Column: This week in football – some major match-ups

By Ian Gold

Like putting on socks that just came out of the drier, the Pick Em’s are back to give you a little piece of sunshine. This week of football is so unique that the major networks have failed to give it a catchy name – this isn’t “Separation Saturday” and it isn’t “Rivalry Weekend,” instead we are just letting it exist. I threw a football under the lights yesterday, and the contrast of the spiral of the ball standing out in front of a backdrop of night sky and falling autumn leaves left me waxing poetic.

#4 Michigan at Penn State

Could Penn State have set this up any better? The Nittany Lions are playing host to the team that ruined their national title hopes the year before. There is no tougher place to play in the country than in Happy Valley at night – that’s a Pick Em’s guarantee. The 100,000 plus that have tickets for this game are licking their chops to get ahold of the Wolverines. In 2005, Mario Manningham burst on the scene as a freshman by catching the winning touchdown in the final minute against an undefeated Penn State team. At the time, Manningham was being hailed as the next great Wolverine receiver. A year later we believe, Manningham already has over 500 yards receiving and nine touchdowns; fortunately for Penn State, he will be in his street clothing after knee surgery. Michigan is still loaded offensively. And defensively, the Wolverines have the making of a national title contender. Sound familiar? It will be close, but Michigan running back Mike Hart makes a Heisman statement against the country’s best linebackers.

#4 Michigan 27 Penn State 23

Home Cooking

Ohio at Illinois

Of all the stupid things I heard while at last week’s home game, one made a lot of sense. A grown man turned to his son and said, ‘I wish the coaching staff would give the kids an opportunity to win.’ Illinois got out to an early lead on Indiana, and then packed it in; only to eventually walk into the locker room in disbelief. Against mediocre competition it appears Illinois is finally talented enough to win, if the coaching staff has faith. Instead of putting in the kill shots against Indiana, the Illini tied their star freshman quarterback’s hands together and used their wide receivers as male models rather then weapons. Once again, Illinois will be facing mediocre competition, Did Zook and Co. learn their lesson from last week? Juice is pretty good, so let him play! Ohio lost a few players to DUI suspensions but have some decent wins, including one over Northern Illinois. But my money is that our male models get off the runway and have some balls thrown their way, Frank Lenti Jr. catches the winning touchdown and the Illini get back on track.

Ohio 26 Illinois 31

Game of the Week

#2 Florida at #11 Auburn

How I love the SEC, let me count the ways. Where else do athletes grow on trees? Where else does tailgating start on Wednesday afternoon? And what better match-up will there be than this one? Auburn lost last week to Arkansas as they peeked forward toward this match-up. With two weeks of Gator on the brain, I figure the squad will come out pumped. Florida had a good warm-up for this game when they won at Tennessee a few weeks ago. Despite the QB controversy, I give the edge to the Gators. Florida has a very big,very fast and very good defense. If they can slow down the Tigers’ running game they can keep the scoring low. Behind Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, the Gators will keep their record Noxzema clean.

#2 Florida 28 #11 Auburn 13

Outside Chance of Upset Special

#1 Ohio State at Michigan State

Ohio State is the best team in the country. They prove it every time the media suggests they might have a test. But since Michigan State’s home loss to Illinois, everyone has penciled in the normal Spartan collapse. Ohio State could have been expecting to listen to doubts this week. Instead they have heard crickets and maybe even “Hail to the Victors” early. This game has all the classic signs of a let-down. Remember that if the Spartan coaches had a football IQ above 65, they would have beat Ohio State last year. I would love to put my name on the line and pick Michigan State, but I believe that their coaches put together game plans by reading “Football for Dummies”; Ohio State is too good, but in a normal situation this could be an upset. What Juice did to them a couple weeks ago … just imagine what Troy Smith does.

#1 Ohio State 38 Michigan State 14

Ian Gold is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]