There are a few intriguing match-ups this weekend, and a weird start time for the Michigan game...
12:00 PM Eastern
Indiana at Michigan State (ESPN2): Indiana is coming off one of the biggest wins in program history. Not only did they drop 44 points on the Nittany Lions, but they beat 'em by 20; that's a pretty big deal. The most significant part of this Saturday's game is that this will mark the first time the Hoosiers have been on the road this year, so there's nothing to use in order to really predict how this will go. Their defense has actually been playing well, though: they have four interceptions through their first five games, when they had seven all of last year. In 2011 they had only five. So the D is improving. Look for them to have some confidence on both sides of the ball going into this game. They won't be able to keep the pace of scoring 44 ppg, but perhaps their defense could play just well enough to keep them in this. We already know about MSU's defense, so there's no real need to go into it, other than just to say they are damn good. State's QB, Connor Cook, played a good game against an Iowa defense that had destroyed the Gophers, but that just may be luck. Overall, the Spartan offense just hasn't been there. Don't expect the offense to carry the day in this one, either; their defense will again save the day. Prediction: The Hoosiers will be able to take advantage of a couple opportunities here and there, but the Spartan defense will prove to be too much. The 14-point difference will come off of two defensive touchdowns for Michigan State. Michigan State 31 - Indiana 17.
Nebraska at Purdue (BTN): could things possibly get any worse for the Boilermakers? In their four losses, Purdue has been outscored 169 to 65; that's just downright awful. You know that win they have against Indiana State? It will be the only one they get this year. I just don't see how they can win any of their remaining games; at this point, the Indiana State win is looking like a fluke. Danny Etling is the new starting quarterback for Purdue, and Rob Henry will now be at the safety position. Cool. Nebraska is heading into this game as 14-point favorites. ????? Only fourteen? The Huskers are scoring about 42 points per game, and Purdue is scoring 17. I know those are averages, and I know that Nebraska gave up huge yards to Wyoming and...everyone, but you've got to believe that Nebraska will absolutely pound Purdue into the ground on Saturday. Sure, the Blackshirts have had some problems, but there's no way they allow the Boilermakers to get within fourteen. Prediction: The Blackshirts will play much better, shake up Danny Etling, and the Purdue of the Notre Dame game will be nowhere near Memorial Stadium. Nebraska 38 - Purdue 10.
3:30 PM Eastern
Northwestern at Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2): Badgers fans are a little worried about this one. Northwestern has been able to get under Bucky's skin in recent history, winning four of their seven match-ups between 2000-2010. In case you're not good with numbers, that's a winning record against the Badgers in the 21st century. However, only the 2000 win was at Camp Randall. If Northwestern is going to win this game, they'll need to stop that Wisconsin run game and get some takeaways (they had three against Ohio State, after all). B5Q has a piece on the importance of the turnovers to both teams in this game. Other than the Badgers' running game, it should come as no surprise that the other player NW needs to watch is Jared Abbrederis. Here's a guy who couldn't be stopped against Ohio State, even though the Buckeyes knew Joel Stave was going Abby's way. Ten receptions for 207 yards. The guy was amazing last week. As for the Badgers' defense, LB Chris Borland will have to figure out a way to stop Kaincolter Trevorsiemian at the QB position for the Wildcats. Prediction: Northwestern is going to be worn out after last week's game against the Buckeyes, while Wisconsin will be ready to play coming off the bye. The Badgers just don't lose at home, either, but look for a close Badgers win on homecoming. Wisconsin 28 - Northwestern 21.
5:00 PM Eastern
Michigan at Penn State (ESPN): Michigan has lost the last three games against the Nittany Lions, going back to '08. Prior to that, Michigan dominated Penn State from '97-'07. Michigan has to lose somewhere this season, right? But, after seeing PSU lose to Central Florida and Indiana, is Happy Valley really the place where Michigan will stumble? Who knows? I'm now looking at this game as a toss-up. The Wolverines are 2.5-point favorites, which seems about right, if only because you have to pick someone to win. Christian Hackenberg has been playing relatively well for a freshman, but he isn't the problem for PSU; it's the Penn State defense. In the Lions' two losses, the defensive unit has allowed 496.5 yards of offense, and just shy of 7 yards per play. You can't beat anyone with D like that. Michigan's defense is allowing an average of 4.6 yards per play, while not great, has been good enough to win. As with all other games this year, the thing we need to see from Michigan is an error-free Devin Gardner. If Michigan can play the way they did against Minnesota, then Michigan will be 6-0 on the season. At first, I started writing that Michigan would lose, but after reconsidering the game plan that Al Borges had against the Gophers, Gardner may have his confidence back. Prediction: a confident Gardner, and Devin Funchess remaining unstoppable on the outside, will spell the end of the Nittany Lions. Besides, the Wolverines have never lost more than three in a row against PSU, so look for the winning ways to continue. Michigan 35 - Penn State 20. Plus, my "beard" will now be 6-0 against my wife not wanting it.