B1G Hardware Handout and Prediction Rewind, Week 4

Michigan State Spartans running back Le’Veon Bell (24) breaks the tackle of Eastern Michigan Eagles defensive back Kirkland Bryant (27) during 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. (Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE)

Are we ready for a marathon post right here, folks? That’s right, between my MAC post Tuesday, being in a coma Monday because of Iowa’s horrible loss, and my weekly Pac 12 post, some of my Big Ten recaps have to get crunched into one. Look for my dissection of Iowa’s debacle later today and weekly predictions tomorrow.

Crack your neck and knuckles and let’s do this!

Game of the…

Week: Minnesota – Syracuse

The Gophers were without their starting QB, while Syracuse was coming into the game with an offensive attack that had put up some impressive numbers through the first three weeks. Pundits everywhere (including yours truly) were taking the Orange. Minnesota’s response to this can only be summed up one way. To (mis)quote The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: “Adversity?! We don’t need no stickin’ adversity!” UM won a gritty defensive battle 17-10 in which they forced four turnovers to make up for the Orange out-gaining them. The win moved the strong looking Gophers to 4-0.

Weak: Michigan-Notre Dame

Yes, Nebraska’s blowout was pretty bad too, but the two teams combined for just over 500 yards, 19 points and…wait for it…EIGHT turnovers. Yes, the defenses had to be in the right location, but still, that makes football almost unbearable to watch.

[Related: B1G Power Rankings and Performance Grades, Week 4]

MVPs…

Offensive: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

Stat Line: 36 Carries, 253 Yards, 7.0 Avg, 1 TD

Wow, just let that sink in. I don’t know which is crazier: getting fed the rock 36 times, rushing for 253 yards in one game, or having that high an average over that many carries.

Honorable Mentions: Venric Mark RB Northwestern, Rex Burkhead RB Nebraska, Matt McGloin QB Penn State

Defensive: Aaron HIll, LB, Minnesota

In addition to breaking up a pass and picking one off, Hill also threw his body around to the tune of ten tackles, four of which were solo, for the Gophers in their slugfest with Syracuse.

Special Teams: Devin Smith, Wisconsin

The Badgers once again got off to a slow start, giving up a late touchdown to UTEP in the opening quarter. The Miners clearly had momentum. That changed when the Badgers blocked the point after and Smith housed it, going 90 yards. The two points were followed by three straight UW touchdowns, which clearly jump started “big red.”

Before we get to the dunce of the week, let me take a second to rewind my picks from last week.

Illinois 24 – Louisiana Tech 52
Prediction: Illinois L, 24-21

I feel great about picking this upset even in the off season, but I’m still stunned Tech exploded for 24 points in the third quarter and ended up doubling up the Illini.

Iowa 31 – Central Michigan 32
Prediction: Iowa W, 42-13

I’ll type this rewind when I’m done eating this awful crow pie. Wow, that game stung me on so many levels–more about it later today!

Michigan 6 – Notre Dame 13
Prediction: Michigan W, 24-17

Well, I was right about Michigan being able to stop Notre Dame. My thinking there was Purdue slowed the Irish down and I felt UM had as good (if not better) players on that side of the ball, compared to the Boilermakers. The problem…six turnovers weren’t figured in.

Michigan State 23 – Eastern Michigan 7
Prediction: Michigan State W, 45-3

In a week in which I had much worse picks, a win is a win.

Minnesota 17 – Syracuse 10
Prediction: Minnesota L, 28-21

Yikes…the game was defensive, Minnesota won and the crow has now been replaced with my foot.

Nebraska 73 – Idaho State 7
Prediction: Nebraska W, 49-6

Sadly, Idaho State’s kicker did not have two 50 yarders. Where did I go wrong with this pick…who scores seventy points in a football game?! Even crazier, Nebraska had the ball LESS than the Bengals. Mental math is crunching the numbers, crunching, crunching and poof, a little smoke came out of my ear.

Northwestern 38 – South Dakota 7
Prediction: Northwestern W, 42-10

Thank god, a game I actually nailed! Amazingly it featured Northwestern, the team most Big Ten fans find maddenly impossible to get a read on year in and year out.

Ohio State 29 – UAB 15
Prediction: Ohio State W, 42-10

I’m going to chalk this up to the Buckeyes are ready for league play and decided to take a mental nap after that difficult Cal game. Either that or UAB’s amazing logo led to Ohio State players star watching like a NBA game…yes, let’s go with that.

Penn State 24 – Temple 13, Bullseye of the Week
Prediction: W, 21-10

Just inside the seven point margin of Northwestern is this one. My rationale for PSU avoiding the popular upset pick was Temple lost to Maryland. Thank you Terps!

Wisconsin 37 – UTEP 26
Prediction: Wisconsin W, 45-17

In a rough week, this one looks alright. Not making excuses…okay about to make one…Montee Ball’s injury probably affected Wisconsin by a little bit and that is why they were eight points away from my total. That’s plausible, right?

For the week: 7-3
For the season: 35-11

Dunce of the Week…

Can I just go with Iowa? No? I need to concentrate that energy into my upcoming piece (hint, its posting later today—shameless). Fine, I’ll dip my toes into the SEC water with a double dip of dunces. The first was a team effort: Kentucky.

For the record, I am 26. Why put that here? Because it means I have never seen the Wildcats beat Florida. Last weekend could have been the worst of the bunch. Who knows? They are all bad, but UK managed a laughable 60 passing yards in a horrid 219 yard performance. Predictably this potent offense managed a goose egg on the board. I’m curious if they’ll beat the Gators before I turn 52.

The second is an individual honor: Tre Mason. After his Auburn Tiger teammates forced a turnover, AU got the ball at their own 3-yard line. What should have been a simple run turned into two points for the Bayou Bengals when Mason failed to hit the hole, and chose to dance around instead. You need to know where you are on the field son! Adding to the heartache, War Eagle lost by two.

Bayou Bengal and War Eagle in one paragraph? If you don’t watch out, Gamedayr will ask me to ruin the SEC too…

Keep On Keeping On >> B1G Power Rankings and Performance Grades, Week 4