Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Sept. 8
Michigan State RB Jehuu Caulcrick
Michigan State RB Jehuu Caulcrick
Posted Sep 5, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 2 Big Ten Games.

Big Ten
Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota
Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin

Big Ten Fearless Predictions Sept. 1Sept. 15Sept. 22 | Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 9-2 ... ATS: 4-3

Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Week Two, Part 2

Big Ten Game of the Week

Oregon (1-0) at Michigan (0-1)  3:30 PM ABC
Why to Watch: If you weren't interested in this matchup before, you certainly are now. A national punchline after the epic loss to Appalachian State, this is the first game of the rest of Michigan's life. Call it Game One A.A.S. The entire program is on the line as a loss to the Ducks might speed up the Lloyd Carr retirement process, while further crushing the current reputation of the former Leaders and the Best. A loss would mark the first time since 1990 that the program has lost back-to-back home dates. Oregon also has a few reputation issues to deal with despite blowing past a decent Houston team in the opening weekend. The Ducks fell off the map over the final four games of last year, and a win over Michigan in the Big House, even a reeling Michigan, would still mean something special for the program as well as the Pac 10. Oregon won the last meeting between the two, a 31-27 thriller in 2003, but lost its following three games, while Michigan went on to play USC in the Rose Bowl.
Why Oregon Might Win: If Appalachian State could do that with a mobile quarterback and speedy skill players, it's possible that Dennis Dixon and the Duck speedsters could blow past the Michigan defense like it was standing still. The Wolverines didn't tackle, were woefully out of position, and generally looked lost all game long. Dixon tore off 141 yards against the Cougars last week and will be sure to test the Wolverine front seven from the start. Defensively, the Ducks have a secondary just good enough to force Michigan to become one-dimensional for stretches, however ...
Why Michigan Might Win: ... that one dimension will dominate. The Oregon front seven can be shoved around and blown past. Michigan might not have a blur of a runner like Houston's Anthony Alridge (who tore off 205 of Houston's 315 rushing yards), but Mike Hart will certainly get his share of carries to let the big Wolverine O line get into a lather. This will be a very, very angry team coming out of the tunnel, and it's sure to be physical from the opening snap. Oregon will have Michigan's full attention; there will be no looking ahead to Notre Dame.
Who to Watch: LB Shawn Crable and SS Jamar Adams. These are two of Michigan's all-star caliber defenders, and they were supposed to be the leaders and stars to revolve the rebuilt defense around. Adams is a big hitter who seemed a step off time and again when it came to providing help last week, even though he came up with seven tackles, and Crable led the way with ten stops. These two must play better to keep Dixon and RB Jonathan Stewart from breaking off the long runs that ASU QB Armanti Edwards was able to tear off.
What Will Happen: Now we really find out if Michigan is any good. There aren't any excuses now about focus or concentration. Either this was the team everyone thought belonged among the top five in America, or it gets further exposed as a mighty fraud. It's a combination of the two. The offense will make up for the defense's continued woes with Hart running for 200 yards on the way to a tight win. Expect plenty of fireworks on both sides of the ball.
CFN Prediction: Michigan 38 ... Oregon 30
... Line:  Michigan -6
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 4.5
Final Score: 


Big Ten, Saturday, September 8th

Eastern Illinois (1-0) at Purdue (1-0)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to Watch: If it's possible to play a boring 52-24 game, Purdue was able to do it against Toledo last week. Sloppy early on, the Boilermaker offensive machine turned it up a notch and ripped apart the Rockets for 488 yards with a perfect balance of 244 rushing yards and 244 through the air. Considering the problems Central Michigan, Minnesota and Notre Dame had in week one, a win here might mean a 5-0 start before facing Ohio State. Eastern Illinois isn't a pushover, coming into the season ranked among the top FCS teams in the nation before blowing past Tennessee Tech 45-24 in the opener. These are two high-octane passing games that should come up with plenty of big plays.
Why Eastern Illinois Might Win: If Purdue isn't paying attention, the Panthers could throw for 350 yards and make this the Big Ten's second upset to an FCS team in the second straight week. Purdue's secondary played well against Toledo, but it's suspect and should be able to be picked apart by a hot quarterback. EIU senior Cole Stinson is coming off a 19 of 26, 308-yard, two touchdown day and is able to go on big stretches of production. However ... 
Why Purdue Might Win: .... Stinson will also throw a few picks. He didn't make any mistakes against Tennessee Tech, but Purdue isn't Tennessee Tech. The defensive front will get pressure in the backfield, and Stinson will have to hurry his throws and will give up the ball at least twice. The EIU secondary isn't great and will give up yards in chunks. That's not a plus against one of the nation's top receiving corps.
Who to Watch: Purdue is beyond loaded at receiver, and QB Curtis Painter was all too happy to use everyone against Toledo. While star Dorien Bryant has an ankle injury, Selwyn Lymon, Greg Orton, Dustin Keller and Kyle Adams all proved once again how dangerous they can be. However, if Bryant isn't 100%, the best receiver on the field might be EIU senior Micah Rucker, a preseason All-American who caught nine balls for 169 yards and two touchdown in the opener. He has a career average of 19.5 yards per catch.
What Will Happen: EIU will get its shots in, but Purdue will be able to name its score midway through the second half.
CFN Prediction: Purdue 48 ... Eastern Illinois 17
... Line:  No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 1.5
Final Score: 

