Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Oct. 11
Penn State RB Evan Royster
Penn State RB Evan Royster
Posted Oct 8, 2008

Previews and Predictions for the Week 7 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 | Sept. 13 | Sept. 20 
- Sept. 27 | Oct. 4  

How are the picks so far? SU: 40-10 ... ATS: 22-19

- Big 10 Week Seven Fearless Predictions, Oct. 11, Part 2

Big Ten Game of the Week

Penn State (6-0) at Wisconsin (3-2), 8:00 EST ESPN
Why to watch: It seems like everyone is waiting for Penn State to look human, while everyone is waiting for Wisconsin to look special. The Nittany Lions have made it look easy on the way to a 6-0 record including blowouts of Oregon State, Illinois and Purdue. Everything is working. The offense is humming, the defense is the best in the Big Ten, and the special teams have been stellar. This has the look of a national title caliber team that’ll only get more and more respect if it can get through October, with games against Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State, unscathed. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has seen what should be its best season ever go into the tank thanks to an inability to come through in the clutch. After choking away a loss to a lousy Michigan team, the Badgers were in a position to beat Ohio State after powering the ball on a fantastic late drive for a 17-13 lead, only to see Terrelle Pryor and Beanie Wells crank it right back for the Buckeye win. A case could be made that if Wisconsin loses, it’ll be the best Big Ten team to ever be 0-3 in the conference, but a win would crank up the season again with the hope of finishing in a January 1st bowl game.
Why Penn State might win: Wisconsin’s head. Players can say all the right things about being focused and in the right mindset, but if this is tight late and Penn State is marching, watch for the “here we go again” aspect start to creep into the equation for the Badgers. The defensive line has failed to come up big when needed over the last two games. While it should be a brick wall for most of the game, when everything is on the line, the terrific Penn State offensive front should have a big advantage.
Why Wisconsin might win
: Wisconsin’s head. The national title dream is gone, the Rose Bowl isn’t in the equation, and the AP doesn’t even have the Badgers in the top 25. Wisconsin will go to a bowl game and it’ll have some big moments over the second half of the season; it has nothing to really lose this week. Penn State has everything to lose. The Nittany Lion defensive front has yet to be pounded on. Illinois has a great offensive line, but the Illini spread is hardly about power running. Oregon State and Purdue aren’t exactly the most physical teams on the slate. Outside of their own practices, Penn State hasn’t been beaten around.
Who to watch: Penn State sophomore RB Evan Royster and Wisconsin redshirt freshman RB John Clay are about to lose their anonymity. Royster is a talented, quick back who can run between the tackles just as easily as he can bounce it outside. He has rushed for 101 yards or more in four of the six games this year, and the two when he was under came because the games were ugly blowouts. He can run with speed, power, and authority, just like Clay. The big Badger takes a backseat to P.J. Hill, but he’s been a spark whenever he has come in averaging close to seven yards per carry in a relief role. 
What will happen
: Same drill, different game. Wisconsin will have its moments and will have control of the game at some point late only to see it slip away when Penn State’s offensive line takes over. It’ll be another heartbreaker for the Badgers, but it’ll also be another classic.
CFN Prediction
: Penn State 23 … Wisconsin 20 ... Line: Penn State 5.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Girls Next Door: Season 5 - 1  2008 Chicago Cub Playoff Highlights) … 5
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Saturday, October 11

