Pickin' on the Big Ten, Week 6

Every Thursday, Pickin' on the Big Ten breaks down action across the conference.

ABOVE: Wisconsin's Jonathan Casillas couldn't catch the above quarterback, who is not John Elway. Perhaps if Casillas had a motorized vehicle of some sort ...

Okay, I know it's still quite early in the season, but I think we've seen the Horrible Pants-Blasting Loss of the Year. Not to take anything away from the Wolverines, but when you look at the box score from last Saturday's Wisconsin/Michigan game, you can't help but come away thinking, "How on Earth did the Badgers lose that game?" Up 19-0 at halftime against a team that had only scored 19 points once in three games, with a clock-gobbling running game and a usually stifling defense ... and they gacked.

Sure, there are some good reasons why they lost. Allan Evridge is an inexperienced quarterback. Then again, he's more experienced than Steven Threet, who looked like John freakin' Elway in the fourth quarter. (Okay, he looked like Elway would have looked if Elway had been able to run. I haven't forgotten all the O.J. Simpson jokes, you know.) Again, you have to give Michigan credit for doing what it took to win that game ... but how did Wisconsin lose it? You can only reach one conclusion: Pants-blast.

Other teams whose lower body laundry you wouldn't have wanted to do last week: Indiana, Iowa, and Purdue, who I think became the first team ever to not intercept Jimmy Clausen. How will these teams rebound this week? Hint: like a dead cat.

ILLINOIS @ MICHIGAN

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I had this one tagged last week as Disappointment Bowl 2008, but obviously it's not. Well, it's probably not. It mostly depends on which Michigan team shows up. Terry Bowden says Go Blue has turned the corner; I remain slightly unconvinced.

I'm even less convinced, however, that Illinois can win this game. The one thing Michigan has done well this season (at least with any consistency) is defend the run, which doesn't bode well for an offense which depends on Juice Williams and Daniel "Don't Call Me Andy" Dufrene to generate most of the offense by pounding the rock. And, truthfully, Illinois doesn't bring much on defense. This is a shaky pick, but I think Michigan can do just enough on offense to win this game. And I hate myself for making an Andy Dufresne reference.

WHY DON'T YOU JUST MAKE A BILLY ZABKA REFERENCE TOO?20
DID YOU KNOW MORGAN FREEMAN WAS ON "THE ELECTRIC COMPANY"?23

IOWA @ MICHIGAN STATE

This is what happens when you lose the first game of the season: Everybody writes you off and forgets about you. Do not forget about Michigan State, even if Javon Ringer constitutes about 98% of their offense. Why shouldn't you forget about them? Because Mark Dantonio is a defense-minded coach. Leave us not forget he was Jim Tressel's defensive coordinator in the national championship year.

The Spartans have been especially deadly against the run thus far, which is not exactly what Iowa needs to hear. This is the first week of the season which is utterly without a quarterback controversy for the Hawkeyes, but that doesn't mean that all the offensive woes have been plastered over. Likewise, the Iowa pass rush has vanished more completely than pay phones have, as witnessed by one sack against Pitt and none against Northwestern.

It would be a bad thing indeed to underestimate the Hawkeyes, who can, in theory, still bring the pain. However, the Iowa coaching staff has proved that it either doesn't make adjustments or can't. Thus, this game will play out according to the usual script: Eight in the box to cut off Javon Ringer, underneath routes left open all day so there's never any such thing as third-and-too-many, a horrible offensive turnover at precisely the wrong time, and another Iowa loss.

SAME AS IT EVER WAS16
LET THE CAL GAME HOLD US DOWN31

INDIANA @ MINNESOTA

It's not like any sane person would have picked either of these teams to win last week. They're both paying in October for the sins of September, even though those sins were actually committed years ago, when their athletic directors decided not to schedule any actual competition in the non-conference season. Indiana is coming off two consecutive faceplants, first against Ball State (a game they were never in) and then against Michigan State (a game they were sort of in until everything just started falling apart).

Minnesota, well, they weren't terrible against the Buckeyes. They put up 21 points, which was 14 points more than they scored in their previous two games against the Buckeyes combined. It's getting better in Minneapolis, but it still has a way to go. It won't show this week, as Minnesota's freak-show passing game should toast Indiana's secondary like so many English muffins.

KELLEN LEWIS CAN'T LOSE37
ADAM WEBER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE45

PENN STATE @ PURDUE

Purdue just isn't made for a game like this. Not at all. Yes, they can pass the ball like they're playing in the Arena League, but their defensive philosophy under Joe Tiller has always been "make sure the offense scores more points than we give up."

Penn State is averaging almost 50 points a game. Purdue couldn't get that many points against Northern Colorado. It's gong to be a long, sad afternoon for the Boilermakers.

IT'S ALWAYS 'TAKE YOUR SON TO WORK DAY'52
MAYBE WE WON'T HAVE TO GO TO DETROIT FOR CHIRSTMAS28

OHIO STATE @ WISCONSIN

This game has lost much of its luster after the past few weekends, hasn't it?

Wisconsin has not faced a quarterback with Terrelle Pryor's kind of mobility, nor have they faced a running back who is even 80% as good as Beanie Wells. This will, therefore, be a real test for the Badger defense. You might want to note that that defense did not exactly distinguish itself against Michigan, statistically the Big Ten's worst offense by a wide margin. The Buckeyes will not be able to completely shut down Wisconsin's rushing attack (who could?)but they'll find ways to make Allan Evridge throw. That's a high-percentage strategy against the Badgers, at least for the moment.

Then again, Bret Bielema has never lost a game at Camp Randall. Then again again, there's a first time for everything. Buckeyes, but it won't be big.

BAD CASE OF LAURINAITIS27
THEY'VE GOT MOUTHWASH FOR THAT17

Next week's games!

  • Minnesota @ Illinois: Potentially a battle for a really disappointing bowl bid
  • Iowa @ Indiana: Loser probably finishes last in the conference
  • Toledo @ Michigan: Toledo's already at Michigan, just look at a map
  • Michigan State @ Northwestern: Big Ten Sleeper Game of the Year
  • Purdue @ Ohio State: Boilers drop three in a row?
  • Penn State @ Wisconsin: One of these teams makes a statement in this one

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