Last week was a decent week for my prognostications; I went 3-2 with my straight up and spread picks. This week features another nonconference patsy for Indiana, a cripple fight between Purdue (actually crippled) and Minnesota (mentally crippled coach), a game of slight intrigue (Illinois v. MSU), and two very good matches (Michigan v. Iowa, OSU v. Wisconsin). Here are my picks, and as always, use these picks only if you need more deductions for your income taxes before year's end.
ARKANSAS STATE at INDIANA (-12)
Two weeks ago Arkansas State lost to Louisville in Jonesboro by 10. Indiana ending its nonconference tour of tomato cans aside, the question one must ask himself or herself is this -- "Is Indiana as good as an average Big East team?" The key words in that question are "Big East", which means that the answer is yes. As usual the Hoosiers give up a shameful amount of points to an inferior opponent, but score more than enough points to cover the spread.
Straight Up and Spread picks: Indiana
MINNESOTA at PURDUE (-5.5) - MISS OF THE WEEK
On one side - a Minnesota team that's found a variety of ways to lose games against all levels of competition. On the other side - a Purdue team whose offense gives new meaning to the song title "Multitude of Casualties", but found a way to beat an overrated Northwestern team last week in Evanston. Once a week in this space I'm obligated to make a pick based on a hunch. I feel that Purdue suffers a letdown and somehow, be it by a career day from Adam Weber, a fumbleriffic day by the Boilermakers, or MAGIC, Minnesota beats Purdue.
Straight Up and Spread picks: Minnesota
ILLINOIS at MICHIGAN STATE (-7)
Yes, this game has the hallmarks of a trap game for Michigan State. That's why it's probably better for the Spartans that Illinois beat Penn State so convincingly last week; I don't think anyone will take the Illini lightly after their decisive Happy Valley victory, even if Penn State looks tremendously down this year. This week Michigan State will take on an offense best described as "Michigan-lite + a very good running back", and a defense that has been very effective. Even without Chris L. Rucker playing, I think the Spartan defense stymies Mikel Leshoure enough to win by two touchdowns.
Straight Up and Spread Picks: Michigan State
IOWA at MICHIGAN (+3) - LOCK OF THE WEEK
Let me see if I have this right - Michigan lost by 17 to Michigan State last week (yes, I know Denard Robinson's end zone interceptions played a part in the victory margin, but he still threw them), and the Wolverines are only getting three points? If the Wolverines thought their offense was being stifled last week, think of the damage an elite defensive line coupled with Tyler Jimmerjammin' Sash can do. Although this game was close last year, Stanzi will have his one month chip from Interceptions Anonymous in hand by the time this game is played. I think the Hawkeyes win this game by at least 10.
Straight Up and Spread Picks: Iowa
OHIO STATE at WISCONSIN (+4)
The Big Ten game of the week, and along with a game at Iowa, one of two big hurdles Ohio State must clear on the way to the BCS National Championship game. Meanwhile, Wisconsin rebounded from its loss in East Lansing with a victory over Minnesota, and we learned Bret Bielema will do anything if it's the 4th quarter and it's on a card - use this knowledge for good, not for evil. This being a night game in Camp Randall, prepare for this game to be close vis a vis Tressel's tendency to restrict Terrelle Pryor's passing attempts. I think Tresselball works here like it usually does, as Ohio State wins by a field goal.
Straight Up Pick: Ohio State Spread Pick: Wisconsin
YEAR TO DATE:
STRAIGHT UP PICKS: 45-6; 7-3 Big Ten
SPREAD PICKS: 17-22-1; 4-6 Big Ten
LOCK OF THE WEEK: 6-0 straight up, 2-4 spread
MISS OF THE WEEK: 3-3 straight up, 2-4 spread