Iowa (3-3) at Indiana (2-3), 12:00 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: It’s fight-for-survival time. Wisconsin is 0-2, but it’s a strong 0-2. Iowa and Indiana are 0-2 with losses to teams like Northwestern, Minnesota and Michigan State. By comparison, Indiana lost to the Spartans 42-29 while the Hawkeyes lost 16-13 last week in East Lansing. Iowa has had a frustrating three week stretch with losses to Pitt, Northwestern and MSU by a total of nine points. All three games could’ve gone either way, but the offensive consistency isn’t there, particularly at quarterback, to win the tight ones. Meanwhile, Indiana’s three-game losing streak hasn’t exactly inspired confidence that there will be a repeat of last year’s bowl campaign. The Hoosiers have yet to beat a D-I/FBS team.
Why Iowa might win: The Iowa defense has been solid. The defensive front did a great job of keeping Michigan State star Javon Ringer in check, while the secondary has the potential to be the best the program has had in a long time. Indiana has had to rely on the passing game way too much.
Why Indiana might win
: Kellen Lewis won’t be under much pressure. Iowa’s defensive line might be terrific, and it’s doing a great job against the run, but it’s not getting into the backfield nearly enough. Lewis is the type of playmaker who can make things happen on his own. If he’s not being pushed around and if he gets time, he can rip apart a defense. The IU defensive front is way, way overdue to come up with a killer performance. The Hawkeye offensive line isn’t a rock in pass protection.
Who to watch: Is this the game Iowa WR Andy Brodell breaks out? He caught eight passes for 126 yards and a touchdown against Northwestern, but he hasn’t been consistent since coming back after missing most of last year hurt. The quarterbacks haven’t given him much help, but against a patchwork IU secondary with safeties that’ll be focused almost exclusively on stopping RB Shonn Greene, he should be able to break free for a few deep plays.  
What will happen
: Iowa’s defensive line will play better than Indiana’s defensive front. Kellen Lewis will be bottled up, while Greene will come up with his seventh straight 100-yard game.
CFN Prediction
: Iowa 26 … Indiana 17 ... Line: Iowa -5.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Girls Next Door: Season 5 - 1  2008 Chicago Cub Playoff Highlights) … 2.5
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Toledo (1-4) at Michigan (2-3), 12:00 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: What the heck has happened to Toledo? Once one of the MAC’s brightest stars, the program has gone in the tank with three brutal losses in three different ways. There was the double-overtime shootout loss to Fresno State. There was the stunning 35-16 home loss to a FIU team that hadn’t put up points in years, and there was last week welcome-to-your-place-in-the-world 31-0 loss to Ball State. Michigan came up with one of the greatest comebacks in the program’s long and storied history to stun Wisconsin 27-25, and then it fed off the momentum by coming up with a 45-20 clunker of a loss to Illinois. With big, emotional matchups against Penn State and Michigan State ahead, the program desperately needs a walk-in-the-park win where everything works.
Why Toledo might win: The Michigan offense stinks. It came up with one really big run against the Badgers, and so far, that’s been about it. It’s the worst in the Big Ten averaging a paltry 20.6 points and 292 yards per game. As a comparison, the Wolverines faced a MAC team in Miami University and came up with a mere 281 yards in total offense. Toledo’s defense has been awful lately, but Michigan isn’t likely to hang 50 on the board.
Why Michigan might win
: MiQuale Lewis. The Ball State back ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns against the Rockets last week. FIU’s Julian Reams ran for 75 yards and three touchdowns. Arizona’s Nic Grigsby motored for 135 yards and three scores. Michigan has tried to get the spread working, but it hasn’t been able to line up and blast anyone off the ball yet. This needs to be the game for Sam McGuffie to take control of the game early on. He’s the team’s most dangerous rushing threat and he needs to be the focal point of the offense.
Who to watch: Greg Mathews might be Michigan’s best receiver, but he has taken a back seat to freshman Martavious Odoms, who is leading the team in receptions. The smallish, quick target is a bit of a departure from the tall, tough targets the Wolverines have thrived with over the past few years, but Odoms is finding his role. He has yet to find the end zone, but he caught seven passes for 129 yards last week against Illinois. A bit banged up, he's questionable this week meaning the passing game will likely fall back on Mathews shoulders. He has been hurt, too, but he should use this game to reestablish himself as the No. 1 target
What will happen
: Michigan will once again struggle to blow up, even if Toledo fails to show up. The Wolverine defensive line will destroy the Rocket running game, while the offense take advantage of the opportunities and good field position to get by in a blowout win.
CFN Prediction
: Michigan 34 … Toledo 0 ... Line: Michigan -17
Must See Rating: (5 The Girls Next Door: Season 5 - 1  2008 Chicago Cub Playoff Highlights) … 2
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- Big 10 Week Seven Fearless Predictions, Oct. 11, Part 2