IlliniPlaybook Picks - Version 5.0

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: Hey, things are looking up. Two of us had winning records and if Iowa wasn't so terrible things could have been even better.

Taylor - 5-2
Fletcher - 4-3
Ryan - 3-4

On the year: Taylor takes the lead, while Fletcher and Ryan continue to take things one game at a time. They're just trying to get better everyday."

Taylor: 11-13
Ryan: 10-15
Fletcher: 10-15

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. This means if you haven't been playing week to week, there's still a chance to win. Get in now for your chance for two free months added to your subscription!

How you readers fared last week:

BigTenPaul: 5-2
cgtrojan: 4-3
jhwaddell: 4-3
moesrevenge: 4-3
iluvrt: 3-4
PaytonHighstep: 3-4
rwn61254: 3-4
learningandlabor: 3-4
CapitalCityOutlaw50: 2-5
bhots23: 2-5
estes: 2-5

And the overall reader standings:

moesrevenge: 12-8
PaytonHighstep: 11-9
cgtrojan: 11-9
BigTenPaul: 11-10
learningandlabor: 9-11
rwn61254: 9-11
jhwaddell: 8-12
iluvert: 7-7
CapitalCityOutlaw50: 7-13
ParkStree: 4-9
estes80: 4-9
bhots23: 4-16
chip2: 3-4
frankjp: 3-4

Ohio State @ Michigan State (-3)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Ohio State will win this game. I openly admit I am a little biased. Their starting corner, Bradley Roby, went to my high school and is having a great season so far. I don't think Ohio State will win by a lot, but if they can take the lead early, the Buckeyes will hold on for the win."
Fletcher Page
Why: "I still think Michigan State has the best defense in the conference, something that may not be as commonly accepted since the Notre Dame loss. If the Spartans can contain the Ohio State running attack, I like their chances. The Buckeyes rank 97th in the country in passing yards, which plays into the strength of Michigan State."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Each of these teams has their flaws, but Braxton Miller is a playmaker, and Ohio State's young linebacking corps is pretty darn good. Michigan State can only run LeVeon Bell for so long before he wears out. He won't be able to go for 40+ carries in this one. I'm going Ohio State here."

Wisconsin @ Nebraska (even)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Tough decision. Montee Ball is not performing to the insane Barry Sanders' standard that he set for himself last year, and if Wisconsin wants to win this game, they need that version of Montee Ball. Wisconsin's offense has been too inconsistent, and I am going with Nebraska to take the win. On another note, Nebraska - Welcome to the Big Ten."
Fletcher Page
Why: "I want to pick Wisconsin because preseason feelings die hard. I thought Wisconsin was a top 10 team and Montee Ball was going to compete for the Heisman. But the team has looked bad thus far. Really bad. And this has happened while playing a schedule that should have been a breeze. Give me Nebraska."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Too many questions about Wisconsin, especially after Ball left mid-game last week for me to pick Wisconsin. Nebraska has a much more stable quarterback situation, and if they get Burkhead back for this one I don't think it's really close."

Indiana @ Northwestern(-11)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Northwestern will cover the spread. Indiana is holding some strong quarterbacks this season, but Northwestern is building quite the momentum."
Fletcher Page
Why: "Have to hand to Northwestern for making it to this point without a loss. Now the team needs to take another step -- winning games that it's expected to win."
Ryan Easterling
Why:"After playing a series of good teams to start the season off, Northwestern gets a break this week when they play Indiana. I watched Indiana almost lose to Indiana State to begin the year, so as long as Northwestern doesn't have one of "those days" then they should cover and then some."

Minnesota @ Iowa (even)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Minnesota will take this win. The Iowa quarterback, James Vandenberg, has only thrown one touchdown the entire season. The Minnesota defense is highly underrated, and I expect to see a couple sacks and some great pass rush this game. I believe this is the historic battle for Floyd the Pig. Oink Oink, Minnesota."
Fletcher Page
Why: "My Golden Gophers took care of me last week. Both Ryan and Taylor took the 'Cuse, but I went against the grain with Minnesota. You never leave a blackjack table when it's hot, no matter if you like the dealer or not. I'll stay put this week."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "This one's hard to pick. Both teams have shown a lot of different looks, and I don't mean formations or schemes. Whichever team is less schizophrenic on Saturday wins, and my gut tells me it'll be Minnesota."

Baylor @ West Virginia (-13)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "This is a gamble, but I think West Virginia will win the game, but will not cover the spread. Baylor's offense will be able to keep up with West Virginia in scoring points, especially with their running back Jarred Salubi. Being that both teams have sturdy offenses, it is going to come down to who has the better defense. WV will get its last few points in the 4th quarter, but the game will be relatively even until then."
Fletcher Page
Why: "My policy of taking double digit underdogs paid off last week to the tune of two wins. I see this one being a shootout, with two of the best passing offenses in the country going at it. I'll take Baylor and the points."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "It's as simple as this. West Virginia still has Geno Smith AND Tavon Austin, and Baylor doesn't have Kendall Wright OR Robert Griffin III. West Virginia should be stout enough on defense to take this one with the spread at 13, although they may cut it close."

Penn State @ Illinois (-1.5)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Penn State will take the win. Illinois is just too inconsistent, and you never know which Illinois team will show up on Saturday mornings. The Nittany Lions will win by no more than a touchdown. The Illinois defense will be strong this game, but the offense will stumble. Too much quarterback shuffling has occurred for the offense to be successful in a game like this. Plus, I am sure Penn State still has a little vendetta against Illinois, being that they took their O-Lineman Ryan Nowicki. Nothing is sweeter than revenge."
Fletcher Page
Why: "I flipped a quarter to decide this one. But I dropped it and it rolled under the refrigerator. Who is the home team? OK, give me Illinois."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Illinois will get it back together and pull out the win in Memorial Stadium. Hopefully Illinois has the Louisiana Tech game behind them and that it gave them enough motivation to come out strong in Big Ten play. The slower tempo should help Illinois out through the Big Ten schedule, and I get the feeling the D-Line for Illinois will play in the Penn State backfield a lot."

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