Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Oct. 6
Illinois WR Arrelious Benn
Illinois WR Arrelious Benn
Posted Oct 3, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 6 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. 8 | Sept. 15Sept. 22 | Sept. 29 
Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 35-10 ... ATS: 14-20-2

Big 10 Week 6 Predictions, Part 2

Big 10 Game of the Week

Ohio State (5-0) at Purdue (5-0)   8:00 PM ABC
Why to watch: After two years off, Purdue welcomes back both Ohio State and Michigan to the schedule, getting the big boys in back-to-back weeks that could either put the program in a top five land of superpowers, or relegate it to midlevel Big Ten status yet again. Ohio State benefited as much as anyone off of all the upsets last weekend, and now is within striking distance of being in the national title team photo again. There's still a lot of big games left to be played for the Buckeyes, with at least five battles against likely bowl bound teams still to play after its date in West Lafayette for it toughest test of the year so far. The Boilermakers have put up gaudy numbers, and can't be blamed for Minnesota and Notre Dame not being any good, but they're still not getting much in the way of national respect despite starting off 5-0. With Wisconsin and a rising Illinois off the schedule, things don't look too bad over the second half of the year, but Purdue first has to take advantage of the biggest home game on the docket.
Why Ohio State might win: Purdue, meet a real defense. Real defense, welcome to Purdue. There's no questioning the Boilermaker offensive talent, led by the best receiving corps in the Joe Tiller era, but the best defense the attack has faced yet has been ... Notre Dame? Yes, and it's not even close. Minnesota is 117th in the nation in total D. Central Michigan 116th. Purdue 109th. Sure, Purdue had something to do with the stats, but these defenses really are bad. Meanwhile, the Boilermaker D has been hanging by a thread. No one's been able to run the ball yet, mainly because of bad defenses forcing comebacks with the passing game. That won't be a problem for Ohio State, who should be able to pound the ball as much as it wants to. This might not be the explosive OSU running game of the past, but it's extremely effective. On the flip side ...
Why Purdue might win: Ohio State hasn't faced anyone who can throw, and it certainly hasn't seen a receiving corps like this one. Minnesota and Washington have good young quarterbacks, and Northwestern's offense isn't without its charm, but Purdue is at a higher level of proficiency, with excellent balance, enough weapons to play around with several options every time Curtis Painter drops back, and a line that's keeping everyone upright. Unlike the Washington game, when Jake Locker got the Huskies up early, only to see the offense stagnate in the second half, Purdue will bring it all game long. If OSU gets up early, it has to maintain the intensity or Purdue will use the lull to go on a run.
Who to watch: Indiana's James Hardy and Michigan's Mario Manningham might have something to say in the discussion, but it'll be hard to keep Ohio State's Brian Robiskie and Purdue's Dorien Bryant from being the first team All-Big Ten receivers. Robiskie hasn't just replaced Ted Ginn as a number one target, it could be argued that he's been better. While he doesn't have Ginn's blazing speed, he's a big target who's great at getting deep, averaging 21 yards per catch with six scores in his last five games. He's the human victory cigar. Even when he's scored early so far, when he gets in the end zone, it's over. On the other side, Bryant has toiled in relative obscurity, despite making a bazillion catches over the last four years (actually, he's made 245), and now he's starting to score more. He tore up Minnesota for 150 yards and two scores on 12 catches two weeks ago, and caught eight passes for 82 yards and a score against the Irish. Painter will try to work the passing game around, but when he'll need a big catch, he'll look to No. 9.
What will happen: Ohio State's defense will flex its muscle a bit, stopping Kory Sheets and the Purdue ground game cold, while Chris Wells will run for a 150 yards on the way to a hard-fought sixth win.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 30 ... Purdue 17 ... Line: Ohio State -7
Must See Rating: (5 Paris on Letterman - 1 Singing Bee) ... 4

