Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Oct. 13, Part 2
Posted Oct 10, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 7 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. 6Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 39-12 ... ATS: 16-24-2

Big 10 Week 7 Predictions, Part 1

Big 10 Saturday, Oct. 13

Minnesota (1-5) at Northwestern (3-3)   12:00 PM ET Big Ten Network
Why to watch: With one magnificent passing performance from C.J. Bacher, Northwestern's season has gotten out of the tank and now could finish up with a bowl bid. The Wildcats had lost three straight, bottoming out with a home loss to Duke, but Bacher bombed away for 520 yards in the overtime win over Michigan State for a 3-3 record with extremely winnable games against Eastern Michigan and Iowa down the road. This week, it's about keeping Minnesota in the doldrums. On a four-game losing streak, and with the only win coming in overtime against Miami University, the Gophers haven't exactly taken off under new head coach Tim Brewster. The defense has gone from mediocre to horrific, the running game has stopped working, and dreams of a sixth straight bowl appearance are long gone. However, with North Dakota State ahead (even though it's hardly a gimme), there's a chance to go on a little run with a win in Evanston. The two teams haven't played since 2004, but the Gophers have won the last three meetings scoring a total of 130 points.
Why Minnesota might win: Northwestern's blow up in East Lansing was an aberration, not the norm. This isn't a consistent scoring offense, hanging up just 14 on Duke, doing nothing against Nevada until late, and getting just 23 points against Michigan and Ohio State. It can bog down at times with Bacher isn't throwing well. On the other side of the ball, the Wildcat defensive line has been decent against the run, but hasn't come close to getting into the backfield on a regular basis. Minnesota can throw the ball a bit, thanks to an offensive line that's doing a great job in pass protection, so QB Adam Weber should get plenty of time and should put up some nice numbers.
Why Northwestern might win: 119 out of 119. Minnesota's pass defense is the worst in the nation, and it's not improving. The defense is a total mess. The linebacking play has been lousy, the corners get beaten like a drum no matter who's throwing the ball, and the coaching staff would sell the roof off the Metrodome for an end that could get to the quarterback just once. No pass rush plus lousy defensive backs equals another monster day for Bacher.
Who to watch: Yeah, the Gophers are giving up passing yards in chunks and the defense has been horrendous, but don't blame safety Dominique Barber for the problems. An All-Big Ten caliber player stuck in a lousy situation, the brother of Dallas Cowboy running back Marion Barber III has had to try to make every play, leading the team with 51 tackles, a sack, and three tackles for loss.
What will happen: Northwestern's passing game won't do that again, but it'll light up the Gopher secondary on the way to a second straight win. It'll be a shootout, with Minnesota getting its licks in.
CFN Prediction: Northwestern 38 ... Minnesota 30... Line: Northwestern -7
Must See Rating: (5 Hideki Matsui's "collection" - 1 The Heartbreak Kid) ... 4

