What a crazy three weeks it’s been with Big Ten
powerhouses looking shaky. Arizona State poached the Iowa Hawkeyes
44-7, and Michigan barely survived the upset attempt by San Diego
State 24-21. Also, in the first week of the season, Michigan State
lost to Rutgers, which in turn lost to Division 1-AA New Hampshire.
Buckle up, fans, because this Big Ten season is going to be a
roller coaster ride.

 

Penn State (2-1) at No. 20 Wisconsin (3-0), 5:45 p.m., ESPN

Who’s wearing those weighty glasses on the Penn State
sideline? That’s right, it’s coach Joe Paterno, back
for another season. His Nittany Lions, mediocre in the last few
years, need to go to a bowl game to prove their coach still has the
magic touch. Beating Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium would be a
good starting point. Both of these two teams are looking for
redemption from past failures and chance to return to Big Ten
glory, which makes this a crucial game. Penn State features senior
quarterback Zach Mills, while the Badgers rely on an untested
sophomore in John Stocco. Wisconsin almost slipped last week with a
close 9-7 win against Arizona, but expect the Badgers to protect
their home field and hold off Penn State with a late fourth quarter
touchdown.

Wisconsin 28, Penn State 21

 

No. 15 Purdue (2-0) at Illinois (2-1), noon

Illinois already has won more games than it did last season.
Quarterback Jon Beutjer has played up to potential, and running
backs Pierre Thomas and E.B. Hasley have carried the offensive
load. However, the Illini face a real challenge in Purdue. The
Boilermakers remain untested as they have rolled over both Syracuse
and Ball State, and Kyle Orton — the best quarterback in the
Big Ten — is firing on all cylinders. He has thrown for 616
yards and nine touchdowns. Illini fans better celebrate while they
can because the future looks bleak for the Fighting Illini. Look
for Orton to pick apart the Illinois secondary and Purdue’s
defense to shut down Beutjer.

Purdue 35, Illinois 10

 

Michigan State (1-2) at Indiana (2-1), noon

So far this season, Michigan State’s best highlight has
been John L. Smith’s climb to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro
shown during the Rutgers game. The Spartans come into the Big Ten
season having just lost to Notre Dame and hope to jumpstart their
season with a win over Indiana. Meanwhile, Indiana, usually a Big
Ten doormat, has shown life this season, beating Central Michigan
and Oregon at Eugene — a feat Michigan couldn’t
accomplish last year. Indiana’s quarterback, Matt LoVecchio,
has played well in the first three weeks of the season, throwing
for 428 yards and four touchdowns. On the other sideline, Michigan
State has yet to find a permanent quarterback and a consistent
offense. This game will be close and ugly. And in close games, the
team with the better quarterback usually wins. Give this one to the
Hoosiers.

Indiana 14, Michigan State 10

 

Northwestern (1-2) at No. 19 Minnesota (3-0), 9 p.m

After blowing out Toledo in its season opener, barely beating
Illinois State and then rushing for 360 yards and scorching
Colorado State, Minnesota has high expectations going into its Big
Ten opener against a constantly struggling Northwestern team.
Northwestern, the perennial embarrassment of the Big Ten, centers
its offense around junior quarterback Brett Basanez, who managed to
throw three interceptions for every one of his four touchdowns last
season. After a 6-7 record last year, the Wildcats slogged into
this season with losses to unranked TCU and Arizona State. The
Golden Gophers will head in with their dominant running game led by
junior Marion Barber III and sophomore Laurence Maroney.
Northwestern is clearly eager to prove itself in the Big Ten
— something which seems to be its motto every season. On the
other hand, Minnesota will be looking to make a statement to the
rest of the Big Ten.

Minnesota 40, Northwestern 17

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