Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Sept. 22, Part 2
Posted Sep 19, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 4 Big 10 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. 8 | Sept. 15Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 27-6 ... ATS: 11-14-1

Big 10 Week Four Predictions, Part 1

Big 10 Saturday, Sept. 22

Northwestern (2-1) at Ohio State (3-0)  3:30 PM ESPN
Why to Watch: Ohio State made a statement last week that seemed to get lost in the shuffle. It became the chic pick to take Washington over the Buckeyes, but a big second half and a 33-14 win suddenly changed things around a bit. The defense has been stellar, and the offense, while not anything special, has done just enough to get by. That's right, it's Tressel ball. Now OSU starts the Big Ten season against the league's two worst teams, facing Minnesota next week after dealing with Northwestern. The Wildcats won a game they shouldn't have, pulling out a last-second 36-31 miracle over Nevada, and lost a game it shouldn't have, failing to pull out another last second win in the 20-14 loss to Duke. This is an up-and-coming team that'll pull off a shocker or two this year, but it'll have to play a flawless game to get the program's second win over OSU in 28 tries, and the first win in Columbus since 1971.
Why Northwestern Might Win: Washington might not have done too much offensively, but it got a decent game out of QB Jake Locker, who ran for 102 yards and threw for 153 more with a touchdown pass. However, he threw three picks. Northwestern's C.J. Bacher isn't Locker when it comes to running, but he can take off and get yards in chunks. He's also the best passer the Buckeyes have seen so far this year, coming off a 368-yard day against Duke. Ohio State's offense still isn't humming, so if the Wildcats can keep this close, and somehow force a big turnover, it might be a battle deep into the second half.
Why Ohio State Might Win: The defense is playing at a national title level. It didn't allow a touchdown in the first two games, gave up one to Washington in the final moments of the first half, and allowed another in garbage time. The defensive front seven has been dominant, especially against running backs, while the secondary has been stingy. The is the nation's sixth best pass efficiency defense and ninth best overall D against the pass. Northwestern's offense might be good, but it's not going to be able to consistently crank out the long drives needed.
Who to Watch: It's not that Northwestern senior RB Brandon Roberson is bad, he ran for 128 yards against Nevada and 80 against Duke, with a touchdown in each game, but he's not Tyrell Sutton. Sutton, an Ohio native and one of the program's top recruits over the last few years, has been out with a high ankle sprain, but now he's needed. Even if he's not 100%, he's the one guy the Buckeyes will have to account for on every play, and that might be just enough to open things up for Bacher and the passing game. Trying to stop Sutton will be James Laurinaitis, who's playing up to the high level he set last year, coming off an eight tackle, two pick day against Washington.
What Will Happen: Ohio State appeared to wake up last week in Seattle, and it could start a big run. The defense will get in the Northwestern backfield all game long, while the Buckeyes should be able to run the ball as long as it wants to.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 38 ... Northwestern 10
... Line: OSU -22
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ...

