Halfway home already. The college football season is flying by. Five Big Ten teams sit in the AP Top 25 in mid-October, but there are still plenty of opportunities for those positions to change, starting this week.
No. 3 Penn State gets the week off to prepare for its make-or-break stretch against Michigan and Ohio State at the end of the month. The other four ranked teams are in action this weekend against conference foes that could at the very least put a bit of a scare into the favorites.
Visit our college football PickCenter page for additional information on these games and many more. In the meantime, let's take a look at what is on the slate this Saturday.
No. 17 Michigan at Indiana, noon ET, ABC
Dan Murphy: Quarterback John O’Korn gets his second crack at the Hoosiers, whom he started against last season. He needs to help Michigan’s offense improve this week to prevent a meltdown. Receiver Simmie Cobbs should present some matchup issues for the Wolverines' cornerbacks, but good luck gaining any traction on the ground. Michigan’s defense makes Indiana one-dimensional and wins comfortably. Michigan 27, Indiana 10
Mitch Sherman: No way to see this as anything other than a defensive struggle. The Hoosiers were gouged by Ohio State and Penn State, but Michigan can’t match the firepower of its fellow heavyweights from the East -- especially with O’Korn under center after his struggles last week. Young QB Peyton Ramsey will find that the Wolverines present a challenge entirely different than Charleston Southern, whom the Hoosiers handled last week. Michigan 17, Indiana 7
Tom VanHaaren: It’s tough to imagine the Michigan players aren’t upset about how the Michigan State game played out. The Wolverines defense should be good enough to win this game as long as the offense doesn’t turn the ball over the way it did against the Spartans. Losing to Michigan State and Indiana back to back would be devastating, so I think Michigan bounces back with a win. Michigan 24, Indiana 13
Northwestern at Maryland, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Murphy: Don’t expect a lot of points in College Park. Maryland might be looking in the stands for its next quarterback with the horrible streak of bad luck the Terrapins have had with injuries at the position. Northwestern’s veteran tandem of Clayton Thorson and Justin Jackson are only averaging 25.6 points per game, though, and have been more or less noncompetitive against Power 5 foes. Maryland 24, Northwestern 16
Sherman: Tough defeats came last week for both of these teams against the Big Ten’s elite. But it was more painful for Maryland, which lost a third starting quarterback to injury. The status of Max Bortenschlager, who took a hit to the head in the third quarter of Maryland’s 62-14 loss at Ohio State, remains uncertain. The same could be said about the general status of the Terps. Northwestern 27, Maryland 20
VanHaaren: Maryland had a tough go at Ohio State last weekend, and Northwestern had the challenge of containing Penn State. I’m torn on this one because Maryland might bounce back, but they also seem to be a little beaten up. I’m going to go with Northwestern just on a gut; maybe Jackson has a big game after being relatively quiet this season. Northwestern 31, Maryland 27
Purdue at No. 7 Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Murphy: Wisconsin’s players have been aware for weeks that their habit of starting a bit slow could come back to bite them. Purdue’s offense could have the teeth to challenge the Badgers, but playing in Camp Randall Stadium with that defensive line should be enough of an edge to outlast a scare from coach Jeff Brohm & Co. Wisconsin 33, Purdue 30
Sherman: The Boilermakers, though the most improved team in the West by a long shot, aren’t ready for running back Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin’s bruising offensive attack. The Badgers have won 11 straight in this series and the past four games in Madison by an average of 32.5 points. Sounds about right. Wisconsin 42, Purdue 10
VanHaaren: Purdue is definitely on the right track with Brohm, but it’s not quite there yet to beat this Wisconsin team. Wisconsin freshman running back Taylor is averaging 153.4 yards per game, and Purdue’s rush defense is ranked 65th overall, giving up an average of 151 yards per game. If the averages work out there, Taylor is likely going to have another big game and help the Badgers to a win. Wisconsin 28, Purdue 17
No. 21 Michigan State at Minnesota, 8 p.m. ET, BTN
Murphy: Michigan State is a much-improved team, but early-season performances make it hard to believe that this program is back to the level of consistency that it showed during previous title runs. Are the Spartans good enough to be good every week yet? Coach P.J. Fleck needs a win in Minnesota to avoid falling to .500. His Gophers will win the turnover battle and get one. Minnesota 28, Michigan State 20
Sherman: The Spartans are not who we thought they were a month ago, and the Gophers aren’t who we thought they were two weeks ago. It’s often easy in this type of instance to overestimate the team headed up and underestimate the team headed down. You see what I’m getting at? An upset. Minnesota 24, Michigan State 23
VanHaaren: The Spartans will likely get some confidence and an emotional boost from beating Michigan. Minnesota started the season on the right foot but has cooled down in Big Ten play so far, losing to Maryland and Purdue. Michigan State’s defense has given up only 20 points in its two Big Ten games this season, so it will be a tough game for Minnesota to win. Michigan State 23, Minnesota 14
More unanimous picks
Rutgers over Illinois
Ohio State over Nebraska