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2010 Big Ten Fearless Picks - Sept. 25
Northwestern LB Quentin Davie
Northwestern LB Quentin Davie
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 23, 2010


Fearless Predictions for every Big Ten game, Sept. 25

2010 Big Ten Fearless Predictions

Week 4 ... Sept. 25 Games


Big Ten
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Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin 

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CFN Big Ten Predictions: SU:31-2   ATS: 12-15-1

- Sept. 25, Part 2 (EMU-Ohio State) 

GAME OF THE WEEK

Central Michigan (2-1) at Northwestern (3-0) Sept. 25, 12:00

Here’s The Deal … Northwestern is starting to become a bit of a story. This isn’t the same team that usually slogs along getting wins where it can; this is turning into a very, very sharp team that’s getting better by the week. The opening day close call at Vanderbilt now looks a lot stronger after the Commodores beat up Ole Miss, while the layup games against Illinois State and at Rice became just that, winning both by a combined score of 67-16. With the Big Ten opener at Minnesota next week, and with another relative lightweight game against Purdue to follow, 6-0 is a reasonable goal before facing Michigan State. First, the Cats have to get by a Central Michigan team that might not be the MAC juggernaut of years past, but is coming off a dominant 52-14 win over Eastern Michigan. With Ball State up next, the Chippewas can come up with a strong first half record if they can pull off the win this week, and new head coach Dan Enos can show that the rebuilding job might be faster than expected.
Why Central Michigan Might Win: The defense is playing at an extremely high level. Granted, you and ten friends could slow down Hampton and hold Eastern Michigan to 14 points, but the CMU front seven is playing at a high enough level to stop Temple’s Bernard Pierce, who ran wild on UConn last week, holding him to just 57 yards and a score in the 13-10 overtime loss. This is an aggressive front that should be able to keep the mediocre Wildcat running game under wraps, and it should be able to keep mobile quarterback Dan Persa from doing much when he takes off.
Why Northwestern Might Win: CMU hasn’t faced a quarterback yet. Hampton is Hampton, Temple can’t throw a forward pass, and EMU’s Alex Gillett is still trying to figure out what he’s doing. Persa is playing as well as any quarterback in America over the first three games ranking second in the nation in passing efficiency while connecting on six touchdown passes with no interceptions. Most of all, in a game like this, Northwestern isn’t going to shoot itself in the foot. The Cats are third in the nation in turnover margin, taking it away nine times so far while only losing three fumbles.
What To Watch Out For: Northwestern’s Quentin Davie is making an early statement to be among the best linebackers in the Big Ten. The senior was one of the team’s leaders last season, making 90 tackles with five sacks, but he upped his game over the first three weeks of this season doing more against the pass while also holding firm against the run. Along with his 20 tackles he has three interceptions, taking one for a score against Rice, one sack, and two broken up passes. He’s turning into the complete package, and he’ll need to meet up early and often with Paris Cotton, the CMU junior running back who’s coming off a 209-yard, three touchdown performance against EMU.
What Will Happen: Northwesten is due for a letdown, but it’s not going to happen this week at home. The CMU defense will keep this from getting out of hand, and it could end being tight into the fourth quarter, but the NU offense is too timely and too crisp right now, at least throwing the ball, to get upset. Persa will come through with two big fourth quarter drives to put it away.
CFN Prediction: Northwestern 24 … Central Michigan 16 … 5Dimes.com Line: Northwestern -7
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 3
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Bowling Green (1-2) at Michigan (3-0) Sept. 25, 12:00, ESPN2 & ESPN3.com

