Big Ten predictions for this Saturday's slate of games.
Indiana at Purdue
With Indiana traveling to West Lafayette for Purdue head coach Joe Tiller's last game, I see an emotional effort from the Boilermakers in the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket. Curtis Painter and Kory Sheets will be playing their last game sporting the train with no bowl on the horizon. This combination will prove insurmountable for the Hoosiers. It doesn't hurt that Indiana is the most pathetic squad in the conference and Hoosier head coach Bill Lynch's leadership is on borrowed time. That guy is a lame-duck coach next year.
Spread: Purdue by 11 1/2
Anderson's prediction: Purdue over Indiana 23-13
My pick: Purdue over Indiana 34-17
Michigan State at Penn State
Michigan State is 0-7 when traveling to Happy Valley since the Nittany Lions joined the Big 10 in 1993 and will be playing in one of the toughest environments in America. Penn State showed the ill effects of their upset in Iowa City by struggling in the first half last week at home against Indiana. The Lions eventually re-grouped in the second half and put themselves in position for their first Rose Bowl trip since 1994.
The Spartans are also in contention for vacation plans to Pasadena if they can have Penn State submit and have the Wolverines make mince-meat of Ohio State. Penn State will be fired up this week with a trip to the greatest bowl in the land up for grabs and will put a beat down on Michigan State.
Spread: Penn State by 15 1/2
Anderson's pick: Penn State over Michigan State 20-13
My pick: Penn State over Michigan State 30-9
Illinois at Northwestern
Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald has done a masterful job building a solid team in Evanston. He also knows how to coach, which is an opinion still up in the air with Illini coach Ron Zook. Yet, Ryan Field holds no home field advantage and Illinois is battling for bowl eligibility. The Illini are also coming off an embarrassing loss to Western Michigan last Saturday. Even with the Illini's stomping of the Wildcats last year, this rivalry has tipped towards Northwestern this past decade. In the end, I see Fitzgerald's Wildcats improving upon an impressive football season.
Spread: Illinois by 3
Anderson's pick: Northwestern over Illinois 30-20
My pick: Northwestern over Illinois 24-19
Iowa at Minnesota
Tim Brewster's Gophers are coming off a tough loss to their arch-rival Wisconsin and have star wide-receiver Eric Decker playing banged up. Historically, this game, when played in Minneapolis has been 50/50 Gopher and Hawkeye fans. With no home field advantage, the fact that this is Minnesota's last game at the Metrodome is a non-factor for this football contest. While the Gopher's defensive line is stout, they will be going up against a first-round NFL draft pick (Shonn Greene) who is a man among boys in the Big 10. Shonn Greene is also 106 yards short of setting an Iowa single-season record for rushing yards. The bronze pig (Floyd of Rosedale) stays in Iowa city.
Spread: Iowa by 6
Anderson's pick: Minnesota over Iowa 17-14
My pick: Iowa over Minnesota 26-20 OT
Michigan at Ohio State
In 2001, first year coach Jim Tressel guaranteed a victory in this rivalry and delivered. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has made no such bold predictions, but will no doubt feel the pressure to end the losing skid against the Buckeyes. Rodriguez hasn't helped the situation much by labeling some Michigan fans as idiots. This is a game that Michigan will want more and the Wolverine's underrated defense will make its appearance this Saturday morning in Columbus. I call for the upset.
Spread: Ohio State by 20 1/2
Anderson's pick: Ohio State over Michigan 38-10
My pick: Michigan over Ohio State 17-16
Bonus pick: Oklahoma over Texas Tech 35-31