhawks have a pretty good defense, and the offense is better than it was last year. I think KSU wins this game, but it won't be the cakewalk of KSU-Kansas games in the 1990s, and it won't be easy for them just because they beat Texas last week.
The pick: Kansas State
Georgia at Tennessee: Two overrated, overhyped SEC teams. I'm not really impressed at all with the Volunteers, and this game only stays close because Georgia isn't going to be able to put a decent team away all year, and because it's in Knoxville. Georgia wins, but they're going to have a ton of problems when they have to play Kentucky.
The pick: Georgia
Oklahoma vs Texas (at Dallas): Lost a bit of luster, wouldn't you say. Neither team should have lost last week, but you have to believe Texas' loss was more disturbing, since it was by a rather wide margin, and the game was in Austin. Plenty of motivation both ways for this game, but I think Oklahoma is more talented. The Sooners had a hiccup last week, but I think a reasonable argument can be made that Texas entered the season overrated, and that loss was a sign of problems that are only starting to surface.
The pick: Oklahoma
Virginia Tech at Clemson: I have nothing interesting to say about this game. Neither team is that good, but both are ranked, something that says a lot about the idiots that vote, as well as the competition for spots in the rankings. Clemson, coming off a bad loss to Georgia Tech, will win at home.
The pick: Clemson
Cincinnati at Rutgers: Remember what happened in Cincinnati last year. Won't happen again. Well, I mean it won't be a blowout. Cincinnati is still going to win. It will be tight, but I don't see this overrated Rutgers defense slowing Cincinnati down enough.
The pick: Cincinnati
Florida at LSU: I would have picked LSU even if Florida had won by 30 against Auburn last week. That lackluster effort could certainly be pinned on Florida looking past those Tigers as they saw a matchup with these Tigers looming. I think Florida is better than they showed last week, but the Gators don't have enough of a running game to keep LSU honest defensively. Tim Tebow is a competitor, and he might get himself destroyed trying to win this one by himself.
The pick: LSU
Nebraska at Missouri: Big game for both teams. The winner will probably end up earning the right to
The pick: Nebraska