Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Oct. 18
Michigan State QB Brian Hoyer
Michigan State QB Brian Hoyer
Posted Oct 16, 2008

Last weekend was the big one for the Big 12 and SEC, but the Big Ten will take center stage this week as Ohio State battles it out against Brian Hoyer and Michigan State, Michigan deals with Penn State and Iowa takes on Wisconsin. Previews and Predictions for the Week 8 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 | Oct. 11

How are the picks so far? SU: 44-12... ATS: 26-21

- Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Oct. 18, Part 2 (Mich. vs. Penn St)

Big Ten Game of the Week

Ohio State (6-1) at Michigan State (6-1), 3:30 EST, ABC
Why to watch: Ohio State isn’t playing all that well, but it’s creeping up the polls thanks to a four game winning streak after the USC debacle. With the 1-2 punch of Terrelle Pryor and Beanie Wells and a defense that’s playing better and better, now everyone wants to see just how good the team really is. A 20-17 win over Wisconsin showed potential, and a win next week over Penn State would mean it’s BCS time, but first comes a nasty trip to East Lansing to face a red-hot Michigan State. On a six-game winning streak, and coming off an impressive 37-20 victory over previously unbeaten Northwestern, the Spartans are bowl eligible, 3-0 in conference play, and they appear ready to go big-game hunting. The second half of the season is brutal with a trip to Michigan for a rivalry game, Wisconsin, and relative layup against Purdue, and a trip to Penn State to close. A win over Ohio State might be the confidence boost needed to get through the finishing kick.
Why Ohio State might win: The Michigan State run defense has been fine, but nothing special. Cal was able to roll for 203 yards and two touchdowns, Shonn Greene and Iowa rumbled well in the tight defensive battle, and Tyrell Sutton and Northwestern combined for 176 yards. Ohio State isn’t doing much with the passing game, Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline have become the forgotten stars, but the running game has been fine. MSU has an athletic back seven but can be beaten on by a physical back like Wells.
Why Michigan State might win: Don’t expect much out of Pryor. MSU has kept running quarterbacks in check, keeping Eastern Michigan’s Andy Schmitt to 46 yards and a touchdown and stopping Indiana’s Kellen Lewis for just 26 yards. Ohio State’s defensive line has been hit-or-miss and hasn’t done anything to generate a pass rush. There will be even less of a push into the backfield with DE Lawrence Wilson injured and out for the year. MSU QB Brian Hoyer is good when gets time. He’ll get time.
Who to watch: Hoyer is a good, effective Big Ten quarterback. He’s not flashy, he’s not going to be named the Big Ten Player of the Year, but he’s a winner who can (sorry to go cliché here) manage the game. The key to his game is to limit mistakes, and he has only thrown three interceptions on the year to go along with six touchdown passes. Against the Buckeyes, he has to keep the chains moving and he has one big throw per quarter to keep James Laurinaitis and the Buckeye linebackers off of Ringer.
What will happen: Michigan State is seeing this as a statement game, but so is Ohio State. The Buckeyes aren’t going to do anything special, and it’ll have to come up with a few long, sustained drives to control the game, but in the end, the Buckeye secondary will come up with a big game with to key interceptions and Beanie, who ran for 221 yards in last year’s matchup, will outgain Ringer.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 17 … Michigan State 13 … Line: Ohio State -3.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Real Housewives of Atlanta – 1 Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew) … 4
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Saturday, October 18