Bowling Green (1-0) at Michigan State (1-0)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to Watch: With one laser pass for a two-point conversion, Bowling Green announced it'll be a player in the MAC race and will be a dangerous out for a team like Michigan State. The Falcons stunned Minnesota 32-31 in overtime, overcoming a furious second half rally to pull off the upset. For the second straight week, they face a new head coach as MSU's Mark Dantonio looks to keep the momentum rolling after a 55-18 thumping of UAB. This is an important game in the development of the Spartans as they try to become meaner, more physical, and more disciplined under the new regime. With Temple and Western Kentucky ahead, a win could mean a 4-0 start before dealing with Boston College. For MSU, Pitt and Notre Dame are up next before the Big Ten showdown with Wisconsin.
Why Bowling Green Might Win: The MSU secondary should be decent as the year goes on, but it could get dinked and dunked on to death by the Bowling Green passing game. Minnesota eventually adjusted and started to tighten up on the receivers, but the Falcons adjusted right back and got the big drives it needed to late to force overtime and eventually win the game. This is a supremely confident passing game right now.
Why Michigan State Might Win: The Spartans showed that this is a different era and a different team under Dantonio, at least for one week, by not making any mistakes against UAB and playing as sharp a game as could possibly be expected for week one. MSU should generate more pressure than Minnesota was able to, and it should run even better than a Gopher attack that cranked out 246 yards on the Falcons. MSU should be able to impose its will at times on the Falcon defensive front.
Who to Watch: Any questions about the Bowling Green quarterback situation were answered when sophomore Tyler Sheehan threw for 388 yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota. Cool and calm, he came up with the big throws late when he needed to, and he was unstoppable early on to get the Falcons out to a big lead. On the other side, MSU's running tandem of Jehuu Caulcrick and Javon Ringer, along with a little bit of speedster A.J. Jimmerson, will look to keep Sheehan off the field. MSU ran for 298 yards and five touchdowns against UAB, and it should have the right combination to approach 300 yards again this week.
What Will Happen: The Spartan defense will get pushed a bit during stretches, but the running game should control the clock and the tempo on the way to a second straight impressive win.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 38 ... Bowling Green 20
... Line:  Michigan State -15
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2.5
Final Score: 

Miami University (1-0) at Minnesota (0-1)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to Watch: One team came up with a tough one point win, the other went down to a tough one-point loss. Minnesota will look to avoid its second straight loss to a MAC team after dropping a 32-31 overtime heartbreaker to Bowling Green, and will look to give new head coach Tim Brewster his first win. Miami beat Ball State 14-13 on a Brandon Murphy touchdown run with 17 seconds to play, and now is shooting for its first win over a Big Ten team other than Northwestern for the first time since 1977.
Why Miami University Might Win: Minnesota's pass defense stunk at the end of last year, and it didn't get any better after an off-season and a new coaching staff. The Gophers allowed 412 yards of passing offense to a new starting quarterback, BGSU's Tyler Sheehan. MU might not have a sophisticated passing attack, but that doesn't seem to matter against a secondary that has a hard time making plays against anyone who wants to throw the ball short to midrange. If MU is merely efficient, it should be able to move the ball without a problem. Fortunately for the Gophers ...
Why Minnesota Might Win: ... the RedHawks can't throw. Mike Kokal is a nice quarterback, but he doesn't have a great receiving corps to work with and the offensive line, a mega-sore spot last year, didn't show immediate improvement in week one. Ball State doesn't have a secondary, but MU was only able to crank out 118 yards through the air.
Who to Watch: The entire MU offensive line. The RedHawks suffered a slew of injuries up front last year, forcing several young players into the mix. This year, this was supposed to be an experienced, tighter group, but it allowed three sacks and didn't get enough push for the running game in the opener. Minnesota might not have a brick wall of a defense, but it's better than Ball State. The Gophers have to generate a pass rush early in the game, and it has to come from its all-star end Willie VanDeSteeg. He came up with two tackles for loss against BGSU, but he has to get to the quarterback to help out the woeful secondary.
What Will Happen: It'll take about a quarter, and then the Gopher offensive line will open things up for Amir Pinnix and the running game to take over. MU won't come up with the offense to be any sort of a threat against a fully focused Gopher team.
CFN Prediction:
Minnesota 31 ... Miami University 16... Line:  Minnesota -11
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2
Final Score: 

