Can Gophers Really Get to 10-0 against Iowa? Can Irish Corral Navy Option?

Herb Gould

Minnesota’s trip to Iowa will be in the Big Ten spotlight on Saturday. And that’s as it should be. The Golden Gophers can put a stranglehold on the Big Ten West—and advance their Rose Bowl case!—with a win.

But there are other intrigues around the league as Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State—which all have a lot to play for—try to stay in position for good things.

The good news last week? Two of my two-touchdown underdogs, Illinois and Iowa State, came back from 25- and 21-point deficits to cover. Actually, more than cover. The Illini, down 28-3, even beat Michigan State 37-34. And the Cyclones, down 28-7 and 42-21, came back to lose by a mere 42-41 when their two-point conversion failed.

Notre Dame also delivered, winning easily at Duke.

But I put too much faith in Penn State, Alabama and Wisconsin. The Badgers didn’t got enough separation to cover nine points in their 24-22 win over Iowa. The Crimson Tide didn’t have enough in the tank against LSU. And Penn State got outplayed big-time by surprising Minnesota.

And so, another 3-3 week leaves me 35-28-3 for the season. And wanting more.

On to Week 12.

Good luck in sports. . .

THE GAMES

(Central Flyover Time)

Michigan State plus-13½ at Michigan, 11 a.m., FOX

Wisconsin minus-13½ at Nebraska, 11 a.m., BTN

Indiana plus-13½ at Penn State, 11 a.m., ABC

Alabama minus-17½ at Mississippi State, 11 a.m., ESPN

Navy plus-7½ at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m., NBC

Minnesota plus-3 at Iowa, 3 p.m., FOX

THE PICKS

(ATS winner in bold)

Michigan State plus-13½ at Michigan, 11 a.m., FOX

Michigan, which has been building momentum since a strong second half in the 28-21 loss at Penn State, looks like it’s in line to administer a little payback to struggling Michigan State, which blew a 25-point lead in last week’s loss to Illinois. MSU has won eight of the last 11 meetings with Michigan, but only one of the last three.

The Pick: Michigan

The Score: Wolverines, 31-13

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Wisconsin minus-13½ at Nebraska, 11 a.m., BTN

Wisconsin, which outlasted Iowa 24-22 last week after back-to-back losses to Illinois and Ohio State, needs to keep it going against struggling Cornhuskers. who have had a bye week to think about their troubles and try to fix them. Could be a big day for Jonathan Taylor

The Pick: Wisconsin

The Score: Badgers, 38-14

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Indiana plus-13½ at Penn State, 11 a.m., ABC

Yes, Indiana (7-2) is having a fine season. But no, it doesn’t have a best win. And it won’t get it here. Penn State needs to reassert itself after being thoroughly outplayed by Minnesota. And figures to be feeling ornery enough to do exactly that.

The Pick: Penn State

The Score: Nittany Lions, 37-17

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Alabama minus-17½ at Mississippi State, 11 a.m., ESPN

How does Alabama react to having its playoff hopes dealt a big blow by LSU? It takes out its frustrations on Mississippi State.

The Pick: Alabama

The Score: Crimson Tide, 41-20

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Navy plus-7½ at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m., NBC

Remember Virginia Tech? This figures to be another scratch-and-claw for the Irish. Navy (7-1) is optioning its way to a season with a very impressive upside. But Notre Dame has the experience, talent and toughness to grind out another win.

The Pick: Navy

The Score: Notre Dame, 28-24

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Minnesota plus-3 at Iowa, 3 p.m., FOX

At 8-0, I remained a skeptic who pointed to the weak schedule of Minnesota. At 9-0, after the Gophers’ no-doubt-about-it-win over Penn State, I say, ``Row the boat.’’ Plus, while Iowa is a scrappy team with a stout defense, that part of the game when it has the ball is far from dazzling.*

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Gophers, 20-17

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LAST WEEK ATS: 3-3. . . SEASON: 35-28-3

LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 4-2 . . . SEASON 49-17

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Herb Gould

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