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Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Oct. 27
Posted Oct 24, 2007

Ohio State has been dominant defensively so far, but no one's quite sure what to make of the BCS's No. 1 team. If Todd Boeckman and the Buckeyes are the real deal, they need to show it Saturday night at Penn State. Check out the preview of the biggest of the Big Ten showdowns along with the previews and predictions for the rest of the Week 9 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. 20Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 49-15 ... ATS: 22-30-2

Big 10 Week 9 Predictions, Part 2

Big 10 Game of the Week

Ohio State (8-0) at Penn State (6-2) 8:00 PM ABC
Why to watch
: Now that Ohio State is not just number one, but a cemented number one, the scrutiny, slings and arrows have started to come. The Buckeyes haven't played anyone. The defense hasn't faced an offense with a pulse. The Big Ten stinks. We're all being set up for yet another dud of a national title game. Blah, blah, blah. Despite only beating Michigan State 24-17, the team has been dominant all season long thanks to the nation's best defense, but now it has to start dealing with the meat of the slate. A win in Happy Valley, especially an impressive one, would go a long way to quieting the critics down, and would set the tone for the tough games against Wisconsin and Illinois before the season-ender at Michigan. Penn State has turned things around after back-to-back losses to Michigan and Illinois, and now, after three good wins, this is its one big final statement before things ease up against Purdue, at Temple, and at Michigan State. The Nittany Lions might be out of the Rose Bowl hunt, but a win here would kick in talk of a possible at-large BCS bid.
Why Ohio State might win: The Buckeye defense really is that good. Michigan State's running game has been ripping up yards in chunks all season long with a mix of explosion and power that no one has been able to slow down, but it was snuffed out by OSU for 59 yards. The secondary kept ultra-efficient MSU QB Brian Hoyer from getting on track completing 12 of 23 passes with an interception. The defense has allowed two meaningful touchdowns all year long, and isn't going to start getting pounded on this week by a nice Nittany Lion offensive line, but not a dominant one.
Why Penn State might win: Penn State can play a little bit of defense, too. It had problems containing Indiana's James Hardy and Kellen Lewis for a full sixty minutes, and gave up 216 rushing yards to Illinois, but has stuffed everyone else. The Buckeye passing game has been ultra-efficient thanks to a line that's playing extremely well, but it'll have to deal with a nasty pass rush for the second week in a row. Once Michigan State got pressure on Todd Boeckman, bad things happened. Penn State is leading the nation in sacks and is second in tackles for loss, mainly thanks to ...
Who to watch: Sophomore end Maurice Evans, who bulked up to around 270 pounds after a promising first year, and has been unblockable at times in a full-time role. With 33 tackles and 10.5 sacks, he's done a little bit of everything so far as one of the nation's best linemen. He's been on fire over the last three games with seven sacks including three against Indiana, and now it'll be his job to generate consistent pressure on Boeckman.
What will happen: Penn State will have the crowd, the atmosphere and the set up to pull off the upset and change the 2007 college football season yet again, but it's not going to happen. The Buckeye defense will make life a nightmare for PSU QB Anthony Morelli, will stuff the running game, and will overcome a lackluster performance from the offense. It's not going to be a pretty game, but it'll be effective.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 20 ... Penn State 13 ... Line: Ohio State -3.5
Must See Rating: (5
America's Most Smartest Model - 1 Marie Osmond on DTWS) ... 4.5

