Michigan Aims to Crack Buckeyes. Badgers & Gophers Have a B1G West Axe to Grind.

Herb Gould

Lotsa fun in the wintry Midwest this weekend as the regular season winds up. Wow, that went fast.

Ohio State-Michigan and Wisconsin-Minnesota shape up as big games with high entertainment value. Iowa-Nebraska and Northwestern-Illinois are undercard rivalry games that are mainly notable for their fan bases.

Can Jim Harbaugh get the Buckeye monkey off his back? Michigan has shown signs lately. . . And the Badgers and Gophers battle for the Big Ten West title. Talk about an axe to grind.

This is Nebraska’s last chance to salvage something out of a deflating season. And Illinois, which hates playing second fiddle to Northwestern, is in position to enjoy its second win in eight meetings with the Cats.

Of course, bigger fish are being fried around the nation, notably Alabama-Auburn, plus heated rivalry games from sea to shining sea. But I feel like staying home for Thanksgiving.

Another 3-3 against the spread last week leaves me 41-34-3 for the season. But I posted a perfect 6-0 straight up for 60-18 this season.

Notre Dame (won and covered), Illinois (lost but covered) and Northwestern (lost big) all performed to expectations.

Still not sure why Ohio State, which could have been ahead 35-0, fumbled to a 28-17 win over Penn State. Rainy day in Georgia not good for scoring vs. Texas A&M. And I over-estimated Indiana, which played well at Penn State but was banged up vs. Michigan.

Oh, well.

On to Week 14. Featuring three screens (TV, laptop, phone) and countless leftovers.

Good luck in sports. . .

THE GAMES

(Central Flyover Time)

Note: Iowa-Nebraska on Friday. All others on Saturday.

Iowa minus-5½ at Nebraska, 1:30 p.m Friday, BTN

Ohio State minus-9 at Michigan, 11 a.m., FOX

Northwestern plus-7½ at Illinois, 11 a.m., FS1

Wisconsin minus-2½ at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Maryland plus-22 at Michigan State, 2:30 p.m., FS1

Notre Dame minus-16½ at Stanford, 3 p.m., FOX

THE PICKS

(ATS winner in bold)

Iowa minus-5½ at Nebraska, 1:30 p.m Friday, BTN

Iowais no offensive juggernaut. But it should have more than enough against Nebraska, which remains under construction.

The Pick: Iowa

The Score: Hawkeyes, 28-14

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Ohio State minus-9 at Michigan, 11 a.m., FOX

Michigan looks capable of givingOhio Statea game—if the Buckeyes have another butterfingers performance like they did against Penn State. If Ohio State plays clean, Jim Harbaugh figures to be saddled with 0-5 vs. that team down south. Shea Patterson has been hot lately. But he hasn’t seen a defense like this in a while. Justin Fields has the wheels to fluster the Wolverines' improved defense.

The Pick: Ohio State

The Score: Buckeyes, 31-21

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Northwestern plus-7½ at Illinois, 11 a.m., FS1

Illinoishad its four-game winning streak halted at Iowa last week by a respectable 19-10. But the Illini figure to get back on the horse against struggling Northwestern.

The Pick: Illinois

The Score: Illini, 34-14

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Wisconsin minus-2½ at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Minnesota has had a heart-warming revival of a season. A win here would give the Gophers a shot at their first Rose Bowl since 1962 and maybe even the College Football Playoff. ButWisconsinwants Paul Bunyan’s Axe back. And it figures to be Jonathan Taylor weather in the Twin Cities.

The Pick: Wisconsin

The Score: Badgers, 27-24

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Maryland plus-22 at Michigan State, 2:30 p.m., FS1

Michigan Stateneeds a win on Senior Day to become bowl-eligible and to wash out a bit more of the bad taste from this season. Looks like another tough day for Maryland, which has been drilled by a ridiculous 217-38 in its last four games.

The Pick: Michigan State

The Score: Spartans, 45-10

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Notre Dame minus-16½ at Stanford, 3 p.m., FOX

Remember when this was a big game? The only question this year is whetherNotre Damewill cover a big number. Given the way Stanford has looked this fall, expect the Irish to roll to their 10th victory.

The Pick: Notre Dame

The Score: Irish, 41-20

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LAST WEEK ATS: 3-3. . . SEASON: 41-34-3

LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 6-0 . . . SEASON 60-18

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