Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer 440d

Big Ten Week 6 picks: Who will take home Paul Bunyan Trophy?

There weren’t too many surprises last week, with Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State each winning. Although Northwestern rallied to make it close with the Badgers, Wisconsin remains unbeaten.

As we move further into conference play, the picks will likely get more difficult and this week could be the start of that. Michigan takes on Michigan State at home in the battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy and Wisconsin and Nebraska face off in a game that went into overtime last year and was won in the final seconds in 2015, both by the Badgers.

Visit our college football PickCenter page for additional information on these games and many more. Here's another shot in the dark from our perspective at the Big Ten games on the schedule.

Michigan State at Michigan, 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, ABC:

Dan Murphy: The team that has won this rivalry game in each of the last 11 meetings has held its opponent to 24 points or fewer. That number should be enough to win again in Ann Arbor as both teams feature strong defenses to go with offenses that have either been underwhelming (Michigan) or inconsistent (Michigan State). Michigan 24, Michigan State 13

Tom VanHaaren: For whatever reason, a lot of previous stats don’t matter when it comes to this game. These two teams tend to play up to the emotions and this has built up to an intriguing game with Michigan starting John O’Korn at quarterback, Michigan State’s defense playing better than expected and both teams having quite a few questions on offense. Michigan is at home, though, and that defense is suffocating. I think that will be too much for the Spartans. Michigan 27, Michigan State 17

Mitch Sherman: If the Spartans are within two scores of Michigan in the fourth quarter, everyone in the Big House is going to be way more nervous than would seem reasonable. It won’t be necessary. The Wolverines aren’t positioned to win in a blowout, but no late heroics this time. Michigan 21, Michigan State 10

Maryland at Ohio State, 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, Fox:

VanHaaren: Maryland’s Max Bortenschlager had a nice game against Minnesota last week with no interceptions and a few touchdowns. That should give him confidence headed into this game, but Ohio State’s pass rush is likely going to disrupt any comfort or confidence. The Terps are on the rise and getting better, but Ohio State still takes this one. Ohio State 38, Maryland 16

Sherman: Ohio State has done what Ohio State was supposed to do in the three weeks after its sobering Week 2 loss to Oklahoma. Maryland represents an upgrade in competition. It won’t matter. A test of the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff  worthiness will come another day. Ohio State 45, Maryland 17

Murphy: The Terps did a great job of rallying last week with Bortenschlager running the offense. The reality, though, is he's a third-string quarterback going up against a first-rate defensive front in Columbus. It won't matter if the Buckeyes' offense takes a little while to ramp up to full speed. Ohio State 41, Maryland 14

Wisconsin at Nebraska, 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, BTN:

Sherman: Perhaps no two head coaches in the same league know each other’s style better than Paul Chryst and Mike Riley. And it shows on the field. Since the Badgers’ consecutive blowouts of Nebraska under former coaches at both schools, games in this series have been decided by a total of eight points -- including Wisconsin’s OT win last year. Expect another tight one. Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 24

VanHaaren: Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee didn’t throw any interceptions last week against Illinois, but Wisconsin’s defense is going to provide a different test. Lee has an FBS-worst nine interceptions this season and that number could rise on Saturday. Wisconsin had issues against Northwestern and unfortunately for Nebraska, those issues will likely be ironed out this week. Wisconsin 31, Nebraska 20

Murphy: A turnover-prone Cornhuskers offense against this experience-rich Wisconsin secondary is a recipe for trouble in Lincoln. Jonathan Taylor continues to rack up big stats in the rushing game, and the Badgers have no problem rolling through the only other team without a conference loss in the West Division. Wisconsin 35, Nebraska 17

Penn State at Northwestern, noon ET, Saturday, ABC:

VanHaaren: Penn State is undefeated, and it’s tough to see it falter right now. Saquon Barkley is being utilized in the run game, passing game and return game, so it’s tough for an opposing team to narrow in on stopping him. He’s doing a little bit of everything and it’s nearly impossible to stop him from making an impact. Penn State 27, Northwestern 17

Murphy: The Wildcats usually manage to fight above their weight class in a couple of games each year. Will this be one of them? They'll have to make big strides on the offensive line to keep pace with the Nittany Lions. They might hang for a while, but don't expect any upsets at Ryan Field. Penn State 30, Northwestern 21

Sherman: This isn’t going to be pretty for Northwestern. While the Wildcats appear to have improved over the past month, they’re not ready for the Nittany Lions’ firepower. Then again, neither are many teams, if any, in the Big Ten this season. Penn State 38, Northwestern 14

Other games:

  • Iowa over Illinois

  • Indiana over Charleston Southern

  • Purdue over Minnesota

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