Here’s The Deal … Forget the St. Louis Rams of a decade ago; the Michigan Wolverines are the Greatest Show On Turf. However, they’re the most fun team going in college football right now for good and bad. Denard Robinson and the offense have been the story of the season so far, while the defense has decided to take the first weeks off, letting a FCS team in UMass hang around way, way too long. Bowling Green is in a rebuilding mode, but the offense came to life last week with a shocking blowout against Marshall to suggest that things might be back on track in a hurry. The passing game isn’t quite the killer it was last season, but it’s dangerous enough to make things interesting, while the defense, uh … the passing game is dangerous enough to make things interesting. Neither team can play defense, so Robinson’s Heisman stats should go through the roof in what should be yet another Michigan shootout. The Falcons might not have enough in the bag to pull off the upset if the Wolverines are playing up to their capabilities offensively, but if they play like they did against the Herd, watch out. The MAC season kicks in for BGSU next week getting Buffalo at home, while Michigan, if everything goes according to form, should be in for another wild game at Indiana next week.
Why Bowling Green Might Win: Hello? Pass rush? Brandon Graham, where are you? Michigan’s defensive line did a great job in the season opener against Connecticut, and then it reverted back to the form of the last few seasons as it failed time and again to get to the quarterback against Notre Dame and UMass, while it only has 13 tackles for loss so far. Along with the defensive issues, the special teams have been a nightmare. The Wolverines are averaging -5 yards per punt return, worst in the nation, and are only averaging 31.62 yards per punt. While the Bowling Green run defense has been ripped apart so far, it held Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne to -2 yards. Okay, he threw for 356 yards, but the Falcons linebackers have been able to keep quarterbacks from taking off.
Why Michigan Might Win: Hello? Pass rush? Michigan’s is bad, but Bowling Green’s is right there in the line of suck. Thanks to the mobility of Robinson, and the veterans up front, Michigan has allowed just one sack so far, and it’ll be a miracle of biblical proportions if Bowling Green lays a finger on No. 16 in the backfield. Not only is the Wolverine line good, but the Falcons are next-level bad when it comes to generating any big play behind the line. No pass rush has meant no help for the beleaguered secondary that’s giving up 272 yards per game. Robinson should be able to choose how he wants to amass his stats. He’ll be able to do anything he desires and he should get the openings needed for several highlight reel dashes.
What To Watch Out For: Alright, Aaron Pankratz, are you ready to match Robinson big play for big play? Bowling Green starting QB Matt Schilz is out with a shoulder injury, so Pankratz, a sophomore, will be in charge of bombing away to try to keep the Falcons alive. At 6-6 and 221 pounds he has the size and he has the ability to push the ball down the field, and he was terrific in relief against Marshall completing 5-of-8 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Michigan’s beleaguered secondary needs to put two players on Kamar Jordan at all times. The senior has caught 34 passes in the first three games, and while he hasn’t made too much happen deep, he’s a chain-mover.
What Will Happen: Robinson will go ballistic. He and RB Michael Shaw will combine for 250 rushing yards with at least two really long touchdown dashes, while the passing game will also click as the Wolverines get up big early. And then Pankratz will go to work chucking it all over the field to get the Falcons back in the game. It won’t be nearly enough to overcome a miserable day from the D.
CFN Prediction: Michigan 45 … Bowling Green 27 … 5Dimes.com Line: Michigan -25.5
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 2.5
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Ball State (1-2) at Iowa (2-1) Sept. 25, 12:00, BTN

