Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Sept. 13
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer
Posted Jul 16, 2008

Previews and Predictions for the Week 3 Big Ten Games

Big Ten
Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota
Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin

Big 10 Fearless Predictions  Aug. 30 | Sept. 6 

How are the picks so far? SU: 20-1 ... ATS: 9-5

- Big 10 Week Three Fearless Predictions, Part 2

Big Ten Game of the Week

Ohio State (2-0) at USC (1-0), 8:00 EST ABC

The Expanded Breakdown, Analysis, and Fearless Prediction for Ohio State vs. USC

Saturday, September 13

Southern Illinois (1-0) at Northwestern (2-0), 12:30 EST  
Why to watch: Northwestern might not have been all that smooth over the first two wins over Syracuse and Duke, and the victories might have only come against the bottom-feeders of the two lowest BCS conferences, but wins are wins are wins. Southern Illinois isn’t going to be a pushover, but if the Wildcats can get by the FCS foe and beat Ohio, it’ll be a 4-0 start when Big Ten play kicks in at Iowa. SIU is expected to be a middle-of-the-pack team in the Gateway Conference after losing head coach Jerry Kill to Northern Illinois. The Salukis started out the year with a 37-31 win over Hampton last week.
Why Southern Illinois might win: SIU has a veteran defense that struggled last week against Hampton, but it has a good set of linebackers who have been through the wars. This is a team that went to the FCS playoffs last year and has a recent history of success. With a balanced offense to go along with the veteran D, this might be interesting for a half.
Why Northwestern might win: Hampton ripped off 403 passing yards on the Saluki secondary last week. NU QB C.J. Bacher hasn’t gotten on track yet, but this might be the game to do it after struggling a bit with his efficiency. He should have all the time in the world behind a line that’s given up one sack in the first two games.
Who to watch: Bacher led the Big Ten in total offense last season but he hasn’t been sharp so far. He had a nice first game against Syracuse completing 23-of-35 passes fro 215 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, but he only hit on 14-of-31 throws against Duke with no touchdowns. He has had time and a running game to support him, and now it’s time to start clicking in the new up-tempo offense.
What will happen: It’ll take about a half, and then the Wildcats will put the game away with a good mix of offense. However, SIU will get its licks in with a big offensive day to keep it interesting.
CFN Prediction: Northwestern 38 … Southern Illinois 23 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 1.5
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Florida Atlantic (1-1) at Michigan State (1-1), 12:00 EST ESPN2
Why to watch: The Spartans got back on track after a season-opening shootout loss to Cal by blasting Eastern Michigan 42-10. Javon Ringer scored five times and the defense shut down the Eagle spread attack, and now the hope is for this to be tune-up time before Notre Dame comes to town next week. Florida Atlantic came up with a good shootout win over UAB after getting blasted by Texas in week one. QB Rusty Smith leads a good team that remains the favorite to win the Sun Belt, but it’s trying to make itself into more of a national player and it needs big wins to do it. This would count, as would a win at Minnesota next week. But really, the Owls are prepping for conference play in a Sun Belt that’ll be far better and far more difficult to get through than last year.
Why Florida Atlantic might win: The Michigan State secondary has been allowing yards in bunches so far. The EMU quarterbacks weren’t great, but they threw for plenty of big plays, while Cal fired away at will with bombs in both the passing and running games. Smith has been excellent so far throwing for 253 yards against Texas and 325 against UAB, and he should be able to hit the 250-yard mark if he gets time to work. The MSU pass rush hasn’t been anything special so far.
Why Michigan State might win: The FAU run defense hasn’t started the season. Texas running the ball for 232 yards and two touchdowns is one thing, but UAB cranking out 156 yards and two scores, and 326 yards through the air, is another. MSU should be able to blow the Owls off the ball for a full four quarters, and it should get another huge day from …
Who to watch: Ringer. The senior has taken over the goal line duties to go along with his job of moving the ball between the 20s, and the stats are coming. He had a nice first game against Cal, but he wasn’t able to break free. Last week he ran 34 times for 135 yards and five touchdowns while remaining the team’s best kickoff returner. That’s fine, but he’s not all that big and he’ll be needed fresh as the season goes on. In a perfect world, this is someone else’s game; 70 touches in two games are too many.
What will happen: Smith will get his yards and FAU will have some good offensive moments, but the Spartan offense will be too bruising and too effective. The game will blow open midway through the third quarter.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 37 … Florida Atlantic 17 ... Line: Michigan State -16.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 1.5
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Montana State (1-0) at Minnesota (2-0), 12:05 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: After going 1-11 last year, Minnesota isn’t going to sneeze at a 2-0 start, especially after beating Bowling Green on the road with a impressive 42-17 performance. Barring a disaster, Gopher head coach Tim Brewster should triple his win total from last year going into a winnable revenge game against a Florida Atlantic team that pulled off a stunner over the Gophers last season. Things are moving forward, while Montana State took a step back getting crushed by Kansas State 69-10. The Bobcats are expected to challenge for the Big Sky title with a decent defense and a high-octane offense that hung 59 points on Adams State in a blowout first game win. This is it for the FBS portion of the program, so MSU has to try to make its noise this week before playing South Dakota.
Why Montana State might win: While it struggled last week to do much of anything against Kansas State, the defense is aggressive and decent when it comes to forcing turnovers and mistakes. Against Bowling Green, the Gopher defense had one of its best games in the Tim Brewster era, but the secondary will still give up yards in chunks. However ...
