Now that Big Ten play is here it is time for our site to step up the coverage a little bit. I admit we have been lacking in game preparation and I apologize for that, but today we start a new weekly feature that we'll do every week until the end of the season. We'll keep track with how we do, and encourage you to share your predictions as well. This week, Derek, Ryan and Kevin put their picks on the record.
Here are our picks for each game on the Big Ten schedule for week five, starting with the Penn State-Indiana match-up.
Indiana vs. Penn State
Derek Aschman: Penn State, 30-6
After starting off 3-1, Penn State now faces the weakest team on its schedule...and that includes Indiana State. The quarterbacks look as bad as usual, but Penn State wins big in their first ever East+ Division game.
Ryan Murphy: PSU 29-20.
Penn State's defense keeps things close until the offense wakes up in the early kickoff, road game. Redd finally gets some traction and grabs some highlight reel time.
Kevin McGuire: I have said all along that this game should play out the way so many other Penn State-Indiana games in the past. That is to suggest that the offense will get through the game without much problem but the defense will give up a few late scores to make the score look closer than the game really is. I have Penn State coming away with a solid victory, but I don't know if we'll really learn much about the quarterback situation, of course.
Penn State 34, Indiana 17
Michigan vs. Minnesota
Aschman: Michigan. RichRod was able to recruit talent, just not coach it. Now that Brady Hoke is at the wheel, however, the Wolverines should be able to win some tough games. And Minnesota is not a tough game.
Murphy: Michigan 32-20. You gotta feel for the Gophers. If it's not bad enough that they're the Gophers, now their coach is a medical crisis. Denard pulls off second-half heroics to secure the win.
McGuire: I have been impressed with Michigan's improved defense, and although I don't think Minnesota has the weapons to cause much of a problem for the Wolverines, I'm looking for them to keep it going. Oh, and Denard Robinson is going to put up another huge performance on the ground. Michigan rolls.
Illinois vs. Northwestern (Dirty Dozen)
Aschman: Illinois. This was one of the tougher matches to choose this week-end. On one hand, Illinois has looked very good so far this year. On the other hand, they're coached by Ron Zook. Still, I'll put faith in this Illini team versus a finally healthy Dan Persa, and probrably regret it later.
Murphy: Illinois 37-31 OT. Illinois has just enough offense to pull this out. The Wildcats are used to heartaches like this. Just ask their "Heisman hopeful" quarterback whose Achilles won't heal.
McGuire: Illinois is just too strong for Northwestern, but I never count out a team with a healthy Dan Persa. Persa Strong keeps it close, but Illini move to 5-0 and all of a sudden become a team worth watching in the Leaders Division.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State (Dirty Dozen)
Aschman: Ohio State. Both teams have been disappointingly bad so far this year, so I'll go with the talent and have faith that the Buckeyes can reach half of their potential this week-end.
Murphy: Michigan State 23-14. Ohio State is in shambles, and Sparty is about as consistent as they come.
McGuire: I tend to lean on the Buckeyes on this one but I honestly have no good reason why. I think Michigan State is a fine team, but they don't have that same feel they did last year. I would like to see Mark Dantonio pick up an elusive win against the Buckeyes, but I just don't think Ohio State loses too often at home, even with issues on and off the field this season. Buckeyes take this one.
Purdue vs. Notre Dame
Aschman: Notre Dame. Simply because they are less bad.
Murphy: Notre Dame 28-17. Not enough talent on the Boilermaker side. Barring ten Irish turnovers and Brian Kelly's experiencing a solar flare-up, Purdue will fall.
McGuire: Notre Dame in a romp. It won't matter how many quarterbacks Purdue uses.
Game of the Week
Wisconsin vs. Nebraska (Dirty Dozen)
Aschman: Wisconsin. Neither of these teams have played a very good opponent, but Nebraska's vaunted defense is has given up an average of 27 ppg over the past three weeks...and they haven't seen anything like Wisconsin yet.
Murphy: Wisconsin 37-25. Nebraska's defense is overrated. Camp Randall at night will have the ex-Big 12ers thinking, "We're not in Kansas anymore."
McGuire: Wisconsin. I think this is going to be a little lower scoring than a lot of people do, but we'll see. In the quarterback battle between Russell Wilson and Taylor Martinez, I tend to have more faith in Wilson, especially playing at home. Martinez is a little shaky for my liking, and this will be quite the scene for a game.
For more weekly predictions, check out the Crystal Ball Run Dirty Dozen.