Mitch Sherman, ESPN Staff Writer 390d

Big Ten Week 5 picks: Will Nebraska bottom out in Champaign?

Last week offered an entertaining preview for a nearly full slate of Big Ten games, which arrives this week as Michigan and Purdue rest.

Can Iowa and Michigan State bounce back? Will the real Northwestern please step forward? Is Wisconsin on track to make waves nationally into December? Answers to these and other questions arrive in Week 5.

Visit the college football PickCenter page for a full rundown on everything to expect nationally. And here's another shot in the dark from our perspective at the Big Ten games on the schedule.

Nebraska at Illinois, 8 p.m ET Friday, FS1

Mitch Sherman: This sounds so strange, but if the Illinois team that showed up to play Western Kentucky in Week 2 returns, Nebraska's in trouble. Yes, that is the state of the Cornhuskers, who had to come from behind to beat Rutgers in Week 4 after a home loss to Northern Illinois. Illinois, after a bye week, likely has prepared a few tricks that may include rotating quarterbacks. A win would energize Illinois coach Lovie Smith's efforts in Year 2. Illinois 31, Nebraska 27

Tom VanHaaren: Had you asked me about this game before the season started, I would have thought it wouldn't be close with Nebraska taking it. Fast forward to now and I'm not sure who's going to win this game. Nebraska has struggled this season and I still don't know what Illinois is, but the Cornhuskers' defense had a good game against Rutgers and might have a little confidence going into this game. So I'm going to pick Nebraska, but if quarterback Tanner Lee starts turning the ball over again, I could see this going the other way. Nebraska 30, Illinois 24

Dan Murphy: The Cornhuskers have the worst passing defense in the Big Ten. One of Illinois' few strengths is at wide receiver. Champaign is due for the type of sloppy, weird, high-scoring game that makes college football so entertaining to watch. Malik Turner and Mike Dudek come up with a couple of touchdowns each as Nebraska hits its nadir. Illinois 44, Nebraska 42

Northwestern at No. 10 Wisconsin, noon Saturday, ABC

Murphy: After an underwhelming start, the Wildcats have to head to Madison. This has been the type of game where they have surprised teams in the past, though. Justin Jackson will help them keep the game close, but the Badgers will put them away late in the fourth quarter. Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 21

VanHaaren: Northwestern is a wild card, but I think Wisconsin takes this one. The Badgers are on a roll right now and the defense has only given up three touchdowns in the first three games. Although the Northwestern defense played well against Bowling Green, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is averaging 146 yards per game, which is fifth most for any FBS back. He will be a lot to handle in this game. Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 20

Sherman: Northwestern looked more like the team we expected in Week 3 after a dreadful showing at Duke, but I'm still not buying it. The Wildcats were exposed as something other than contenders in the Big Ten West. But here, in the league opener, arrives a chance to change the perception against the Badgers, whose path to an unbeaten regular season appears manageable. Wisconsin 41, Northwestern 17

Maryland at Minnesota, noon Saturday, FS1

VanHaaren: You have to feel bad for Maryland, seemingly on the rise, losing two quarterbacks to ACL tears. Minnesota still has some issues, but I have a tough time picking the Terps in this game without Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck mentioned that Tom Brady was once a backup to Drew Bledsoe, saying that Maryland's backup could be outstanding, but the Terps went from putting up 107 points in the first two games to 10 in the game against UCF. Minnesota 24, Maryland 17

Murphy: This will be the new Gophers' toughest test to date, and it would have been a bit tougher had they met a couple of weeks ago. The Terps lose some athleticism at the quarterback position, but nothing in the experience column. This game comes down to typically electric runner Ty Johnson (only 25 yards last week) making some big plays. Maryland 28, Minnesota 24

Sherman: A bad situation for Maryland, which opened the year with so much promise in that win at Texas, but now has hit a wall after the season-ending diagnosis for Hill, who was a difference-maker in the Terps' system. The Gophers' stout defensive play continues. Minnesota 23, Maryland 7

Iowa at Michigan State, 4 p.m Saturday, Fox

Sherman: Both appear ripe for a letdown in the first meeting since Michigan State ripped out the Hawkeyes' hearts with a drive for the ages to win the 2015 Big Ten title. LJ Scott remains, but a much different group of Spartans await Iowa, which lost last week to Penn State in similarly devastating fashion as the last time the Hawkeyes saw MSU. Iowa 27, Michigan State 20

Murphy: Las Vegas sees this game as a neck-and-neck battle, which means they're counting on Michigan State to clean up the turnovers that have plagued it throughout September. Iowa, meanwhile, plays as mistake-free as any team in the league. The Hawkeyes should be just fine in East Lansing. Iowa 31, Michigan State 17

VanHaaren: Iowa fans are not happy with me. I picked Wyoming over Iowa and then Penn State big over the Hawkeyes. I should have known that Iowa at home at night is a scary place, and though this game is in East Lansing, I am not picking against Iowa in this game. A close loss to Penn State fuels a win against Michigan State on the road for the Hawkeyes. Iowa 20, Michigan State 17

Other games:

No. 4 Penn State over Indiana

No. 11 Ohio State over Rutgers

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