Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Oct. 20
Posted Oct 18, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 8 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. 13 | Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 43-14 ... ATS: 18-28-2

Big 10 Week 8 Predictions, Part 2

Big 10 Game of the Week

Michigan (5-2) at Illinois (5-2)  8:00 PM ABC
Why to watch: All appears right with the Michigan world again, on a four-game winning streak and coming off its best performance of the year in a 48-21 dismantling of Purdue. Chad Henne played like Chad Henne again, the defense is starting to make more big plays and appears to have overcome the nightmare of the first two games. Now it's time to get worried again. With mobile quarterbacks, a killer running game, and a physical defense, Illinois could be a tougher test than many might expect it to be after an ugly 10-6 Illini loss to a bad Iowa team. Last week doesn't matter. If Illinois wins out, it's in the Rose Bowl, but it needs to beat Michigan in Champaign for the first time since 1983.
Why Michigan might win: The Illinois secondary hits like a ton of bricks, but it also covers like one. Despite playing just one team that can really, really throw, Missouri, and two others, Wisconsin and Penn State, who do it only when the running game isn't working, the Illinois defensive back production should be much better. Michigan appears to finally have things in place, with Henne relatively healthy and Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington starting to get rolling. The Wolverines are a mortal lock to throw for more than 200 yards, and should be able to connect deep at least twice.
Why Illinois might win: Running quarterbacks, running quarterbacks, running quarterbacks. As good as Shawn Crable and the Wolverine linebackers might be, they had major problems earlier this year with Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards and Oregon's Dennis Dixon. Those two were able to throw at will, and even Eastern Michigan's Andy Schmitt had a relatively nice day with 41 yards. Juice Williams is a tremendous runner, Eddie McGee can run and throw, and between the two, the Wolverines could have flashbacks of early September.
Who to watch: Michigan potentially has one big problem: Mike Hart is hurt. Even if he's able to play on a bum ankle, he might be limited, meaning either Henne will have to bomb away, or there will be a few new options to fill in. Carlos Brown is the number one option after an impressive 66-yard, two touchdown effort against Purdue. Unlike Hart, Brown's more of a speed back and breakaway threat. Over the hand injury that limited him over the first part of the year, he'll be the main man until Hart is back and ready to roll, which might be the first series.
What will happen: Bounceback week. Illinois never got its running game going against Iowa, with the first option getting snuffed out time and again. This week, Rashard Mendenhall will get back on track, but it'll be the running of Williams and McGee that'll lead the way to the upset.
CFN Prediction: Illinois 24 ... Michigan 20 ... Line: Michigan -3
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 4

Big 10 Friday, Oct. 19

Eastern Michigan (2-5) vs. Northwestern (4-3) (in Detroit) 7:00 PM ESPNU
Why to watch
: For those of you who needed more after last season's scintillating 14-6 Northwestern win over the Eagles, here's round two. The Wildcats are coming off two straight dramatic overtime wins against Michigan State and Minnesota to get in the hunt for a bowl appearance, but to get a 13th game, they can't afford a loss against an Eagle team that's playing better than than the 2-5 record, and three game losing streak, would indicated. EMU's defense isn't great, but it's playing better than it ever has in the Jeff Genyk era, while Northwestern's offense is on fire thanks to the Big Ten's leading passing game.
Why Eastern Michigan might win: Northwestern hasn't handled mobile quarterbacks all that well. It lost to Duke because there wasn't any appreciable pressure on Thaddeus Lewis. Minnesota's Adam Weber gave the Wildcat secondary fits. There's no pressure from the defensive front, no big plays in the backfield, and no threat of coming up with any consistent sacks, so EMU QB Andy Schmitt should be able to move around as much as he wants to and buy himself all the time in the world to make plays. Fortunately for the Wildcats ...
Why Northwestern might win: EMU can't throw the ball. The receivers aren't helping Schmitt out, and while there's a little bit of efficiency, there aren't any yards. The Wildcats should be able to load up everyone against Schmitt to keep him from running, while leaving the corners on an island to take their chances with the EMU receivers. The Eagles are doing a good job of stopping the pass, but they're doing it at the expense of the run. Northwestern will be able to do one or the other.
Who to watch: There's no hotter player in America right now than Northwestern junior QB C.J. Bacher. Without Tyrell Sutton to hand the ball off to, Bacher has fired away over the last two weeks completing 79 of 106 passes (75%) for 990 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception, and he ran one in against the Gophers. He's spreading the ball around extremely well, with ten different players catching passes against Minnesota and Michigan State, but it's Eric Peterman who has emerged as the go-to guy with 21 grabs in the last two weeks.
What will happen: Eastern Michigan will put up a better fight than expected, but the offense won't have enough diversity to pull off the upset.
CFN Prediction: Northwestern 34 ... Eastern Michigan 26 ... Line: Northwestern -10
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 1.5