Here’s The Deal … In one week, Iowa went from being a fringe national title candidate to a wounded, struggling team that has some major question marks. After imploding in key situations at Arizona, the Hawkeyes have to go back to the sharp form they showed over the first two games before kicking off the Big Ten season against Penn State. The offensive line has to show up, the defensive front has to play more consistently, and this needs to be a blowout win over a bad team to show that the loss in Tucson might have been an aberration. Ball State wasn’t miserable in last week’s loss to Purdue, but after dropping a 27-23 battle with mighty Liberty, the team needs something positive. It’s not likely to find it this week against a motivated Iowa, and it’s going to have problems next week in the MAC opener at Central Michigan.
Why Ball State Might Win: Iowa’s running game is in big trouble. The offensive line has yet to jell while the backfield suffering a Spinal Tap drummer-like array of maladies. The Ball State run defense hasn’t been bad so far with the linebacking corps playing well over the first three games, and while there’s no push from the front line, with the way Ricky Stanzi has been holding on to the ball too long, the chances will be there get to the quarterback. The Ball State ground game has to try to take control early. By far the team’s biggest strength, the Cardinals have three good backs in Eric Williams, MiQuale Lewis, and a banged up Cory Sykes to use in a rotation. However …
Why Iowa Might Win: … that running game isn’t working. It rolled up 243 yards and three scores on SE Missouri State, but it was held in check both by Liberty and Purdue. The offensive line hasn’t been bad, but it has no prayer of generating any sort of a push against Adrian Claiborne and an Iowa defensive line that got its pants kicked this week in practices after a bad showing against Arizona. Ball State doesn’t have any semblance of a passing game to make this competitive if and when the Hawkeyes get up early. Without a pass rush so far, generating just three sacks in three games, Ball State likely won’t get to Stanzi in time to force any big mistakes needed to keep an upset big alive.
What To Watch Out For: Iowa is going to win, so the goal has to be to keep RB Adam Robinson alive. Running back was supposed to be a major strength coming into the season, but Brandon Wegher was never part of the fun, Paki O’Meara is out with a concussion, and Jewel Hampton suffered the cruel fate of a second straight torn ACL in the last two years. Going deep, deep, deep down the depth chart, back up running back and special teamer, Jason White, is also out for the year with a knee injury. The season is going to hinge on Stanzi from here on, but if defensive lines start sitting on his head like Arizona’s did late last week, the offense is going to hit the skids in a hurry.
What Will Happen: Iowa will come in very fired up to erase last week, and it’ll try to do it in the first quarter. Expect lots of early home runs, a big special teams play, and a blowout win after 15 minutes.
CFN Prediction: Iowa 40 … Ball State 7 … 5Dimes.com Line: Iowa -28
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 1.5
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Toledo (2-1) at Purdue (2-1) Sept. 25, 12:00, Big Ten Network

Here’s The Deal … This is a dangerous, dangerous game for Purdue. The Boilermakers might be 2-1, as expected, but it has been a rough 2-1 with major injuries, a sputtering offense, and battles against Western Illinois and Ball State that turned out to be far tighter than expected. The offense isn’t consistent and the defense hasn’t quite been the brick wall it needs to be, but everything needs to work against a Toledo team coming off two straight strong MAC road wins. The Rockets got obliterated by Arizona on opening night, but as it turns out, the Wildcats are really good. And then came two mild shockers with wins over defending MAC East champion, Ohio, followed up by a nice performance in a 13-pount win at Western Michigan. The defense has played better than it has in several years, and while the offense hasn’t followed suit, it’s taking advantage of its opportunities. There isn’t another conference game until a mid-October date against Kent State, but with Wyoming next week and a trip to Boise State looming, the Rockets could use a résumé victory
Why Toledo Might Win: The Purdue offense isn’t working. Without star RB Ralph Bolden from the start of the season, and with All-America WR Keith Smith out with a knee injury, the Boilermaker attack is sputtering with no consistency and little explosion. To make matters worse, QB Robert Marve is gimping his way through a knee injury and he’ll be playing hurt, at best, and starting running back Dan Dierking is trying to get through a rib problem and backup Al-Terek McBurse has a toe injury. Toledo’s defensive front is doing a great job against the run, holding teams to just 55 yards per game, while registering ten sacks in the first four games. If the Rockets can get into the backfield on a regular basis, the Boilermaker attack won’t go anywhere.
Why Purdue Might Win: Toledo’s offense has been shockingly awful. With the defense playing so well, the idea so far has been to keep mistakes to a minimum, take advantage of every opportunity, and to occasionally keep the chains moving. While the turnovers have been a slight problem, the defense has picked up the slack taking it away 11 times in the first three games. As long as Purdue doesn’t start throwing picks and forces the Toledo offense to start with a long field, it’ll have a chance to take control of the game. The pass rush has been fantastic so far with Ryan Kerrigan playing at an All-America level, and the Toledo offensive line won’t be able to handle him. The Rockets are currently dead last in the nation in total offense, and that isn’t likely to drastically change after this week.
What To Watch Out For: Whose special teams will be worse? For two teams with sputtering offenses and in need of good field position, the one with the better day returning kicks and punts should win. Toledo’s punt return game has been abysmal, averaging just 3.33 yards per pop, and the punting has been just as bad with an extremely disappointing 31.81 yards per kick. Eric Page is a solid returner, but he needs more space. Purdue’s punting game has been just as awful netting under 32 yards per punt, and the return situation has been miserable averaging just 2.6 yards per punt return and 17.25 yards per kickoff return.
What Will Happen: The two teams are sort of alike. They both rush the passer, neither is getting much out of the offense, and the special teams are struggling, but Purdue is a wee bit better overall. It’ll be an ugly fight, but the Boilermakers will come away a very, very sketchy 3-1.
CFN Prediction: Purdue 26 … Toledo 20 … 5Dimes.com Line: Purdue -12.5
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 2.5
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Temple (3-0) at Penn State (2-1) Sept. 25, 3:30, Big Ten Network

