Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Oct. 13
Posted Oct 10, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 7 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. 6Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 39-12 ... ATS: 16-24-2

Big 10 Week 7 Predictions, Part 2

Big 10 Game of the Week

Wisconsin (5-1) at Penn State (4-2)  3:30 PM ET ABC
Why to watch: Each team will be wearing its We Lost To Illinois And All We Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt, t-shirts as they try to get back into the Big Ten title race. There's still plenty of time for each of these two teams, and there are still plenty of chances to finish in the top three or four of the final pecking order, but the loser, for all intents and purposes, is out of the Rose Bowl chase. Wisconsin wasn't as good as it was being given credit for over the first five games of the season, and it's not nearly as bad as it's being made out to be after the loss to Illinois. The offense cranked out over 500 yards, but struggled to score. Meanwhile, Penn State is unranked and looking for it's first big-name win of the season (no, Notre Dame doesn't count) after running over Iowa last week. The defense is playing well enough to win the Big Ten, but the offense hasn't been consistent. Call this a prove it game for both teams, and call it one of the better games of the day; even if it's not going to be a work of art.
Why Wisconsin might win: Penn State's offense is almost perfect for Wisconsin's defense. The Badgers can't tackle, and it can't handle running quarterbacks who can make plays outside of the pocket. No problems with that this week, as Anthony Morelli and the Nittany Lion offense hasn't exactly been scary in Big Ten play. The UW secondary hasn't played up-to-snuff, but it's good enough to stick with the excellent PSU receivers on deep balls, while Morelli will be a sitting duck more often than not behind a line that's struggling in pass protection. However ...
Why Penn State might win: The UW D line isn't doing enough to get into the backfield, and the secondary is giving up too many big plays. The Badger back seven isn't tackling well, so if the Moreli can get a little big of time, and if he can get the ball to his receivers in space, big things will happen. The Wisconsin lines are given way more credit than they deserves. The offensive line couldn't push around Illinois last week, and while it did a good job in pass protection, the Badgers have to run the ball to be its most effective. P.J. Hill was banged up against Illinois, and if he's limited with a groin problem, he's not going to get too many, if any, big runs into the secondary. Forget running consistently on the Nittany Lion linebackers.
Who to watch: It's not like Austin Scott has been a key part of the Penn State offense over the last few weeks, failing to even dress against Iowa, but the running game can't afford to lose bodies. Now Scott is out for violating team rules, meaning the offense will revolve around Rodney Kinlaw, who tore off a168 yards and two touchdowns against Iowa. For Wisconsin, QB Tyler Donovan might have to do even more than ever. Hill will play, but he's struggling through his groin injury, while top deep threat Luke Swan is gone for the year with a hamstring problem. Donovan bombed away on Illinois, but it was a late interception  that all but sealed the loss. He's not going to be able to run on the Penn State linebackers, and his decision-making will have to be razor-sharp.
What will happen: Penn State is a great matchup for the Badgers. The offense might not roll up 500 yards and a slew of points, but the defense should tee off on Morelli and have one of its best games of the year.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 20 ... Penn State 16 ... Line: Penn State -6.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hideki Matsui's "collection" - 1 The Heartbreak Kid) ... 4