Big 10 Saturday, Oct. 20

Penn State (5-2) at Indiana (5-2)  12:00 PM ESPN
Why to watch
: 10-0. Indiana has never beaten Penn State, but it came extremely close the last time the two teams played in 2004, when the Nittany Lions needed a goal line stand to win 22-18. This year's Hoosier team is far better, becoming one of the Big Ten's most dangerous teams with a home run hitting offense and an aggressive defense that gets into the backfield better than anyone in America. For Penn State, road rage, sexual assault allegations, and other outside issues have only seemed to bring the team closer together, as it's coming off its best performance of the year in a dominant 38-7 win over Wisconsin. The defense has allowed just 14 points over the last two weeks, but that was at home. Penn State is 0-2 on the road so far, while the Hoosiers are 3-1 at home.
Why Penn State might win: To beat Indiana, you have to keep QB Kellen Lewis from tearing off big runs. The Hoosiers are averaging a respectable 176 yards per game, and that's because of the quarterback's mobility. His running has been held in check twice this year, and against Illinois and Michigan State, and the Hoosiers lost both games (basically, count the 71-yard touchdown pass to himself against Iowa as a run). Penn State is ninth in the nation in run defense, with the linebackers to turn Lewis into a one-dimensional player.
Why Indiana might win: Get pressure on Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli, and you'll force a bad game. Morelli got all the time in the world to operate against Wisconsin, and he picked the Badger secondary apart. Penn State's offensive line has been strong most of the time, but it hasn't always been great in pass protection. That could be a problem against Indiana and the nation's leading defense in sacks, coming up with 32 so far. The Hoosier are great at bringing pressure from several spots, and mostly from ...
Who to watch: ... sophomore Greg Middleton. The one new starter to the line this year, he was considered a nice pass rushing prospect, but no one could've seem him turning into a consistent sack machine with 9.5 spread out over the seven games. Penn State will have to pay special attention to him on every play, and that should allow the rest of the aggressive line to hit Morelli time and again.
What will happen: Penn State will pound the ball and take the game out of Morelli's hands, while Sean Lee and Dan Connor will keep Lewis to negative rushing yards. This is a bad matchup for the Hoosiers.
CFN Prediction: Penn State 28 ... Indiana 14 .. Line: Penn State -7.5
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 2.5

Iowa (3-4) at Purdue (5-2)  12:00 PM ESPN2
Why to watch
: It's do or die time for both teams, even though Purdue's record appears to be fine. Exposed might be too strong a word for the Boilermakers after a 5-0 start, but struggling offensively in blowout losses to Ohio State and Michigan has caused a bit of a panic. With three home games in the next four, and all of them winnable (Iowa, Northwestern and Michigan State), now is the time the team has to go on a run. Iowa showed a sign of life with a 10-6 defensive slugfest win over Illinois, and with three winnable home games in the final four (Michigan State, Minnesota and Western Michigan), along with a date at Northwestern, following this week. If the Hawkeyes can suddenly find a little bit of offense, a bowl game is still within range.
Why Iowa might win: The Purdue offense was humming at its best when it had a nice balance. Curtis Painter and the passing game got the headlines, but Kory Sheets and the running game kept everyone off-balance. Against Ohio State and Michigan, the ground game has gone bye-bye, and the machine has grinded down to a screeching halt. Iowa isn't going to let the Purdue running game get back going again. For all the team's problems, stopping the run isn't one of them, with a great interior and LB Mike Humpal hitting everything that moves.
Why Purdue might win: Iowa doesn't score. It'll be a theme throughout the rest of the year as the banged up receiving corps and horrible offensive line play has killed any shot of generating consistent yards or points. This is the Big Ten's worst offense, and the worst scoring offense, averaging 314 yards and 16 points per game. If the Boilermakers can somehow crank out a few early scores, it should be enough to get by.
Who to watch: Purdue head coach Joe Tiller has never been afraid to shake things up, and he appears to be at it again, benching Sheets for most of the Michigan game after a costly early fumble, meaning big fullback Frank Halliburton was able to get a few chances. Starter Jaycen Taylor is expected to be back soon from a broken arm, meaning Sheets is basically on double-secret probation for playing time. Also needing a big performance is Painter, who hit the pine against the Wolverines, allowing Joey Elliott to come in and complete 12 of 19 throws for 140 yards and a score. 
What will happen: Purdue's three-game losing streak to the Hawkeyes ends this week. An early 14-0 Boilermaker lead will be way too much for the Hawkeyes to overcome.
CFN Prediction: Purdue 24 ... Iowa 16 ... Line: Purdue -6.5
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 2.5

Big 10 Week 8 Predictions, Part 2


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