BigTenRon's weekly picks

BigTenRon came up big with his pick of Iowa to upset Penn State in Happy Valley a week ago. Who does Ron like this weekend? Hint: The cheeseheads will be celebrating on Saturday.

Ron Kremer of the Wolverine Insider picks the outcome of games involving Big Ten football teams (and Notre Dame) for Thursday, Oct. 3, and Saturday, Oct. 5:


Illinois 28, Minnesota 27: The Illini, with a porous defense, will be looking to stop the Gophers and their versatile quarterback, Asad Abdul-Khaliq. Khaliq has completed 53 percent of his passes. He also has run the ball effectively. The Gophers will be looking to stop the avalanche of criticism that followed their loss to Purdue. See what happens when you play a real football team? Illinois won 25-14 a year ago in Champaign, but has dropped six of its last seven inside the Metrodome. Will it be a house of horrors for coach Ron Turner once again?


Wisconsin 35, Penn State 31: Believe it or not, the Badgers lead this series 5-2 and are in position to extend that lead coming off a bye week. Coach Barry Alvarez has his kind of football team: big offensive line, good running back, etc. He also has an experienced quarterback in Brooks Bollinger, and don't be surprised if Lee Evans returns from offseason knee surgery. The Nittany Lions are coming off 42-35 overtime loss to Iowa and can ill afford another Big Ten loss so early in the season. Yet, their defense ranks 96th in the nation and is allowing 415.7 yards a game. Their hopes likely will rest on the arm of QB Zack Mills. He threw for a school-record 399 yards and four TDs a week ago. The game will be played in Madison. Hence, the Badgers rate a slight edge.

Iowa 33, Purdue 21: Iowa showed in its overtime victory over Penn State that it can be a factor in the Big Ten race. The Hawkeyes have a big and athletic offensive line, a strong backfield and excellent placekicker. They also have a penchant for letting big leads slip away, and Purdue has the weapons to challenge their secondary. Iowa's defense ranks 117th in the nation vs. pass (324.4 ypg., 10 TDs). Think Purdue QB Kyle Orton and wide receivers John Standeford and Taylor Stubblefield aren't licking their chops? The Boilermakers won at home last year 23-14. Look for Iowa to defend its turf this time.

Ohio State 49, Northwestern 17: Northwestern runs a spread offense with a redshirt freshman quarterback (Brett Basanez) and has put 99 points on the board in its last three games. Of course, Northwestern hasn't played a team of Ohio State's caliber in that span. The Buckeyes have defeated the Wildcats 22 straight times since 1971, including 11 wins by 30 points or more. That string will continue as long as freshman running back Maurice Clarett continues to run wild. Clarett ranks fifth in the nation with 575 yards rushing. The folks in Evanston will grow weary of watching him in a hurry.

Notre Dame 27, Stanford 24: Standford's defense is awful. The Cardinal allowed 65 points in their loss to Arizona State last week, the most points allowed by a single team in a Pac-10 game since 1954. That said, don't be surprised if Stanford rebounds with an inspired effort against its former coach, Tyrone Willingham. Notre Dame (4-0) is over-rated and might play without quarterback Carlyle Holiday. He suffered a shoulder injury in the Irish victory over Michigan State. Pat Dillingham, a former walk-on, would start in his place. Notre Dame cornerback Shane Walton ranks second in the nation with four interceptions and first in big plays.

Idle: Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana

BigTenRon's record

Last week: 4-1 (.800 pct.); Season to date: 39-9 (.813 pct.); Contest record: 29-8 (.784 pct.).

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