Predictions: Big Ten Week 4

Prediction time!

It's our final regular-season chance to pad our stats make predictions for a Saturday filled with nonconference games. Although both Purdue and Indiana have one nonleague game remaining, those contests will take place during the Big Ten season.

The Week 4 slate isn't very appetizing, although the three prime-time games, especially the one in South Bend, should fill you up. Both bloggers rebounded from the Week 2 debacle to go 10-2 last week, but we're both seeking our first perfect predictions performance of the 2012 season.

Let's get started ...


Brian Bennett: The Buckeyes should enjoy a laugher against a bad UAB team before Big Ten play starts. Braxton Miller racks up three touchdowns before getting an early rest, and the defense comes up with a pick-six. ... Ohio State 45, UAB 14

Adam Rittenberg: UAB ranks 109th nationally in rush defense, so it can load up all it wants against Miller, and he'll still go nuts with 120 yards and two scores. I actually think Buckeyes running back Jordan Hall has a bit of a breakout game in this one as Ohio State starts fast and avoids the mid-game lull, while the defense produces only one takeaway but also very few missed tackles. ... Ohio State 41, UAB 10


Adam Rittenberg: Is this the week Wisconsin finally gets it together? I'll go out on a limb and say sorta. The Badgers start slowly again but gain confidence after new starting quarterback Joel Stave finds wide receiver Jared Abbrederis for a long touchdown pass. Montee Ball, James White and the run game then get going against a shaky Miners rush defense. ... Wisconsin 31, UTEP 17

Brian Bennett: Baby steps, Badgers, baby steps. Still not sold on this offense, especially against a UTEP team that did manage to hold Oklahoma to 24 points. Wisconsin once again leans on its defense, and the Stave/Danny O'Brien debate rages on as both play and have middling stats. ... Wisconsin 24, UTEP 10


Brian Bennett: Who steps up at running back for Iowa this week? The lead trombonist in the marching band? It shouldn't matter much against Central Michigan, as the Hawkeyes start to get back on track offensively. James Vandenberg finds Kevonte Martin-Manley for two scores, and the Mark Weisman legend grows. ... Iowa 31, Central Michigan 14

Adam Rittenberg: More Weisman? Yes, please. Central Michigan gets a heavy dose of the walk-on fullback, who records another 100-yard performance. Iowa's defense records two takeaways against the Chippewas, including a pick-six, and pulls away in the third quarter. ... Iowa 31, Central Michigan 17


Adam Rittenberg: South Dakota beat Minnesota in 2010 and isn't a pushover, but Pat Fitzgerald has his Wildcats locked in and looking to improve. Expect a big day from running backs Mike Trumpy and Venric Mark, who combine for 250 rush yards and three touchdowns. Northwestern's wide receivers also step up as the team improves to 4-0. ... Northwestern 38, South Dakota 13

Brian Bennett: These Coyotes may be wily, but they can't keep up with a Northwestern team brimming with confidence right now. I see a big game from Kain Colter coming -- 300 total yards and a couple of scores. The Wildcats keep on winning, this time easily. ... Northwestern 35, South Dakota 16


Brian Bennett: Le'Veon Bell promised he would not let Michigan State lose again after the Notre Dame debacle. An angry Bell is the last thing the nation's worst rush defense wants to see. Bell goes for 150 and two scores -- in the first half -- and the Spartans take out some frustration on EMU. ... Michigan State 49, Eastern Michigan 3

Adam Rittenberg: This is the perfect opponent for Michigan State to re-establish its offensive identity with Bell. As we saw last week at Purdue, the Eagles can't stop the run at all, and Bell goes for 200 yards and three touchdowns. DeAnthony Arnett gets more involved in the pass game with a touchdown catch as the Spartans roll. ... Michigan State 37, Eastern Michigan 6


Adam Rittenberg: Superman (Rex Burkhead) returns and breaks off a big run early to show Huskers fans he's just fine. The coaches wisely don't overdo it with No. 22, and Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross combine for 300 rush yards and four scores. Nebraska breezes through its final tune-up before Big Ten play. ... Nebraska 49, Idaho State 7

Brian Bennett: What, you weren't impressed with Idaho State's win over Black Hill State last week? The Cornhuskers make mashed potatoes out of the Bengals on both sides of the ball. Taylor Martinez completes 13 of 15 passes and throws two scores and a bevy of backs finds the end zone in a romp to welcome back Bo and Rex. ... Nebraska 56, Idaho State 10


Brian Bennett: I could see this one going either way. But I think Penn State got some much-needed confidence in the Navy win, and Temple's loss to Maryland was less than inspiring. Michael Mauti won't let the Lions lose to the Owls for the first time since 1941 and comes up with a key interception late to seal a close one. ... Penn State 21, Temple 19

Adam Rittenberg: Penn State players expect a close game and get one, at least early, from the upset-minded Owls. But there will be no history made Saturday as Mauti turns in another big performance against Temple, recording four tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Quarterback Matt McGloin has a few struggles early but steps up in the fourth quarter as Penn State prevails. ... Penn State 24, Temple 16


Adam Rittenberg: Denard Robinson once again keeps Michigan in the game, but Notre Dame refuses to lose this time and capitalizes on its advantages at the line of scrimmage. Manti Te'o and the Irish defense bottle up Robinson in the fourth quarter and Michigan squanders an early lead as Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood has a big day on the ground. ... Notre Dame 27, Michigan 20

Brian Bennett: Everything is pointing in Notre Dame's direction for this one ... except that it's Michigan and Robinson on the other sideline. No. 16 has huge game No. 3 against the Irish and actually gets some help this time from Fitz Toussaint and a couple of big catches by Devin Funchess. ... Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24


Brian Bennett: Love the 3-0 start by the Gophers, but this is a big step up in competition from the first three games. And while Max Shortell should be fine, Minnesota will miss the playmaking abilities of MarQueis Gray. A late turnover dooms their chances, and Ryan Nassib throws for more than 300 yards as the Gophers get Orange-crushed. ... Syracuse 31, Minnesota 28

Adam Rittenberg: I'm impressed with the Gophers so far, and they'll pick up some wins in the Big Ten. But Syracuse desperately needs this one after a 1-2 start, and Nassib is by far the best quarterback Minnesota has faced. Shortell has some ups and downs in his first start of the season at quarterback, and Nassib rallies the Orange in the fourth quarter for the win. ... Syracuse 28, Minnesota 27


Adam Rittenberg: The Illini defense is better than what it showed at Arizona State, but Illinois hasn't been a lock-down unit against up-tempo spread offenses like Louisiana Tech's. While Nathan Scheelhaase's return at quarterback is an encouraging sign, Illinois has too many injuries and not enough offense to keep pace with the high-powered Bulldogs, who steal one in Champaign. ... Louisiana Tech 31, Illinois 28

Brian Bennett: Very tempted to go with the upset pick, as the Bulldogs' offense, averaging 56 points per game, could go nuts. But the Illini defense will be much tougher than anything Louisiana Tech has seen so far this season. The apparent healthy returns of Scheelhaase and Josh Ferguson should be just enough for Illinois to hold on at home. ... Illinois 28, Louisiana Tech 25

Purdue and Indiana both are off this week.


Rittenberg: 28-8 (.778)

Bennett: 27-9 (.750)