We're past the quarter pole of the Big Ten season, and the predictions race is all even at 40-6. It's Week 5 on the schedule, but there are only four games involving Big Ten teams, as half of the league is off.
Let's get started ...
MIAMI (OH) at ILLINOIS
Brian Bennett: Miami is 0-3 and has been outscored 107-21. Have fun, Nathan Scheelhaase. I see a 350-yard passing day in your future. ... Illinois 38, Miami 10
Adam Rittenberg: The first open week fell at a good time for Illinois, which had a chance to regroup on both sides of the ball. This might feel like another Saturday off as Miami is truly awful. The Illini's defense rebounds and Josh Ferguson reaches the end zone twice as Tim Beckman's squad exceeds last year's wins total. ... Illinois 31, Miami 13
NORTHERN ILLINOIS at PURDUE
Adam Rittenberg: Northern Illinois hasn't been overly impressive so far and could easily be 1-2. Purdue is a desperate team doing some "soul searching," according to coach Darrell Hazell, after a 1-3 start. The Boilers take an early lead but Northern Illinois' run game, led by quarterback Jordan Lynch, proves to be too much in the second half. Lynch scores two fourth-quarter touchdowns as NIU prevails. ... Northern Illinois 38, Purdue 27
Brian Bennett: It would be hard to pick Purdue against any half-decent FBS team right now with the way the Boilermakers' offense is sputtering. Defensive coordinator Greg Hudson helped slow down the Huskies in last year's Orange Bowl as a Florida State assistant, and Hazell knows Northern Illinois very well from his MAC days. That should help a little, but Purdue has a hard enough time staying out of its own way right now. ... Northern Illinois 28, Purdue 20.
IOWA at MINNESOTA
Brian Bennett: Very difficult call, as both teams are similar in their approach. I think Iowa has a better chance of moving the ball through the air than Minnesota, though Jerry Kill might surprise us. I'd pick Iowa if the game were in Iowa City, but I think the home field may be just enough to get Minnesota over the top. The Gophers pick up a defensive score, and the legend of Mitch Leidner grows as he runs for 125 and two scores. ... Minnesota 23, Iowa 21
Adam Rittenberg: Toughest pick of the week, for sure. I really liked what I saw from Minnesota against San Jose State, but sooner or later, the lack of a passing game will catch up with the Gophers. Iowa is showing better balance on offense and should do just enough to contain Minnesota's ground game. Jake Rudock finds C.J. Fiedorowicz for the winning touchdown pass in the final minute as Iowa keeps the bacon. ... Iowa 28, Minnesota 24
WISCONSIN at OHIO STATE
Adam Rittenberg: It wouldn't shock me if Wisconsin records the upset, but Ohio State has too much firepower, and the Badgers remain one-dimensional on offense. Melvin Gordon shows why he's arguably the nation's top running back with 180 yards and two touchdowns, but Ohio State rallies in the second half behind Braxton Miller, who accounts for three touchdowns in his return. This will be a fun one in Columbus ... Ohio State 37, Wisconsin 30
Brian Bennett: Fun one is right. Wisconsin never gets blown out anymore, and the Badgers have the run game to give Ohio State's young defense fits. But I agree that the Buckeyes have a few too many weapons on offense, particularly with Miller's return, while the Badgers' passing game is too shaky. Miller leads the Buckeyes out to a big early lead before Wisconsin makes a late comeback behind scores from James White and Gordon. Bradley Roby intercepts Joel Stave to seal it. ... Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 28
There's our forecast. Now it's time to reach out to our adoring public. As a reminder, throughout the season we'll choose one fan/loyal blog reader each week to try his or her hand at outsmarting us. There's nothing but pride and some extremely limited fame at stake. If you're interested in participating, contact us here and here. Include your full name (real names, please) and hometown and a brief description why you should be that week's guest picker. Please also include "GUEST PICKS" in all caps somewhere in your email so we can find it easily.
This week's guest picker has been all over the Big Ten map. Phillip Mykleby from Minneapolis, the floor is yours.
I'd like to be a guest picker for this weeks games if you don't mind. I guess you can say I've been all around the Big Ten in my lifetime. I'm a lifelong Iowa Hawkeye fan growing up and undergrad (I actually met you once in Iowa City for Iowa-Michigan in 2009), then off to Nebraska for grad school, and now I work for the U of Minn. This weekend's game for the Floyd of Rosedale has some added meaning for me. And my entire family will be coming up from Iowa and cheering for the Hawkeyes in the Gopher student section!
Here are Phillip's Week 4 picks:
Illinois 45, Miami (Ohio) 10
Northern Illinois 41, Purdue 28
Iowa 28, Minnesota 24
Ohio State 42, Wisconsin 24
Adam Rittenberg: 40-6
Brian Bennett: 40-6
Guest pickers: 36-10