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Week 3 Big Ten -Akron-Michigan & More Part 1
Posted Sep 12, 2013

Week 3 - Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Akron at Michigan & More, Part 1

- Ohio State at California | UCLA at Nebraska
- Wisconsin at Arizona State
- Akron at Michigan & More, Part 1 | Wash. at Illinois & More, Part 2 

Bowling Green (2-0) at Indiana (1-1) Sept. 14, 12:00, ESPNU

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Is this one of the big chances for the MAC to make a statement? Northern Illinois beat Iowa, and Bowling Green is also a MAC title favorite with the potential to give a Big Ten team a bad day. Coming off a blowout win over Kent State and a dominant performance over a Tulsa team that could win Conference USA, this is a sneaky-good Falcon team looking to do what the Huskies did last season and shock the world on the way to the BCS – the team has that much potential. However, Indiana is coming in a bit desperate and looking to rebound after a tough loss to Navy. The Hoosiers have to deal with Missouri next week and the Big Ten slate to follow, and if they want to go bowling, they probably can’t afford to drop a second straight home game.

Why Bowling Green Might Win: The Falcons should be able to hang on to the ball and keep the Indiana offense off the field. It’s not like the offense is cranking out long drives – it’s struggling so far on third downs – but it’s doing a great job of milking the clock offensively while getting the defense off the field. The Falcons are third in the nation in time of possession, while IU has only been hanging on to the ball for 27 minutes a game. The Falcon running game is just good enough to control the tempo against a still-improving Hoosier defensive front.

Why Indiana Might Win: The firefight. The Bowling Green offense has been efficient and effective so far, but IU has far more firepower. The Hoosiers are actually improving against the run, but they couldn’t handle the Navy option attack and they couldn’t seem to get the defense off the field. The passing game blew up against the Midshipmen and has been nearly perfect over the first two games. If IU can get up early and make Bowling Green press, this could get into the type of shootout that should be a positive.

Who To Watch Out For: How was Bowling Green supposed to go on without Anthon Samuel running the ball? In one of the biggest surprises so far this season, wide receiver Travis Greene has turned into a dangerous, slippery runner who started out the year with 88 yards against Tulsa and 145 last week against Kent State. He’s not a pounder at just 5-10 and 176 pounds, but he’s turning into a key part of the puzzle.

What Will Happen: Get ready for a fun shootout and a big statement being made by Bowling Green. Matt Johnson has taken over and is turning into a nice passing option, and the defense has been terrific so far and should be aggressive and productive. The Falcons will control the clock and the game, and IU won’t be able to rally back.
Prediction: Bowling Green 34 … Indiana 30
Line: Indiana -3 o/u: 63.5
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 3

Akron (1-1) at Michigan (2-0) Sept. 14, 12:00, BTN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Maybe Michigan is that “it” team. After looking terrific against Notre Dame, maybe it’s that team that no one really thought much about in the national title hunt, but has the goods to fight through a decent schedule and be right there at the end – at least that’s the hope for the Maize and Blue fans. Akron is just trying to get its head above water, slipping past James Madison last week and with Louisiana-Lafayette and Bowling Green to come. It’ll take a massive, massive upset to be anything better than 1-6 before going to Miami University, but the Zips have to keep improving and will look for any positive signs in a game like this.

Why Akron Might Win: The letdown factor? Michigan isn’t exactly focusing on dealing with Connecticut next week, but it’s coming off the emotional win over Notre Dame and might not bring the A effort. The only way the Zips have any way of keeping this close, or at make it slightly interesting, could be by owning field position. Punting has been a slight issue for the Wolverines so far, while the Akron is getting a great season out of Zach Paul and a punting game that’s averaging 44 yards per try.

