Week Five Big Ten Breakdown

Story lines a plenty fill up the Big Ten schedule this weekend

A plethora of storylines fill the Big Ten schedule this week with old blood vs. new blood, the good vs. the bad/ugly, national title vs. national respect and the battle for the little brown jug in the cotton candy smelling Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Where else do you get these stories but the Big Ten conference? Let's continue the predictions and analysis for week five and see if I can improve on my 32-8 record.

Wisconsin (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) @ Indiana (2-2, 0-0 Big Ten)

This is more than just the Big Ten opener for Indiana, who welcome back head coach Terry Hoeppner after his successful second round of brain surgery. However, he comes back to a team that played poorly at home against Connecticut. Indiana could muster no offense from Blake Powers, who was replaced in the first half by backup freshman Kellen Lewis, who was just as poor and ineffective.

Wisconsin played solid in the first half at Ann Arbor and then went into a hole in the second half. This could be a scare game for Wisconsin. They'll need to play well early and maintain that momentum they failed to do in Michigan. Even so, Indiana's last win to open the Big Ten season was Sept. 30, 2000, a 45-33 home victory over Iowa. Wisconsin is the more talented team and hopefully will show it on Saturday.

Wisconsin – 31-17

Illinois (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) @ Michigan State (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

What a nightmare for the Spartans. They had the Irish on the ropes and were looking to make a statement to the nation that they were a solid, veteran team and should be recognized when talking about Big Ten titles. Then, the roof caved in as the Spartans coughed up 19 fourth quarter points and gift wrapped Notre Dame the victory.

This sounds familiar to last year's Michigan State team, who imploded after starting 4-0 last season. State only won one game and finished 5-6 with no bowl game to show for it.

This should be a good recovery game for State and their running game. The Spartans are fifth in the nation in rushing, averaging 255.5 yards per game and the Illini are 89th in the nation against the run, yielding 157 yards per game. Sparty gets back on track and takes it out on Illinois.

Michigan State- 45-17

Purdue (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) @ No.12 Notre Dame (3-1)

Notre Dame has registered an impressive blowout, been blowout and saved their season against three different Big Ten teams. What will this Big Ten vs. Independent battle bring?

Two stellar offensives will be on display in South Bend. Purdue ranks fifth nationally with 40.8 points per game and 10th with 461.5 yards per contest and the Irish have been passing up a storm, which compensates well for their terrible running game, 16th worst in the nation, and their multitude of penalties, 36 so far this season.

If this game were in West Lafayette, I would consider Purdue. Say you want about Notre Dame, they are the better team and are getting lucky as of late. Another shootout for the Irish, but they should get by.

Notre Dame-49-35

Northwestern (2-2, 0-0 Big Ten) @ Penn State (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)

New School vs. Old School with the nation's oldest coach, Joe Paterno, hosting its youngest, Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats have been sputtering all season so far, losing to Division I-AA New Hampshire and at struggling Nevada. Joe Paterno has been battling the flu, which got so bad that he had to leave last week's game at Ohio State. The only way Penn State is going to lose this game is if Paterno gave the flu to the majority of his roster. Even though Penn State has had two losses, they are both against top-five teams in the nation. Northwestern couldn't beat two top-five teams in anything … expect maybe in the SATs.

Penn State- 31- 10

No.6 Michigan (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) @ Minnesota (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)

Last year, Michigan couldn't stop Brian Russell and Laurence Maroney, who combined for 257 rushing yards to help Minnesota win the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 1986, which ended a 16-game losing streak.

No Maroney or Russell to give the Wolverines trouble this year, but could Michigan be primed for an upset?

Anything is possible in college football, but if Minnesota is going to win this game, they are going to have to stop Mario Manningham, who has caught 11 receptions for 250 yards and five touchdowns in the past two weeks. Minnesota hasn't won at home against Michigan since 1977. Could the cotton candy dome lull the Wolverines to sleep?

With BCS dreams dancing in their heads, it's highly unlikely.

Michigan-28-17

No.1 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) @ No. 13 Iowa (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)

Somehow, Iowa is still undefeated after seemingly trying to lose their last three games against teams they easily should have beaten. Ohio State has shut down every opponent that they have faced this year and have played a far more difficult schedule than the Hawkeyes. Still, there's plenty to be excited about for this game.

People are quick to forget that the last time Ohio State ventured into Iowa City, the Buckeyes suffered their most lopsided defeat under coach Jim Tressel, a 33-7 trouncing in 2004. That was also the last time Troy Smith didn't lead the Buckeye offense. Smith has looked nearly flawless this season and has played some of his best football under the lights. If you need proof, just check out his performance against then-No.2 Texas.

Plus, Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel loves donning the sweater vest when everyone is watching. He just can't wait to put it on.

"The only downside to night games is you have to wait. The rest of it's good. Shoot, it's fun," Tressel said. "You love knowing that the whole country is watching you and everyone is back in from their games that they went to in the afternoon and they've settled in and they're going to watch the Buckeyes and the Hawkeyes. That's good stuff."

The sweater vest leads the Buckeyes again this week and the Hawkeyes finally pay the price for not playing a tougher non-conference schedule.

Ohio State 34-23


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