Four Downs: Predictions, truths & more

Do some one-stop-shopping right here for Week 5 of the Big Ten season in my Four Downs feature. There are predictions, thoughts, truths and more. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll come back for more. Critics are raving.

[ MORE: Week 5 Power Rankings | Best of Week 5| Who wins Week 5 games? Vote here! ]

4 PREDICTIONS

1. Braxton Miller is going be rusty. In fact, he’s going to struggle vs. what may be the best front seven in the Big Ten outside of East Lansing. If the Buckeyes are going to win, Kenny Guiton will have to come to the rescue and hit some passes.

2. Wisconsin will have little chance at victory unless it rushes for at least 150 yards. Badgers QB Joel Stave can’t win this game on his own by having to throw more than 25 passes. Who will be the yin to the yang of Jared Abbrederis?

3. If Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon rushes for over 100 yards in a win at Columbus, he’ll officially enter the Heisman race. He already is the leader for Big Ten MVP honors.

4. Illinois is going to thump Miami (Ohio). That will give the Illini one more win than all of last season. And it also will get Tim Beckman into early, early, early Big Ten Coach of the Year chatter. Amazing. Thank you, Bill Cubit.

4 THOUGHTS

1. Deep down, Michigan has to wish it was playing this weekend coming off ugly wins over Akron and UConn that felt like losses. Instead, the Wolverines will have to sit around and practice and think (a lot) for almost two weeks. And those same old questions will be posed over and over again by the media. Michigan needs to get back on the field to clean its pallet. Hurry up and wait, fellas.

2. Wisconsin’s game at Ohio State is for all intents and purposes a Leaders Division championship game. Sorry, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. (Penn State ineligible.)

3. I honestly don’t know what is more dysfunctional: Michigan’s offense, Michigan State’s offense or Nebraska’s defense. It wears me out just thinking about it. Email me any ideas and I’ll forward them to the coaching staffs.

4. If Purdue wins another game, I will be surprised. Fred Akers had some horrid teams from 1987-90. Jim Colletto’s 1993 squad went 1-10. But this may be Purdue’s worst team in my lifetime. And I go all the way back to the mid-1970s watching Boilermaker football.

[ MORE: Dienhart: Trying to sort out wide open Legends Division ]

4 TRUTHS

1. I don’t think Michigan State will get its offense sorted out in 2013. Honestly, the staff has to have already emptied its “idea” bucket. The result? A still sputtering and wheezing offense that looks frightening similar to last year’s attack. At least the 2012 Spartans had running back Le’Veon Bell. This year’s offense has no one approaching that level at any skill spot.

2. If Iowa gets beat at Minnesota, the Hawkeyes will sink from Legends Division relevance. Look at the schedule: Michigan State; at Ohio State; Northwestern; Wisconsin; at Purdue; Michigan; at Nebraska. Other than the trip to West Lafayette, victories may be difficult to come by for a program desperate for success after a 4-8 season in 2012.

3. We saw the NCAA soften its scholarship sanctions prematurely on Penn State. Bravo! I think within a year, the NCAA also will truncate the Nittany Lions’ bowl ban.

4. The hype is going to reach 1995 proportions in Evanston, Ill., this week—and next—as 4-0 Northwestern sits, watches, waits and prepares for Ohio State’s upcoming visit on Oct. 5. If there was a roof on Ryan Field, it would blow off.

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. Illinois over Miami (Ohio)

2. Florida State over Boston College

3. Clemson over Wake Forest

4. Oregon over Cal

[ MORE: Dienhart: My Week 5 Big Ten Previews ]

4 FACTOIDS

1. 1, combined victories by the three teams that Iowa has beaten this season: Missouri State, Iowa State and Western Michigan. Iowa State has the lone triumph, beating Tulsa on Thursday.

2. 111, points through three games for Illinois, its most since scoring 120 in the first three games in 1999.

3. 1,399, rushing yards for Wisconsin through four games. That’s the most by a Big Ten team through its first four games since 2004 (Minnesota 1329).

4. 984, Purdue’s total offensive yards through four games. Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch has 1,066 total yards himself this season in THREE games.

4 FUN ITEMS

Best mascots.

1. Bucky Badger. I mean, c’mon. He’s is totally cool striding around pants-less with a chesty strut in that nifty red-and-white striped pullover sweater. You and I could never pull off that look.

2. Goldy Gopher. He’s cute … he’s cuddly … but he has an edge about him. I can’t explain it. But it’s scary—a little bit. OK, maybe not. But play along, OK?

3. Sparty. From a pure fear and intimidation standpoint, this big fella takes the cake. I’d kill for that chest and those biceps. And so would you.

4. Purdue Pete. Sure, he has a friendly name that rolls off your tongue. But he’s over 200-pounds of business. Plus, he can help you set up your tailgate by pounding in the stakes of your tent with his sledgehammer. Nice.

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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Ian on 9/27/2013 @ 2:56pm EST Said:

Why is Bucky better than Goldy? He is a skunk running around in a popcorn box! Plus Goldy is the defending national champion for college mascots!