Big 10 Saturday, Oct. 13

Illinois (5-1) at Iowa (2-4)  12:00 PM ET Big Ten Network
Why to watch: Alright Illinois, we're all interested, we're all paying attention, and we all can't wait to see what you can do next. After beating Penn State and Wisconsin, the Illini have announced its arrival as a challenger for the Big Ten title. Even though the running game is as predictable as a Three's Company rerun, no one seems able to stop it so far. On the opposite side of the world is Iowa, who's waving high to Illinois as it descends into Big Ten mediocrity. The days of being among the league's royalty are long gone, as the Hawkeyes have lost four straight, and stunningly, have dropped eight straight Big Ten games. Iowa has dominated the series in recent years, winning four in a row, and it needs to make it five straight to have any hope of saving the season. For Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State are still ahead, so there's no room for a letdown loss.
Why Illinois might win: The Iowa offense has gone from lousy, to mediocre, to non-existent, thanks to a slew of injuries, particularly at receiver, and with the running game failing to provide any help. The big problem has been a line that's giving up sacks by the truckload, and isn't generating any holes for the backs to run through. The Illinois defensive line has been the unsung star of the show, manhandling the Badger and Nittany Lion O lines over the last two weeks. Don't expect more than 100 rushing yards from the Hawkeyes.
Why Iowa might win: If Iowa is to have any hope, it needs a stellar day from the defensive line. Illinois threw relatively well, for Illinois, against Wisconsin, but it needs to be able to run its version of the two-main option rushing attack to perfection for the offense to move. The Hawkeyes aren't going to be pounded on, even though Penn State did a good job of it last week, and if the D line can get consistent penetration into the backfield and stop the running plays before they can develop, something Wisconsin couldn't do, it could be a long day for Juice Williams and Rashard Mendenhall.
Who to watch: There's absolutely no quarterback controversy at Illinois. Juice Williams is the starter, and Eddie McGee is the backup. Period. However, Williams has had problems finishing games, getting knocked out against the Badgers with a minor knee injury, and McGee has come in to save the day. Williams is the better runner at this point, but McGee is considered to be the better passer, and able to run almost like Juice. McGee has proven himself enough to get more meaningful playing time, and Illinois would love nothing more than to get up early, rest Williams, and send in the sophomore to take over.
What will happen: Iowa needs to find something it can hang its hat on in a big hurry, and it won't do it this week. The defense will do a solid job on the Illinois offense, but this will be a game for the Illini defense to shine. The Hawkeyes won't be able to move the ball.
CFN Prediction: Illinois 27 ... Iowa 10 ... Line: Illinois  -3.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hideki Matsui's "collection" - 1 The Heartbreak Kid) ... 2

Purdue (5-1) at Michigan (4-2) 
12:00 PM ET Big Ten Network
Why to watch: Ohio State might be the class of the Big Ten, and Illinois and Wisconsin might be in the hunt, but these two teams are still in the discussion. Everyone wanted to see if Purdue was the real deal after an impressive start, but it failed to do anything at home against Ohio State, only scoring in the 23-7 loss in the final moments. This still might be a great Boilermaker team, the Buckeyes might be national-title good, but it needs to prove it against a Michigan squad that turned things around with a four-game winning streak, but hasn't been impressive. The offense hasn't been nearly as explosive as it should be, and the defense, while statistically solid, hasn't faced a top offense since the loss to Oregon. The two teams haven't met since 2004, when the Wolverines won 16-14. Purdue hasn't beaten Michigan since 2000, and has lost 14 of the last 16 meetings.
Why Purdue might win: Can Michigan actually open it up? If Purdue's offense gets back on track and gets rolling, can the Wolverines keep pace? Michigan hasn't gotten the passing game rolling nearly as well as it should, relying solely on Mike Hart to carry the offense, and Purdue's defensive strength is against the run, doing just enough up front to hold up far better than it has over the last few years. Offensively, the Michigan secondary needs to be tested again. Penn State and Northwestern have had moments this year, but don't have the passing games Purdue has. As long as QB Curtis Painter gets a little bit of time, the Boilermaker receiving corps should come up with a big day against a defensive back seven that's more susceptible to the big play than it's shown over the last few games.
Why Michigan might win: Michigan's defense might not be all that special, but it's improving, and it's doing a fantastic job of getting into the backfield. Part of Painter's success so far has come from a great start from the offensive line that's only allowed seven sacks so far. Painter is at his best when he gets time to find his second or third receiver, and is better when the running game is providing help, and he might not get either. On the other side of the ball, the Boilermaker defensive front doesn't get to the quarterback on a regular basis, so if Chad Henne and the passing game wants to get on track, it'll get time to work. Purdue hasn't won in Ann Arbor since 1966.
Who to watch: Mike Hart needs help. With a whopping 179 carries so far, he'll get run into the ground if there isn't more support from the rest of the offense. Henne and the passing game has to start pulling its weight, and while he threw for 388 yards and four touchdowns over the last two games, and has completed 35 of 53 passes, there should be more production. He doesn't have to outduel Painter, and he doesn't have to throw for 350 yards, but he needs to start taking better advantage of all the single coverage his star targets are seeing. It's time for Henne to start putting more points on the board.
What will happen: Purdue's passing game will get back on track in a surprising shootout. Michigan will try to win against by pounding Hart, and then it'll start chucking it to keep pace with Painter. Things will get tight late, and then it'll be all Hart, carrying the way on long final drive to pull out the tough win.
CFN Prediction: Michigan 34 .. Purdue 27... Line: Michigan -5.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hideki Matsui's "collection" - 1 The Heartbreak Kid) ... 4

Big 10 Week 7 Predictions, Part 2

Related Stories
Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Oct. 6
 -by  Oct 2, 2007
Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Sept. 29
 -by  Sep 25, 2007
Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Oct. 20
 -by  Oct 17, 2007