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Big Ten Preview and Predictions: Week 6

Denard Robinson and the Wolverines haven't yet left the friendly confines of the Big House. That changes with a trip to Evanston on Saturday.
Denard Robinson and the Wolverines haven't yet left the friendly confines of the Big House. That changes with a trip to Evanston on Saturday.

As Wisconsin's players and coaches settle in for their last weekend off until December, they will get a chance to look at some of the league and national competition duke it out. Undefeated teams Illinois and Michigan head out on the road for their first away games of the season. Meanwhile, Iowa heads to Penn State and Ohio State travels to Nebraska in games that could be a death knell to the losers. The four teams I just mentioned have compiled a collective 1-2 conference record so far, with the only victory coming against Indiana. Wow.

On the national stage, the big game schedule is a little light. There's the Red River Rivalry featuring undefeated Texas and Oklahoma. Florida tries to figure out a way to crack LSU's defense in Baton Rouge. Fresno State will try to do the unthinkable and upset Boise State tonight. And Auburn heads to Arkansas in a battle of highly-ranked one loss SEC squads.

John let us know our rooting interests for the week. Now let's take a look at who has the best chance to pick up the Big Ten wins this week. Also, cast your vote for which favorite you think is most likely to be toppled tomorrow.

Week 6 Games (all games on Saturday):

11 AM CT:

Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-4 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) at Purdue Boilermakers (2-2, 0-0) [ESPN]: I don't intend to be blunt here, but this is the type of game you make your children attend as punishment for something they did wrong during the week. Minnesota is fresh off a 58-0 beating at the hands of Michigan, while Purdue fell 38-10 to that school in South Bend. Neither team would have even scored a touchdown this past week if it wasn't for Purdue's Antavian Edison catching a touchdown pass with 21 seconds left in the game. When picking this game, you have to ask yourself if you trust the Gophers to win a road game in the shape they are in right now. You really shouldn't, though I think they could keep it close. By the way, did I mention that Wisconsin has yet to play these two easy victories teams this season?

Line: Purdue -14. Purdue 30, Minnesota 21.

1:30 PM CT:

#19 Illinois Fighting Illini (5-0, 1-0) at Indiana Hoosiers (1-4, 0-1) [BTN]: The rivalry between these two in basketball is pretty heated, but I don't sense the same tension when it comes to football. This is probably because both schools are more basketball-oriented. Ron Zook's squad has impressed so far this season, but hasn't played a game outside of Champaign yet. Indiana is Indiana, though you have to give them credit for not getting blown out this year. The Hoosiers have lost games by point totals of 3, 3, 6, and 7. On the other side, Illinois has won their past three games by a combined 9 points, so I'd bet on a close Illinois victory again here.

Line: Illinois -14. Illinois 23, Indiana 20.

2:30 PM CT:

Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1, 0-0) at Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1, 1-0) [ABC]: Iowa has been a perennial thorn in the foot of the Nittany Lions since 2000, having won 8 out of the last 9 in this series. This season, the Hawkeyes fell to Iowa State in triple overtime, while Penn State fell to Alabama. Iowa's biggest problem this season has been poor defense, while Penn State's offense has been hideous. I have very little faith in the Lions scoring many points, so I'm picking Iowa to continue ruining Joe Paterno's life this weekend.

Line: Penn State -4. Iowa 20, Penn State 17.

6:00 PM CT:

#12 Michigan Wolverines (5-0, 1-0) at Northwestern Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) [BTN]: There are a number of factors going against the Wolverines here. They haven't played a game outside of Ann Arbor yet this year. Despite what their ranking may tell you, it's unlikely they are actually the 12th best team in college football. Northwestern has talented quarterback Dan Persa back from injury. A night game will improve the atmosphere in what could be the Wildcats' biggest game of the year. But with all that said, I don't see how Michigan will lose this game. Northwestern has a hideous rush defense, which plays right into the Wolverines' hands. I can't envision Northwestern being able to match Michigan score for score, especially since UM's defense seems halfway decent this year.

Line: Michigan -7.5. Michigan 41, Northwestern 24.

7:00 PM CT:

Ohio State Buckeyes (3-2, 0-1) at #14 Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-1, 0-1) [ABC]: Hehehe. The schadenfreude here is delicious. Last Saturday night, a terribly over-confident Nebraska fanbase was sent home to Lincoln with a beatdown courtesy of Russell Wilson and company in the aptly-named House of Pain. Meanwhile, perennial Big Ten power Ohio State's offense looked completely lost in a 10-7 home loss to Michigan State. Let's face it, the Buckeyes will not be able to score enough to steal one at Nebraska. The only way Ohio State wins is if Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez throws multiple pick-sixes.

Line: Nebraska -11. Nebraska 30, Ohio State 13.

My record so far (Can pick winners, but not covers):

Overall record: 42-10, 80.8%. (Last Week: 6-0)

Record against the spread: 21-31, 40.4%. (Last Week: 2-4)