IlliniPlaybookPicks -- Version 9.0

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 and others of national importance. 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:

Fletcher: 4-3
Taylor: 3-4
Ryan: 3-4

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

Taylor: 22-20-1
Ryan: 19-24-1
Fletcher: 19-24-1

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:

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

And the overall reader standings:

PaytonHighstep: 21-17-1 (.538)
BigTenPaul: 21-18-1 (.525)
cgtrojan: 19-14 (.575)
moesrevenge: 19-19-1 (.487)
jhwaddell: 19-19-1 (.487)
learningandlabor: 17-21-1 (.435)
bhots23: 16-22-1 (.410)
rwn61254: 15-23-1 (.384)
iluvert: 13-12-1 (.500)
CapitalCityOutlaw50: 11-14-1 (.423)
ParkStreet: 4-9 (.307)
estes80: 4-9 (.307)
chip2: 3-4 (.428)
frankjp: 3-4 (.428)

Iowa @ Northwestern (-5.5)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Iowa has lost two offensive starting lineman. Northwestern has only been steadily improving, I just don't see Iowa pulling this one out. Northwestern to win and cover the spread."
Fletcher Page
Why: "I haven't liked this Iowa team (for reasons that deal with watchable football) since The Opening week of the season. While the Hawkeyes have been better recently, their offense is still putrid -- ranked No. 105 in the country. I'll take Northwestern at home."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Gotta give it to Iowa. They've been fighting through some real tough odds, especially at running back. Will Iowa win? Maybe, but I think they at least cover the spread, especially with the Northwestern QB gimmick wearing off."

Michigan State @ Wisconsin (-6)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Ahh this is tough. If the Spartans weren't playing at Camp Randall, I would really pick them for the win. Camp Randall is just too hostile, and the Badgers play way too well there.I expect a couple turnovers from Spartan's QB Andrew Maxwell. Wisconsin will win the game but not cover the spread."
Fletcher Page
Why: "I'm sure Montee Ball has plans of getting loose in Camp Randall this weekend, but I'm not so sure he'll be able to. The Michigan State defense is ranked twelfth in the nation against the run, and is fresh off keeping rival Michigan in check. I'll take the points and predict an upset on the road."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "This one's a tough pick, but I think MSU is getting some consistency at WR, especially with the emergence of freshman Aaron Burbridge. If MSU has one thing going for them, it's rush defense, so I think they do enough to keep this one close and possibly win."

Ohio State @ Penn State EVEN)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "This is such an interesting matchup because both teams are somewhat undefeated, Ohio State is 4-0, and PSU is undefeated in their division, and both teams can't go to a postseason game. Its a battle of the prohibited. If Braxton Miller has a strong game, Ohio State will win."
Fletcher Page
Why: "It has nothing to do with the scandal, but I don't feel comfortable picking Penn State. I don't think the team has enough depth and have been surprised by some of the wins it's gotten this season. Even though Ohio State is nothing special, I'll take the Buckeyes in this pick'em."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Ah, the "we can't go to a bowl" bowl. Sure Kenny Guiton looked good in the last minute and a half, but what's he going to look like in the 4th quarter after taking a beating from that PSU defense. I'm taking PSU in this one."

Michigan @ Nebraska (-2)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "I hate to bet against Denard Robinson, one of my favorite players - but something is telling me Nebraska will take this one. They really know how to point puts up on that board - it will definitely be a game of back and forth. not a blowout, by any means."
Fletcher Page
Why: "Nebraska survived a scare last week against Northwestern, and that's why I'm not picking the Cornhuskers. I don't think they play consistent enough. Well, that and Denard Robinson is really, really good."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Nebraska has been better lately, but Burkhead has been dinged up, and Michigan's offense has been clicking. I think Michigan keeps riding high off the MSU win and takes another here."

Florida @ (neutral site) Georgia (+7)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "They are just better on both sides of the ball. I think Georgia is an amazing team, but they are a bit overrated at this point in time. Expect a big game from Jarvis Jones, but an even bigger game from Jeff Driskell."
Fletcher Page
Why: "This is the first time both teams enter ranked in the Top Ten in this game since 2008. The result then? A 49-10 Florida blowout. While I don't think the Gators will win like that, I do see special teams playing a big factor in this game. I'm taking Florida to cover."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "Florida isn't at The Swamp and Georgia isn't between The Hedges. These neutral site games are always crazy, but Florida has some real momentum going right now, and the defense doesn't get enough credit. Going with Florida here."

Indiana @ Illinois (-2)

Taylor Rooks
Why: "Unless there are some major changes in this game, I don't see Illinois taking this win. Trust me, I want Illinois to turn it around and prove some people wrong - especially on homecoming! However, the team that lost to Penn State, La Tech, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona State stands little chance of beating Indiana - so unless a different team shows up on Saturday morning, expect another loss."
Fletcher Page
Why: "There's a lot going for Illinois in this game. A bye week, Indiana isn't very good, a home game... But I don't know if the Illini defense can stop Indiana's scoring attack. And if that happens, I don't see Illinois' offense keeping up."
Ryan Easterling
Why: "I'm banking on the bye week giving Illinois just enough to get the job done. I don't think this one will be pretty either way, and both teams are struggling to get things done on the field. If Illinois can stay focused and not get easily frustrated the way they have so far, they can put one in the win column."

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