The final full week of Big Ten action kicks off Friday in Lincoln, and, with the Thanksgiving holiday arriving Thursday, the predictions are coming at you early. Hope you're ready.
Bennett reclaimed the top spot in the season standings with a 5-1 performance in Week 12. Rittenberg is only a game behind, and there are several intriguing matchups on the slate this week.
It's pick time.
IOWA at NO. 21 NEBRASKA (FRIDAY)
Brian Bennett: Nebraska needs a hero in the Heroes Game to avoid a dispiriting finish to the season, and I think it will be the guy who gets called Superman. Rex Burkhead goes off for 150 yards and a couple of TDs as the Huskers stalk it to their neighbors. ... Nebraska 28, Iowa 20
Adam Rittenberg: Nebraska plays better with a chip on its shoulder, and the edge is back after last week's humiliating loss at Michigan. Iowa's high-powered offense makes this very interesting as RB Marcus Coker racks up two touchdowns, but Huskers QB Taylor Martinez has been very good at home this season and comes up with four touchdowns (2 rush, 2 pass) as the Huskers prevail. ... Nebraska 31, Iowa 24
NO. 14 MICHIGAN STATE at NORTHWESTERN
Adam Rittenberg: It's tough to know how Michigan State will respond after clinching the division last week. I like Mark Dantonio's approach, though, and although Northwestern will be geared up, the Spartans match up well with the Wildcats. Spartans WR B.J. Cunningham scores a late touchdown as Michigan State wins in Evanston. ... Michigan State 27, Northwestern 21
Brian Bennett: This isn't baseball, so the Spartans won't rest their starters. I sense that it's really important to this team to get to 10 wins, and Dantonio's offense is playing with a lot of confidence. Northwestern keeps it close, but Michigan State is a little too physical for the Wildcats. ... Michigan State 34, Northwestern 27
OHIO STATE at NO. 15 MICHIGAN
Brian Bennett: The streak ends. These two teams are trending in vastly different directions, and Ohio State's offense does not match up well with a Michigan defense that's playing lights-out right now. The Wolverines get off to a quick start behind two Denard Robinson touchdowns and start dreaming about the Sugar Bowl. ... Michigan 24, Ohio State 14
Adam Rittenberg: Sorry, Luke Fickell, but it is about talent, and Michigan, for the first time in a while, has more this season. It's also about motivation, and the Wolverines seniors want this game real bad after being embarrassed against their archrival. Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen lead a strong defensive effort, and Fitzgerald Toussaint turns in another 100-yard rushing performance. ... Michigan 27, Ohio State 13
PURDUE at INDIANA
Adam Rittenberg: It wouldn't shock me if Indiana pulled off the upset in the Bucket game, as Purdue has been maddeningly inconsistent. But the Boilers seniors will step up in this one as they finally become bowl-eligible. The defense forces two second-half turnovers and Antavian Edison records a breakaway touchdown as Purdue prevails. ... Purdue 34, Indiana 24
Brian Bennett: If Purdue can't win this game, even on the road in a rivalry game, maybe it should be considered Hope-less. But the Boilers are much better than the 1-10 Hoosiers and will ride Ralph Bolden and a bunch of screen passes to the Bucket and bowl eligibility. ... Purdue 35, Indiana 17
ILLINOIS at MINNESOTA
Brian Bennett: Upset special. Illinois has lost five straight and has no confidence right now, and Minnesota has nothing to lose while playing at home on Senior Day. MarQueis Gray and Duane Bennett have big days as the Gophers notch their second Big Ten win. ... Minnesota 21, Illinois 17
Adam Rittenberg: This wouldn't be that much of an upset, considering the way Illinois has performed recently. This one certainly could go either way, but Ron Zook is correctly making it about the players, not himself, this week as Illinois tries to end on a good note. The Illini have faced some pretty good teams during their losing streak, and Minnesota is not a good team. A.J. Jenkins turns in a big performance against a vulnerable Gophers secondary as Illinois ends its slide. ... Illinois 24, Minnesota 20
NO. 19 PENN STATE at NO. 16 WISCONSIN
Adam Rittenberg: Wisconsin averages 52.3 points at Camp Randall Stadium, but it hasn't faced a defense nearly as good as Penn State's. Devon Still and the front four make the Badgers work for their points, but I just don't have enough confidence in the Penn State offense, even with the Wild-Lion, to reach the end zone enough. Russell Wilson throws two second-half touchdowns as Wisconsin wins the Leaders Division. ... Wisconsin 31, Penn State 20
Brian Bennett: If only Penn State could have saved its offensive surprise for this week. I'm not sure what else Tom Bradley and his staff can concoct to manufacture points, which any team going to Madison needs plenty of to have a chance. The Penn State defense does as well as can be expected, but Matthew McGloin throws a costly interception to turn the tide. ... Wisconsin 28, Penn State 17
Brian Bennett: 67-24 (.736)
Adam Rittenberg: 66-25 (.725)