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Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Sept. 6
Penn State DE Maurice Evans
Penn State DE Maurice Evans
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 16, 2008


Previews and Predictions for the Week 2 Big Ten Games


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Big Ten Week One Fearless Predictions, Part 2

Big Ten Game of the Week

Oregon State (0-1) at Penn State (1-0), 3:30 EST ABC
Why to watch: All of a sudden, a potential yawner of a game will get a glaring spotlight after yet another issue off-the-field for Penn State. After a nightmare of an off-season, the last thing the program needed was more negative publicity, but it's getting it and then some. After a nightmare of an off-season, the last thing Penn State needed was more negative publicity, but it's getting it and then some. All-America DE Maurice Evans, DT Abe Koroma, and TE Andrew Quarless will be suspended for a game, at least, after marijuana was discovered in CB A.J. Wallace's apartment. Wallace, however, has been cleared and will play. A major distraction, Penn State has to try to focus and deal with a wounded Oregon State team coming off a tough and embarrassing loss at Stanford. The Beavers put up big numbers, but couldn't handle the Cardinal running game. Games against USC and Utah are coming up after a date with Hawaii, and while OSU is overmatched against a fully-functional Penn State team, now the playing field has been leveled a bit. If the Nittany Lions can just get through this week, things ease up immeasurably against Syracuse and Temple.
Why Oregon State might win: Besides the suspension factor, the Oregon State passing game should be able to put up big numbers with QB Lyle Moevao likely to get far more time to work. The running game should be able to work up the middle against the depleted Penn State defensive interior, while the Nittany Lion secondary, which gave up 198 yards in the 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina, could get bombed on for 300 yards. Oregon State's offense should be able to come up with a few big home runs.
Why Penn State might win: If Stanford could run the ball on the one-time great Oregon State run defense, then Penn State should be able to do whatever it wants to. The Nittany Lion offensive line is fantastic, and it's only getting better each week with more and more experience. Stephon Greene and Evan Royster should be able to control the game on the ground while taking the heat off new starter Daryll Clark, who had a nice first game completing 11 of 14 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Who to watch: The Penn State suspensions take away from a special showdown between two of the nation's most electrifying punt returners and wide receivers. Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter is back after missing most of last year injured, and he hasn't missed a beat catching 12 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinal. However, he was held to nine yards on three punt returns. On the other side, Williams caught just two passes against Coastal Carolina for 45 yards, but he all but ended the game on an 89-yard kickoff return for a score.
What will happen: In the past, Penn State has rallied around adversity and came through big. This time should be no exception as the team will come together and focus, using the running game to pound its way to a win.

CFN Prediction: Penn State 37 ... Oregon State 17 ... Line: Penn State -16.5
Must See Rating: (5 Entourage premiere - 1 One Tree Hill premiere) … 3
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Saturday, September 6

Miami University (0-1) at Michigan (0-1), 12:00 EST ESPN2
Why to watch: Michigan didn't exactly clunk in the Rich Rodriguez debut, the team showed heart in the second half and Utah isn't Appalachian State, but it wasn't exactly the type of overall performance Wolverine fans were hoping for. If nothing else, Michigan was supposed to be able to run the ball with a good group of backs behind a talented line, but it didn't happen. The defensive front was supposed to be able to hold up against the run and get into the backfield to generate pressure. Neither happened. It was a disappointing loss, but it's not like the Wolverines were going to win the BCS Championship Game. The resurgence is going to take a little while, but for the season to be a success, the turnaround has to happen now with a road trip to Notre Dame and dates with Wisconsin and Illinois to follow. Miami might be the MAC's best team, but it didn't play like it in a 34-13 loss to Vanderbilt. The offense struggled, the defense didn't stop the run, and it was an overall dud for both the team and the MAC. All can be forgotten about and forgiven with a win in the Big House.
Why Miami might win: 36 yards rushing. The University of Michigan, led by one of the best head coaches in the game when it comes to exploiting mismatches in the running game, came up with 36 yards rushing against Utah. Miami got ripped apart by Vanderbilt's running quarterback Chris Nickson for 166 yards, and gave up 269 yards on the day, but the Wolverines don't have a Nickson running the ball. The RedHawk linebackers are far better than they looked against Vanderbilt and should be able to keep the Wolverines from consistently producing on the ground.
Why Michigan might win: The pass rush should disrupt and destroy the MU offense. The RedHawks allowed three sacks and several other pressures last week, while Michigan was able to get to Utah's Brian Johnson early and often with six sacks and 11 tackles for loss. The MU line isn't athletic enough to handle the Wolverine quickness at any of the four spots. 
Who to watch: It might be a case of musical quarterbacks again for Michigan if the production isn't there. Steven Threet will get the start after a decent second half against the Utes, but Nick Sheridan isn't out of the picture. There are also question marks at the other skill spots with top receiver Greg Mathews likely out with an ankle problem, Kevin Grady finally back from suspension after getting arrested for a DUI, and Carlos Brown is likely out with a shoulder injury. In other words, Michigan is far from being a finished product.
What will happen: Michigan will score on its first drive, struggle to put the game away, and will finally end the drama with two long drives with the running game pounding away.