Big 10 Saturday October 27

Ball State (5-3) at Illinois (5-3)   12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to watch
: How quickly things have changed. Illinois was a team that couldn't buy a win for a few years, and now it's disappointed when it can't beat Michigan and be in the Big Ten title chase. The Illini is still improving and still trying to get the young team better week after week, and with a road layup against Minnesota ahead, the chance is there to go on a nice mini-run before the showdown at Ohio State. Ball State will be more than just a speed bump. On a two game winning streak, the Cardinals are playing relatively well, and isn't afraid of the big stage, coming within a missed field goal of beating Nebraska earlier this year, and giving last year's Michigan juggernaut all it could handle.  
Why Ball State might win: Talk about a letdown, there's no way Illinois will be mentally all there after gearing it up for Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan over the last month. This is still a young Illini team that can beat anyone, but could also lose to anyone, evidenced by the gaffe against the Hawkeyes. The secondary hits like a ton of bricks, but it also covers like one from time to time. If BSU QB Nate Davis gets hot and starts spreading it around well, this could be an interesting shootout.
Why Illinois might win: Ball State doesn't have the defensive front to handle the run all that well. Uh oh. After two weeks of struggling to get the ground game going, Illinois should be able to rumble at will on a defense that's allowing 215 rushing yards per game, and by offensive comparison, gave up 658 yards and eight touchdowns to Central Michigan's spread attack a few weeks ago. The Illini running attack should be able to rumble for at least 250 yards.
Who to watch: Is the Illinois quarterback situation hurting the team? Juice Williams is the unquestioned starter, but Eddie McGee is getting more than his share of meaningful time, and it's hurting the continuity of the offense. In the third quarter against Michigan, Williams was still playing well, but McGee came in and the game was never quite the same. Both quarterbacks can play, but it'll be interesting to see how the juggling act plays out over the next few weeks.
What will happen: Illinois will be able to run the ball at will to get ahead and stay up comfortably, but Ball State will have its moments in the passing game to keep it from being ugly.
CFN Prediction: Illinois 38 ... Ball State 27 ... Line: Illinois -14
Must See Rating: (5
America's Most Smartest Model - 1 Marie Osmond on DTWS) ... 2

(5-3) at Wisconsin (6-2)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to watch
: Oh sure, Wisconsin blasted a banged up, punchless Northern Illinois last week, but it still has to show it can get back on the Big Ten track after losing to Illinois and Penn State to all but ruin any Rose Bowl hopes. Even so, there's still plenty of time to make a lot of noise and get in the chase for a BCS slot with dates with Ohio State and Michigan coming up next. But first, the UW defense has to deal with the nightmare that will be the Indiana offense. The Hoosiers are as explosive and dangerous as any team in the Big Ten, and have just the right mix of players to pull off the upset. A win would make IU bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.
Why Indiana might win: For supposedly having a great offensive line, the Badgers aren't strong in pass protection and have problems with the quicker defensive fronts. Welcome to Indiana, who gets into the backfield early and often and is great at generating pressure on the passer. If the UW running game isn't rumbling and there are several third and long situations, QB Tyler Donovan will be running for his life. However ...
Why Wisconsin might win: ... the Badgers should be able to pound away. By design, Indiana is small up front and will wear down against the better running teams. Michigan State gashed the Hoosiers for 368 yards and five touchdowns, and Illinois spread its way for 288. Indiana is 0-3 this year when allowing 192 rushing yards or more, and 6-0 when allowing fewer. UW is averaging 196 per game, and since it's a home game, it has Lance Smith, who's being disciplined by not being able to go on road trips, in the mix to help out P.J. Hill.
Who to watch: Can UW handle a Kellen Lewis? The Badger defensive front wasn't close to stopping Juice Williams and the Illinois running game, struggled against the Citadel spread, and have had issues all season long against mobile quarterbacks. Lewis didn't have his sharpest game in last week's loss to Penn State, but he was still impressive and still hit a few home runs. If the Badgers are tackling like the did before the NIU game, there will be several big IU plays.
What will happen: There will be nervous moments when the Badgers have to deal with several momentum swings thanks to Lewis and WR James Hardy, but by the fourth quarter, the running game will dominate. It'll take about 55 minutes, but UW will finally pull away.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 40 ... Indiana 31 ... Line: Wisconsin -7.5
Must See Rating: (5
America's Most Smartest Model - 1 Marie Osmond on DTWS) ... 3.5

Big 10 Week 9 Predictions, Part 2

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