Bold predictions for every B1G game in Week 5
The halfway mark. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
We waited so long for B1G football to return and, after Saturday, we’ll be passed the midway point of the season. The good news, though, is that there are still 5 weeks remaining this season. And Week 5, believe it or not, might be the most interesting.
Indiana and Ohio State are competing for the top spot in the B1G East while Wisconsin and Northwestern are playing for the No. 1 position in the West. Nebraska and Illinois go head to head after each won their first game last weekend, Penn State is searching for its first victory and Michigan and Rutgers are looking to end three-game losing streaks.
All of it starts Friday night, with Purdue taking on Minnesota.
So, let’s have some fun looking ahead to Week 5 in the B1G, shall we? Here are some bold predictions for the weekend:
Purdue (2-1) vs. Minnesota (1-3)
Bold prediction: Minnesota throws for more yardage than Purdue but still loses the game
Offensively, Minnesota should be able to do whatever it wants against Purdue. Mo Ibrahim is the best running back in the B1G and is too much for the Boilermaker defense. But, Purdue’s pass defense also ranks 13th in the conference currently, and the Minnesota ball carrier could use a nice break from his 33 touches per game.
Look for Minnesota to throw the ball early and often against a vulnerable Purdue secondary, one that may have trouble getting pressure on Tanner Morgan. But because the Gophers are playing so poorly on the other side of the football, I expect the Boilermakers to get win No. 3 on the season.
#9 Indiana (4-0) vs. #3 Ohio State (3-0)
Bold prediction: Justin Fields throws his first interception of the season
Something has to give.
Indiana has already intercepted 10 passes in four games this season, posting an average of 2.5 picks per contest, the highest mark in college football. Justin Fields and Ohio State have yet to throw an interception, and in fact, Fields has more total touchdowns (13) than incompletions (11).
Because Ohio State had an off week last Saturday with Maryland canceling the game due to COVID-19 concerns, maybe Fields makes a mistake early in the game. After all, this is the best secondary the Buckeyes will face all season. Look for the Hoosiers to be aggressive and make a big play to get some confidence.
Illinois (1-3) vs. Nebraska (1-2)
Bold prediction: Four different quarterbacks take multiple snaps
Do you ever have a feeling that there’s going to be a sloppy game? That’s the feeling I have looking ahead to the Illinois-Nebraska matchup. And I think it results in some changes at QB.
Last week, Isaiah Williams was the sparkplug that Illinois needed offensively, and Luke McCaffrey served the same purpose for Nebraska. Both led their teams to the first win of the season. On Saturday, one falls back into a hole and the other gets back-to-back victories.
Brandon Peters should be back for Illinois, so I’m confident the Illini will play two quarterbacks to keep the Huskers on their toes. I also believe McCaffrey has some struggles at some point in this game, and Adrian Martinez makes a return to the field in some capacity.
#10 Wisconsin (2-0) vs. #19 Northwestern (4-0)
Bold prediction: Neither team reaches 20 points
Both defenses are good. Like, really good. Throw in the fact that the B1G West probably hangs in the balance and you’ll have two relentless teams unwilling to surrender and inch.
I’m still not sure who’s going to win, though Wisconsin has looked better offensively than Northwestern. But that’s part of the Wildcats’ magic, isn’t it? Counting Northwestern out of a game is exactly the kind of fuel Pat Fitzgerald feeds off of, in case that hasn’t been clear in his 15 years with the program.
Either way, I expect this one to be a hard-nosed, old-school B1G football game.
Iowa (2-2) vs. Penn State (0-4)
Bold prediction: The Iowa defensive line gets its highest sack total of the season
Did you see Iowa’s defense last weekend against Minnesota? The Hawkeyes racked up 4 sacks against the Golden Gophers, led by Zach VanValkenburg who notched 3 in the win. You know which team has given up more sacks than anyone in the B1G so far?
That’s a recipe for disaster. Plus, Iowa is clicking on all cylinders defensively right now and Penn State can’t figure out its quarterback situation, rushing attack or offensive line struggles. Again, recipe for disaster.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Hawkeyes pile up 5 sacks or more in this one.
Michigan (1-3) vs. Rutgers (1-3)
Bold prediction: Rutgers goes 2-0 vs. the state of Michigan
What have we seen from Michigan that would convince us it is capable of winning another game this season? At the very least, Rutgers has looked competitive and refused to roll over even when games have essentially been over. The Scarlet Knights are improving and the Wolverines are digressing.
Rutgers opened the season with a win against Michigan State, which was a bit of a shocker. Four weeks later, the Greg Schiano will lead his team to another victory over a program from Michigan.
Who’s ready for more of the “Fire Harbaugh!” conversations on Sunday and Monday?