Week 2 Big Ten Fearless Predictions

Posted Sep 5, 2013

Week 2 Big Ten Fearless Predictions - After a good opening act, can the Big Ten dominate in Week 2?

South Florida (0-1) at Michigan State (1-0) Sept. 7, 12:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: South Florida and Michigan State meet for the first time in a game unlikely to produce an abundance of style points. While the Spartans defeated Western Michigan on Friday night, it was the ugly variety that produced more question marks than causes for attaboys. In a virtual copy of a year ago, Michigan State used a salty defense, in lieu of offensive consistency, to put away an opponent. Of course, things could have gone far worse. Just ask the Bulls, which reached a program low in head coach Willie Taggart's first game, bowing meekly to McNeese State of the FCS. How bad did things get for South Florida? The 53 points scored by the Cowboys were the most by a visitor to Raymond James Stadium, and the most ever by an FCS squad against an FBS team. Traveling to East Lansing ensures no rest for the weary.
Why South Florida Might Win: No, it didn't show in the opener, but the cupboard isn't empty on defense for the Bulls. South Florida is especially stout in the front seven with the presences of LB DeDe Lattimore and linemen Ryne Giddins, Luke Sager and Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch. The Bulls will be facing a perennially feeble Michigan State offense that just got done slogging its way to just 297 yards and 26 points in the lackluster effort against Western Michigan.
Why Michigan State Might Win: The Bulls have defensive potential. The Spartans have already realized their potential. East Lansing is home to arguably the Big Ten's toughest D, a suppressive unit that can dictate the tempo of the game with LB Max Bullough, DE Marcus Rush and CB Darqueze Dennard. While RB Marcus Shaw showed some flash on the ground in the opener, South Florida does not possess the consistency up front or in the passing game to keep drives alive in the face of the Michigan State defense.
Who To Watch Out For: Who gets the ball from Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio, Andrew Maxwell or Connor Cook? There were too many drops from the receivers, but one of the quarterbacks has to step up and play with more consistency.

- USF has its own issues under center. Matt Floyd started, yet was ineffective, and could be in jeopardy of losing his grip on the top spot to Bobby Eveld.

- With all of the problems Michigan State is facing in the passing game, RB Jeremy Langford will need to shoulder a bigger load of the offense on Saturday. He was workmanlike in his first start, running for 94 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

- Bulls head coach Willie Taggart took a lot of justifiable criticism for his team's opening night implosion. Don't panic. The coach will be just fine, given the time to build a program.
What Will Happen: This could be one of the uglier games of Week 2 involving teams from BCS conferences. Not only does neither team execute on offense, but that Michigan State D is liable to turn South Florida into a bumbling. The Spartans will again be bailed out by Pat Narduzzi opportunistic defense, producing the sacks and turnovers needed to keep the Bulls from locating a pulse.
Prediction: Michigan State 29 … South Florida 9
Line: Michigan State -23.5 – O/U: 43.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2.5

Eastern Michigan (1-0) at Penn State (1-0) Sept. 7, 12:00, BTN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Penn State gets to take target practice after a solid win against Syracuse in East Rutherford. It wasn't a perfect performance by the Nittany Lions, but there were some big plays offensively to go along with a nice day from the defense. Eastern Michigan had to fight to get by Howard, but it still came away with a double-digit win. Wins are going to be hard to come by for the Eagles, so even a moral victory in a good fight with the Nittany Lions would be a plus. This is the second meeting between the two schools. Penn State beat EMU 52-7 in 1992 and 34-6 two seasons ago.

Why Eastern Michigan Might Win: It looks like Penn State is still trying to figure it all out. The offense was miserable on third downs against SU, converting just one of 16 chances, and stalling too many drives with turnovers. The biggest problem was an attack that couldn't close once it got by midfield, settling for three Sam Ficken field goals. EMU has just enough of a short passing game to keep things moving and control the clock.

Why Penn State Green Might Win: Howard came up with a balanced attack that gave EMU fits. The Eagles were down 24-13 in the third before the light finally turned scoring 21 unanswered points. The Nittany Lion defense will allow plays here and there, but it won't get beaten deep; now with this group still in one piece.