Nevada (0-1) at Northwestern (1-0)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to Watch: Northwestern looks to avenge last year's 31-21 loss to the Wolf Pack in Reno, and to go 2-0 with an apparent layup against Duke coming up next week. For a program still trying to find its identity under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, it needs a win like this to have any honest dreams of going bowling. Nevada, despite getting run over 52-10 by Nebraska, isn't going to be a pushover with a defense far better than it showed last week. With Nichols State and UNLV coming up next, the Pack can quickly turn its season around with a likely 3-0 start if it can get out of Evanston with a win. Call this a prove it game for both offenses. Northwestern has to show that the smooth, easy 27-0 win over Northeastern wasn't a total fluke, while Nevada has to jump-start its attack after only cranking out 185 yards last week.
Why Nevada Might Win: Don't let the Nebraska game fool you; Nevada's linebackers are good and should be far better at stopping Northwestern's running attack. This is an active, talented group, led by all-star Ezra Butler, that should be able to keep Tyrell Sutton from breaking off the big runs that Nebraska's Marlon Lucky was able to. The Wildcat defense will give up rushing yards, so if Nevada is patient, it should be able to control the tempo. However ...
Why Northwestern Might Win: ... it's hard to totally ignore the 413 rushing yards Nebraska was able to crank out. Nevada might be stronger this week, but this is a strong Wildcat offensive line that should play far better than it did against Northeastern. Call last week's win a tune up for a Wildcat front five that didn't do enough for the ground game and allowed way too many plays in the backfield. If the line plays up to its potential, Nevada will be in big trouble.
Who to Watch: Week one was a rousing success for one starting quarterback, and a nightmare for another. Northwestern junior C.J. Bacher picked up where he left off at the end of last year by completing 23 of 29 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown last week. He's not a running threat, but he barreled in for a one-yard score. He's thrown for at least 200 yards in each of the last six games, and after throwing two picks in four straight games, hasn't given up the ball in the last two. Nevada sophomore Nick Graziano completed just eight of 24 passes for 109 yards with an interception against the Huskers and led the team with 29 rushing yards. If he struggles again, redshirt freshman Colin Kaepernick could take over the job after a tough battle this off-season.
What Will Happen: Nevada isn't nearly as bad as it looked against Nebraska, and Northwestern isn't nearly as decent as it appeared to be against Northeastern. The Wildcats will get just enough balance to overcome a bounce-back game from the Wolf Pack offense.
CFN Prediction: Northwestern 24 ... Nevada 20
... Line: Northwestern -5
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 3
Final Score: 

Akron (1-0) at Ohio State (1-0)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to Watch: With Washington appearing to be far better than it's been in past years, Ohio State might not be able to simply show up in Seattle next week and come away with an easy win. For a team still getting its offensive starters in place, it needs another tune-up after beating Youngstown State 38-6. Akron got by Army 22-14, and while it shouldn't pose any real threat to the Buckeyes, it has a good enough defense to make this more than just a light scrimmage. Don't be shocked if the Zips make the OSU faithful shift in their seats a little bit throughout the first half.
Why Akron Might Win: The only chance Akron has of making this a ball game is if the defensive pressure is there from the start. While there's a night-and-day difference between the Ohio State offensive line and the Army front five, the Zips showed last week that it's able to get into the backfield from a variety of different angles. OSU QB Todd Boeckman wasn't under any pressure against YSU. He will be this week. However ...
Why Ohio State Might Win: ...Ohio State still has a defense. A good one. Akron's offense doesn't have the playmakers in any area to keep up if the Buckeyes can get up early. Forget about any Zip running game, and with two relatively inexperienced quarterbacks. Carlton Jackson and Chris Jacquemain will have to hold up under the Ohio State defensive pressure and not make mistakes. That won't happen. It'll be a shock if Akron gets more than 50 net yards rushing.
Who to Watch: All the talk of Ohio State sophomore RB Chris Wells as a sleeper Heisman candidate has quickly quieted down after a mediocre 16-carry, 46-yard, one touchdown game against YSU. "Beanie" admitted he wasn't focused, and it showed. Expect him to have a breakout game and be fed the ball at least 20 times to get him on track. Teams are going to force OSU to try to throw the ball, but even if Akron puts everyone up at the line, Wells needs to produce.
What Will Happen: Akron's pass rush will force Boeckman to make a few really bad throws, and that'll be enough to keep it close ... for a half. The Buckeye offensive line will pave the way for a 150-yard rushing day from Wells.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 45 ... Akron 10
... Line: Ohio State -28.5
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 3
Final Score: 

Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Week Two, Part 2

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