Northwestern and Illinois played Saturday for the Land of Lincoln trophy, affectionally labeled LOL because of the teams' respective 4-7 records.
Brian Bennett and I had something just as significant, or perhaps more so, on the line in the Wildcats-Illini contest. Thirteen weeks of predictions came down to one game: The winner would enjoy dinner on the loser's tab Friday night in Indianapolis before the Big Ten championship game.
Well, Bennett is the one LOLing after Northwestern ended its seven-game slide with a three-point win against Illinois. I'll be a little lighter in the wallet Friday night after a poor finish to my predictions.
Week 14/Season record
Brian Bennett: 4-2/80-16
Adam Rittenberg: 3-3/79-17
Here's one last look at the Week 14 predictions from us and guest picker Jarrod Reese from Sioux City, Iowa.
It's rewind time ...
Iowa at Nebraska
Bennett's pick: Nebraska 21, Iowa 17
Rittenberg: Nebraska 19, Iowa 16
Actual score: Iowa 38, Nebraska 17
20-20 hindsight: A rough start to the review session, as we both missed by a wide margin. Our score predictions for Nebraska weren't far off, but Iowa's defense dominated the game and made things easy for Jake Rudock, Mark Weisman and the Hawkeyes offense. Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah (85 rushing yards, TD) came up well shy of my prediction (130 rush yards, TD).
Minnesota at Michigan State
Bennett's pick: Michigan State 17, Minnesota 6
Rittenberg's pick: Michigan State 24, Minnesota 10
Actual score: Michigan State 14, Minnesota 3
20-20 hindsight: Kudos to Bennett for nailing Michigan State's margin of victory and coming close on both teams' scoring totals. Spartans quarterback Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford both came up one touchdown shy of our respective predictions for them. Minnesota's defense met Bennett's forecast by forcing two turnovers and preventing the Spartans from finding a rhythm.
Ohio State at Michigan
Bennett's pick: Ohio State 35, Michigan 14
Rittenberg's pick: Ohio State 42, Michigan 13
Actual score: Ohio State 42, Michigan 41
20-20 hindsight: Needless to say, The Game turned out to be much more competitive than we thought. I nailed Ohio State's score but grossly underestimated Michigan, which woke up from its monthlong slumber on offense. Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller threw two touchdown passes, not the three Bennett had predicted, and accounted for five touchdowns, two more than I had predicted for him.
Purdue at Indiana
Bennett's pick: Indiana 51, Purdue 24
Rittenberg's pick: Indiana 38, Purdue 28
Actual score: Indiana 56, Purdue 36
20-20 hindsight: The Bucket game turned into more of a shootout than either of us envisioned. Purdue freshman quarterback Danny Etling (485 pass yards, 4 TDs) nearly doubled my predicted totals for him (250 pass yards, 2 TDs), and Indiana wide receivers Shane Wynn and Cody Latimer had four combined touchdowns, not three. The Hoosiers racked up 692 yards, eclipsing Bennett's predicted total of 550.
Penn State at Wisconsin
Bennett's pick: Wisconsin 38, Penn State 14
Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 45, Penn State 17
Actual score: Penn State 31, Wisconsin 24
20-20 hindsight: The most surprising result of the Big Ten season clearly caught us off guard, as Penn State stunned Wisconsin to eliminate the Badgers from BCS at-large contention. Penn State held both James White and Melvin Gordon to less than 100 rushing yards, and Lions freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg torched the Badgers for 339 pass yards and four touchdowns. Other than Bennett predicting a nice game from Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson (eight catches, 122 yards), we completely whiffed on this one.
Northwestern at Illinois
Bennett's pick: Northwestern 27, Illinois 24
Rittenberg's pick: Illinois 24, Northwestern 20
Actual score: Northwestern 37, Illinois 34
20-20 hindsight: Bennett nailed Northwestern's victory margin and correctly pegged Wildcats quarterback Trevor Siemian (414 pass yards, 4 TDs) to shred Illinois' defense. A Jeff Budzien field goal proved to be the difference. Illinois' Steve Hull (155 receiving yards, TD) and Josh Ferguson (110 rush yards, 2 TDs) made big plays, as I predicted, but it wasn't enough.
Ugh, glad that's over. Now let's see how Jarrod fared:
Iowa 23, Nebraska 17
Michigan State 28, Minnesota 6
Ohio State 52, Michigan 17
Wisconsin 35, Penn State 13
Indiana 45, Purdue 17
Northwestern 17, Illinois 14
An impressive showing, as Jarrod actually beat both of us with a 5-1 mark, thanks to his Hawkeyes knocking off Nebraska in Lincoln. Other than his Northwestern-Illinois victory margin, his score predictions weren't great, although we're not ones to talk.