November is nearly upon us, and the predictions race, fittingly, is even entering the home stretch. Brian Bennett and I differed on just one game in Week 9, and it came down to Northwestern and Iowa in overtime at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes prevailed, and Brian erased his one-game deficit in the season standings.
Week 9/Season record
Adam Rittenberg: 2-2, 57-11
Brian Bennett: 3-1, 57-11
Here's one final look at the Week 9 predictions we made and those of guest picker Nick Galea from Normal, Ill.
It's rewind time ...
Nebraska at Minnesota
Bennett's pick: Nebraska 28, Minnesota 16
Rittenberg: Nebraska 35, Minnesota 24
Actual score: Minnesota 34, Nebraska 23
20-20 hindsight: I came close on the final score but had the teams in the wrong order, as we both thought Nebraska would perform better following its second open week. Huskers QB Taylor Martinez struggled in his return, falling short of Bennett's forecast. Minnesota QB Philip Nelson threw one touchdown to Derrick Engel but none to Maxx Williams, as I thought he would. My prediction of another 100-yard rushing performance for Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah proved true (165 yards).
Northwestern at Iowa
Bennett's pick: Iowa 27, Northwestern 24
Rittenberg's pick: Northwestern 31, Iowa 28
Actual score: Iowa 17, Northwestern 10 (OT)
20-20 hindsight: Bennett finally picked Iowa, and it paid off, as the Hawkeyes outlasted the Wildcats. Iowa RB Mark Weisman powered his team to an early lead, as I predicted he would, and Northwestern QB Kain Colter improved his team's third-down conversion rate. But we both expected more offense in this one. Northwestern found some offense in the second half and appeared ready to rally for a win, but penalties and turnovers doomed the Wildcats.
Michigan State at Illinois
Bennett's pick: Michigan State 24, Illinois 12
Rittenberg's pick: Michigan State 27, Illinois 16
Actual score: Michigan State 42, Illinois 3
20-20 hindsight: Despite our concerns about a potential trap game, the Spartans took control in the second half and pounded the Illini in Champaign. Michigan State QB Connor Cook (208 pass yards, 3 TDs) came close to Bennett's prediction (200 pass yards, 1 TD), but neither of us saw Cook completing 15 of 16 pass attempts to set a new team record. Spartans RB Jeremy Langford (104 rush yards, 2 TDs) came close to my prediction (120 rush yards, 2 TDs). Michigan State's defense, while dominant, didn't produce a touchdown, as we both predicted.
Penn State at Ohio State
Bennett's prediction: Ohio State 51, Penn State 48 (2 OT)
Rittenberg's prediction: Ohio State 38, Penn State 28
Actual score: Ohio State 63, Penn State 14
20-20 hindsight: Brian took a lot of heat on Twitter for his prediction, as Ohio State piled up points with ease, but truth be told, both of us were way off. We expected a lot more from Bill O'Brien's team, but the Nittany Lions were no match for Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes. Lions QB Christian Hackenberg threw two first-half interceptions, not touchdowns, and he connected with WR Allen Robinson for only one score, not three, as Brian predicted. Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde (147 rush yards, 2 TDs) exceeded my prediction (120 rush yards, 1 TD).
You've seen our picks. Now it's time to check on our guest picker, Nick.
Nebraska 38, Minnesota 24
Iowa 28, Northwestern 27
Michigan State 27, Illinois 10
Ohio State 45, Penn State 38
Nick's picks mirrored Brian's, so he finished 3-1 and bested my 2-2 mark. His score predictions need some work, though, as none came close. Like us, he expected a higher-scoring game in Iowa City and a more competitive one in Columbus. Overall, not bad.