B1G predictions: Will Camp Randall fans ignore elephant in the stadium when Penn State travels to Wisconsin?
MADISON, Wis. — Wherever the Penn State football team travels, there's more than a football game on the top of fans' minds. That's no different in Madison this week, where the Nittany Lions play Wisconsin for a spot in the first Big Ten Championship Game.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is urging fans to show "class and dignity" on Saturday when the 15th-ranked Badgers host No. 20 Penn State.
Alvarez says the school is hanging a large blue ribbon on the UW Field House near Camp Randall Stadium to encourage awareness of the "serious issue of child abuse."
Dean of students Lori Berquam said the "allegations of horrific conduct" surrounding the Penn State program are a reason to "show Penn State our best, both on and off the field of play." Penn State is reeling after accusations that former coach Jerry Sandusky molested boys for years.
"He said they would do something in memory of the victims and the situation. But he wanted to make sure that we were OK if we just went up and played football," he said. "And they would handle the rest."
The Nittany Lions are coming off a 20-14 win at Ohio State, and Bradley praised the Buckeyes' fans.
"I take my hat off to the class of their fans, for them to cheer our team as we came off the field for warmups with a standing ovation," he said. "Big-league class from the Ohio State fans. And I thank them; it meant a lot. And they should be awful proud of their team and their university."
Earlier this season, Alvarez and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema tried to discourage fans from yelling obscenity-laced cheers. Bradley said he is familiar with Camp Randall Stadium and the tradition of playing House of Pain's "Jump Around" to fire up the fans.
"I get it. I've been there before. Great college football," he said. "Good thing we're playing for a championship. So, it doesn't get any better than that."
Members of the AnnArbor.com sports department are picking the winners of Big Ten football games this season, with bragging rights in our corner of the newsroom at stake. Check out last week’s results below, after you play along with us by choosing your own winners.
Note: To avoid redundancy, you won’t find Michigan’s game here. A Michigan-Ohio State poll and Kyle Meinke's prediction will be published Friday.
IOWA (7-4, 4-3) at No. 22 NEBRASKA (8-3, 4-3)
Friday, noon, BTN
Nick Baumgardner: Ah, The Battle for The Old Rototiller. Bo Pelini said Michigan was faking injuries against his last week. I'll fake pretend I care who wins this snoozer. Nebraska.
Pete Cunningham: Friday at noon? Perfect! I can catch this game right after the Eastern Michigan vs. Northern Illinois game (11 a.m. ESPNU). Ridiculous for all parties involved. Nebraska.
Jim Knight: Iowa stinks on the road. Nebraska is a better team than it showed in Ann Arbor. Nebraska.
Kyle Meinke: The Cornhuskers appear to be a heavy favorite, but rank among the nation's worst in limiting opponents' fake injuries. That will be a key, as it always is. Nebraska.
Rich Rezler: I’ll take the home team in the first Farmageddon. Nebraska.
No. 11 MICHIGAN STATE (9-2, 6-1) at NORTHWESTERN (6-5, 3-4)
Saturday, noon, BTN
Baumgardner: Classic trap game for Michigan State. Also, the reason I'm behind this far in the standings is because Northwestern burned me several times. Let's hope the Cats can pay me back. UPSET. Northwestern.
Cunningham: With a trip to Indy in the bag, could be a letdown game for the Spartans. Or not. Michigan State.
Knight: A Big Ten Football Championship game warmup for the Spartans. Michigan State.
Meinke: The Spartans have advanced to the title game. Now, it's just a matter of setting up their rotation. Michigan State
Rezler: Win this week, loss next week for Sparty. Michigan State.
No. 20 PENN STATE (9-2, 6-1) at No. 15 WISCONSIN (9-2, 5-2)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Baumgardner: If Bret Bielema loses this game, he should be placed on the hot seat. No excuses for Wisconsin here with this much on the line. Wisconsin.
Cunningham: I hate rematches in conference championships games more than Meinke hates razors, but it looks like we're heading that way. Wisconsin.
Knight: Not long ago, Penn State looked like a lock in the Leaders Division. A lot has changed since then. Wisconsin.
Meinke: With a berth in the title game on the line, I wonder who Jim Delaney is rooting for? Here's betting it's the team that averages 52.3 points per game at home. Wisconsin.
Rezler: Win this week, win next week for Bucky. Wisconsin.
ILLINOIS (6-5, 2-5) at MINNESOTA (2-9, 1-6)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., BTN
Baumgardner: The final nail in the Ron Zook coffin. Courtesy of Jerry Kill. Minnesota.
Cunningham: I wrote down a new Minnesota joke last week, but lost it. I'm convinced I gave it to the actual team because they lose everything. Illinois.
Knight: Minnesota has won eight of its last 11 games against Illinois. The Illini stomp all over that trend. Illinois.
Meinke: I dare someone to ask Ron Zook about his job status after the game. Illinois
Rezler: Marqueis Gray is getting better and better. But not good enough to win a game by himself. Illinois.
PURDUE (5-6, 3-4) at INDIANA (1-10, 0-7)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., BTN
Baumgardner: Indiana is one of the worst Big Ten teams I've ever watched. Purdue's not great, but its better than garbage. Purdue.
Cunningham: Throw out the record books when the Boilermakers and Hoosiers clash! While you're at it, throw away your remote control so you don't accidentally flip to this game. Purdue.
Knight: Indiana’s defense isn’t stopping anybody. Purdue joins the list of bowl eligible Big Ten teams. Purdue.
Meinke: I watched Jersey Shore once, and thought I'd learned all I ever needed to know about low standards. Then, I realized the Boilermakers are going to be bowl eligible. Purdue
Rezler: Only because I’m making my last pick of the regular season and need to make up one game on Cunningham ... c’mon, Hoosiers!! Indiana.
Last week: Cunningham 5-0, Reader polls 5-0, Rezler 5-0, Knight 4-1, Baumgardner 3-2, Meinke 3-2.
Overall: Cunningham 24-9, Knight 23-10, Rezler 23-10, Reader polls 22-10-1, Baumgardner 21-12, Meinke 20-13.