Here’s The Deal … How long has it been since Temple beat Penn State? Joe Paterno was 14 years old. In one of the ugliest series in the history of sport, Penn State has gone 34-0-1 against Temple since losing 14-0 in 1941. The lone blemish came in 1950 in a 7-7 tie, but that’s been it for the fun as the Nittany Lions have won year after year after year in blowout fashion. Penn State went 3-9 in 2003 – 23-10 win. Temple was strong enough to go to a bowl last year – 45-3 Penn State. It doesn’t matter; Penn State always wins. How bad has this matchup been? 1985 is the last time the Owls lost by fewer than 13 points. However, if it’s going to happen, this might be the year. This isn’t a great Penn State team by any stretch, with an offense that’s struggling, a defense that’s decent, and several mistakes and problems across the board. Meanwhile, this is the glory time for Temple, who’s off to its first 3-0 start since 1979, after a shockingly easy win over Connecticut. The Owls are legitimate with a great running game, a veteran defense, and just enough of an attitude to break the brutal chain. If nothing else, the matchup might finally be competitive.
Why Temple Might Win: Temple isn’t playing perfectly and it’s winning. The key is an offense that’s keeping the mistakes to a minimum, and while there have been four lost fumbles so far, the passing game isn’t turning the ball over and the defense is doing a strong job of forcing mistakes. Meanwhile, Penn State isn’t forcing enough mistakes with a mere three takeaways so far. The D has been fine, but it hasn’t been anything special against the pass, while the offense is trying to figure out what it’s doing with true freshman Robert Bolden under center. Even with a decent start from the offensive line – it hasn’t allowed a sack so far – the running game isn’t going anywhere.
Why Penn State Might Win: Yeah, Temple beat UConn without a problem, but it needed a last second kick to beat Villanova and beat Central Michigan in overtime on a field goal. This might be the best Temple team in decades, but it’s still severely flawed in several key areas. The passing game doesn’t make mistakes, but it also doesn’t do much to move the ball. The pass rush isn’t close to being good enough to get to Bolden on a regular basis, and while the running game was terrific against Connecticut, Penn State should be able to load up to stop it. The Nittany Lion secondary has been an issue, and Temple doesn’t have the firepower to exploit it.
What To Watch Out For: That’s the Bernard Pierce we were all waiting for. After a breakout true freshman season, the hype was sky-high for the Temple back coming into the season. After struggling to get going against Villanova, and with a hand injury limiting him against Central Michigan, the first two games were underwhelming. And then came the date with the Huskies, and he went wild running for 169 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching a 27-yard scoring pass. He was bottled up for 24 yards by Penn State last year, and he has to be nothing short of spectacular if the Owls are going to have any chance of pulling off the upset.
What Will Happen: No. Temple has the attitude and it has the experience, but it just doesn’t have the firepower to pull it off. That doesn’t mean there won’t be several nervous moments as the Penn State offense continues to sputter and cough its way through the first part of the season. The Nittany Lion defense will slow down the Owl running game, and Chester Stewart and the passing attack won’t be able to pick up the slack.
CFN Prediction: Penn State 27 … Temple 13 … 5Dimes.com Line: Penn State -15
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 3
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- Sept. 25, Part 2 (EMU-Ohio State)