Michigan @ Penn State
Hoo-boy. These fan bases have been at each other's throats the entire week, (mostly) led by Scott Bell’s consistent and overwhelming slander of James Franklin:
PFF College @PFF_CollegeBREAKING: There is mutual interest between USC and Penn State Head Coach James Franklin, per @dpshow https://t.co/57asD3XAND
I don’t want to get into that too much, but needless to say these fanbases don’t like each other.
There’s been a ton of discussion this week as to how good Michigan actually is after they were unjustly ranked above Michigan State by the Playoff Committee despite having the same record and losing to MSU. I do not believe Michigan is deserving of this ranking, because I still view Michigan as one-dimensional on offense.
McNamara threw for a career high against Michigan State, whose secondary has been downright terrible the entire season and who just got torched by Purdue. Michigan is a run-first, pass-second team, and when they do have to pass to win games so far this year they outright haven’t been able to do it.
Penn State’s defense is good; their run-defense is phenomenal. They’ve been able to shut-down practically everyone this year, including an Ohio State team that has gotten better and better every week. Unlike McNamara, Sean Clifford has put Penn State on his back this season, single-handedly winning them game after game.
Michigan is probably better than Penn State. That’s not an outlandish thing to say. Unfortunately, shit happens, and Sean Clifford is the best QB Michigan has played this year.
PICK: Penn State 38-34
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Minnesota @ Iowa
Floyd is the best rivalry trophy in the sport. He is a beautiful beast that has remained the same for almost a hundred years; never broken, never replaced. He is a good boy that represents everything right about the sport and about the greatest conference in the world.
This game isn’t going to be fun. I mean, it should be competitive and an all-around good team between two teams that might be perfectly matched, but God is it going to be a slog.
Minnesota is going to have to drastically change how they play if they want to win. They have to take the reins off Tanner Morgan and let him throw. Running against Iowa isn’t going to work; many have tried, many have failed. It’s tough to throw against Iowa, but it might legitimately be the only way they have a chance. If they can throw early and control time of possession, they can easily pull this out.
Iowa, on the other hand, has no offense. None. They’ve scored 31 points combined over the last three games. They scored 17 against Northwestern. Iowa needs to be able to play field position and force turnovers. Without that, Iowa has next to no shot. Can Iowa win? Of course, but I can’t pick them until they rid themselves of the nepotistic cancer that is Brian Ferentz.
PICK: Minnesota 12-6
Northwestern @ Wisconsin
Northwestern’s defense is bad. Their offense is somehow bottom-10 in the country. They are comfortably the worst team in the Big Ten West this season.
Wisconsin should boat-race them. Their defense is ridiculous, their offense is figuring things out, and they control their own destiny in the conference. Shit’s going to get very interesting very soon.
Graham Mertz isn’t going to be good, but Wisconsin’s run game and defense should be able to do whatever they want the entire game.
PICK: Wisconsin 31-7
Rutgers @ Indiana
This game’s going to be so forgettable.
Both of these teams are painstakingly mediocre, with nothing that really stands out about either. The only noteworthy thing about either of these teams is Indiana’s freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley.
I’m not going to say McCulley has been particularly good, but I think he has been a very pleasant surprise the last few weeks for IU. He’s shown infinitely more promise than Penix and Tuttle have so far. He’s been decent, and I really think Indiana is going to be successful with him in the not-so-distant future.
PICK: Indiana 24-13
Purdue @ Ohio State
I’m so mad Purdue is ranked. Absolutely irate. I’m more upset about this than Michigan being ranked over Michigan State.
Should Purdue be ranked? Absolutely. Does it take away the upset magic? Yeah, it does, and it’s annoying. The committee wants Ohio State in the playoff so bad they stripped Purdue of its powers by respecting their accomplishments.
That said, no one is playing with more confidence than Purdue right now. They’ve beaten two top-5 teams and know exactly who they are. They are going to throw the ball 60 times and never take their foot off the gas. Jeff Brohm has a library in his house dedicated to trick plays and is willing to break them out at any time. He’ll run a flea flicker up 14, he does not care. Ohio State’s defense is still relatively weak; I’m expecting points, points, and more points from Purdue.
As for OSU, I’m expecting the same. Purdue’s defense is MUCH better than Ohio State’s, but OSU’s offense is still far more talented than Purdue’s. Stroud is comfortably the best QB Purdue has played this year. Ohio State is just on a different level offensively than the rest of the Big Ten, and this game is just going to prove it further.
PICK: Ohio State 44-34
Maryland @ Michigan State
Maryland can throw and they can do it well. The Michigan State secondary is going to get slaughtered this week. Maryland has no business running the ball this week. They need to adopt Purdue’s strategy and throw it every single down. If they throw the ball consistently, they can win this game.
Michigan State just needs to be decent. Maryland isn’t as good as Purdue. Michigan State has to get out of their own way this week and let Kenneth Walker feast. If they do, they should comfortably win.
And if they win, you can bet your ass they’ll be ranked below Michigan next week no matter what.