IlliniPlaybook Picks - Version 4.0

Follow along each week as the staff at IlliinPlaybook give picks for the upcoming slate of games.

Each week the IlliniPlaybook staff will provide picks a number Big Ten games, as well as provide insight into other various storylines involving Illinois or from around the nation. Keep in mind, we're picking against the spread, which should make things interesting as we check the scores each Saturday. We'll keep track of the standings and declare a winner in December... Stay tuned...

How we fared last week: And again, another week of struggles... This is getting ugly.

Ryan: 2-4
Taylor: 2-4
Fletcher: 2-4

On the year:

Ryan: 7-11
Taylor: 6-12
Fletcher: 6-12

Also -- We'd like to invite you into the competition. Post your picks from the following list of games HERE on the premium IlliniPlaybook message board. We'll keep track of the standings and award the winner with two free months of premium content!

UPDATE - We'll award the subscriber with the most wins and highest winning percentage -- opening up two chances to win.

How you readers fared last week:

PaytonHighStep: 4-2
jhwaddell: 1-5
learningandlabor: 4-2
rwn61254: 3-3
moesrevenge: 3-3
cgtrojan: 3-3
ParkStreet: 1-5
estes80: 2-4
CapitalCityOutlaw50: 3-3
BigTenPaul: 3-3
bhots23: 0-6

And the overall reader standings:

moesrevenge: 8-5
PaytonHighstep: 8-5
cgtrojan: 7-6
learningandlabor: 6-7
rwn61254: 6-7
BigTenPaul: 6-8
CapitalCityOutlaw50: 5-8
jhwaddell: 4-9
ParkStree: 4-9
iluvert: 4-3
chip2: 3-4
frankjp: 3-4
estes80: 2-4
bhots23: 2-11

Central Michigan @ Iowa (even)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Iowa will win this game. These teams are relatively even in terms of talent, but Iowa has home field advantage this game. They are on a bit of a streak being that this is their 3rd home game in a row. They also have a really strong quarterback, but their offensive line isn't very strong. I still have Iowa winning by a touchdown."
Fletcher Page
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Do they really have to play this game? Central Michigan isn't what it used to be, and Iowa... well, things have just gotten worse for them. I'm going to wrap this one up before I cringe even more. I think Iowa does less wrong and takes this one."

Temple @ Penn State (-7.5)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Penn State will win and cover the spread. I think the Nittany Lions are regaining their confidence after their win over the Navy. The team is coming together, and the kinks have smoothed. Plus, Temple isn't the greatest contender. As long as they can stop Matt Brown, Penn State will take this win."
Fletcher Page
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Temple is a pretty good team, but they lost Bernard Pierce to the NFL, and that, to me, is enough to give PSU the edge. Penn State will ride the momentum from last week's win and get the job done again this week to even up before Big Ten season starts."

Syracuse @ Minnesota (-1)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Syracuse will win. The teams are so even with talent that the game is going to come down to the little things. Minnesota probably won't play with its starting quarterback, and that is potentially detrimental."
Fletcher Page
Why:"Syracuse has played better than I thought it would, seen in games against Northwestern and Southern Cal. Still, those were both losses, and I don't trust this team on the road."
Ryan Easterling
Why:"Syracuse is a lot better than people give them credit for. Minnesota's offense is starting to click, but I have a gut feeling that Syracuse will exploit a lot of the things that have been a thorn in Minnesota's side."

Michigan @ Notre Dame

Taylor Rooks
Why: "This one is tough, but I am picking Notre Dame to win and cover this spread. All Notre Dame has to do is stop Denard Robinson. Quite the task, but it is achievable. Notre Dame's defense is very similar to Alabama's, and we all know what happened there........."
Fletcher Page
Why: "I clearly underrated the Notre Dame defense. After last week's dominating win over Michigan State, the Irish look stout, but I'm taking Denard Robinson as the X-factor and the reason why the Wolverines pull the upset."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "I can't pinpoint it exactly, but something about Michigan has me thinking they're vulnerable this week. Notre Dame went to East Lansing last week and didn't leave it to the last play this year. That defensive front is really on the rise and I think they bottle up Denard Robinson enough to take the win."

Clemson @ Florida State (-14.5)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Florida State will win, but I don't think they will cover the spread. Clemson won't go down without a fight. I am expecting some big things from Clemson's QB Tajh Boyd."
Fletcher Page
Why: "I like Florida State to win this game, but I'm usually prone to taking double-digit points in match-ups like this. Give me the cushion and the Tigers."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Florida State is really good. At least for now they are. Clemson has a potent offense, and Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins are one dynamic duo. Florida State, on the other hand, have a mean defense. Clemson will get some points, but the Florida State defense will hold their ground after giving up a couple early scores and pull out the W."

Kansas State @ Oklahoma (-14)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "I am going to play devil's advocate and say that Kansas State is going to win this game. Oklahoma is finishing up a bye week, and is it just me, or is Oklahoma a bit overrated?"
Fletcher Page
Why: "Again, I'll take the points and the 'Cats. Even though this is on the road in Norman, I think Oklahoma is a bit over valued."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Hopefully this isn't too blunt, but I think Oklahoma is overrated. Kansas State, though, has been considered underrated by many. Colin Klein has been great so far this year and is guiding the Wildcats to a great year. If they play consistently like they have so far, they should silence the crowd in Norman."

Louisiana Tech @ Illinois (even)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Louisiana Tech wins by at least a touchdown. Illinois can win this game if their defense is at its very best, but LA Tech is extremely up tempo, much like Arizona State. Their offense is explosive, and the defense will have to be able to stop them AND the Illinois offense will have to be able to match them with points on the board. I'm taking Louisiana for the win."
Fletcher Page
Why: "This Louisiana Tech offense is all the rage right now, and I admit -- anytime you score 56 points in a game, it's impressive. And that's happened twice already this season. But Houston and Rice aren't exactly powers. And the Bulldogs defense struggled to stop even those teams. I think the Illinois offense will come to life and the defense will force a few turnovers to provide a pretty comfortable margin of victory."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Everyone loves to hype up the Louisiana Tech offense, but for as good as their offense is, their defense is equally bad. Illinois comes into the game still with uncertainty on offense, but they had some guys really step up last weekend and get some experience under their belt. I think between the Illinois defense forcing turnovers and the offense not making too many mistakes and exploiting a poor Tech defense, Illinois will come away 3-1 heading into Big Ten play."

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