Reporting Adam Hoge
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(CBS) It honestly seems wrong to break down football this week, but the games do go on.
There are some good ones this weekend and Penn State-Nebraska was going to be a big game even before all these horrible allegations came out.
Obviously everyone is wondering how the Nittany Lions will respond after a week no football team has ever had to deal with, but I also wonder about Nebraska.
For the Cornhuskers, this has to be one of the most awkward situations to ever walk into. You know they have been paying attention to the story all week long considering Penn State is this week’s opponent. In the end, however, I think Nebraska’s goal is to come into Beaver Stadium, do business, grab a win and get the hell out of there as fast as they can.
But I was leaning toward picking Nebraska in this game even before Joe Paterno was fired. Penn State has had it very easy in the Big Ten so far and quite frankly, they should be 5-0. Also, I don’t think they are very good. The defense is talented, but the offense is brutal.
Now, you would think Penn State will have success on defense because they are talented and can stop the Cornhuskers’ one-dimensional, run-first offense. But that’s where this week’s distractions are going to be a problem. The Cornhuskers run a tricky run-option attack. It’s an offense that requires you to study a lot of film in order to stop it. Do you think the Nittany Lions have watched as much film as they usually do this week? I doubt it.
The bottomline is that Penn State’s offense was already bad and the defense isn’t going to be as prepared as it usually is. At least that’s my belief.
My pick: Nebraska 24, Penn State 17
The rest of my Big Ten picks:
(Home teams in ALL CAPS)
IOWA 27, Michigan State 24
Both of these teams are good at home and bad on the road. Overall, the Spartans are a much better team, but I can’t ignore past results in this game. Michigan State has a lot of motivation after Iowa gave MSU its only loss last season, but I like the Hawkeyes at home.
Michigan 28, ILLINOIS 24
These teams won’t put up nearly as many points as they did last season, but it will be a similar result. The Illini are on a three-game skid and I don’t think the bye week was enough to turn things around. Michigan will make corrections from last week’s loss at Iowa and Denard Robinson will lead the Wolverines to a win.
Wisconsin 38, MINNESOTA 24
The Badgers have lost both of their two true road games this season and the Gophers are improving each week, but this just isn’t a good matchup for Minnesota. Michigan State and Ohio State were able to slow down Wisconsin’s running game and the Gophers simply aren’t good enough against the run. That’s a recipe for disaster when you face the Badgers.
NORTHWESTERN 41, Rice 30
Both of these teams know how to score, but I think the Wildcats will come out inspired on defense after last week’s win at Nebraska. That doesn’t mean NU’s secondary problems will just disappear — and Rice will put up some points — but overall I think the defense does enough for Dan Persa and Kain Colter to keep Northwestern on top throughout.
PURDUE 21, Ohio State 17
Call it a gut feeling, as this is the biggest upset I’ve predicted all season. Ohio State’s only road win this year came at Illinois where the Illini played atrocious. Some will call last week’s ugly win over Indiana their slip-up, but I actually think it pointed to reality for the Buckeyes. Purdue has played much better at home this season and its defense can be sneaky good at times. It won’t be hard to get up for this game and I think the Boilermakers will put it all together for their biggest win of the season.
Season record: 59-19 (24-7 Big Ten)
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.