B1G bold predictions for Week 5
This is sort of a new thing for me.
Normally the bold predictions come from Connor, our fearless leader at Tradition. My face is still too fresh to be smeared with embarrassment. But what the heck, I’ll take a stab at it.
Don’t be surprised if my name doesn’t show up by these types of articles in the future. And please, feel free to tell me how wrong I when Saturday comes to an end. But if any of these are correct (maybe even just in the ballpark) there’s likely to be heavy gloating and bragging through social media.
Without further hesitation, here are the bold predictions that are giving me sweaty palms as we enter the first full Saturday of a B1G slate:
1. Minnesota rushes for 300-plus yards against Penn State – The Gophers are averaging 228.3 yards per game on the ground. Penn State’s rush defense is ranked last in the B1G and has already been gutted by Pitt and Michigan earlier this season. Minnesota has three pretty effective ball carriers between running backs Rodney Smith (298 total yards), Kobe McCrary (193 yards) and quarterback Mitch Leidner (135 yards). The Lions’ run defense has been a mess so far this season and the Gophers’ strong-armed running attack shouldn’t have much difficulty finding holes.
2. Rafael Gaglianone’s injury is the difference in the Wisconsin-Michigan game – If you check out our Week 5 picks, you’ll notice that I have the Badgers losing by two points. That’s not a coincidence. Gaglianone has hit four game-winning kicks in his career, including one earlier this year against LSU. He would’ve had a pretty good shot to get his fifth this weekend, or at least make an impact. Instead, Wisconsin is going to feel the effects of losing one of the country’s top kickers.
3. Illinois slows down Tommy Armstrong, Jr. but Nebraska still wins big – Armstrong has been, well, bad against the Illini defense in the past. For some reason, he hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm. He’s completed 28-of-65 passes (43.1%) for 406 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. He’s never rushed for a touchdown, either. Although Nebraska’s offense is much more productive and Illinois’ defense is a work in progress, I think this trend continues on Saturday. It’ll be a small victory for Lovie Smith and company, because Nebraska should still win this game by three touchdowns.
RELATED: Week 5 B1G Picks
4. Tyler O’Connor throws four touchdown passes – After a lousy performance against Wisconsin a week ago, the Michigan State quarterback needs a big game to get back on track. He’ll have the perfect opportunity to do that against Indiana. The Hoosiers defense has had trouble getting pressure on the quarterback this season and the Spartans offensive line should give O’Connor plenty of time in the pocket. IU also ranks 11th in the conference in pass defense. Expect a big day from O’Connor, who should be able to pick apart Indiana’s secondary.
5. Ohio State doesn’t snag an interception this week – I’m still on the fence about whether this is bold or just plain dumb. Especially when the defense has guys who can make plays like this:
The Buckeyes already have nine interceptions, returning four of those for scores. So why would that change? And against Rutgers, of all teams? Chris Ash knows the inner-workings of Ohio State’s defense after serving as the defensive coordinator in the previous two seasons. He’s likely to change some of his schemes around and not put his quarterback, Chris Laviano, in bad situations. The running game will probably be more prominent for Rutgers, at least early. And, hey, Laviano has only thrown two interceptions so far and hasn’t tossed a pick in two games. This would be an incredible feat for the Scarlet Knights, even if they still get blown out.