Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Oct. 20, Part 2
Posted Oct 17, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 8 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. 13 | Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17    

How are the picks so far? SU: 43-14 ... ATS: 18-28-2

Big 10 Week 8 Predictions, Part 1

Big 10 Saturday, Oct. 20

North Dakota State (6-0) at Minnesota (1-5)  12:00 PM Big Ten Network
Why to watch: It took a blocked field goal for Minnesota to escape disaster against North Dakota State last year, winning 10-9 as the only oasis in an ugly six-game stretch, but this year, it might be an upset if the Gophers win. The Bison might be the nation's best FCS team, coming in on a ten-game winning streak with a high-powered offense that's averaging 41 points per game, including 44 in a crushing win over Central Michigan. Minnesota played well offensively in a double-overtime loss to Northwestern, and is on a five-game losing streak with Michigan, Illinois, a road trip to Iowa, and Wisconsin still to deal with.
Why North Dakota State might win: The Bison are flat-out better than the Gophers. The defense has the linebackers in place to keep the Minnesota running game in check, and keep QB Adam Weber from being effective early on. The Gophers secondary, the worst in the nation, continues to give up yards in chunks, the pass rush remains non-existent, and there have been too many mistakes with 22 turnovers. Only NC State has a worse turnover margin.
Why Minnesota might win: No one has really tried to pound the ball on the Bison. While that might be easier said than done against a run defense allowing just 109 yards per game, this needs to be the time when Minnesota uses its solid offensive line and starts battering the ball a little bit. It might be smashmouth time for Minnesota to try to settle things down and control the clock.
Who to watch: The best running back in the game might be on NDSU's side of the field. 233-pound junior Tyler Roehl got a break last week against Mississippi Valley State, but throughout the year has been terrific, scoring three times in four games and rumbling for 6.2 yards per carry. Part fullback, part tailback, he's a dangerous receiver along with his duties as a bruising runner. NDSU would like to run him 25 times, set up the pass by bringing the safeties up to stop him, and win with ease.
What will happen: The Bison defensive front will keep Weber from getting the spread offense going like it needs to, while the offense will be able to do whatever it wants to on the Gopher defense. For most Minnesota fans, this will signal a low point, but NDSU will be one of the tighter teams the Gophers will face.
CFN Prediction: North Dakota State 38 ... Minnesota 27 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 1.5

Northern Illinois (1-6) at Wisconsin (5-2)  12:00 PM
Big Ten Network
Why to watch: Is Wisconsin planning on turning it up a few notches any time soon? After a horrible performance in a 38-7 loss to Penn State, the team is going back to the drawing board, dropping out of the rankings completely and excusing itself from the Big Ten title chase. There's still time to make plenty of noise, with Michigan and Ohio State still to deal with, but first, the team needs a confidence boost. For the first time all year, the program needs a cathartic blowout so it can puff out its chest and feel like the top ten team it probably is, but hasn't played like. Northern Illinois has been close in several games, but can't seem to find the scoreboard. Four of the six losses came by a total of ten points, but while the optimist might think the team is a few points away from being in the MAC title hunt, there were losses to Eastern Michigan, Southern Illinois and Temple. If Wisconsin doesn't win this game going away, then it'll be time to finally say that this is a mediocre team that really was overrated from the start.
Why Northern Illinois might win: The Badger lines have turned soft. The running game has struggled over the last few weeks with no consistent push from the front five, while the defensive line has been out of position and manhandled in the middle by Illinois and Penn State. NIU's line is hardly anything special, but it should be able to open up just enough holes for the hot Justin Anderson to run through. The sophomore has rushed for 132 yards or more in each of his last five games.
Why Wisconsin might win: Northern Illinois doesn't score. If you can't put up points on Western Michigan, Temple or Eastern Michigan, you're not doing something right. The Huskie passing game has been inconsistent, and this is one of the few teams worse at forcing turnovers and mistakes than Wisconsin. This should be the game the Badgers show off their power game. NIU is quick and can get into the backfield, but it can also be shoved around. It shouldn't take more than a few early scores to put it away.
Who to watch: This is a game for the Badger lines. There have been a few sacks, but not enough plays in the backfield. The offensive line has been awful in pass protection on key plays, and hasn't done nearly enough early on to give P.J. Hill any room to move. If Wisconsin is going to turn this thing around, it'll have to start in the trenches, and it'll have to start with this game.
What will happen: Wisconsin will play its sharpest game of the year. Completely mediocre so far, the running game will crank out 250 yards, the defense will come up with a few turnovers, and it'll be the breather the team desperately needs.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 45 ... Northern Illinois 13 ... Line: Wisconsin -23.5
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 1.5

Michigan State (5-2) at Ohio State (7-0)  3:30 PM ABC
Why to watch: Is Ohio State next? In a strange year with upset after upset, Ohio State has managed to avoid the pitfalls of the other top teams, but the best win so far is only over Purdue, or maybe on the road against Washington. While the college football world has begrudgingly accepted the Buckeyes on the top of the BCS rankings, everyone's waiting for the moment when they looking like a number one team. That might not happen, and that's not a slight in any way. This year, just being consistently great is enough, and OSU's defense is playing light's-out. It'll get its best test yet against a Michigan State offense that's the best in the Big Ten, and has exploded for 37 points and 467 yards per game. Basically, this is a living, breathing test for OSU, who hasn't lost to the Spartans since 1999.
Why Michigan State might win: No one has hit OSU QB Todd Boeckman yet. Outside of Washington, maybe, the Buckeyes haven't faced anyone who can consistently get to the quarterbacks. That's not Michigan State, who's second in the nation in sacks and third in tackles for loss. The secondary is burnable, and the run defense will get pounded on from time to time, but if Jonal Saint-Dic and the line can somehow pressure Boeckman, this could be the toughest game yet for the Buckeye offense.
Why Ohio State might win:  Has anyone made any real attempt to run on the Ohio State defense? Minnesota tried with it's anemic spread thing it does, and the same goes for Kent State and Washington, but no one's been able to lineup and blast out yards like Michigan State can. Until this week. The Buckeye speed and experience in the linebacking corps should be enough to keep Javon Ringer from cranking out huge run after hug run, and if the ground game isn't working, and the game is on the shoulders of MSU QB Brian Hoyer, OSU's defensive front should be able to tee off. MSU's pass protection has been lacking.
Who to watch: With Ringer cranking out big yards as a runner and receivers, and Jehuu Caulcrick pounding the ball, and the aggressive defense, the big start to Brian Hoyer's season has been overlooked. Drew Stanton might have been a special talent, who simply never got a good break, but he wasn't consistent. Hoyer has been steady, throwing just three interceptions on the year, with two coming against Bowling Green, while doing a great job of taking what the defenses are giving him completing 61% of his passes with 11 touchdowns. He's coming off a special day against Indiana, completing 20 of 23 passes, and now he's going to need to be even sharper for the Spartans to penetrate the Buckeye defense. He'll have his chances.
What will happen: Michigan State might be the Big Ten's most dangerous offensive team, but it's also flaky defensively. The offense will do more than anyone else has on the OSU brick wall, but it won't have enough success running the ball to overcome two huge Brian Robiskie catches that'll break the game open in the second half.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 31 ...Michigan State 17 ... Line: Ohio State -17
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 3.5

Big 10 Week 8 Predictions, Part 1