Big Ten Week 7 predictions

It's a light week, but that doesn't mean our experts agreed on every game. Dan Murphy led the group last week, going 5-1, and moved up to third in the group standings. Can he keep climbing? On to the picks ...

Why Penn State will win: The Nittany Lions may have some soft spots on offense, but by now it’s pretty clear that they can get the job done defensively. Combining that with occasional moments of brilliance from quarterback Christian Hackenberg at least gives Penn State an identity and a chance to win every week. Meanwhile, figuring out what the Wolverines are capable of game to game has been a pointless exercise, and coach Brady Hoke is clearly running low on answers. Bottom line: No Big Ten offense scores fewer points than the Wolverines, and no defense in the league is allowing fewer than Penn State. That’s a simple formula for a Nittany Lions win. Penn State 21, Michigan 10 -- Austin Ward

Why Michigan will win: Devin Gardner finally turned in a good performance Saturday, but the big problem arose on defense with the total lack of a pass rush. Well, that pressure shouldn't be a problem at all against Penn State. The Nittany Lions' offensive line has been a sieve against every team not named "UMass" so far this season. On the other side of the ball, Penn State's defense has played great -- but it showed some cracks with linebacker Nyeem Wartman on the sideline. Coach James Franklin doesn't discuss injuries, but Wartman's arm was in a sling two weeks ago and it'd be a surprise if he were 100 percent already. Add all that in with the fact this game will be under the lights at the Big House, and it seems as if Michigan might finally be able to record a win. It should be close either way. Michigan 20, Penn State 17 -- Josh Moyer

Why Minnesota will win: Northwestern is riding a wave of confidence, and the Wildcats won by making both Penn State and Wisconsin one-dimensional on offense. Minnesota, then, is in similar danger because of its lack of a passing game. Yet the Gophers had a bye week to rest up workhorse back David Cobb, and their defense will give the Wildcats trouble. Jerry Kill's team is playing with confidence as well, and the combination of its physicality and home-field advantage will be enough to slip by in a close one. Minnesota 20, Northwestern 17 -- Brian Bennett

Why Northwestern will win: I recognize the symbolism of Minnesota's victory at Michigan -- big for the program, big for recruiting -- but Northwestern's wins against an undefeated Penn State and a one-loss Wisconsin carry far more weight than beating the nosediving Wolverines. Northwestern is hitting its stride, particularly on defense, and faces a Minnesota team with a similar profile to Wisconsin (great run attack, weak pass attack, strong defense). The bye week factor is vastly overplayed, and Northwestern typically plays well on the road, especially for early kickoffs. These are two evenly matched teams with solid defense and the ability to run the ball. But Northwestern has a little more balance on offense and gets a close win in Minneapolis. Northwestern 21, Minnesota 20 -- Adam Rittenberg

Why Indiana will win: Iowa has yet to score more than 24 points against an FBS opponent this season. The Hawkeyes have survived by preventing big plays and stopping the run. They are one of 11 teams in the nation that averages less than 100 rushing yards allowed per game. That will be a tough task against the Hoosiers' high-tempo offense and running back Tevin Coleman, who averages 8 yards per carry. Iowa doesn't look like it has an offense that can keep pace yet. Indiana 33, Iowa 24 -- Dan Murphy

Why Iowa will win: The Hawkeyes this season have been consistently mediocre. And Indiana is anything but that. It’s tough to trust the Hoosiers, who lost to a MAC team one week and beat an SEC contender the next. With Iowa, you usually know what you’ll get, even when it’s painful to watch. And after a rocky five-game start, faced with an uncertain situation at quarterback, many of the preseason expectations have been lifted. In other words, the Hawkeyes are right in the spot where they typically thrive. Iowa’s defense will rise to the occasion against IU’s dangerous set of weapons. Iowa 24, Indiana 20 -- Mitch Sherman

Unanimous decisions

Wisconsin 42, Illinois 20: Illinois is without starting quarterback Wes Lunt, and the Badgers still have Melvin Gordon. Passing game or not, Wisconsin should cruise.

Michigan State 38, Purdue 10: Michigan State boasts an improved offense and one of the best defenses in the nation. Purdue is ... Purdue.

Our records:

Mitch Sherman: 52-13 (.800)

Austin Ward: 52-13 (.800)

Dan Murphy: 22-6 (.786)

Brian Bennett: 51-14 (.785)

Aram Rittenberg: 51-14 (.785)

Josh Moyer: 46-19 (.708)