Four Downs: Big Ten vs. Pac-12! Who ya got?

This will be a Saturday that helps define the Big Ten’s national image, with four big-time games vs. the Pac-12. And Purdue will be on a national stage with its clash vs. Notre Dame. Get prepped for all the action in Four Downs.

4 PREDICTIONS

1. The Big Ten will go 2-2 this week vs. the Pac-12. Ohio State will win at Cal and Nebraska will dump UCLA. But Wisconsin will fall at Arizona State (Hello, Badger secondary) and Illinois (Hello, Illini defense) will lose in Solider Field to Washington.

2. Nebraska won’t give up 653 yards to UCLA. Nope. The Cornhuskers will get gouged a bit but won’t allow more than 500 yards this time around. Hey, that’s better than 653.

3. Purdue won’t throw a touchdown pass for a third week in a row. Where have you gone, Drew Brees? He used to burp and five touchdown passes would come out.

4. Iowa will not lose a third game in a row to Iowa State. Those penalties and dropped passes from last week’s sleepwalk past Western Michigan? They will get cleaned up for the Hawkeyes. Besides, the Cyclones just aren’t that good.

4 THOUGHTS

1. I applaud Michigan State boss man Mark Dantonio continually trying to fix his offense. The latest twist apparently will see true freshman Damion Terry see action behind Connor Cook. Is it a risk? Heck, yes. But it’s also foolish to keep cycling the same quarterbacks out there. That’s the epitome of the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting different results.

2. Indiana has to beat Bowling Green. It must beat Bowling Green. It can’t lose to Bowling Green. Nope, nope, nope. If the Hoosiers lose to the 2-0 Falcons, who are a good team, their bowl hopes may be kaput. The Hoosiers are 1-1 after a loss to Navy last week. If Indiana is 1-2 after Saturday, find me five wins in these remaining games: Missouri; Penn State; at Michigan State; at Michigan; Minnesota; Illinois; at Wisconsin; at Ohio State; Purdue.

3. I wonder if we all may be getting too jacked about Northwestern? The win at Cal may not have been all that awesome after all when you consider the Golden Bears had to rally last week to beat … FCS Portland State? And how good is Syracuse? Regardless, NU will beat Western Michigan on Saturday and then dump FCS Maine. Then, after a bye, Ohio State will come to Evanston on Oct. 5 to play 4-0 Northwestern. Wake me up then.

4. I’m not sure who has been the most impressive quarterback to date: Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase; Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez; Michigan’s Devin Gardner; Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian; Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg. I’m going with Scheelhaase.

4 TRUTHS

1. The Big Ten has as many good true freshman running backs as any league in America. There’s Michigan’s Derrick Green, Wisconsin’s Corey Clement, Nebraska’s Terrell Newby. And Iowa’s LeShun Daniels will come on, while Dalyn Dawkins may be one of Purdue’s top playmakers. I wish Minnesota’s Berkley Edwards could stay healthy.

2. Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg will throw for 300 yards again. This time, UCF will be the victim. How good is this kid gonna be?

3. Michigan State will beat Youngstown State, but the Spartans won’t blow out the FCS Penguins. That means the offense drama/soap opera will march on for another week. Oh, and the next foe? At Notre Dame.

4. Ohio State doesn’t need Braxton Miller to win at Cal. So, why play him? Miller strained the MCL in his left knee last week and left the San Diego State game in the first quarter. He’ll be a game-time decision, according to reports. Kenny Guiton came on and led the Buckeyes to victory vs. SDSU. The senior is competent. Let Guiton handle this business trip.

4 JOCKSTRAP GAMES

What’s a “jockstrap game,” you ask? All a team needs to do is throw its jockstrap onto the field and—voila!—a victory will appear.

1. Notre Dame over Purdue

2. Northwestern over Western Michigan

3. Kent State at LSU

4. Stanford at Army

4 FACTOIDS

Thanks, STATS!

1. Michigan has come away with points in each of its last 45 red zone trips, the longest active streak in the nation.

2. Northwestern has scored at least 21 points in 16 games in a row. Only Baylor (28) and Alabama (19) have longer such skeins.

3. Michigan State has already forced six turnovers and turned those into 31 points in 2013. The Spartans scored just 51 points off turnovers in 2012.

4. Minnesota already has more 40-plus point games this season than it has had over the last three seasons combined.

4 FUN ITEMS: Prettiest campuses

1. Penn State. It looks like it jumped right off a postcard, located smack-dab in the middle of the state. If Hollywood had a casting call for a college, Penn State would win the role. Stroll across campus and then up and down Beaver and College Aves. You’ll fall in love.

2. Wisconsin. Located on an isthmus between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, Wisconsin is a magical place with the majestic capitol building serving as a backdrop. Just spectacular. State Street is the ultimate college drag.

3. Indiana. This bucolic campus is tucked amid the rolling hills of Southern Indiana. Gorgeous. From the limestone theme to the wooded trails, IU is a winner.

4. Michigan. Just driving by campus, you feel smarter. The place is ablaze with beautiful architecture. And you can’t beat the buzz of nearby State Street.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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1 Comment

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shookwriter27 on 9/13/2013 @ 1:15pm EST Said:

I think the Illinois defense is better than people give it credit for.