Week 4 – South Dakota at Northwestern

Posted Sep 21, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – South Dakota at Northwestern

South Dakota (1-1) at Northwestern (3-0) Sept. 22, 3:30, BTN

Here's The Deal: The Wildcats are starting to roll and are looking more and more like a real, live contender for the Big Ten title in a bad year for the conference. At the very least, at 3-0 and with winnable games against South Dakota and Indiana over the next two weeks, NU should be 5-0 going into the road trip to Penn State. First, there can't be a lapse against the Coyotes, who came up with a win over Colgate two weeks ago and have had time to prepare. This is an aggressive team, but it's not very good.

Why South Dakota Might Win: Can the pass rush be enough to stop the Wildcats cold? Northwestern went on drive after drive last week against Boston College, only to end up with field goals instead of touchdowns. It should've been a blowout, but it was a fight because the offense couldn't keep moving. South Dakota has a terrific pass rush with Emilous Davis and Tyler Starr two excellent playmakers to go along with freshman Ryan Hillier, a strong young linebacker who can do a little bit of everything. It's possible the Coyotes will bend, but not often break.

Why Northwestern Might Win: South Dakota can't stop the run. Montana did whatever it wanted to with 315 yards on the ground with two scores, and Colgate rumbled for 237 yards even though the Coyotes knew what was coming. Northwestern is getting production from several different spots including quarterback Kain Colter, all-around star Venric Mark and Mike Trumpy. The NU offense is almost perfectly balanced, and South Dakota probably won't be able to stop any of it.

What To Watch Out For: Is Mark okay? The junior has done a little bit of everything as Northwestern's X factor with 282 rushing yards, ten catches for 72 yards and a score, and a punt return for a score against Syracuse. He got banged up against Boston College, but he's expected to give it a go. The bigger question mark is at quarterback, with the Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian alternating. Colter was great, completing 16-of-20 passes for 155 yards while running for 66 yards, while Siemian completed 14-of-20 passes for 123 yards. The coaching staff will go with the hot hand.

What Will Happen: The Wildcats shouldn't have a problem as long as they're focused. They have yet to play an even game, but they should be able to overcome problems with a steady offensive performance.

CFN Prediction: Northwestern 38 … South Dakota 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) No Line O/U: No Line
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 1.5