A week after losing to Wisconsin, Purdue can do the Badgers a favor against Michigan.
The 12th-ranked Boilermakers will try to stay in the Big Ten title race when they host the 13th-ranked Wolverines on Saturday. They can also help clear out first place in the conference for Wisconsin by beating Michigan something the Badgers won't be able to do themselves.
Thanks to the Big Ten's rotating schedule, the sixth-ranked Badgers (7-0, 4-0) and Wolverines (6-1, 4-0), the only Big Ten teams still unbeaten in conference play, don't meet this season.
''I think you're wasting energy and time if you concern yourself with things that you have no control over. We knew when the season started, just like everybody else, there are two teams we don't play,' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.
It's been a recurring problem for the Big Ten since it expanded to 11 in 1993 with the addition of Penn State.
In 2002, Ohio State won the national title, but shared the Big Ten crown with Iowa when the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes both finished with perfect conference records.
Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin all finished 7-1 in 1998, but the Badgers and Buckeyes didn't meet and Michigan split its games against the two.
Ohio State and Northwestern shared the Big Ten title in 1996, finishing 7-1 without playing each other.
''At some point here when we get to 12 teams, we'll be able to make a lot of money by having a playoff game and that will settle some of this,'' Carr said, speculating about the future of the Big Ten.
Speaking of speculation, the picks:
Syracuse (plus 16) at No. 15 West Virginia
Mountaineers are Big East's best rushing team; Orange have worst run defense ... WEST VIRGINIA 40-20.
South Florida (plus 30) at No. 15 Louisville
Stopping this Sunshine State team shouldn't be so tough for Cardinals ... LOUISVILLE 52-16.
Washington (plus 34) at No. 1 Southern Cal
USC's remaining opponents are combined 16-21 ... USC 48-12.
Kansas (plus 27) at No. 2 Oklahoma
This probably won't do much for Sooners' computer rankings ... OKLAHOMA 39-10.
Kentucky (plus 30 1/2) at No. 3 Auburn
How about Auburn QB Jason Campbell for Heisman? ... AUBURN 47-10.
No. 4 Miami (minus 7 1/2) at North Carolina State
No. 1 defense in ACC on display for Wolfpack ... MIAMI 24-20.
No. 5 Florida State (minus 13 1/2) at Wake Forest
Seminoles getting better every week ... FLORIDA STATE 33-13.
Northwestern (plus 12) at No. 6 Wisconsin
Badgers best not overlook Wildcats after big win ... WISCONSIN 20-12.
No. 7 California (minus 22) at Arizona
Is there a more balanced offense in country than Cal's? ... CAL 40-14.
No. 8 Texas (minus 2 1/2) at Texas Tech
Tech has won two of three in Lubbock against Longhorns ... TEXAS TECH 32-28.
UNLV (plus 24) at No. 9 Utah
BCS not just pipe dream for Utes ... UTAH 42-14.
No. 10 Georgia (minus 8) at Arkansas
First of four straight away from Athens for Bulldogs ... GEORGIA 24-20.
Alabama (plus 7) at No. 11 Tennessee
Some Tide fans might want to beat Vols coach Phillip Fulmer more than Auburn this year ... ALABAMA 19-17.
No. 13 Michigan (plus 4 1/2) at No. 12 Purdue
Wolverines have won three straight against Boilermakers ... MICHIGAN 24-20.
No. 14 Virginia (minus 25) at Duke
Cavaliers should find the end zone this week ... VIRGINIA 48-10.
Colorado (plus 20) at No. 17 Texas A&M
Aggies' turnaround is coming quicker than expected ... TEXAS A&M 30-14.
Troy (plus 23 1/2) at No. 18 LSU
Tigers against Trojans. Wrong year and wrong Trojans ... LSU 40-13.
Fresno State (plus 10) at No. 19 Boise State
Broncos have won three straight against Bulldogs ... BOISE STATE 37-21.
No. 20 Florida (minus 24 1/2) at Mississippi State
Gators lost last game at Starkville 47-35 in 2000 .... FLORIDA 44-10.
UCLA (plus 7 1/2) at No. 21 Arizona State
Sun Devils rebound against Pac-10's worst defense ... ARIZONA STATE 39-24.
No. 22 Oklahoma State (plus 3 1/2) at Missouri
Missouri defense is tops in Big 12 ... OKLAHOMA STATE 22-20.
Boston College (plus 7) at No. 24 Notre Dame
Last six meetings decided by average of five points; four won by BC ... NOTRE DAME 20-17.
No. 25 Iowa (plus 2 1/2) at Penn State
Two solid defenses; Hawkeyes' offense is coming around ... IOWA 21-17.
Last week: 11-7 (straight); 9-9 (vs. points)
Season: 104-26 (straight); 61-60-2 (vs. points)
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