Why Michigan Might Win: The Akron secondary gives up way too many big plays. UCF was able to do whatever it wanted in the 38-7 opening weekend win, and James Madison’s Michael Birdsong bombed away for 310 yards and three scores. The Zip pass rush has been terrific so far, but the results haven’t been there for the pass defense. With Devin Gardner’s mobility, he should be able to buy time to connect with …

Who To Watch Out For: Jeremy Gallon, who ripped apart Notre Dame for 184 yards and three touchdowns on eight catches. The senior has had a decent career, but nothing special, and then everything changed last season as soon as Gardner took over the starting quarterback gig with 31 of his grabs coming over the last five games. With his extreme speed to go along with his experience, he should be even more of a factor as the season goes on.

What Will Happen: Michigan will keep the momentum going. The Akron defense won’t have any answers early on and Gardner will be sharp on the way to a big first quarter lead. The Zips will come up with a few scores, but the Wolverines will coast.
Prediction: Michigan 51 … Akron 10
Line: Michigan -37 o/u: 58
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 1.5

Western Illinois (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0) Sept. 14, 12:00, BTN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Minnesota can’t be too upset over how the season has started. Yes, UNLV and New Mexico State are awful, and yes, there’s a lot of work to do for a choppy Gopher offense, but with two blowout wins and 95 points in the first two games, and the scores coming from all parts, everything is working well to kick things off. However, Western Illinois could be a fight if the offense isn’t working correctly. The Leathernecks are 2-0 with dominant wins over Hampton and Quincy, and get to face UNLV next. While the results have been great so far, though, WIU isn’t expected to make a whole bunch of noise in the Missouri Valley race. If Minnesota is really ready to take a step up in the Jerry Kill era, it has to win a game like this in a walk.

Why Western Illinois Might Win: Where’s the Golden Gopher passing game? The offense hasn’t had to extend itself too much with the special teams and defense taking care of things so far, but the passing attack has been a concern. There’s little pop from the receiving corps with the running game doing everything to push the offense forward. The WIU run defense has been fantastic so far under head coach Bob Nielson with the aggressive style forcing big mistakes and turning games into blowouts. The Gophers have to be careful with the ball.

Why Minnesota Might Win: Western Illinois, get ready for the Minnesota special teams. The Gophers are doing a little of everything right so far, keeping the penalties to a minimum – unlike WIU – and doing big things on punt returns and the rest of the special teams. Marcus Jones returned a punt for a score against New Mexico State, and he returned a kickoff for a score against UNLV. Throw in the blocked field goal for a score against the Rebels, and Minnesota is doing a great job of manufacturing big things.

Who To Watch Out For: With Donnell Kirkwood banged up, the Minnesota offense needed a rushing option other than QB Philip Nelson. 5-11, 235-pound sophomore Rodrick Williams adds even more size than Kirkwood. He’s fast and can be used from time to time as a receiver, but he showed last week that he could become a bigger part of the mix with 148 yards and a score on 16 carries. While he has the wheels to tear off a big run or two, if he’s hitting the hole hard and moving the pile, he’ll be doing his job.

What Will Happen: Minnesota will have a rough time with the WIU defensive aggressiveness for about a half, and then everything will click in a fantastic second half. The Gophers will get two big plays to break the game wide open.
Prediction: Minnesota 45 … Western Illinois 20
Line: Minnesota -23.5 o/u: 44
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 1.5

Youngstown State (2-0) at Michigan State (2-0) Sept. 14, 2:00, BTN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Okay, Michigan State, it was funny for the first few weeks – ha, ha – but it’s time to find an offense, and fast. The defense carried the team against Western Michigan and South Florida teams that lost their other two respective games to FCS teams, but the offense has been miserable. With Notre Dame coming up next, and the Big Ten season to follow, this is the last chance to find some semblance of a consistent attack. Youngstown State hasn’t had too many problems so far, blowing up Dayton and blasting Morehead State with the FCS’s No. 1 rushing attack. This is a sound, veteran team that has the potential to battle for the Missouri Valley title, and it has nothing to lose.

Why Youngstown State Might Win: No, really, the Michigan State offense can’t move the ball. McNeese State hung 53 points on South Florida, but the Spartans were only able to come up with a late offensive touchdown last week. Nicholls State scored 27 in its win over Western Michigan, but Sparty only managed 297 yards of total offense and got one offensive score. The passing game just isn’t connecting, while the veteran Penguin secondary has been fantastic so far.