CFN Prediction: Michigan 31 ... Miami University 13... Line: Michigan -14
Must See Rating: (5 Entourage premiere - 1 One Tree Hill premiere) … 2.5
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Ohio (0-1) at Ohio State (1-0), 12:00 EST ESPN
Why to watch: Ohio State is looking to get in, get out, and start working on the biggest fish in the pond, No. 1 USC. The Buckeyes won the opening day scrimmage over Youngstown State with a 43-0 walk-through, but in the process they lost star RB Chris Wells to a toe injury. The Heisman candidate will be out this week as he tries to heal up for the Trojans, and while he won't be needed to beat Ohio, this could be a tougher game than expected if the Buckeyes are mentally on a plane to L.A. The Bobcats are coming off a tough 21-20 loss at Wyoming and need everything to go right to keep this from being a blowout, but they have just enough defensive talent to hang around for a half.
Why Ohio might win: The secondary might be as good as USC's, at least at the corners (fine, the safeties aren't in the same ballpark). Mark Parson and Julian Posey might be the MAC's best corner tandem and they should keep the Buckeye passing game from consistently producing like it might hope for. There's a ton of talent in the OSU backfield, but without Beanie, the running game isn't going to be the same.
Why Ohio State might win: What happened to the Ohio running game? Head coach Frank Solich was known for putting together great rushing attacks, led by Kalvin McRae for the last few years, but the Bobcats were held to a mere 39 yards on the ground last week and turned into a passing team. You don't get healthy in the running game by playing Ohio State, who held Youngstown State to -11 yards.
Who to watch: So with Beanie out, who's going to run the ball? It'll be a combination of talented, speedy backs with Maurice Wells, Brandon Saine, and Dan Herron all getting work, but the spotlight will be on Terrelle Pryor, who stepped in and cranked out 52 yards and a touchdown and completed 4-of-6 passes for 35 yards. The Buckeyes aren't going to do anything crazy and will try to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible.
What will happen: Ohio State will go through the motions, and while Ohio will come up with a few defensive stops, the offense won't be able to take advantage of a the few available opportunities.

CFN Prediction: Ohio State 40 ... Ohio 6 ... Line: Ohio State -35
Must See Rating: (5 Entourage premiere - 1 One Tree Hill premiere) … 2
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Marshall (1-0) at Wisconsin (1-0), 12:00 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: Is Wisconsin really a national title contender? The 38-17 win over Akron was far more impressive than is might appear as Badger mistakes near the goal line kept the game from being a brutal blowout, but with a nasty road trip to Fresno State ahead, followed up by a killer stretch of games against Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan State, the team needs to sharpen up now. Marshall has improved with the most experienced, talented team in the Mark Snyder era, but it needs a splashy, signature win to finally turn things around. This would be it. The opening day win over Illinois State showed off a balanced attack with a good running game, but the defense struggled a bit giving up 327 yards. The Conference USA slate kicks in for the Herd next week against Memphis.
Why Marshall might win: Wisconsin continues with its nasty habit of letting inferior teams hang around. The Badgers dominated the Zips but the game was way too close over the final three quarters because the offense struggled to drop the hammer and end the drama. Marshall has just enough pop in the passing game and just enough experience to come up with the big play here and there to turn the momentum around if the Badgers don't put the game away. Even though the UW defense has gotten healthier, there are still major dings dating back to last year. The Badgers are hardly 100%.
Why Wisconsin might win: The offensive line is really, really good. It has been fine over the last few years, but against Akron, it was a tight, dominant unit that appears ready to take the production to another level. The line has been building to this point over the last few seasons, and it should come out and steamroll the Marshall defensive front. The running game cranked out 404 yards on Akron and should hover around 300 against the Herd. 
Who to watch: Can Allan Evridge actually play? The Badger quarterback has been biding his time for the last few seasons, but he was hidden a bit last week against Akron and was a bit too shaky. He threw a bad interception in the end zone to kill a late first half drive that led the way to a late Akron field goal, and he hung up a few other throws that should've been picked off. He'll have to be more than just a caretaker over the next several games, and it has to start this week.
What will happen: Marshall will keep it interesting for just over a half, and then the Wisconsin running game will pound its way to a double-digit win.

CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 34 ... Marshall 10 ... Line: Wisconsin -20.5
Must See Rating: (5 Entourage premiere - 1 One Tree Hill premiere) … 2
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Eastern Illinois (0-1) at Illinois (0-1), 12:00 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: If nothing else, this should be a good offensive show one way or another. Illinois is coming off an interesting loss to Missouri which saw the two teams combine for 1,081 and 94 points, but despite pulling within ten on a last second touchdown pass, it wasn't the type of opener the team might have wanted. If nothing else, QB Juice Williams showed he could throw the ball, chucking for a career-high 451 yards and five touchdowns, but over the next two weeks the Illini needs to get the running game back on track. Eastern Illinois has won three straight Ohio Valley Conference championships and is expected to be a major player in the FCS race, but the Panthers struggled to get the offense going in a 31-12 loss to Central Michigan. With a layup against Indiana State next week, the wins will start coming. Any production against Illinois will be a confidence-booster going forward.
Why Eastern Illinois might win: If the Illinois secondary plays like it did against Missouri, there's hope for the EIU passing game to get going after struggling against CMU. This is a running team, at least it was last year, but it only came up with 83 yards last week. Even if the ground attack is working, the Panthers have to start throwing the ball better. Illinois allowed 323 passing yards last week to Missouri, and while Bodie Reeder isn't Chase Daniel, he can be effective with a little bit of time to work.
Why Illinois might win: Where was the offense against Central Michigan? It's not like the Chippewas have a brick wall of a defense, but the Panthers were ineffective and sputtered way too much in the loss. The Illinois defense is far better than it showed against Missouri and it's due for a great game from the back seven. EIU should have a problem with the Illinois speed.
Who to watch: After an entire off-season of hearing about how the running game was sputtering without Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois got a nice game from junior Daniel Dufrene, who rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries and caught six passes for 50 yards. He'll be more and more involved in the offense with the goal being to lessen the dependence on Williams and the passing attack.
What will happen:
Fired up by the throwback day in Champaign and with several legendary Illini stars back for the home opener, Illinois will come out hot putting the game away midway through the second quarter.
CFN Prediction: Illinois 51 ... Eastern Illinois 20 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Entourage premiere - 1 One Tree Hill premiere) … 1.5
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Northern Colorado (0-0) at Purdue (0-0), 12:00 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: If you're looking to see Purdue come out and hang a half a hundred without breaking a sweat, this is your game. Northern Colorado isn't very good, expected to finish at or near the bottom of the Big Sky Conference after going 1-11 last season. Purdue got a week off to prepare not just for this week, but for Oregon next week. This is a scrimmage for the Boilermakers; they have way too much firepower for this to be close. If this is close in any way, it might be time to worry about the Boilermakers.
Why Northern Colorado might win: This is a veteran team that has plenty of experience in key spots. The talent level might not be all that great, and there's a lot to work on, but the coaching staff's own admission, but Purdue might not be all that sharp in the season opener. If the Boilermaker offense sputters a bit, and if Florida transfer Bryan Waggener can be the quarterback the Bears were missing last year, there's a chance for a little bit of excitement for a quarter or two.
Why Purdue might win: This is a gross mismatch. Purdue has way too much athleticism on defense for the Bear offense, and there's next to no chance of Purdue QB Curtis Painter being pressured on a consistent basis. There's way too much Boilermaker firepower for the Bears to keep up the pace.
Who to watch: One of the key things Purdue has to work on is finding a No. 1 go-to target, and the hope is for senior Greg Orton to be the one to take over. He's a good veteran and one of the lone holdovers from last year, and it's a chance to grow into his role and get more live work with Painter. Now Orton will be the first option.
What will happen: Northern Colorado will come in, get blasted, get its check and go home. Purdue should be able to call its shot.

CFN Prediction: Purdue 63 ... Northern Colorado 17 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Entourage premiere - 1 One Tree Hill premiere) … 1
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- Big Ten Week One Fearless Predictions, Part 2