Why Minnesota might win: the Bobcats don’t have enough of a passing game to take advantage of the soft Gopher secondary. Minnesota, for all its faults and flaws, has been great at hanging on to the ball so far with just two lost fumbles and six takeaways. MSU likely won’t have the turnover-margin advantage needed to pull off the upset.
Who to watch: Just when things were starting to go well for the Gophers, they suffered a crippling blow when top running back Duane Bennett tore his ACL against Bowling Green. Lost for the year, Bennett leaves a gaping hole in experience as well as production. His absence means QB Adam Weber will have to do even more, and freshmen Shady Salamon and DeLeon Eskridge are now the Minnesota running game. Salamon and Eskridge go from being the future to a very important part of the dream to get to a bowl game.
What will happen: Helped by the confidence from the Bowling Green win, Minnesota will be sharp through the air early on and solid on the ground in the second half. Montana State will put up some points in the second half when the Gophers start to let down, but this shouldn’t be a 60-minute battle.
CFN Prediction: Minnesota 40 … Montana State 20 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 1.5
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UL Lafayette (0-1) at Illinois (1-1), 12:00 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: If you like running, and especially if you like running quarterbacks, get your popcorn ready and enjoy because two of the best should put on a show. UL Lafayette veteran Michael Desormeaux leads a Ragin’ Cajun attack that tore off 263 yards in the season-opening loss to Southern Miss, while Juice Williams and the Illinois offense cranked out 399 rushing yards and five touchdowns in last week’s 47-21 win over Eastern Illinois. The Illini needs this home win with road trips to Penn State and Michigan up next, while ULL gets another fun game against a running quarterback when Julian Edelman and Kent State make the trip to Louisiana next week.
Why UL Lafayette might win: Illinois is decimated up front. The linebackers have been fine, but the Illini D line has been crippled by injuries and is a mere shadow of what it was supposed to be to start the year. While the Illini D has been able to generate pressure on the passer and has been able to get into the backfield, the run defense has been gashed allowing 402 yards in the first two games.
Why Illinois might win: 427 yards. That’s how many ULL gave up in the season opener against Southern Miss with Golden Eagle RB Damion Fletcher tearing off 222 yards and two touchdowns, and QB Austin Davis running for 63 yards and two scores. Illinois should be able to get Williams into the open, and the Illini backs should combine for well over 100 yards. It’ll be a stunner if Illinois doesn’t crank out 300 yards on the ground.
Who to watch: Fortunately Illinois doesn’t have to worry about the pass this week, but the secondary could use some work and needs help. CB Miami Thomas is out for the year with a torn ACL and star JUCO transfer Donsay Hardeman is still out with a knee problem. Now the Illinois secondary will have to do some shifting around to secure things before dealing with the Penn State receiving corps.
What will happen: The two teams will combine for more than 600 rushing yards. The ULL defense won’t stop Illinois at any time in the first half and the outcome should be decided by midway though the third quarter.
CFN Prediction: Illinois 45 … UL Lafayette 24 ... Line: Illinois -24.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 1.5
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Iowa State (2-0) at Iowa (2-0), 12:05 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: It doesn’t seem to matter how good or bad the teams are, or how the seasons have started, Iowa State and Iowa always battle in a fun rivalry that’s produced some great showdowns over the last few years. Last season, Iowa started out 2-0 having won its first two games by a combined score of 51-3, and it lost to the Cyclones 15-13. Iowa beat ISU 27-17 in 2006, but lost 23-3 in 2005 after starting the year with a 56-0 win over Ball State. In other words, don’t look into Iowa’s tremendous start with wins over Maine and FIU by a combined score of 88-3. However, unlike the last few seasons, Iowa State is solid having beaten South Dakota State and Kent State without a problem. Iowa can prove it’s for real after spending last year suffering through a variety of injuries, while Iowa State has won four of its last five games and is one of the Big 12’s fastest improving teams.
Why Iowa State might win: The offense is doing what it needs to do to produce. The ground game has been terrific, helped by the running of the quarterbacks, while the passing attack has been ultra-efficient. This has been a nearly-perfect balanced Cyclone attack averaging 195 rushing yards and 187 passing yards per game, and while the Iowa defense is good, it hasn’t seen a real offense yet.
Why Iowa might win: The Iowa State run defense hasn’t been a brick wall. Now the Hawkeyes are pounding the ball well thanks to the emergence of Shonn Greene, who has torn off 239 yards in two games. The Cyclones gave up 180 rushing yards to South Dakota State and 243 yards to Kent State. It’s possible Iowa could keep the ISU offense off the field with long drive after long drive.
Who to watch: The Iowa passing game is getting two key weapons back to help out new starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi. Trey Stross is finally back in the mix after missing the first two games, along with a few games down the stretch last season, with a hamstring injury. Also returning is tight end Tony Moeaki, a superior pass catcher who missed almost all of last year and the first two games of this season with a foot problem.
What will happen: Iowa State always plays Iowa tough, but this year’s Cyclone team is good enough to come up with the upset. However, this is as healthy as the Hawkeyes have been since the start of last season and it’ll show with a solid offensive performance.
CFN Prediction: Iowa 31 … Iowa State 23 ... Line: Iowa -13.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 3
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- Big 10 Week Three Fearless Predictions, Part 2