Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Sept. 20
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer
Posted Jul 16, 2008

Previews and Predictions for the Week 4 Big Ten Games

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| M-West | Pac 10 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC


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| M-West | Pac 10 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC

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Big 10 Fearless Predictions  Aug. 30 | Sept. 6 | Sept. 13

How are the picks so far? SU: 27-4 ... ATS: 13-9

- Big 10 Week Four Fearless Predictions, Part 2

Big Ten Game of the Week

Notre Dame (2-0) at Michigan State (2-1), 3:30 EST ABC
Why to watch: Notre Dame stunk it up against San Diego State, but San Diego State stunk worse in a 21-13 Irish win. Notre Dame stunk it up against Michigan, but Michigan stunk it up worse, way worse, with two early fumbles on kickoffs leading to 14 Irish points and a 35-17 Irish win. If Notre Dame can go into East Lansing and pull off a win over the rock-solid Spartans, then it’ll be time give all due credit to a team that just finds ways to get the job done. MSU bounced back from a tough 38-31 win at California by running over Eastern Michigan and Florida Atlantic by a combined score of 59 to 10. This ends a three game homestand before starting out the Big Ten season at Indiana, but the home field hasn’t been a plus in this series with the visiting team winning the last seven years.
Why Notre Dame might win: The offensive line has started to play. While it’s still not doing too much for the running game, the pass protection has been excellent so far as San Diego State and Michigan, who was second in the nation in sacks going into last week, failed to register a sack. Michigan State’s pass rush has been a major disappointment so far while the secondary will give up the occasional big play. Yeah, Notre Dame hasn’t been great, but it has been great when it desperately needs to be.
Why Michigan State might win: The Notre Dame run defense hasn’t been pushed yet. San Diego State can’t run, and Michigan doesn’t seem to be able to figure it out, either. The Irish defensive front isn’t going to generate any pressure on the quarterback, but it’ll get into the backfield to make plays against the run. No problem. MSU will simply power the ball while allowing QB Brian Hoyer to operate on his short to midrange passing game. The Spartan receiving corps is banged up, but all the key playmakers are expected to play.
Who to watch: Notre Dame desperately needed a receiving weapon to give Jimmy Clausen some help, and it found one in sophomore Golden Tate. Little used last season outside of a few kick returns and a 104-yard day against Purdue, Tate has started out as the offense’s main weapon with 10 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns in two games including a gorgeous scoring grab on a deep ball against Michigan. For Michigan State, it’s been all about RB Javon Ringer. The senior followed up a 135-yard, five touchdown day against Eastern Michigan with a 43-carry, 282-yard, two touchdown performance in lousy weather against Florida Atlantic. A monster day against the Irish on national TV will jump-start the Heisman talk.
What will happen: While you never mess with a streak like seven straight wins by the road team, it’ll take something special for the Irish to pull this off. It took something special last week, too, and Michigan provided the help with the two early fumbles. Michigan State is better and far more polished, even if the passing game hasn’t hit its stride. As long as it doesn’t get walloped in the turnover margin, MSU will win handily.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 27 … Notre Dame 17 ... Line: Notre Dame -8.5
Must See Rating: (5 Dr. 90210 - 1 Biggest Loser: Families) … 3
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Saturday, September 20

