By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) Nebraska and Michigan are still in the hunt for the Big Ten title, but Saturday’s clash in Ann Arbor also has a BCS twist.
With Stanford’s loss to Oregon last week, many bowl projectors believe the winner of this weekend’s Nebraska-Michigan game could go to the Fiesta Bowl. Bowl organizers in Glendale, Ariz. would especially like to set up a renewed rivalry game between Nebraska and Oklahoma, but Michigan’s hungry fan base would also be appealing option.
The loser of Saturday’s game could also head to the greater-Phoenix area for a bowl game, but that would be the Insight Bowl in Tempe. Not exactly the same prize.
Nebraska appears to be back on track after winning at Penn State last week in what might have been the most awkward road trip ever. Meanwhile, Michigan also played well in a win at Illinois.
The Wolverines’ habit of making mistakes could hurt them in this game, but I think they will limit those mistakes at home. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David will have to have a huge game containing Denard Robinson if the Cornhuskers hope to win.
In the end, I think Michigan will find a way to score points at home and its defense will be able to stop Nebraska’s one-dimensional offense.
My pick: Michigan 24, Nebraska 20
On to the rest of my Big Ten picks:
(Home team in ALL CAPS)
OHIO STATE 17, Penn State 13
Despite losing last week, I was impressed by Penn State’s effort in the midst of everything the team is dealing with right now. The Buckeye offense is still unimpressive and they will have a tough time scoring points in this game. That said, Ohio State’s defense is really good too and this one will go to the home team.
Wisconsin 34, ILLINOIS 17
The Badgers finally won their first true road game of the season last week and even though it came at Minnesota, it should clear up any lack of confidence Wisconsin was going through on the road. The Illini will be able to slow down the Badger offense, but they won’t be able to stop it. And there’s no way Illinois can keep up offensively.
PURDUE 27, Iowa 24
After correctly picking Purdue’s upset over Ohio State last week, something is telling me the Boilermakers will have a letdown and lose this one. Still, Iowa has been awful on the road this season and the Boilermakers are a completely different team at home. This is a good test to see if Purdue is really turning the corner under Danny Hope. A must-win in that regard.
NORTHWESTERN 38, Minnesota 30
Before the Gophers faced Wisconsin’s juggernaut offense last week, they were making strides under Jerry Kill. Let’s not forget Minnesota went to Michigan State two weeks ago and gave the Spartans a game. Marqueis Gray should be able to move the ball against Northwestern’s offense in this one. The most points Minnesota has scored in a game this season is 29 against Miami (Ohio) so I’ll go with 30 Saturday. The Gophers won’t be able to stop Dan Persa and Co. though and in the end, the Wildcats will win a close one.
MICHIGAN STATE 38, Indiana 17
The Spartans got their home stinker out of the way against Minnesota two weeks ago. They’ll have no problem with Indiana at home on Senior Day.
Season record: 64-20 (29-8 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.