You’re still stuffed from Thanksgiving, especially if you had a houseful of food and the houseful of people you invited to share it couldn’t make it because of the weather.
So let’s cut this season’s final prediction column into tinier bites for easy consumption, Saturday games first to save Iowa-Nebraska on Friday for a big finish.
No. 8 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1) at No. 12 Michigan (9-2, 6-1)
11 a.m., ABC: Ohio State finally aired its dirty laundry after losing last week at home to Michigan State. Star tailback Ezekiel Elliott criticized the play-calling. Star defensive end Joey Bosa, suspended earlier in the year for his fine behavior, said Elliott spoke the truth. Star quarterback J.T. Barrett, inserted right back into the starting lineup after missing one game for drunk driving, continued his substandard play.
OSU coach Urban Meyer, long known for pampering his stars, said it was fine Elliott spoke up, and that he wouldn’t be disciplined. The whitewashing of insubordinate behavior and the apparent chemistry issues should send sales of Meyer’s new book — about leadership and team building — skyrocketing.
Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh at Michigan has to love the Buckeyes’ dysfunction becoming public. King Khaki Pants, a former Wolverine quarterback under Bo Schembechler, is going all-in on his first game back into this rivalry. He showed up at Schembechler’s grave this week and used a hammer to smash a buckeye nut.
Will Ohio State get over its “I need to get mine” mentality and play together? I’m thinking not.
Michigan 17, Ohio State 14
Penn State (7-4, 4-3) at No. 6 Michigan State (10-1, 6-1)
2:30 p.m., ESPN: Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio did the best single-game coaching job of the year last week in winning at Ohio State with likely All-Big Ten quarterback Connor Cook (shoulder) on the bench.
Cook remains questionable this week, which makes me question whether substitute quarterbacks Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry can keep things on track after a week to think about the impact of needing to win to secure a Big Ten title game berth opposite Iowa.
Even if the Spartan backups struggle, Penn State hasn’t shown any ability to take advantage of such situations. The Nittany Lions haven’t won a single game of significance in James Franklin’s two seasons. It won’t happen here, either.
Michigan State 20, Penn State 6
No. 17 Northwestern (9-2, 5-2) vs. Illinois (5-6, 2-5) at Soldier Field
2:30 p.m., ESPNU: The Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois is preparing to take away the “interim” title from Bill Cubit and make him head coach with a two-year contract. You read that right — two years. That’s such a bone-headed move you’d think Rutgers did it. How in the world do you recruit anyone with a 62-year-old coach on a two-year contract?
Supposedly, Cubit will learn his fate within 24 hours after this game. At least it shouldn’t interrupt bowl preparations. Northwestern has been too solid to let Illinois get a sixth victory.
Northwestern 24, Illinois 14
Wisconsin (8-3, 5-2) at Minnesota (5-6, 2-5)
2:30 p.m., BTN: Former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who retired at midseason because of continued health issues related to epilepsy, will be on the sideline as a guest. Expect the Gophers to play their hearts out for their beloved former boss.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave is going through concussion protocol this week after being injured in the loss to Northwestern. And tailback Corey Clement’s status is unknown because of his recovery from hernia surgery and being cited for disorderly conduct for starting an off-campus fight.
Minnesota 16, Wisconsin 13
Indiana (5-6, 1-6) at Purdue (2-9, 1-6)
11 a.m., BTN: Indiana’s current seven-year bowl drought matches the longest among FBS schools, tying Colorado. Before 2007, the Hoosiers’ last bowl appearance was 1993. I know there is no cheering in the press box, but you can root for IU to win here and get to a bowl. Coach Kevin Wilson and Athletic Director Fred Glass are good folks who deserve it.
Indiana 38, Purdue 26
Maryland (2-9, 0-7) at Rutgers (4-7, 1-6)
11 a.m., BTN: Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany should be forced to watch this from the sidelines in his skivvies for inviting these two into the league. Maryland, with an interim coach, plays Rutgers, whose coach should have been fired in September for meddling in the grades of one of his players, who later was booted from the team for bad acts. Hope the BTN announcers can put a nice spin on this one.
Rutgers 31, Maryland 23
No. 3 Iowa (11-0, 7-0) at Nebraska (5-6, 3-4)
Nebraska should thank Iowa for making Husker football nationally relevant again, at least for a day.
The Hawkeyes’ dream season got this game into the spotlight Black Friday TV slot, and has attracted some national media outlets who weren’t sure if they remembered how to get to Lincoln.
This is a dangerous game for Iowa. Nebraska is like the bottle rocket with a long, sputtering fuse. The minute you lean over to see if it’s a dud or still lit, it can go off on you. The good news for Iowa fans is you don’t have to worry about coach Kirk Ferentz choosing to punt to Nebraska’s De’Mornay Pierson-El (out with torn knee ligaments). That brain-cramp last year allowed NU to rally from 17 points down and win in overtime.
It’s tempting to pick an upset. Nebraska has a little momentum and the general tenor about Iowa is that it is due for a loss.
But focus on how good Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard has been and how the Hawkeyes don’t beat themselves and how Nebraska has invented ways to lose this season. I’ve seen the Hawkeyes five times in person, and they pass my eye test.
Iowa 30, Nebraska 24
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