Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Sept. 8, Part 2
Posted Sep 5, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 2 Big Ten Games, Part 2

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    

Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Week Two, Part 1

Big Ten, Saturday, September 8th

Notre Dame (0-1) at Penn State (1-0)  6:00 PM ESPN
Why to Watch: Maybe Georgia Tech is simply really, really good. Notre Dame came up with one of its worst opening day performances in school history with a 33-3 loss to Georgia Tech. Nothing worked. There was no running game (netting -8 yards), little in the way of a passing attack (130 yards), and no run defense (allowing 265 yards). With Michigan (and yes, Michigan is actually good), a resurgent Michigan State, a high-octane Purdue, a road trip to UCLA, Boston College, and USC coming up, the Irish have to start making improvements right now. Good luck with that against a Penn State defense that appears to be as nasty as any in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions throttled FIU 59-0 to start the season and can be 3-0, for all intents and purposes, (Buffalo is coming to town next week) by keeping the Irish slide going. Going back to last year, Notre Dame has gotten bombed 114 to 41 over a three game losing streak. 
Why Notre Dame Might Win: Penn State doesn't really have a running game. Yeah, yeah, it cranked out 236 yards and five touchdowns against FIU, but that was FIU. You could've run for 100 yards on that D if you got the ball 25 times. The Nittany Lion offensive line is good, but it's not as good as Georgia Tech's, and there's no Tashard Choice in the backfield to pound away. Austin Scott averaged a mere 4.2 yards per carry, while Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Royster aren't going to run for more than eight yards a crack again.
Why Penn State Might Win: This is a far, far cry from the Notre Dame offense with Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija and Darius Walker. The Irish survived last year because Quinn was able to make quick reads and smart decisions despite getting popped every other play. The Irish quarterbacks aren't as good (at least not yet), and there's no talent at running back whatsoever to take the pressure off. Don't totally blame the skill players for the collapse against Tech; no one had time to operate. The offensive line is still a major problem, while Penn State's linebacking corps should be able to get into the backfield whenever it wants to.
Who to Watch: O.K. hotshot, the team is yours. Hyped up freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen will get the start for the Irish after the game of musical quarterbacks failed miserably against the Yellow Jackets. Clausen completed four of six passes for 34 yards and didn't move the offense at all, but it's going to be sink-or-swim for the franchise passer as long as he holds up. To have any success, he needs help from a running back. Any running back. The leading rusher last week was quarterback Demetrius Jones with just 28 yards. Armando Allen ran for 25 and James Aldridge ran for 19. Trying to establish a ground game against the Penn State linebacking corps isn't going to be easy.
What Will Happen: Penn State got throttled 41-17 by the Irish last year. Considering Penn State is ultra-motivated to get revenge for the blowout, the Irish might be lucky if the score isn't reversed.
CFN Prediction: Penn State 38 ... Notre Dame 17
... Line:  Penn State -14.5
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 3
Final Score: 

Western Illinois (1-0) at Illinois (0-1)  7:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to Watch: Eventually, Illinois is going to win another game. On an eight game losing streak going back to last year, and losers of 20 of the last 22, this is a program in desperate need of a win against anyone. Western Illinois isn't necessarily anyone. Ranked to start the season, the Leathernecks had a surprisingly difficult time against South Dakota State winning 29-26 in overtime. WIU has an aggressive defense that's great at forcing mistakes. Illinois has a young offense that's great at making mistakes. For all the hype and all the expectations for Ron Zook's young Illini, this is a game it has to win in a blowout before going on the road to face Syracuse and Indiana.
Why Western Illinois Might Win: WIU has to be at least plus-2 in turnover margin and it has to establish the running game right away. The secondary picked off three passes last week, to go along with a recovered fumble, and it has to do more of the same be generating a consistent pass rush to push the tempo. Illinois lost the the ball five times in the loss to Missouri, and is all but certain to be good for at least two turnovers in key spots. While that's part one of the WIU equation ...
Why Illinois Might Win: ... part two won't be so easy. Illinois did a good job of stuffing the Missouri running game, with LB J Leman coming up with 20 tackles, and it should be a brick wall against WIU. QB Matt Barr can run as well as throw, but as long as he's contained, and star RB Herb Donaldson doesn't get 100 yards, Illinois shouldn't need more than a few scores to win.
Who to Watch: While backup QB Eddie McGee did a relatively nice job against Missouri, running for 23 yards and a touchdown and throwing for 257 yards with a score and two interceptions, he's not Juice Williams. The rising Illini star completed six of nine passes and ran for 11 yards before getting knocked out after getting hit in the head. He's back and firmly entrenched as the starter. The coaching staff has gone out of its way to say McGee, even after coming up with a nice comeback against the Tigers, is the backup and Williams is the starter.
What Will Happen: Ron Zook and his Illini will experience a home victory for the first time since beating Eastern Illinois last September 2nd. WIU won't have the passing attack to make this a ball game.
CFN Prediction: Illinois 38 ... Western Illinois 13
... Line:  No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 1
Final Score: 

