Predicting every Big Ten college football game in Week 11

·7 min read

Last week saw a giant upset in Big Ten play when the newly-crowed No. 3 Michigan State Spartans lost to then-unranked Purdue, the second-such upset the Boilermakers had made in the 2021 season. With Purdue playing Ohio State on Saturday, could it happen yet again?

Beyond that, Penn State hosts Michigan, MSU and the nation’s worst pass defense hosts Maryland and its high-flying pass offense, Minnesota and Iowa will try to right the ship against each other, while Indiana and Rutgers will battle for the right to not be called the worst team in the conference.

Here is how the WolverinesWire staff is predicting each Big Ten college football game to go on Saturday.

List

3 keys to a Michigan football win vs. Penn State

Northwestern Wildcats (3-6) at No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (6-3)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Trent Knoop: Wisconsin appears to be back. The Badgers have won five straight games and Graham Mertz is slowly playing better and better. Wisconsin should have an easy week on Saturday with Northwestern. The Wildcats flat out cannot score points — they have scored less than 14 points in each of the last three games. Unfortunately, Northwestern won’t be able to score points once again this week. Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 10

Isaiah Hole: I think Northwestern is playing better than Rutgers is at the moment and Wisconisn just destroyed the Scarlet Knights a week ago. However, I don’t think it’s a measurable difference. I don’t expect Andrew Marty (or whoever is at QB) or RB Evan Hull to be able to do much against the best defense in the country. Conversely, Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi have really been coming on and it’s taken a lot of pressure off of Graham Mertz. Badgers continue to roll. Wisconsin 42, Northwestern 3

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-5) at Indiana Hoosiers (2-7)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Trent Knoop: Both of these teams have almost identical statistics, but the big difference is injuries. The Hoosiers are completely banged up, and this game will hinge on whoever starts at behind center for Indiana. Rutgers is fairly healthy, but just like Northwestern, the Scarlet Knights cannot score points. If the Hoosiers are able to get to 20, which I think they can, then I will take Indiana in this one. Indiana 21, Rutgers 17

Isaiah Hole: It’s the battle for the bottom of the conference (at least when it comes to my power rankings). A lot of Indiana’s struggles are in part due to injuries, particularly at quarterback. It sounds like the Hoosiers could have Michael Penix Jr. and Jack Tuttle back for this game, which would be a major shot in the arm. But even with Penix, I just am not sure that IU gets back on the winning side of things. Rutgers has been bad, but it’s showed it has the capability of being a somewhat OK team. Rutgers 24, Indiana 23

No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers (6-3) at No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (8-1)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Trent Knoop: Let me start off by saying, I think this game will be much closer than the 20-point spread as of Wednesday. Purdue can score points, and score points in bunches — especially if Aidan O’Connell takes care of the football. The Buckeyes are the most explosive team in all of football offensively, but the defense remains suspect — never know which defense will show up. I will take the Buckeyes at home, but it will be close. Ohio State 38, Purdue 28

Isaiah Hole: I was really, really high on Ohio State until it started looking mortal and somewhat pedestrian the past few weeks. It certainly could have lost to either Penn State or Nebraska (the latter, it probably should have). On the other side, Purdue is the giant killer, already having taken down the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the nation. The Boilermaker passing offense is No. 8 in the country while the Buckeyes feature a pass defense in the 90s. Purdue has shown it can stop the pass, with the No. 15 attack nationally, while also loading the box against the run. Ohio State is superior athletically than Iowa or Michigan State, however, like I should have last week, I’m taking the feisty Boilermakers to continue to shock the world (even though I know it probably won’t happen). Purdue 31, Ohio State 30

Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-3) at Iowa Hawkeyes (7-2)

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Knoop: Talk about two confusing teams. When it seems like either team has control of the west division, it loses. The Gophers lay yet another egg last weekend in a terrible home loss to Illinois. Luckily for Minnesota, Iowa will likely be without its’ starting quarterback Petras. I’m fully guessing this will be a low-scoring game, and whoever can rush for more yards will win, because I don’t think either team will pass very well. Iowa 17, Minnesota 13

Isaiah Hole: Minnesota went out and laid an egg after being ranked in the College Football Playoff ranking, while Iowa hasn’t exactly been stellar since the loss to Purdue. It appears Spencer Petras won’t be playing due to injury, which won’t help an already declining offense, but I do have more confidence in the Iowa defense being able to stop the Minnesota rushing attack. Expect an ugly game in Iowa City. Iowa 17, Minnesota 14

Maryland Terrapins (5-4) at Michigan State Spartans (8-1)

Photo: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Knoop: Maryland will not win this game, but I do think it scares the Spartans. The Terrapins have the capability of being an elite offense with Tagovailia under center — just depends which version of him you get. The negative for Maryland is its defense, it will allow a ton of yardage. I think Kenneth Walker III has a huge day and becomes too much for Maryland to handle in the end. Michigan State 31, Maryland 17

Isaiah Hole: Michigan State finally suffered a loss last week (really upset that I didn’t pull the trigger picking it last week like I almost did) so the big question will be how it responds. Here’s the bad news: Maryland, as mediocre as it has been as a team, has the nation’s 14th-ranked passing offense; MSU has the nation’s absolute worst pass defense at 130th in the country. The Terps prefer to move the ball through the air, and it should be able to do so with regularity. The big question is how it does in the red zone, where MSU is pretty good. This is, again, a nightmare matchup for the Spartans. However, I think they get the job done, thanks to an awful Maryland defense. Michigan State 35, Maryland 31

No. 6 Michigan Wolverines (8-1) at Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Trent Knoop: This game will come strictly down to the red zone. Penn State is one of the top teams in the nation defending the red zone, while the Wolverines are second in the nation in scoring field goals in the red zone. Michigan has to turn those field goals into touchdowns on Saturday against a solid defense. On the other side of the ball, I think the Nittany Lions have a difficult time moving the ball on Michigan. I look for Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo to both have big games, and the inability of a run game for PSU will cause issues. I’m taking Michigan is a close one. Michigan 27, Penn State 21

Isaiah Hole: The big question for me entering this game is how healthy is Michigan? Additionally, how much is Sean Clifford actually returning to early-season form? I do have much, much more confidence in what the Wolverines’ pass defense can do, and I think the pass rush will be able to get Clifford off his spot enough to cause problems. Really, considering how bad the Penn State rushing attack is, Michigan should be able to key in on that matchup with little impunity. Offensively, despite the Nittany Lions having a solid defense, I, again, feel good about Michigan’s chances, assuming some key pieces return. I think Michigan will struggle in the red zone, but manages to hold PSU at bay. Michigan 33, Penn State 21

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