Nov. 17—Illini beat writer Scott Richey offers up his predictions on the Big Ten's top games, top players and top coaches before the weekend:
Who wins: Michigan, 38-13. Sherrone Moore will be back at the Wolverines' helm now that Jim Harbaugh won't challenge his suspension. Expect cleaner postgame interviews from the Michigan offensive coordinator, though, since his mom and grandma were reportedly less than pleased with his profanity last week.
Who's on the call: Chris Myers (play-by-play) and Robert Smith (analysis).
Who's on the call: Jason Ross Jr. (play-by-play), Anthony Herron (analysis) and Meghan McKeown (sideline reports).
Who wins: Indiana, 28-12. The Hoosiers have to feel good about after putting up 45 points last week in Champaign. Good enough to hold onto the Old Brass Spittoon.
Purdue (3-7, 2-5) at Northwestern (5-5, 3-4) 11 a.m., BTN
Who's on the call: Connor Onion (play-by-play), Matt Millen (analysis) and Elise Menaker (sideline reports).
Who wins: Northwestern, 24-21. The most prevalent expectations for the Wildcats this season were a one- or two-win season, and that was before the hazing scandal cost Pat Fitzgerald his job. Making a bowl game? Pure lunacy.
Who's on the call: Adam Alexander (play-by-play) and Devin Gardner (analysis).
Who wins: Iowa, 13-10. It might not matter who starts at quarterback for the Illini. The Hawkeyes rank eighth in total defense and third in scoring defense this season. Advantage: Iowa. (But it has to be John Paddock, right?).
Minnesota (5-5, 3-4) at No. 3 Ohio State (10-0, 7-0) 3 p.m., BTN
Who's on the call: Cory Provus (play-by-play), Jake Butt (analysis) and Brooke Fletcher (sideline reports).
Who wins: Ohio State, 45-10. Remember when the Gophers were leading the Big Ten West? It wasn't all that long ago. Consecutive losses to Illinois and Purdue certainly changed that, and the Buckeyes are going to pile on this weekend in Columbus, Ohio?
Who's on the call: Noah Eagle (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analysis) and Kathryn Tappen (sideline reports).
Big Ten MVPRK., PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL PREV.
1. Marvin Harrison Jr. Wide receiver Ohio State 1
2. J.J. McCarthy Quarterback Michigan 2
3. Blake Corum Running back Michigan 3
4. Johnny Newton Defensive tackle Illinois NR
5. Drew Allar Quarterback Penn State 4
Ohio State has anywhere from three to five games remaining this season. More than enough time for Harrison to put up a better single-season effort than his dad. Marvin Harrison Sr. caught a career-best 56 passes for 1,131 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games at Syracuse in 1995. His son currently has 59 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns in 10 games.
Big Ten Coach of the YearRK., COACH SCHOOL PREV.
1. Kirk Ferentz Iowa 1
2. David Braun Northwestern NR
3. Greg Schiano Rutgers 2
4. Ryan Day Ohio State 3
5. James Franklin Penn State 4
The roster losses Iowa has been dealt both with suspensions and injuries grew this week with Cooper DeJean ruled out for the rest of the season. Still, the Hawkeyes keep winning. So does Northwestern, which probably has four more wins than anyone thought it might.
Illini MVPRK., PLAYER POSITION PREV.
1. Johnny Newton Defensive tackle 1
2. Isaiah Williams Wide receiver 2
3. John Paddock Quarterback 5
4. Luke Altmyer Quarterback 4
5. Hugh Robertson Punter NR
Williams is doing his best to challenge Newton for the top spot, and the Illinois wide receiver might just pull it off if Paddock keeps getting starts at quarterback. Those two clearly have a connection in the passing game given they have delivered on consecutive game-winners.
Big Ten Bowl OutlookBOWL TEAM
Orange Ohio State
Peach Penn State
Music City Wisconsin
Guaranteed Rate Maryland
Las Vegas Illinois
Quick Lane Northwestern
Am I trying to do my best Lavar Ball and speak Illinois in the Las Vegas Bowl into existence? You bet. But the way the Big Ten could potentially shake out in the final two weeks of the regular season could leave the conference with more than its fair share of 6-6 teams. Then it comes down to the bowl folks. Who do they want? The way the Illini fans traveled to Las Vegas last November for basketball should be considered a positive.