The Big Ten race continues to hurtle through time with four teams chasing a Rose Bowl bid. Michigan State leads at 5-1 in Big Ten play and Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa are right behind at 4-1. Penn State remains in the battle for a share of the conference title at 3-2, but its Rose Bowl hopes are probably gone.
It should be another interesting week of football, so let's get to some picks.
Iowa at Northwestern, noon, ESPN
This game will be the highlight of the early slate in the Big Ten. Northwestern is 6-3 (2-3) and is coming off a stinging loss to Penn State last weekend, while the Hawkeyes narrowly escaped Bloomington with an 18-13 win over Indiana. Expect Northwestern to play very tough at home. With a near upset of Michigan State and a great half of football in Happy Valley last weekend under their belts, the Wildcats will be a difficult out for an Iowa team that's not playing its best football at the moment. Oh, and don't forget, Northwestern took down Iowa at Kinnick Stadium last season, 17-10. Northwestern 24-21
Indiana at Wisconsin, Noon, ESPN2
It's been a year of near-misses for the Hoosiers, with narrow losses to Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa, but this week won't be one of them. After a slow first half, Wisconsin got things going offensively and won 34-13 at Purdue last Saturday. Even if running back John Clay does not play, the Badgers have a stable of offensive talent from Nick Toon to Montee Ball that they should be able to handle the Hoosiers at home. Indiana will challenge the Wisconsin defense a little bit, though, and keep things interesting. Wisconsin 33-20
Minnesota at Illinois, Noon, Big Ten Network
Illinois is coming off a monster week offensively, piling up 65 points on Michigan's terrible defense. The problem is that the Illini gave up 67 themselves in a loss. Fortunately for them, Minnesota doesn't have Michigan's high-powered offense. While quarterback Adam Weber can cause some problems, the Golden Gophers just don't have to weapons to stay with Illinois on the road, so look for the Zookers to get back on track. Illinois 38-17
Michigan at Purdue, Noon, Big Ten Network
Rich Rodriguez's Wolverines are bowl eligible for the first time in the coach's tenure at Michigan and they really seem to have things clicking offensively. Denard Robinson is expected to play, so Michigan's offense should be at full strength in West Lafayette. For that reason, it's going to be awfully difficult for the Boilermakers, 114th in passing yards and 111th in points scored, to keep pace with the Wolvernies. That said, Purdue needs two wins in the final three games for bowl eligibility, so look for an desperate effort from Danny Hope's squad. Michigan 35-14
Penn State at Ohio State, 3:30, ABC
The Nittany Lions are riding high after three straight wins including Joe Paterno's 400th career win last Saturday against Northwestern, but the Buckeyes offer a sobering challenge. If Terrelle Pryor can exploit what has been an exploitable Penn State defense, this one won't be in doubt for very long. If he can't, well then, things could get interesting. The Ohio State defense could prove to be the foil for new starting quarterback Matt McGloin, but keep an eye on this one nevertheless. Ohio State 21-10