Who To Watch Out For: A wee bit of a concern for Penn State is the absence of big plays from the linebackers. Defensive tackle Daquan Jones dominated up front, and defensive backs Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obenk-Agyapong did most of the heavy lifting. Glenn Carson will have a big year, and he made several open field stops against SU, but the rest of the linebackers have to fill in around him.

What Will Happen: Penn State's Christian Hackenberg will come up with a second straight strong game. He'll take a few shots down the field, hitting on at least two, but he has to cut down on the mistakes. This is his second game; he'll figure it out in a hurry. More than anything, he showed the poise to handle himself like a veteran under center while throwing a nice deep ball. The Nittany Lions will keep him.
Prediction: Penn State 45 … Eastern Michigan 10
Line: Penn State -23 o/u: 49
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5

Tennessee Tech (1-0) at Wisconsin (1-0) Sept. 7, 12:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Wisconsin looked terrific in its opening weekend blowout win over Massachusetts, and now comes tune-up game No. 2 before a real test against Arizona State. Tennessee Tech had its fun last week with a 63-7 stomping of Cumberland, and with a dangerous rushing attack and good special teams, could provide a nice scrimmage for a quarter or two.

Why Tennessee Tech Might Win: The Golden Eagles are loaded with veterans. Quarterback Darian Stone is the type of dual-threat playmaker who traditionally gives the Badgers fits, coming off a fantastic games against Cumberland accounting for four scores. There shouldn't be a whole slew of mistakes made from a tight team can break off rushing yards in chunks.

Why Wisconsin Might Win: Wisconsin isn't Cumberland. The offensive line was in midseason form against UMass with home run hit after home run hit, and QB Joel Stave got plenty of time to get the deep ball going. Yes, this is a Golden Eagle team full of veterans, but it's still a middle-of-the-pace Ohio Valley Conference team that's going to get beaten on up front.

Who To Watch Out For: Wisconsin cranked out three 100-yard rushers against the Minutemen, and that appears to be the plan going forward. James White is still the main man and the best of the bunch, but Melvin Gordon and freshman Corey Clement, who brings a little more power, each ripped off yards in chunks. As long as these three are able to split the carries, and as long as Clement doesn't start putting the ball on the ground like he did late against UMass, the ground game will be among the best in America.

What Will Happen: Wisconsin's defense won't pitch a second straight shutout, but it'll come close. Stave and the offense will once again rumble at will.
Prediction: Wisconsin 51 … Tennessee Tech 10
Line: Wisconsin -45
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5

Cincinnati (1-0) at Illinois (1-0) Sept. 7, 12:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Cincinnati and Illinois meet for just the second time ever in a Midwest battle that could propel the winner to a new plateau by Sunday morning. The Bearcats already own one impressive win over a Big Ten opponent, whipping Purdue, 42-7, in front of a record crowd. The program couldn't have been more pleased with the opening act of head coach Tommy Tuberville, who's determined to give Louisville a run in the AAC this season. The Illini got a W last Saturday as well, but with many more concerns and sweaty palms. It jumped all over Southern Illinois before hanging on for a 42-34 win. This is pivotal season for head coach Tim Beckman, who needs all of the breaks and breakthroughs he can manage.
Why Cincinnati Might Win: There was nothing to dislike about the Bearcats' first bout with a second-rate Big Ten opponent. They were perfectly balanced on offense, while stifling the Boilermakers all afternoon. The Illini D, which returns just three starters, failed to produce a sack or turnover, and gave up 341 passing yards. Athletic QB Munchie Legaux presents problem for a youthful defense still trying to find its way.
Why Illinois Might Win: Hope comes in the form of senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who threw for a career-high 416 yards in the win over the Salukis. He had three completions of more than 50 yards, hooking up with Ryan Lankford, Josh Ferguson and Steve Hull. Scheelhaase will attempt to exploit a Cincy secondary still adjusting to the presence of two new starters.
Who To Watch Out For: Illinois' pass protection woes remain after allowing five sacks to Southern Illinois. While Cincinnati has no sure-things up front, coordinator Art Kaufman may want to turn loose his linebackers on occasion.

- The combination of Ralph David Abernathy and Hosey Williams appears capable of carrying the Cincinnati ground game this season. Their objective this week will be to avoid Illinois' best defensive player, LB Jonathan Brown.