Iowa (2-1) at Wisconsin (3-0)
  8:00 PM GamePlan
Why to Watch: Will the real Wisconsin please stand up? Considered by many to be a top five team at the start of the year, a shaky performance in a 20-13 win over UNLV started to cause a little national skepticism, and then an awful defensive first half against Citadel, in a 45-31 win, has put the team on notice that it needs to start showing something more to earn the lofty status. If this really is a team worthy of winning the Big Ten title, going to the BCS, and possibly making a sleeper run at a national title shot, this is a game it has to win in a walk. Iowa is coming off a 15-13 gaffe to a horrible Iowa State team, and now needs a big redemption game to show that the rivalry loss was a fluke. This has been an unpredictably bizarre series over the last few years, with Iowa winning four of the last five meetings. Wisconsin won last year in Iowa City despite not having starting QB John Stocco. The Hawkeyes won in Madison in 2005, ruining Barry Alvarez's final home game, and ruined UW's chance to go to the Rose Bowl in 2004 with a 30-7 win. 
Why Iowa Might Win: The defense has been playing at another level, allowing six field goals and no touchdowns. The run defense has been a brick wall over the first three games, thanks to a defensive line that's destroying offensive lines with a combination of speed and quickness at all four spots. The Wisconsin offensive line isn't great against athletic defensive fronts, and it'll have a nightmare of a time keeping QB Tyler Donovan clean. Iowa will stuff more than its share of drives with a sack or a big tackle for loss.
Why Wisconsin Might Win: Wisconsin's running game is just a wee step up in production from what Iowa has faced so far. You and three friends could stop the running games of Northern Illinois, Syracuse and Iowa State. If the Badgers get up by any appreciable lead, it's over. Iowa's offensive line is young, inconsistent, and needs a lot of time. QB Jake Chrstensen is a good one, but he's not given much time to breathe and doesn't have any receiving weapons to work with.
Who to Watch: It'll be this simple: Who'll win the battle between the UW offensive line and the Iowa defensive line. Hawkeye DE Ken Iwebama has returned to his preinjury form, terrorizing backfield as one of the Big Ten's premier pass rushers. Bryan Mattison might be the league's quickest tackle, and he's fantastic at blowing up running plays before they hit the line. Wisconsin will try to man up and pound the ball with P.J. Hill, but it'll also try to get Donovan on the move on the outside. Donovan filled in last year for Stocco, and threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 61 yards, in Iowa City. He has to be on early with his receivers, or the Hawkeyes will bring the house to stop Hill.
What Will Happen: Wisconsin's defense will finally show up and stuff the Iowa offense, but Hill and the running game aren't going to rumble until late. This game is on Donovan, and while he'll take five sacks, he'll also beat the Iowa secondary for two touchdown passes. UW TE Travis Beckum will have a huge day.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 24
... Iowa 16 ... Line: Wisconsin -7.5
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ...

(3-0) at Minnesota (1-2)  9:00 PM ESPN2
Why to Watch: After a long day of college football watching, sit back, relax, and enjoy the guilty pleasure game of the day. If you want a defensive slugfest, look elsewhere. Minnesota can't stop anyone from throwing the ball, allowing over 400 passing yards in each of its first three games, but it should be able to keep up the pace with an explosive attack of its own. The Tim Brewster era hasn't exactly started off smoothly with two overtime games against MAC teams, followed up by the indignity of a 42-39 loss to Florida Atlantic. Purdue has been fantastic in its first three games scoring 52 on Toledo, 52 on Eastern Illinois, and 45 against Central Michigan. With a punchless Notre Dame up next, the Boilermakers have an honest shot at a 5-0 start before hosting Ohio State.
Why Purdue Might Win: Again, Minnesota has allowed over 400 passing yards to Bowling Green, Miami University, and Florida Atlantic. Those three aren't exactly going to challenge Hawaii and Texas Tech for the top spot on the passing charts. There's no pass rush, and there's no production whatsoever from the back seven on throws of any kind. As ugly as the pass defense has been, the Gophers' biggest problem has been turnover margin, giving it away 12 times and only forcing three turnovers. The last thing the Purdue offense needs is a chance here and there at an easy scoring opportunity.
Why Minnesota Might Win: Lost in all the problems over the first three games has been a great start by the offensive line. The running game has been fine, and the pass protection stellar. QB Adam Weber has rarely been touched, and has been allowed to quickly develop over the first three games after being thrown into the fire. The Gophers have a balanced offense that'll put it all together at some point and put some mega numbers on the board, but at the moment, it's mistake-prone and wildly inconsistent. If all the parts come together, the balanced attack could crank out 600 yards in a shootout like this.
Who to Watch: America needs to be introduced to Curtis Painter. The junior originally took over the Purdue starting quarterback job two years ago because he could make the pitch on the option better than Brandon Kirsch, and he's grown into one of the nation's most effective passers. How good has be been? In three games, he's completed 69% of his passes for 952 yards and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions. Few passers spread the ball as well as he does, and few are making better decisions. Don't be shocked if he comes close to bombing away for 500 yards.
What Will Happen: Well over 1,000 yards of total offense, close to 100 points, and lots and lots and lots of big plays. Purdue will make more of them. A lot more.
CFN Prediction: Purdue 58 ... Minnesota 40
... Line: Purdue -14
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ... 3

Big 10 Week Four Predictions, Part 1

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