I stayed in Indianapolis this past weekend while covering the Wisconsin-Indiana game, and Friday night, the wife and I dined at St. Elmo Steak House.
After all, I needed to sample the dinner Brian Bennett will be buying me on the eve of the Big Ten championship game. Needless to say, the shrimp cocktail was as advertised -- my sinuses are still recovering -- and the steak just as delicious. We skipped on the pecan pie or chocolate cake, but they looked great. They'll look great on Bennett's tab, too.
What's that? You think I'm too confident about the predictions race? There are two weeks of games left, after all. But Bennett sits a full five games behind me after Week 11. Not even his beloved St. Louis Cardinals can close such a gap. He's cooked. Just like the steak I'll be ordering at St. Elmo.
We both missed on Purdue in Week 11, but I had the edge on the Nebraska-Penn State game (thanks, replay crew). Here's a look back at the Week 11 predictions.
WEEK 11/SEASON RECORDS
Adam Rittenberg: 4-1, 65-19 (.773)
Brian Bennett: 3-2, 60-24 (.714)
Rewind time ...
Wisconsin at Indiana
Bennett's pick: Wisconsin 31, Indiana 24
Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 34, Indiana 27
Actual score: Wisconsin 62, Indiana 14
20-20 hindsight: We had the winner right, but that's about it as a game many forecast to be close was anything but. Wisconsin running backs Montee Ball and James White blew away my predicted rushing total (210 yards) with 359 combined yards, while making Bennett's prediction (300) look respectable. They also combined for five touchdowns (I predicted three). Wisconsin did display a sense of urgency, as I wrote, and Curt Phillips made a few key throws, including a fourth-down conversion early in the second half.
Northwestern at Michigan
Bennett's pick: Michigan 30, Northwestern 21
Rittenberg's pick: Michigan 23, Northwestern 17
Actual score: Michigan 38, Northwestern 31 (OT)
20-20 hindsight: Neither of us envisioned such a high-scoring game or such a wild ending, but both offenses came to play for 60 minutes. I correctly pegged Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner for two touchdown passes, and Northwestern weapons Venric Mark and Kain Colter combined for two touchdowns in the first 35 minutes of the game (I said they would in the first half). Bennett thought Denard Robinson would see time for Michigan (he didn't), and while Michigan forced a fumble, it was by Jibreel Black, not Jake Ryan.
Purdue at Iowa
Bennett's pick: Iowa 24, Purdue 13
Rittenberg's pick: Iowa 27, Purdue 19
Actual score: Purdue 27, Iowa 24
20-20 hindsight: Bennett nailed Iowa's score, but both of us expected the Hawkeyes to defend their home turf in a meeting of disappointing teams. Iowa's James Vandenberg actually threw a touchdown pass, as Bennett had predicted, but it was to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, not to wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley. Purdue didn't score on its first drive, as I had forecast, and while quarterback Robert Marve threw two touchdown passes, neither went to wide receiver Antavian Edison.
Penn State at Nebraska
Bennett's pick: Penn State 27, Nebraska 24
Rittenberg's pick: Nebraska 30, Penn State 28
Actual score: Nebraska 32, Penn State 23
20-20 hindsight: This actually proved to be my best score prediction, and I correctly pegged Penn State to jump ahead early behind a Zach Zwinak touchdown run. Matt McGloin's costly interception came in the third quarter, not the fourth, as I had predicted, and Kenny Bell didn't record a touchdown catch for the second straight game. Bennett correctly forecast Penn State to build an early lead, but Nebraska indeed completed one of its patented comebacks (Bennett said the Huskers wouldn't) and prevailed.
Minnesota at Illinois
Bennett's pick: Minnesota 24, Illinois 14
Rittenberg's pick: Minnesota 23, Illinois 20
Actual score: Minnesota 17, Illinois 3
20-20 hindsight: I guess we should know better, but we both expected more from Illinois' offense on its home field. We came fairly close on Minnesota's score, and but I had Rodrick Williams giving the Gophers a boost in the run game, rather than Donnell Kirkwood, who racked up a career-high 152 rush yards and two touchdowns. We both pegged Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson for touchdown passes (he threw none), and Illinois never took the fourth-quarter lead I thought it would.