Again, four teams are idle and there aren’t any match-ups between ranked teams. Last week was largely drama-free – will this week be the same? Here are the games, storylines, and predictions for this Saturday (times Eastern):
Rutgers (3-4, 1-3) at Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1), 12:00 p.m., BTN
The injury bug just will not leave the Badgers alone – at Illinois, they’ve now lost center Dan Voltz for the season and emerging wide receiver Rob Wheelwright for “quite a while,” likely until their bowl game. Wisconsin is, however, still 6-2 and will have quarterback Joel Stave back after a mild concussion. The porous Rutgers defense should be a much lighter challenge for the depleted Wisconsin offense.
Prediction: Wisconsin 33 Rutgers 7
Illinois (5-3, 1-2) at Penn State (6-2, 3-1), 12:00 p.m., ESPN2
Penn State looks to avenge last year’s 16-14 loss in Champaign. The Lions now know they can score points, but Illinois brings a much better defense than Maryland’s. The Illini offense, which is likely to be without top back Josh Ferguson and was already missing three of their four top wide receivers, got even thinner after losing tight end Tyler White to a torn ACL against Wisconsin. It will be tough sledding against this Penn State defense.
Prediction: Penn State 26 Illinois 16
Nebraska (3-5, 1-3) at Purdue (1-6, 0-3), 12:00 p.m., ESPNU
Nebraska has to get a win here, right? Mike Riley’s first year has easily been one of his toughest and his team’s path to bowl game requires them to beat either Michigan State or Iowa – so long as they win their other two games, starting with Purdue. Boilers coach Darrell Hazell is clearly on the hot seat in his third year, having gone a historically worst 5-26, with just a single conference win. Will a buyout of roughly $6M be too much? If not, what then?
Prediction: Nebraska 34 Purdue 13
Maryland (2-5, 0-3) at #10 Iowa (7-0, 3-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Hand it to the Terps for playing hard until the end last week against Penn State in interim coach Mike Locksley’s first game. Iowa at Kinnick Stadium will not, however, give Maryland any kind of respite. The Hawkeyes, in the midst of Ferentz 3.0, look to have it rolling in all phases right now. Expect more of the same.
Prediction: Iowa 38 Maryland 6
#15 Michigan (5-2, 2-1) at Minnesota (4-3, 1-2), 7:00 p.m., ESPN
One of the strongest 5-2 teams in the land, Michigan, is the first challenge the Gophers will face in the wake of Jerry Kill’s retirement Wednesday due to health concerns. Kill’s famously stable staff, led (again) by interim coach, DC Tracy Claeys, won’t be intimidated and should be inspired. The problem for Minnesota, however, is that they were already a little sideways on the field this season. Expect Michigan to unceremoniously take the Little Brown Jug back home.
Prediction Michigan 31 Minnesota 10