The Big Ten might not have much separation, but the Big Ten blogger predictions race does. I've opened up a commanding four-game lead on Brian Bennett in the season standings after going 5-1 in the Week 5 predictions. We both whiffed on the Minnesota-Iowa game, but my Ohio State pick paid off in the lone game on which we differed.
We're both still searching for a perfect week. Maybe it'll come this Saturday.
WEEK 5/SEASON RECORDS
Adam Rittenberg: 5-1, 41-11 (.788)
Brian Bennett: 4-2, 37-15 (.712)
Let's rewind ...
Indiana at Northwestern
Bennett's pick: Northwestern 35, Indiana 21
Rittenberg's pick: Northwestern 34, Indiana 26
Actual score: Northwestern 44, Indiana 29
20-20 hindsight: Brian came closer on margin of victory, while I came close on Indiana's points total. Brian correctly predicted that Indiana's pass game would test Northwestern more than previous opponents. My forecast for Wildcats RB Venric Mark (100 rush yards, 2 TDs) came fairly close as Mark had 139 rush yards and a score. Brian predicted two pass touchdowns for Northwestern QB Kain Colter, but he ended up with four rushing touchdowns and did a ton of damage as both a rusher and a receiver (but not a passer).
Penn State at Illinois
Bennett's pick: Penn State 17, Illinois 10
Rittenberg's pick: Penn State 21, Illinois 17
Actual score: Penn State 35, Illinois 7
20-20 hindsight: Aside from predicting the Penn State victory, we didn't get much right in this game. The Lions' Matt McGloin and Allen Robinson didn't connect for two touchdowns, as I predicted, although McGloin found tight end Matt Lehman for a score. RB Bill Belton had 65 rushing yards in his return, but it was Zach Zwinak who had the bigger day (100 rush yards, 2 TDs). Penn State grabbed an early lead, as Brian predicted, but there were few tense moments as Illinois never got in the game.
Minnesota at Iowa
Bennett's pick: Minnesota 21, Iowa 14
Rittenberg's pick: Minnesota 24, Iowa 20
Actual score: Iowa 31, Minnesota 13
20-20 hindsight: Our predictions were like the Big Ten's September -- terrible and forgettable. Aside from Brian predicting 160 yards for Iowa RB Mark Weisman, who had 177, we were way off on how this one played out. There were more downs than ups for Minnesota QB Max Shortell (2 TDs, 3 INTs), and Minnesota's rushing attack (102 yards, 32 attempts) hardly surged, as I thought it would.
Marshall at Purdue
Bennett's pick: Purdue 48, Marshall 24
Rittenberg's pick: Purdue 38, Marshall 21
Actual score: Purdue 51, Marshall 41
20-20 hindsight: Brian came close on Purdue's score and Boilers QB Caleb TerBush eclipsed my prediction (3 TDs, 0 INTs) with four touchdown passes and one pick. But we both underestimated Marshall's high-powered offense and expected more from Purdue's defense, which had only two sacks (three fewer than Brian predicted). I also expected a lot more from Purdue's run game, which averaged just 2.8 yards per carry.
Ohio State at Michigan State
Bennett's pick: Michigan State 19, Ohio State 17
Rittenberg's pick: Ohio State 20, Michigan State 17
Actual score: Ohio State 17, Michigan State 16
20-20 hindsight: Michigan State QB Andrew Maxwell fired a touchdown pass, as Bennett predicted, but Le'Veon Bell fell well short of the 100-yard day Bennett thought he'd have. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller had one pass touchdown, rather than the two rushing scores I predicted. Although the Buckeyes didn't force any turnovers like I thought they would, they did start to look like the silver bullets again, particularly along the line. Bennett was a Dan Conroy missed field goal away from a perfect score prediction.
Wisconsin at Nebraska
Bennett's pick: Nebraska 35, Wisconsin 17
Rittenberg's pick: Nebraska 34, Nebraska 21
Actual score: Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 27
20-20 hindsight: Both of us saw an easier win for Nebraska, which tied the biggest comeback in school history to rally past the Badgers. As I predicted, Wisconsin LB Chris Borland played well early and Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez (182 pass yards, 107 rush yards, 3 TDs) went off in the second half. Bennett nailed Martinez's touchdown total and "Tom Osborne's early retirement gift" turned out to be the game ball.