Why Michigan State Might Win: Defense, defense, defense. All the MSU offense has to do is not screw up and everything will be fine. The Spartan defense has been truly special, especially against the pass, ranking second in the nation in pass efficiency defense and giving up a miniscule 179.5 yards per game. Youngstown State has a nice set of skill players and a decent line, but the Spartan defensive front should be able to get into the backfield without a problem and the secondary won’t allow anything big downfield.

Who To Watch Out For: It’s not supposed to work out this way, but Michigan State’s top scoring threat is Shilque Calhoun – a defensive end. At 6-4 and 248 pounds he’s not massive, but he’s extremely athletic and is starting to show why he was a top recruit, returning a fumble for a score against both Western Michigan and USF and adding a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Bulls. He hasn’t been bad so far as a defender, either, but he’s making his biggest mark as a disruptive force.

What Will Happen: Michigan State’s offense isn’t exactly going to blow up, but it’ll be far better and far more effective at times. The defense won’t allow the Penguins to get anything moving through the air, and it’ll come up with three key turnovers to help out the offense.
Prediction: Michigan State 34 … Youngstown State 6
Line: Michigan State -26.5 o/u: 42
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 1.5

Iowa (1-1) at Iowa State (0-1) Sept. 14, 6:00, FOX Sports 1

Why You Should Give A Hoot: There are must-win rivalry games, and then there’s 2013 Iowa vs. Iowa State. It’ll never be Auburn-Alabama, and it’s not exactly a hate-fest – Iowans just don’t quite roll like that - but it’s a big deal for an early season, intrastate showdown, especially this season. Iowa bounced back from a tough season-opening loss to Northern Illinois with a win over Missouri State, even if it wasn’t exactly convincing. With a layup against Western Michigan next before the Big Ten opener at Minnesota, there’s a chance to go on a decent run before diving into October. Iowa needs this, but Iowa State really needs a win after dropping the opener to Northern Iowa 28-20. There’s no real layup for the Cyclones in Big 12 play until, maybe, late November against Kansas, and they need all the wins they can get. Iowa State has won the last two meetings in totally different ways, coming up with an ugly 9-6 victory last year and winning 44-41 in 2011.

Why Iowa Might Win: Iowa State … defense? It was a concern coming into the season, especially at linebacker after losing the key parts, and the Northern Iowa game didn’t exactly start things off with a bang. The defense was ripped apart by UNI’s David Johnson, who came up with 199 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while the passing game provided a near-perfect balance – 229 yards to 228 rushing. The Cyclones couldn’t get into the backfield, and the defensive interior was beaten up. Iowa got its power ground attack going last week and needs to take control from the start.

Why Iowa State Might Win: Iowa is hardly doing all the little things right. It’s not good enough to not be great at things like turnover margin and other mistakes, and they’re having problem with penalties – committing 17 in the first two games, while having a few issues with turnovers with the three giveaways against Northern Illinois a killer. Offensively, the points have been hard to come by so far; the Hawkeyes can’t get down early.

Who To Watch Out For: The Iowa State offense can’t be all Sam B. Richardson all Sam B. Time. The quarterback is the team’s most dangerous playmaker, but against Northern Iowa there was a problem. He led the team in rushing, running back James White led the team in receptions, and Richardson had to spread the passing game around and go a little of everything else. He’s fantastic, and he needs to have a huge game to get by, but he also has to get more help from the skill players around him. More than anything else, he needs help from the defense.

What Will Happen: Get ready for the Mark Weisman show. The tough Hawkeye back has been a steadying force over the first two games with 100 yards against Northern Illinois and 180 and two touchdowns against Missouri State. Expect 30 carries from No. 45, a controlled passing game, and a tough, ugly Iowa win.
Prediction: Iowa 31 … Iowa State 27
Line: Line: Iowa -3 o/u: 47
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 2.5

- Ohio State at California | UCLA at Nebraska
- Wisconsin at Arizona State
- Akron at Michigan & More, Part 1 | Wash. at Illinois & More, Part 2