Big 10 Saturday, Oct. 6

Wisconsin (5-0) at Illinois (4-1)  12:00 PM ESPN
Why to watch: This is it, Illinois. You asked if you could sit at the big boy table last week against Penn State, and you proved you could handle yourself well with a 27-20 win that was better than the final score indicates. Now you want to join the adult discussion with a win over Wisconsin. This is an Illini team no one wants to face right now. It's young, extremely athletic, and just now realizing how good it's starting to become. Meanwhile, the Badgers just keep on winning, continuing the nation's longest winning streak at 14 with a tough win over Michigan State. While high up in the polls, few actually believe this is one of the five best teams in America, and just about everyone is waiting for the curtain to be pulled back and everything to be exposed. Is this 2002 Ohio State in the way it just wins, baby, or is it 2007 Texas and an overrated team getting national love on name recognition? This week might clear things up a bit.
Why Wisconsin might win: Illinois is about to understand what it feels like to be run over by a steamroller. The Illini run defense has been terrific so far, but that's partly because it hasn't faced anyone who could actually pound the ball effectively. Oh sure, Penn State's ground game is fine, and Missouri can run a bit, but Wisconsin will spend the entire game setting things up so the Illini defensive front wears down in the second half. Along the way, Wisconsin should be able to connect on at least two huge pass plays against the suspect Illini secondary.
Why Illinois might win: Wisconsin is about to understand what it feels like to be run around. The Badgers had a nightmare of a time with Javon Ringer and the Michigan State running game last week, giving up big run after big run. They also had major problems dealing with UNLV's and Citadel's running quarterbacks and the spread offenses. Illinois will provide a mix of nightmares, with QB Juice Williams to give the UW linebackers fits with his mobility, while RB Rashard Mendenhall should be able to bust off yards in chunks inside and out. If Illinois can downfield block like Michigan State was able to, 300 rushing yards is a possibility.
Who to watch: Illinois has gotten away with the inefficient passing of Juice Williams so far, but now he'll have to come up with one of his most accurate games yet. Wisconsin will triple dog dare him to throw deep, selling out time and again to make sure he doesn't take off, and doing what it can to keep Mendenhall under wraps. Penn State's linebacking corps, a far better group than Wisconsin's, was able to do that, forcing Williams to complete just 11 of 24 passes with a touchdown and two interceptions, but the Nittany Lion offense screwed it all up by turning it over four times. If Williams can hit on two big deep passes early, the entire tone of the game will change.
What will happen: Wisconsin is way overdue to get its doors blown off, but so is Illinois. Wisconsin will roll of 500 yards of total offense to overcome a huge day from Williams. Expect a wild shootout with the Badgers hanging on in the fourth quarter ... again.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 34 ... Illinois 31 ... Line: Illinois -2.5
Must See Rating: (5 Paris on Letterman - 1 Singing Bee) ... 4

Minnesota (1-4) at Indiana (4-1) 
12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to watch: It's rare for Indiana to actually be able to come up with a revenge motif for a game, but against the worst team in the league, it can afford to. At 5-4 last year, and needing just one more win to get bowl eligible, the Hoosiers got ripped apart 63-26 by the Gophers to screw everything up. Now, IU is coming off an excellent win at Iowa, has a few winnable games down the road, and can all but assure itself of a post-season game by keeping the misery going for Minnesota. While the 30-7 final score might not indicate it, the Gophers actually played one of their best games of the season in the loss to Ohio State. With Northwestern next week and North Dakota State to follow, this is as easy a stretch as they could possibly hope for.
Why Minnesota might win: Indiana's defense stems from the pressure up front. The D leads the nation in sacks after peppering Iowa QB Jake Christensen eight times last week, but it likely won't have anywhere near the same success against a Minnesota O line that's been fantastic in pass protection. The passing game might not be clicking, but that's not for a lack of time. Indiana has tremendous corners, but they'll give up yards in chunks. Speaking of which ...
Why Indiana might win: Throw the ball deep on the Minnesota secondary five times, and you'll likely connect on three of them. Minnesota's secondary is aggressive and can hit, but it can't cover worth a lick. Even when it has everyone in the right spot, the better receivers always make the play. Allowing 368 yards per game, the worst in the nation, the Gophers should have a nightmare of a time with James Hardy, who caught five passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in last year's game.
Who to watch: Different Hoosiers take turns coming up with the big sack days. Last week, sophomore Jammie Kirlew, a big linebacker who can function as an end of a lightning quick, undersized tackle, tore up Iowa for 3.5 sacks and nine tackles. Sophomore Greg Middleton is a pure pass rusher who has seven sacks on the season as the team's most consistent threat. These two might not get to Minnesota QB Adam Weber too often, but they'll make their presence felt. 
What will happen: Minnesota will play its best game of the year, running for around 250 yards and getting an efficient day out of Weber, but it'll also give away three key turnovers and get torched by a huge day from Hardy.
CFN Prediction: Indiana 34 ... Minnesota 23 ... Line: Indiana -13
Must See Rating: (5 Paris on Letterman - 1 Singing Bee) ... 2

Big 10 Week 6 Predictions, Part 2


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