Indiana (1-0) at Western Michigan (0-1) 8:00 PM ESPNU
Why to Watch: If the MAC wants an honest shot at beating a team from a big league, this is it. Indiana beat Western Michigan 39-20 in last year's opener, and now it goes for a 2-0 start before facing Akron and Illinois at home. While the Illini have improved, this road date in Kalamazoo might be the biggest obstacle to going 4-0. Western Michigan is a much better team than it showed in the 62-24 opening day loss at West Virginia, at least that's what it's hoping, but with Missouri coming up, a loss to the Hoosier will likely mean an 0-3 start before things ease up for the MAC contenders. The two offenses are exciting, and the two teams are relatively even.
Why Indiana Might Win: While IU QB Kellen Lewis isn't West Virginia's Pat White, he's a dangerous, mobile quarterback who led the Hoosiers with 59 rushing yards and a touchdown, and completed 12 of 21 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns, against Indiana State. WMU can't load up against the run, like it tried to do early against WVU, or the dangerous IU receiving corps will make big plays deep. It can't totally commit the safeties to stopping the deep ball, or Lewis will run.
Why Western Michigan Might Win: The jury is still out on the Indiana defense. The secondary is good thanks to a great pair of corners, but WMU should be able to run the ball if it doesn't panic and keeps pounding away. The Broncos weren't able to test out its offensive balance against West Virginia after getting down, but it should be able to mix it up a little. Also look for more of a pass rush on Lewis than the Broncos were able to generate last week.
Who to Watch: The Western Michigan quarterback situation is now in question again. Tim Hiller, after a year off to recover from knee surgery, got the start against the Mountaineers and completed 16 of 25 passes for 160 yards. Thomas Peregrin stepped in and completed nine of 17 passes for 71 yards and a score. No matter who starts, there will be a bit of a quarterback controversy for the rest of the year.
What Will Happen: Western Michigan will generate more pressure and be far more effective than it was last week, but the deep passing of Indiana, and a mistake-free game from Lewis, will mean a tight IU win.
CFN Prediction: Indiana 31 ... Western Michigan 30
... Line:  Western Michigan -3
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2.5
Final Score: 

