BigTenRon's picks

Two matchups stand out on the opening weekend of play in the Big Ten. One is Michigan at Illinois. It's a battle of the 1-2 teams from a year ago. Two is Iowa at Penn State. Can the Hawkeyes pull an early upset? Ron Kremer makes his weekly picks.

Ron Kremer's picks for Saturday, Sept. 28

Michigan 31, Illinois 20: The Illini rank 10th in the Big Ten in total defense (409.8) and last in the Big Ten in turnover margin (minus 5). No wonder they've struggled to a 1-3 start and begin defense of their title from a year ago with so many questions. Michigan looks to shake out of its offensive doldrums. Key matchup: Wolverine cornerback Marlin Jackson vs. Illinois wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.

Ohio State 42, Indiana 10: Buckeyes running back Maurice Clarett returned to practice earlier this week following arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee. He is expected to play in the Big Ten opener for both teams. That's bad news for the Hoosiers. Very bad news.

Michigan State 38, Northwestern 17: The Spartans are smarting following back-to-back losses to Cal and Notre Dame. They'll look to take out their frustrations here. Northwestern's defense has allowed more than 500 yards a game.

Iowa 27, Penn State 24: No, that's not a typo. The Hawkeyes will score the first major upset of the conference race behind a powerful running game. Coach Kirk Ferentz was an offensive line coach in the NFL for six years, and he has a line at Iowa now that is big and athletic. He also has a capable bunch of backs.

Minnesota 38, Purdue 34: While the Boilermakers will be playing at home, the Gophers will find a way to spoil their homecoming. Asad Abdul-Khaliq is the Big Ten's leading passer. No foolin'. And coach Glen Mason has folks up in the Land of 1,000 Lakes swimming in football euphoria. Minnesota's Dan Nystrom is one of the nation's top placekickers.

Idle: Wisconsin, Notre Dame.

Kremer's record

Last week: 8-3; Season to date: 35-8 (.814 pct.); Contest: 25-7 (.781 pct.)

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