Kent State (3-3) at Ohio State (6-0)   
12:00 PM ET Big Ten Network
Why to watch: After putting on a clinic in the 23-7 win over Purdue, Ohio State is back in the national title picture. Now it has to go on a mega-PR campaign to convince the world that it deserves to be in the mix of the top teams, and that the 2007 BCS Championship game was a one-shot deal. After this week it's Michigan State, and then a nice finishing kick (at Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois and at Michigan) that if navigated unscathed, should punch the ticket to New Orleans. But first, the Buckeyes have to get through the formality of Kent State, who's coming off  a rough MAC start, losing two of the first three games in heartbreaking fashion. The offense is just good enough to make things interesting if everything breaks the right way, but the Buckeyes have gone 10-0 against MAC teams over the last ten years.  
Why Kent State might win: The only shot the Golden lashes have of keeping this interesting is if OSU has mentally checked out after the huge win over Purdue, but they can play a little defense. No, they're not Ohio State, but they're the best in the MAC so far, leading the conference in run defense and is second in pass defense. The defensive front has held up extremely well so far, and if it can generate a little bit of a pass rush, the Buckeyes offense could struggle a bit. Unfortunately ...
Why Ohio State might win: KSU doesn't have a pass rush. The secondary doesn't give up too many yards, but it can be burned deep, and it doesn't come up with enough clutch plays. This is a limited Golden Flash offense that doesn't have any semblance of a passing game. With the way the Buckeyes corners are playing, the safeties can spend all their time keeping QB Julian Edelman and RB Eugene Jarvis from breaking out big runs on the outside.
Who to watch: As if OSU wasn't already loaded with secondary talent. CB Chimdi Chekwa showed up against Purdue with one of the best defensive performances of the Big Ten season with ten solo tackles and a broken up pass. He won't have to do too much against the KSU receivers, but he and the rest of the defensive backs will be in on a slew of assisted tackles against the Golden Flash running game.
What will happen: Kent State is a better team than the 1-2 conference record might indicate, but this is a bad matchup. Ohio State is a tough team for anyone to deal with, but Kent State simply doesn't have the offensive diversity to get the ball moving.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 37 ... Kent State 3... Line: Ohio State -30.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hideki Matsui's "collection" - 1 The Heartbreak Kid) ... 1.5

Indiana (5-1) at Michigan State (4-2)  7:00 PM ET Big Ten Network
Why to watch: This hasn't been a fun series, with the last six games between the two decided by ten points or more. The Hoosiers caught the Spartans in a freefall last year, winning in a 46-21 blasting. This year, they're hoping the trend can continue so they can become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994, and all but assure a post-season scrimmage for the first time since 1993. Even more bizarre to think about, considering this is Indiana, is that a win means it'll be a major player in the Big Ten title race, with no Ohio State or Michigan to deal with. Meanwhile, the Spartans are talking like they're not going to collapse like they have in past years, they're saying all the right things, and they even appear to be far different and far better than past teams that hit the skids. However, losing to Northwestern 48-41 doesn't exactly scream stability. With a road game at Ohio State next week, a loss to the Hooisers will likely be part of a four-game losing streak with Michigan, Purdue and Penn State still ahead.
Why Indiana might win: If you liked the Northwestern spread offense against MSU, you'll get a kick out of what Iowa, rolling up 611 yards of total offense with 520 coming through the air, then you'll love with Indiana should be able to do. It's a different style of attack that doesn't rely as heavily on the running backs, but it's been impressive so far, averaging 37.5 yards and 448 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, IU doesn't have a big defensive front, but the run defense has been fantastic so far, stopping everyone cold except for Illinois, who ran for 288 yards. That's why ...
Why Michigan State might win: MSU has to control the offense, the clock, and the momentum. This is a home-run hitting attack with Javon Ringer tearing off big yards in giant clumps over the last few weeks, It's no coincidence that the only game IU lost was the only game it gave up more than 120 yards. Defensively, the MSU line is phenomenal at getting into the backfield and should be able to keep QB Kellen Lewis from running wild.
Who to watch: Michigan State is starting to get a national reputation on defense when it comes to getting to the quarterback. At least, it did before Northwestern's C.J. Bacher tore it up. But while Jonal Saint-Dic and the nation's fourth best sacking team is getting the pub, it's Indiana who leads the nation in sacks, mostly due to sophomore Greg Middleton, who's been one of the country's most consistent players with a sack in every game but one, the loss to Illinois, cranking out eight on the year. The more he can get to MSU QB Brian Hoyer, the more the Spartans will have to become one dimensional with the ground game.
What will happen: Each team has the potential to blow the doors off the other. This time around, it'll be Michigan State's turn. The running game will pound the ball for over 35 minutes and 250 yards, while Indiana's passing game will sputter just enough late for the Spartans to survive with a desperately needed win.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 27 ... Indiana 24... Line: Michigan State -5
Must See Rating: (5 Hideki Matsui's "collection" - 1 The Heartbreak Kid) ... 3

Big 10 Week 7 Predictions, Part 1