Syracuse (0-1) at Iowa (1-0)  8:05 PM Big Ten Network
Why to watch: A win’s a win, but Iowa came out of last week’s 16-3 victory over Northern Illinois with questions on offense and a goal to cut down on mistakes and unforced errors.  Sophomore QB Jake Christensen was only 12-of-29 for 133 yards with a touchdown in his debut as the full-timer, but it wasn’t all his fault.  The Hawkeye receiving corps, thinned by suspensions to Dominique Douglas and Anthony Bowman, dropped a bunch of passes that should have been caught.  Until the passing game sharpens, Iowa will lean heavily on a veteran defense and a running game that produced 250 yards last Saturday.  These days, Syracuse would take any win, no matter how ugly it looks.  Coming off an embarrassing 42-12 home loss to Washington in which nothing went right, the Orange are already staring down the barrel of a third straight losing season.  With a palpable death watch following third-year head coach Greg Robinson, Syracuse will need to quickly exorcise its Week One demons to keep this game competitive.
Why Syracuse might win: One thing the Orange defense can do is generate quarterback pressure and turnovers, which will cause problems for the unproven Christensen and a young Hawkeye offensive line.  With few concerns about the passing game, Syracuse can throw eight men into the box in order slow down the steady Iowa ground attack. Unlike last week when it had problems with Washington QB Jake Locker’s mobility, SU’s defense won’t have to watch for Christensen taking off too often, if at all.
Why Iowa might win: No matter how many defenders wind up near the line, the Hawkeyes are going to churn out plenty of yardage with the productive senior tandem of Albert Young and Damian Sims, who both went for 100 yards a week ago.  Allowing more than 300 rushing yards to Washington showed just how far the Orange D has to go, and Iowa should be able to take full advantage.  Orange QB Andrew Robinson has a bright future, but a road trip to Iowa City to face a feisty Hawkeye defense is a recipe for turnovers. He’ll be under even more pressure than he was against the Huskies.
Who to watch: The entire Iowa defensive line, particularly tackle Mitch King and end Kenny Iwebema, will have a field day against a brutal Syracuse offensive line that allowed seven sacks to Washington last Friday night.  King is a whistle-to-whistle battler, who’d warrant double teams if the rest of the Hawkeye line wasn’t so capable. Robinson had a relatively nice day throwing the ball, completing 20 of 32 passes for 199 yards and a score, but he’ll need to make better, faster decisions for SU to have a shot.
What will happen: Unlike last year in the 20-13 win in the Carrier Dome, Iowa won’t need an all-timer of a goal line stand. Behind the running of Young and Sims, and the play of the defense, Iowa will go wire-to-wire, sending Syracuse fans into a deeper state of despair.  The Hawkeyes will dominate on the interior, and only lose a shutout when the reserves enter the game.
CFN Prediction: Iowa 31 ... Syracuse 7... Line:  Iowa -22
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2
Final Score: 

Wisconsin (1-0) at UNLV (1-0)  10:00 PM 
Why to Watch: UNLV tries to put itself on the national map with what would be the biggest win by far of the Mike Sanford era, while Wisconsin looks to avoid the mega-upset before getting a layup against The Citadel. These two teams have a bit of a history with the Badgers winning 19-3 in 2004 to avenge a stunning 23-5 loss in 2003 that was the only blip in a 6-1 start. Wisconsin shook off the first half rust to get past Washington State 42-21, and now it tried to keep the offensive balance going, while hoping for an impressive blowout to maintain its lofty ranking. UNLV could be just looking to survive before facing Colt Brennan and Hawaii next week.
Why Wisconsin Might Win: UNLV struggled to beat Utah State, one of the worst teams in America, last week. The Rebel offense, an inconsistent sore spot throughout last year, struggled to get going, and now it faces a Badger defense that's not going to let down after having a hard time tackling against the Cougars. If the UW linebackers have a good game, this won't be close.
Why UNLV Might Win: The Rebels have made a point to be more active and find ways to make more big plays on defense this year, and things started out well against Utah State with four sacks and six tackles for loss. To have a chance to keep it close against the Badgers, UNLV has to generate consistent pressure into the backfield, while offensively, the offense has to control the clock. The longer the defense is off the field against a UW offensive line that lives to pound on defenses in the second half, the better.
Who to Watch: With Rocky Hinds apparently still having problems from a knee injury suffered last year, the UNLV offense has been turned over to Travis Dixon, a nice prospect who did a little of everything against Utah State. While he's hardly an accomplished passer, completing 12 of 20 throws for 141 yards, he ran 22 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. He has to use all his weapons and he has to spread things out, or Wisconsin will focus solely on stopping him, and will succeed.
What Will Happen: Wisconsin's defense isn't the type that'll let young new quarterbacks run wild. The Badger offense will have way too much balance with QB Tyler Donovan coming up with his second straight impressive game.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 40 ... UNLV 17
... Line:  Wisconsin -24
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2
Final Score: 

Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Week Two, Part 1



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