Ohio (0-3) at Northwestern (3-0), 12 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: It should be a positive sign that things are improving at Northwestern under head coach Pat Fitzgerald that the team is 3-0 and winning rather easily even though it’s not playing well. The offense isn’t quite clicking and the defense has been spotty, but 3-0 is 3-0, even if it’s against Syracuse, Duke and Southern Illinois. With the Big Ten season kicking off next week at Iowa, the Wildcats need to sharpen up the attack, but they can’t look past an Ohio team that might be the MAC’s hard-luck story of the 2008 season. The Bobcats should’ve won at Wyoming, could’ve won at Ohio State, and almost won against Central Michigan, but are 0-3 and in desperate need of a break. With three road games to follow a layup against VMI, Ohio needs this win to turn its season around.
Why Ohio might win
: The Bobcat secondary should provide a few problems for the sputtering Wildcat passing game. Northwestern has been able to run the ball well, but the passing attack has been hit or miss. The offense changed things up this off-season with a more quick-timed passing game, and while there have been some nice runs, there hasn’t been much in the way of consistency. Ohio has the corners to keep the outside passes to a minimum.
Why Northwestern might win: Turnovers. Northwestern has only come up with two takeaways, and has only lost the ball twice, while Ohio has had major turnover issues losing the ball nine times so far with four fumbles and five interceptions. Northwestern is getting good pressure from the defensive front, and if it’s able to disrupt the Ohio offense and force QB Boo Jackson to rush, the mistakes will come.
Who to watch: It has taken a few years, but Northwestern DE Corey Wootton is starting to play like the killer all-around playmaker many expected him to be as a true freshman. With NFL prototype size and excellent quickness to go along with his experience, he has come up with four sacks in three games and 12 tackles. He’s growing into a dominant playmaker.
What will happen: The Northwestern running game will control one side of the field, while the pass rush will control the other. Ohio will outgain the Wildcats through the air, but two key turnovers will allow NU to pull away in the second half.
CFN Prediction: Northwestern 24 … Ohio 17... Line: Northwestern -10.5
Must See Rating: (5 Dr. 90210 - 1 Biggest Loser: Families) … 2.5
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Florida Atlantic (1-2) at Minnesota (3-0), 12 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: How far has Minnesota come in a year? Last year the Gophers suffered a 42-39 loss at Florida Atlantic that was a stunner at the time, but turned out to kick off a ten-game losing streak. The 2008 team has tripled the win total from last year and can even start thinking about a possible bowl bid if it can get by the Owls. With a date at Ohio State up next to start a run of three road trips in four games, this is a must win. FAU might be the defending Sun Belt champions, but they haven’t produced so far against the two BCS foes it has faced, Texas and Michigan State, losing to them by a combined score of 69 to 10. The Sun Belt season starts up next week for the Owls at Middle Tennessee.
Why Florida Atlantic might win
: Minnesota’s defense has improved, but it’s still not doing much against the pass. Northern Illinois came up with the home runs, Bowling Green was able to dink and dunk, and Montana State came up with 218 yards. However, the Gophers have allowed four touchdown passes and picked off four. FAU has been terrific in pass protection, the line hasn’t allowed a sack, and Minnesota isn’t going to generate too much pressure, so expect QB Rusty Smith to throw for at least 300 yards without breathing hard.
Why Minnesota might win: The Gophers should be able to run the ball. Texas rolled for 232 yards and three touchdowns, and Michigan State and Javon Ringer rolled last week. UAB QB Joe Webb ran for 66 yards. Minnesota lost its top runner Duane Bennett for the year, but it’s getting production out of anyone who ended up toting the rock. DeLeon Eskridge ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns last week, and QB Adam Weber is always a dangerous option whenever he’s out of the pocket.
Who to watch: The Minnesota offensive line could become a major problem. On the same play that Duane Bennett was lost for the year, center Jeff Tow-Arnett suffered a knee injury of his own and missed last week’s game. He practiced this week, but he’s gimpy. Guard Ned Tavale will play through an ankle injury, while tackle Dom Alford has a leg problem and is out. That means Minnesota is going to a youth movement up front, and while that might not be a problem this week, it’ll be a big issue once Big Ten play starts.
What will happen: Smith will get his passing yards, but Minnesota will have too much offensive balance and will come up with the key turnovers needed to get the tough win.
CFN Prediction: Minnesota 34 … Florida Atlantic 31 ... Line: Minnesota -7
Must See Rating: (5 Dr. 90210 - 1 Biggest Loser: Families) … 2.5
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Troy (2-0) at Ohio State (2-1), 12 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: Ohio State came up with yet another big game clunker against an elite of the elite team, and now it’ll try to pick up the pieces against a Troy team good enough to capitalize on a downward trend. The Buckeyes need a great performance, not just a good one, to show that they really are worthy of being considered among the nation’s better teams after getting rolled 35-3 by USC. While next week’s Big Ten opener against Minnesota shouldn’t be a problem, the trip to Wisconsin the week after will be a certain loss unless OSU gets far crisper on offense. Troy was supposed to play LSU two weeks ago but hurricanes had something to say about that (the game was moved to November 15th), but everything was razor-sharp in a 65-0 win over Alcorn State that could’ve been 165-0. Already 1-0 in Sun Belt play with a win over Middle Tennessee that looks a whole bunch better now than it did in September, the Trojans can make a major statement next week with a win at Florida Atlantic. Of course, beating Ohio State would look pretty good, too.
Why Troy might win
: If you’re ever going to catch Ohio State down, this should be the game. The team is saying all the right things about still shooting for the BCS and the Big Ten title, but it’ll be next to impossible for there not to be a letdown after the fiasco in L.A. There’s one other side to this: Troy really is good. The secondary is good enough to keep the OSU passing game in check, while the defensive front has 22 tackles for loss and five sacks in two games. This won’t be the USC defense, but it should provide enough pressure to be annoying.
Why Ohio State might win: Welcome to the OSU pass rush. Much maligned after doing next to nothing last week, the Buckeye defensive front is way overdue for a big performance. Troy’s offensive line is good, and it should be among the Sun Belt’s best, but it’s been mediocre in pass protection over the last two games. For all the problems OSU had last week, the defense is still among the best in America and it should keep a good Troy offense under wraps.
Who to watch: Beanie is out, Terrelle is in. If Chris Wells couldn’t go against USC, he’s sure as shoot not going to play against Troy with the Big Ten season coming up next week. Even though Beanie has been practicing, Jim Tressel said that his star back is definitely out for this week. Meanwhile, Terrelle Pryor will be in the quarterback rotation more after getting more work this week. Todd Boeckman will start, but Pryor will be a far bigger part of the offense.
What will happen: Ohio State will come out hot, struggle for a while as Troy’s defense keeps the game close, and then Pryor will take over in the second half leading the way to two good scoring drives to allow everyone to breathe easier.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 31 … Troy 13 ... Line: Ohio State -21
Must See Rating: (5 Dr. 90210 - 1 Biggest Loser: Families) … 2.5
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- Big 10 Week Four Fearless Predictions, Part 2