BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart rolls out his final week of regular season picks for all of the Big Ten football games.
PENN STATE AT WISCONSIN: It has come down to this in the Leaders Division—the winner of this game will stamp their ticket to the Big Ten title game. There’s too much in the Badgers’ favor for them not to win this game: home field; killer offense; underrated defense.
TOM’S PICK: Wisconsin
OHIO STATE AT MICHIGAN: The Buckeyes are slumping down the stretch, losing two in a row. The offense? It’s floundering, as Ohio State has fallen behind 10-0 in each of the last three games. Michigan comes into the game on a roll—and with revenge on its mind. The Wolverines have lost seven in a row to the Buckeyes. And that streak will end now, thanks to the Michigan’s much-improved defense, ground-pounding offense and anemic Ohio State offense.
TOM’S PICK: Michigan
MICHIGAN STATE AT NORTHWESTERN: The Spartans—winners of three in a row–are looking to maintain momentum as they head to the Big Ten title game. The Wildcats—winners of four in a row–have a chance to improve their postseason attractiveness with a win in what’s their third home game in a row. Both defenses are playing well, and each team has a terrific quarterback. This will be close.
TOM’S PICK: Michigan State
IOWA AT NEBRASKA: Welcome to the first edition of the “Heroes Game,” which could evolve into a fun rivalry. Since neither defense has been consistent this season, this one could come down to offense. Playmakers abound: Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, James Vandenberg, Marcus Coker, Marvin McNutt. Last team with the ball wins.
TOM’S PICK: Nebraska
ILLINOIS AT MINNESOTA: Each team is desperate for a victory. The Illini have lost five in a row; the Golden Gophers have lost three in a row. The biggest difference between these teams: Illinois has a better defense … a much better defense. Plus, the Illini’s offense has more playmakers, headed by WR A.J. Jenkins.
TOM’S PICK: Illinois
PURDUE AT INDIANA: Beat the Hoosiers, play in a bowl for the first time since 2007. It’s that easy for the Boilermakers. And they will play a struggling Indiana team that has last eight in a row and is struggling on defense. The statistics say Purdue should win. And the statistics are right. You know what they say about rivalries—but forget about it.
TOM’S PICK: Purdue
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.