The final regular season edition of the weekly prognostication battle between TheWolverine.com staff writer Andy Reid and intern Kevin Minor
Andy Reid: 19-16
Kevin Minor: 17-18
Northwestern at Illinois: Point Spread = Northwestern - 17
Andy Reid: Last week, my strategy of picking against the Fighting Illini - no matter the situation - kind of backfired. They staged a little comeback and ended up covering.
That doesn't change my attitude toward Illinois, however. The Illini are still the Illini, and the Illini are awful.
Northwestern and coach Pat Fitzgerald never take this rivalry lightly, and the Wildcats will be ready to bring the heat. Quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark are going to run roughshod over Illinois.
Score: Northwestern 45, Illinois 13
Kevin Minor: The Illini actually showed a little bit of fight last week against a hungry Purdue squad that needed a win to keep its postseason hopes alive. Expect that to continue.
For Northwestern, both star running back Venric Mark and versatile quarterback Kain Colter are expected to play, but will be limited due to lingering injuries. This provides the perfect opportunity for Illinois to look like a threat to snatch this one for a half, and maybe even remain competitive into the fourth quarter.
Northwestern's defense, however, will wear down UI's inept offense as the day goes on, and the ailing Wildcats will make enough plays to pull away, but not to cover.
Score: Northwestern 28, Illinois 13
Michigan State at Minnesota: Point Spread = Michigan State - 9
Andy Reid: Michigan State has rolled out a much more conservative gameplan in recent weeks, focusing on the running game. But it hasn't been working as much as Mark Dantonio would have liked.
If the Spartans give the ball to Le'Veon Bell play after play, they may win this thing, but they'll never build a comfortable enough lead to cover the nine-and-a-half point spread.
SCcore: Michigan State 21, Minnesota 14
Kevin Minor: Fighting for its bowl life, a talented and aggressive Spartan defense will overwhelm a Minnesota offense that will once again be starting freshman quarterback Philip Nelson.
Nelson has struggled against good defenses this year, and MSU running back Le'Veon Bell should be able to help Mark Dantonio's squad control the tempo against the Gopher defense, which is yielding over 160 yards a game on the ground.
The Gophers will struggle to move the ball, and Michigan State, which has lost five conference games by a total of 13 points (2.6 points per game), will rise to the occasion and control this matchup from the get-go.
Score: Michigan State 24, Minnesota 10
Indiana at Purdue Point Spread = Purdue - 6
Andy Reid: I have actually liked what I've seen from the Boilermakers in the last few weeks. The defense looks more tenacious, the offense more potent.
Purdue has the distinct defensive advantage in this one. In a game that could be a potentially high-scoring affair, a few defensive stops - or forced turnovers - could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Expect the Boilermakers to take home the Old Oaken Bucket - and cover in doing so.
Score: Purdue 42, Indiana 28
Kevin Minor: With postseason eligibility, and possibly head coach Danny Hope's job on the line, Purdue will come out swinging in this one. But I don't think Indiana will be intimidated.
IU will fight, and sophomore quarterback Cameron Coffman will have a big game for the conference's top pass offense to keep things close, but the Boilermaker's defensive playmakers will step up and force several key turnovers in the second half.
The Boilermakers barely scrape past the Hoosiers to capture the Old Oaken Bucket, and a bowl bid.
Score: Purdue 28, Indiana 24
Wisconsin at Penn State Penn State - 2.5
Andy Reid: I think Wisconsin's offense took a big step back last week, mustering just 14 points in an overtime loss to Ohio State. Before last weekend, it looked as though the Badger's running backs - Montee Ball and James White - had finally gotten going, but now I'm not so sure.
Penn State will attack the Wisconsin secondary, where I think Matt McGloin and Co. will find some big holes.
Score: Penn State 24, Wisconsin 17
Kevin Minor: This may be one of the more emotional senior days in college football history. With everything the Nittany Lion seniors have persevered through, I don't see them losing this one - but it won't be easy.
Wisconsin is a good team that controlled Ohio State last week despite an overtime loss, but has struggled to translate the stat sheet to the score board at times this year.
This one will go back and forth, but the arm of fifth-year senior quarterback Matt McGloin will be the difference, and sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson will also have a huge day to ensure the PSU's upperclassmen leave Happy Valley on a high note.
Score: Penn State 21, Wisconsin 20
Out of conference game of the week: >
Andy Reid: Stanford at UCLA Point Spread = UCLA -1.5
This game could have huge national implications. If UCLA wins - and the Bruins are favored - it opens a door for Oregon to sneak back in the Pac-12 Championship Game after last weekend's upset loss to Stanford. If Stanford wins, the two will play again next weekend.
The Cardinal are playing very well. Stepfan Taylor is one of the most effective running backs in the country, and, if I was an offense coordinator, Stanford's defense would give me nightmares.
I'm taking Stanford to earn a spot in the conference title game.
Score: Stanford 20, UCLA 17
Kevin Minor: South Carolina at Clemson Point Spread = Clemson - 4
Despite its current three-game winning streak, South Carolina has struggled on the road this year, and with a suspect defense clashing against Clemson's explosive offense, the Gamecocks will look to slow the pace of the game with its running attack.
Unfortunately, the absence of injured USC back Marcus Lattimore will greatly hinder its ground game in this rivalry battle, and the Tigers, who average 44.0 points per game, will cover the spread due to a huge performance by junior quarterback Tajh Boyd.
Score: Clemson 34, South Carolina 24
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