- Don't be shocked if Cincinnati bullies Illinois when it has the ball. The Bearcats boast a terrific line, led by Eric Lefeld and Austen Bujnoch, while the Illini is weak up front.
What Will Happen: While it's never easing going on the road, Tuberville already has his Bearcats playing with some swagger and execution. They won't become unnerved by Champaign, especially since the home team has issues on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati, passed over by other leagues during realignment, will control the lines en route to a 2-0 mark against Big Ten opponents.
Prediction: Cincinnati 34 … Illinois 24
Line: Cincinnati -8 o/u: 56
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2.5

Missouri State (0-1) at Iowa (0-1) Sept. 7, 12:00, BTN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It's condition critical time for Iowa. There really shouldn't be any stigma in losing to a team as good as Northern Illinois, but last week was still a home loss to a MAC team. After an ugly 2012 and with so much focus on whether or not Kirk Ferentz has his fastball anymore, anything less than a complete and total annihilation of Missouri State will be a big, big problem. The Bears had a rough start to their season losing 23-17 to Northwestern State, but they have a fun, fast offense that could make this interesting.

Why Missouri State Might Win: Can Kierra Harris be Jordan Lynch? The Missouri State quarterback was one of the big finds over the second half of last season, and he has the mobility and the moxie to be a dangerous threat if he gets on a roll. He struggled against Northwestern State, but he led the team with 51 rushing yards and two scores. Passing accuracy is a concern, but if he's turned loose, he might be able to carry the team by himself.

Why Iowa Might Win: Northwestern State came up with an almost perfect balance of offense, and Iowa showed last week that it can start pushing the ball down the field a bit, too. The running game wasn't bad, Mark Weisman ran for 100 yards on 20 carries and Damon Bullock added 76 more, but the real key, despite the loss, was …

Who To Watch Out For: Jake Rudock and the passing game. It was hardly perfect, and the offense could only generate three points in the second half, but Rudock and the attack started to come up with a few big plays, which were sorely lacking throughout last year. There were a few too many misfires, but Rudock spread the ball around well and did a nice job of making the passing game go – at least early on.

What Will Happen: Iowa needs to come up with a big, big number, and it's not going to let up. With Iowa State coming up next week, everything has to start working.
Prediction: Iowa 44 … Missouri State 7
Line: Iowa -24.5 o/u: 48
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1

Indiana State (0-1) at Purdue (0-1) Sept. 7, 12:00, BTN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Well that didn't exactly go well. Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell had a clunker of a debut as Cincinnati cranked out 14 points in each of the last three quarter, including 35 unanswered points, in a blowout. It could've been worse; the Boilermakers could've been Indiana State. The Sycamores aren't all that bad, but they weren't remotely close to slowing down Indiana in a 73-35 pasting. Now Purdue knows where the bar is set, and while hanging 70 might be a bit much, with Notre Dame and Wisconsin coming up next, any and all kinks need to be worked out now.

Why Indiana State Might Win: Lost in the disastrous day on defense against Indiana was how the offense wasn't all that bad. Indiana State got a big day out of its star running back, Shakir Bell, and he needs to get involved early and often against a soft Purdue run defense that gave up 50 yards or more to three different Cincinnati runners. Meanwhile, the Boilermaker secondary was carved up by Bearcat passers combining to connect on 17-of-25 throws.

Why Purdue Might Win: Oh yeah, the Indiana State defense. Indiana was able to do whatever it wanted with big play after big play, and Purdue shouldn't have too much of a problem against a Sycamore defense that didn't generate any pressure and allowed Hoosiers to run wild. This is a rebuilding year of sorts for ISU, and first things first, the D has to start tackling.

Who To Watch Out For: So what went right for Purdue in the blowout loss? Bruce Gaston once again showed that he's ready to be one of the Big Ten's top defensive tackles. He couldn't do it all by himself, but he tied for the team lead with seven tackles with a tackle for loss. He has to blow up the middle of the line and force Bell to bounce to the outside, and he has to collapse the pocket against the pass.
What Will Happen: It's not going to be as ugly as last week's loss, but Indiana State will have another long, long day. Purdue won't be nearly as sloppy as it was against the Bearcats.
Prediction: Purdue 45 … Indiana State 20
Line: Purdue -17 o/u: 58
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5