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Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Oct. 6, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 4, 2007


Previews and Predictions for the Week 6 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. 22 | Sept. 29 
Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 35-10 ... ATS: 14-20-2

Big 10 Week 6 Predictions, Part 1

Big 10 Saturday, Oct. 6

Iowa (2-3) at Penn State (3-2)  3:30 PM ABC
Why to watch: It's do or die time for two teams thinking Big Ten title coming into the year, but now are battling to get out of the cellar. Iowa's woes can be forgiven, to a point, with a bizarre rash of injuries and suspensions killing the offense, while the defense hasn't been able to pick up the slack in losses to Wisconsin and Indiana. Combined with a horrible loss to Iowa State, and the season is one game away from going into the tank. Penn State has been the far bigger disappointment, failing to get enough on offense against Michigan and turning it over four times against Illinois. However, with Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue left on the schedule, time hasn't run out quite yet. Iowa has owned the series, winning five straight, with the last game two years ago in a bizarre 6-4 slugfest.
Why Iowa might win: After the first three games, the question was whether or not Penn State's offense could work on a real defense, or it it was just putting up big numbers on bad teams. As it turns out, the offense has issues, big ones, from QB Anthony Morelli's inability to get the passing game working consistently, to the mediocre running game that's still trying to find an answer with Austin Scott continually putting it on the ground. The Hawkeye defense has been stellar so far, outside of allowing two long touchdowns against Indiana, led by a killer defensive front. Penn State won't be able to run the ball, meaning it'll be Morelli or bust. That's a good thing for Iowa. Speaking of offense ...
Why Penn State might win: Iowa's simply isn't working. Consider it a minor miracle that QB Jake Christensen was able to throw for 308 yards and three touchdowns last week against Indiana. The receiving corps has been completely gutted, even though there are a slew of interesting, athletic playmakers just needing more time, but the real problem has been an offensive line that's getting Christensen killed. Penn State should be able to crank out at least five sacks, while the linebacking corps will all but erase Albert Young and the ground game.
Who to watch: Is it Morelli, or is it the receivers? Morelli isn't getting a ton of help, with a few dropped passes here and there against Illinois killing drives, but there hasn't been a spark to get the passing game going. Morelli threw for close to 300 yards against Illinois, but he also threw three picks, coming off a rough day against Michigan when he failed to push the ball deep. While he's still the unquestioned starter, at least in the eyes of the coaching staff, that could quickly change with a rough outing. The more mobile Daryll Clark might start to see a little bit of time, while Pat Devlin, the future of the program, could find his way on the field if things start to go in the tank.
What will happen: Don't expect fireworks. Penn State will get one key play on special teams, and will get just enough pressure in the backfield, to slug its way to a win that'll temporarily stop the bleeding, but will still keep the current concerns going.
CFN Prediction: Penn State 24 ... Iowa 13... Line: Penn State -8
Must See Rating: (5 Paris on Letterman - 1 Singing Bee) ... 2.5

Eastern Michigan (2-3)
at Michigan (3-2)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to watch: With a three game winning streak and a 2-0 Big Ten record, the leak appears to be plugged in the Michigan ship, for now. There's that strange problem of a possible forfeit against Penn State possibly screwing things up (with a ruling waiting to be handed down after allowing an academically ineligible player to see the field), and things haven't exactly gone smoothly with the offense, but still this is a happy place for the Wolverines after the horrendous start. The last time they faced a MAC team, they needed everything in the bag to beat Ball State at the end of last year, but it'll take something truly strange for them to have any problems with an Eastern Michigan team that hasn't done squat on offense so far. Michigan needs an easy blowout to feel better about itself, while the Eagles will take anything positive they can get.
Why Eastern Michigan might win: Let's just say Michigan isn't playing up to its potential. For all the offensive talent, and all the all-timer skill players, things simply aren't clicking like they're supposed to. EMU is playing the best defense, by far, than it has in several years, with a decent enough line to generate a little bit of pressure, and strong play so far from the secondary. Oh sure, Michigan should win, but it's probably going to be yet another tough struggle to blow up on O.
Why Michigan might win: The Eagles can't score. Against D-I/FBS teams, they're averaging just under 12 points per outing thanks to an equal blend of mediocre rushing and inefficient passing. There simply aren't any playmakers to keep the chains moving, or provide the pop needed if and when the Wolverines get up by two touchdowns. There's no threat whatsoever of a passing game to give a push to the Wolverine secondary.
Who to watch: Does Michigan have a quarterback problem? Chad Henne returned from his knee injury to start against Northwestern, throwing for 193 yards and three touchdowns in an efficient performance. However, Ryan Mallett is still getting work, and there's still a thought that Henne's a few lousy drives from getting yanked for an extended period of time. This is a vital game for Henne and the passing game. He has to come out and go lights out to cement his status as the triggerman for the offense, and to show that there's no need to build for the future quite yet.
What will happen: This is the game Michigan fans have been waiting for. It'll be a true breather that's over by halftime, and for a brief moment, Michigan will look like Michigan again.
CFN Prediction: Michigan 45 ... Eastern Michigan 10 ... Line: Michigan -31.5
Must See Rating: (5 Paris on Letterman - 1 Singing Bee) ... 1.5

Northwestern (2-3)
at Michigan State (4-1)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to watch: The last time we saw these two, Michigan State was pulling off the biggest comeback in college football history, coming from down 38-3 to win 41-38 as the last positive moment in the John L. Smith era. This is certainly a new season and a new Michigan State team, playing far better under head coach Mark Dantonio, but this is a critical time. Past Spartan teams went into the tank after losing a tough battle like the one in Madison last week, a 37-34 Wisconsin win, and while this year's squad doesn't appear to be the slightest bit flaky, losing to Northwestern at home wouldn't be a good sign. The Wildcats are on a three-game losing streak, going from the lowest of the low, losing at home to Duke, to acceptable losses to Ohio State and Michigan. With Minnesota and Eastern Michigan coming up, a win in East Lansing could spark a nice run.
Why Northwestern might win: The run defense has been excellent so far. Michigan's Mike Hart got his 100 yards last week, but it was a struggle. The Wildcat linebackers are doing a nice job of swarming, and keeping short runs from turning into backbreakers. There hasn't been much of a Northwestern pass rush so far, but that could change a bit this week against an MSU O line that's having problems in pass protection.
Why Michigan State might win: Tyrell Sutton. While it's not quite right to say Northwestern's slide is because of the loss of its star running back, who now might redshirt the season, it certainly hasn't helped the cause. The Wildcats simply don't have enough offensive playmakers to overcome a big MSU run, and while the Spartan offense has played to the level of its competition, it has the ability to crank out a few home runs and some good scoring drives to put the game away early. Nevada win and near-miss against Duke aside, this isn't necessarily a Wildcat team built for comebacks.
Who to watch: You can forgive Spartan fans if they're still wondering why Javon Ringer only got the ball 17 times against Wisconsin, with ten runs and seven catches. He was untouchable, cranking out 145 rushing yards and 88 receiving after being able to get a few open holes, get a head of steam going, and run downhill. He's shown he can be a durable workhorse, carrying it 20 times or more three times this year. Jehuu Caulcrick needs his carries, but it'll be Ringer who makes the difference.
What will happen: This isn't your brother's Spartan team. The running game is too good, and the pass rush too strong, for the Spartans to come up with a clunker against a lousy team.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 38 ... Northwestern 17 ... Line: Michigan State -14.5
Must See Rating: (5 Paris on Letterman - 1 Singing Bee) ... 2


Big 10 Week 6 Predictions, Part 1

 

 

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