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Big Ten picks for Week 8

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

It's not quite rivalry week, though several matchups below certainly fall under that tag. The Ohio State-Michigan State game likely will determine Penn State's top challenger for the Big Ten title. Iowa tries to continue its momentum, and three teams (Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue) try to stop the bleeding.

Here's how I see the five-pack shaking out.

Northwestern 28, Purdue 24 -- A tight contest on Homecoming at Ryan Field, as Northwestern tries to rebound from a mistake-filled performance against Michigan State and Purdue attempts to stop a three-game slide. The Boilermakers historically have had success against the Wildcats, but their offense isn't the same this year and neither is the Wildcats defense. Purdue will find the end zone a few times, but Northwestern comes up with a late defensive stand to seal the win. Tyrell Sutton has a big game against the Boilers' defense.

Iowa 21, Wisconsin 17 -- This would be a tough game for Wisconsin even without the uncertainty at quarterback and the injuries along the offensive line. Iowa can stop the run, and that's exactly what the Badgers will try to do. Dustin Sherer gets the start for Wisconsin and makes some plays, but a second-half mistake opens the door for Iowa. Chalk up another 100-yard rushing performance for Hawkeyes junior Shonn Greene, who will wear down the Badgers' defense.

Ohio State 19, Michigan State 17 -- There are numerous reasons to pick against Ohio State -- a weak passing game, growing frustration among offensive players, the loss of defensive end Lawrence Wilson -- but that's often when the Buckeyes come up big with a win. Terrelle Pryor hasn't lost as the starting quarterback, and this will be the game when Chris "Beanie" Wells shows why he's one of the best running backs in the country. Wells outplays Javon Ringer and Ohio State forces a late turnover to escape Sparta with a win.

Penn State 35, Michigan 6 -- The beating won't be as severe as some are forecasting, but there's no way Penn State looks at this as a trap game, not after losing nine straight to the Wolverines. Michigan's defense has played admirably for most of the season and could keep things close for a while, but Penn State can only be held down so long. It's hard to see the nation's 109th-ranked offense being able to do much against a defense that allows just 11 points per game.

Illinois 35, Indiana 24 -- Both teams need a win, but Illinois has the healthy quarterback (Juice Williams) and the superior offense. Illini offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will attack the Hoosiers from the get-go with downfield passes, which Williams can execute when given time in the pocket. Indiana went back to the basics this week and should limit turnovers and penalties, but with Kellen Lewis hobbled, the Hoosiers can't keep up with Illinois on the road.

Bye: Minnesota (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten)

Season record: 47-9 (83.9 percent)