Hickey: Final thoughts and predictions for Week 9 in the Big Ten
This week, we take our final thoughts about Week 9 very literally. For me, this is the end of the journey at Saturday Tradition.
Personally, I’d have timed it better. Parting at the moment the Michigan sign-stealing scandal is just getting good is indeed sweet sorrow. This Connor Stalions fellow is like a character from a novel, right down to his name. The whole situation reads like fiction.
Alas, opportunity knocks, and I must answer the door.
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It is my belief that this is the last truly great season of college football.
From the moment it was announced that USC and UCLA were on the verge of joining the Big Ten, I was not on board. I’ve never been a conference realignment enthusiast, but I found a way to stomach what happened a decade ago because the games themselves are still awesome.
And hopefully that will still be the case. But the fact that the current wave of conference commissioners is coming from more of an entertainment background than a collegiate background concerns me. They’re taking their eyes off the ball and keeping it on the bankroll.
This is a job where you can’t feign enthusiasm. You have to actually feel it. I still do, but I’m worried that will wane dramatically in 2024 and beyond.
And that’s a disservice to you, the reader.
I at least figured I’d make it to next offseason before making a career change. I’m still stoked for the rest of this season and the pending college basketball season.
I just won’t be covering those events, because the offer I couldn’t refuse arrived before I even started looking for it. And I didn’t even have to write a 600-page manifesto to get the gig.
But I still know I’m going to miss doing this for this website. I already do.
Even with this ghastly 5-game Week 9 schedule.
Indiana (2-5, 0-4) at No. 10 Penn State (6-1, 3-1), Noon ET, CBS
The free-falling Hoosiers visit a Penn State team that’s ready to dole out punishment following last week’s disappointment at Ohio State. I never admire the position Indiana is in, but that’s especially true this week.
It’s going to get ugly early.
Prediction: Penn State 35, Indiana 3
Maryland (5-2, 2-2) at Northwestern (3-4, 1-3), Noon ET, BTN
A quintessential 11 a.m. local showdown. Tickets are currently on the secondary market for $2. Which means you can get into a Maryland-Northwestern game at Ryan Field for less than the cost of a King Size Snickers bar. (Or maybe even a regular-sized Snickers, depending on your location.)
You would hope the Terps come out with something to prove after having a week to process their last-second loss to Illinois. Or are they about to go 0-for-Land of Lincoln this season?
Prediction: Maryland 34, Northwestern 13
Michigan State (2-5, 0-4) at Minnesota (4-3, 2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
The Spartans and Gophers lost to Michigan by a combined total of 101-10. This leg of the triangular determines which of these 2 teams is worse.
It’s probably Michigan State, which is having an even tougher time avoiding embarrassing headlines than winning games.
If running back Darius Taylor is healthy, it should be a breeze for Minnesota.
Prediction: Minnesota 23, Michigan State 14
Purdue (2-5, 1-3) at Nebraska (4-3, 2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1
Maybe you think Taylor Swift only became relevant to football fans when she started dating Travis Kelce.
Purdue has never won a game directly after a Taylor Swift album release. Think I’m kidding…
2006: Lost to Penn St.
2008: Lost to Iowa
2010: Lost to Illinois
2012: Lost to Minnesota
2014: Lost to Nebraska
2017: Lost to Northwestern
2019: Lost to Nevada
*2020 was out of season*
— Dub Jellison (@DubJellison) October 22, 2022
1989 (Taylor’s Version) drops Friday, spelling doom for the Boilermakers and joy for the Cornhuskers, who will be sporting Red (Nebraska’s Version).
Now Indiana fans need to band together and convince Taylor to release all her albums the week of the Old Oaken Bucket game.
Prediction: Nebraska 17, Purdue 13
No. 3 Ohio State (7-0, 4-0) at Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1), 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
All offseason, I convinced myself that this was 1 of the 5 best Big Ten matchups of the year. Everything set up so perfectly.
A Halloween night game in Madison. Ohio State in a dangerous position a week after playing Penn State. Luke Fickell getting a shot at the Buckeyes all these years after their awkward 2011 together. A new-look Wisconsin offense.
But as it turns out, that new-look Wisconsin offense functions a whole lot like the old one. Inefficient passing (12th in the B1G in yards per attempt) and an offense that only goes as far as the star running back can carry it.
Wisconsin quarterback Braedyn Locke, starting his 2nd game, isn’t going to beat an Ohio State defense that looks like 1 of the best in the country. Buckeyes defensive coordinator Jim Knowles knows if he locks in on Braelon Allen, Ohio State will come back home still unbeaten.
Actually executing that plan will still be a challenge, because Allen is good enough to keep Wisconsin hanging around. But the Badgers will need help from another source to get over the top in this game.
Prediction: Ohio State 26, Wisconsin 14