Week 6 Big Ten - PSU-IU & Nebraska-Illinois

Posted Oct 4, 2013

Week 6 Big Ten Fearless Predictions: Penn State at Indiana & Nebraska at Illinois

- Ohio State at Northwestern
- Michigan State at Iowa & Minnesota at Michigan

Penn State (3-1) at Indiana (2-2) Oct. 5 12:00, BTN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Now would be as good a time as any for Indiana to show that it's a new era and a new world. 0-16 all-time against Penn State, the Hoosier defense has been destroyed time and again, but there's hope. With two weeks off after getting blown away by Missouri in a strange shootout, IU has as much offensive firepower as anyone in the Big Ten, and it has enough upside to make a difference in the Big Ten Leaders race. There isn't enough over all talent to win it, but it could screw someone up – like Penn State.

The loss to UCF a few weeks ago killed a potential hot start for the Nittany Lions, and while a win over IU would be nice, there would still be some question marks considering the soft early season slate. With Michigan and Ohio State up next, the challenges are coming, but trying to keep the unbeaten streak alive against IU will be tough enough.

Why Penn State Might Win: Here's the problem. Indiana runs a very fast hurry-up offense that tries to come up with lots and lots of plays to keep the defenses on their toes, but it doesn't always work. When rolling against the Indiana State's of the world, the results can be devastating. Against Missouri, when the O hit the skids, the IU defense is on the field way too often. Penn State is fine in terms of time of possession, but it might own the clock by a very, very wide margin. IU keeps it for fewer than 26 minutes a game. However, if IU could slow things down a bit, it should be able to maintain control because …

Why Indiana Might Win: Penn State is awful on third downs. If Indiana can somehow manage to win first down, and if it can make Christian Hackenberg have to make plays on second-and-third-and-long, the D might have a shot against a Nittany Lion offense that's converting just 21% of the time on third down. Part of the problem is an offensive line that's giving up way too much pressure into the backfield, and Indiana leads the Big Ten in sacks per game.

Who To Watch Out For: How can Penn State help slow things down? Use Zach Zwinak and the running game. At 6-1 and 234 pounds he's big, quick, and tough with workhorse ability, but he hasn't had to be overused quite yet. Great around the goal line, he ran for two scores against Eastern Michigan, three against UCF and three against Kent State. He might not break off any big home runs, but last year he hit IU for 135 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. That could happen again.

What Will Happen: Both teams should be rested and ready to kickoff Big Ten play with a bang. Penn State will get a huge passing day out of Hackenberg, but the IU offense will be too fast and too effective. With one big scoring run in the second half, the Hoosiers will break the long, long drought.

Prediction: Indiana 41 … Penn State 39
Line: Penn State -3.5 o/u: 63.5
Must See Rating: (5 5 shut down this week due to lack of government funding – 1 Rachel vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off) … 3
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Illinois (3-1) at Nebraska (3-1) Oct. 5 12:00, ESPNU

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Is Illinois actually good at playing college football? It already surpassed last year's win total with a 50-14 blasting of Miami University, and while wins over Southern Illinois and Cincinnati might not be impressive, coming back late to fight against Washington – after nothing went right all game long – wasn't bad. Now the Illini have a chance to show that it's going to be a factor in the Big Ten race, but to do it, and to enjoy two weeks off to prepare for Wisconsin, they have to beat Nebraska for the first time since 1924.

Is Nebraska actually good at playing college football? For all the whining and moaning and Pelinigate and Blackshirt issues, the Huskers are still 3-1 with the lone loss coming to a strong and inspired UCLA team. However, Wyoming is the best win of the three so far, and with three of the next four games on the road, it could be hot seat time for Bo Pelini if his team doesn't show up to close out the five game home stand.

Why Illinois Might Win: Where's the Nebraska defense? Last in the Big Ten, it got lit up by Wyoming to start the season, did nothing in the second half against UCLA, and it can't seem to do anything right other than take the ball away. Illinois might be having problems against good passing teams, but Nebraska's secondary gives up yards in chunks. Opposing passers are connecting on 63% of their throws and hitting on the deep pass without a problem. Illinois is 12th in the nation in passing efficiency and will take plenty of shots down the field. However …

Why Nebraska Might Win: The Husker defense is good at getting to the quarterback. It might not be a killer up front, but it's disruptive enough to get by. The big key is on the other side of the ball, where the Nebraska offensive line has been outstanding , giving up just four sacks on the year. It's not tough; give the quarterback time to throw, and the deep plays will be there. The offense has gone to the passing game a bit too often when relying on the running game will do, but the quarterbacks will get time. But with Taylor Martinez out for the second straight game with a toe problem, it'll be …

Who To Watch Out For: Tommy Armstrong, who came up with a nearly flawless game against South Dakota State, completing 12-of-15 throws for 169 yards and a score in the blowout win. A decent runner, he might not be explosive like Martinez, but he ran for 38 yards on five carries. Also expected to see time in the rotation is Ron Kellogg III, who hit 8-of-9 passes for 136 yards and a score against SDSU. Both will play.

What Will Happen: Nathan Scheelhaase will be too good. The Nebraska quarterbacks will have their moments, and the ground game will take control of the game early on, but the Illini will get enough out of the offense – and it'll take advantage of a slew of Husker penalties and a few fumbles – to come away with the program's biggest win in years on a late score.

Prediction: Illinois 34 … Nebraska 31
Line: Nebraska -9 o/u: 61
Must See Rating: (5 5 shut down this week due to lack of government funding – 1 Rachel vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off) … 3
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