Purdue (2-4) at Northwestern (5-1), 12:00 EST, ESPN2
Why to watch: Northwestern’s great season took a step back with a 37-20 home loss to Michigan State last week, but the team has a shot to become bowl eligible with a win over Purdue this week, and it has a chance to make some big noise over the next three weeks with winnable games against Indiana and Minnesota to follow. The Wildcats have gotten by with a good pass rush, a decent defense, and just enough offense to get by. Meanwhile, Purdue isn’t getting anything from its defense, the worst in the Big Ten, and a win this week is a must or bowl hopes will be all but gone. On a three-game losing streak, and with the only win over an FCS team coming in a nail-biter against Central Michigan, the Boilermakers need something positive to happen in a hurry.
Why Purdue might win: The Northwestern offense isn’t working. New offensive coordinator Mick McCall was supposed to bring in a quick strike attack that got the ball into the hands of the playmakers in a hurry and in space. Instead, QB C.J. Bacher, last year’s Big Ten total offense leader has been inefficient and the points have been hard to come by lately. Purdue’s offense hasn’t been anything special, but the passing game is good enough to put up big yards if it gets a little early success. However …
Why Northwestern might win: … Purdue has scored a total of nine points over the last two weeks and has a sputtering running game. Northwestern’s steady pass rush should hurry Curtis Painter’s throws and should speed up the Boilermaker O. On the other side of the ball, the Purdue defense hasn’t even been close. Allowing 400 yards per game, with the biggest problem coming against the run, the Boilermakers will have to deal with a steady dose of …
Who to watch: … Northwestern RB Tyrell Sutton. The senior hasn’t scored in the last three games but he’s been putting up big yards. He ran for 139 yards against Michigan State and has been over the 75-yard mark in five of the six games, but his real worth is as a receiver. One of the nation’s best dual-threat backs, he has 20 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown.
What will happen: The Northwestern pass rush will control the game. Purdue has a great back in Kory Sheets, but he’s not Javon Ringer and he’s not good enough carry the offense. Northwestern will have one of its better offensive performances of the year.
CFN Prediction: Northwestern 24 … Purdue 17 … Line: Northwestern -4
Must See Rating: (5 The Real Housewives of Atlanta – 1 Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew) … 2.5
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Wisconsin (3-3) at Iowa (4-3), 7:30 EST, ESPN
Why to watch: For two teams floundering over the last few weeks, this is a must-win game with the loser’s once-promising season about to go into the tank. Iowa was able to pull up out of its three-game nosedive with a 45-9 blowout over Indiana, but with a road trip to Illinois up next and a date with Penn State to follow, the chance is there to go right back into the abyss with a poor performance against a Badger team in desperate need of something positive. With a team more than talented enough to win the Big Ten title, Wisconsin has been one of the nation’s most disappointing teams with a three-game losing streak that has seen a little bit of everything from a choke against Michigan, an inability to come up with a late stop against Ohio State, and a lifeless blasting from Penn State. With Illinois up next followed up by a road trip to Michigan State, the Badgers need a win in a big way.
Why Wisconsin might win: Head coach Bret Bielema, a former Iowa Hawkeye player, is 2-0 against his alma mater. The Iowa lines have been fine, and the defensive tackles are special, but the Wisconsin lines have the potential to control the game. The potential. After getting shoved around by Penn State and with problems late against Ohio State, Wisconsin’s manhood has been called into question up front. This will be a game about being physical and pounding away. Iowa shouldn’t be able to control the game on offense, even if Shonn Greene comes up with a big day, while the Badgers should be able to pound away in the second half. However …
Why Iowa might win: … the Iowa run defense has come up big against the big backs. MSU’s Javon Ringer was held to 91 yards, Pitt’s LeSean McCoy only ran for 78 yards and a score, and Northwestern’s Tyrell Sutton ran for 77 yards. It’s unlikely that this will be the game P.J. Hill breaks out and John Clay could struggle to consistently find room to move. The Hawkeye defense isn’t giving up big points with 22 points in the loss to Northwestern the most allowed.
Who to watch: It’s time to start paying more attention to Iowa RB Shonn Greene. The junior started out his career in 2005, had to leave, went the JUCO route, and is now back as one of the nation’s best backs running for 109 yards or more in all seven games. He has 937 yards and six touchdowns on the season, and while he’s not a receiver, he can catch if needed. With a shaky quarterback situation, even with the emergence of Ricky Stanzi, Greene has carried the team.
What will happen: It’ll be a great game. Which Wisconsin will show up? If it shows up in the right focused and physical mindset, it’ll win without too much of a problem, but whenever anything goes wrong, the team has gone in the tank. Iowa needs a few early breaks and has to get a few early scores, but the Badger running game will work better than it has over the last few weeks.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 23 … Iowa 20 … Line: Iowa -3.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Real Housewives of Atlanta – 1 Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew) … 3.5
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Michigan (2-4) at Penn State (7-0), 4:30 EST, ESPN
Why to watch: Michigan has won nine straight against Penn State, but No. 10 would likely be the sweetest. There was a classic, last-second 27-25 win over the Nittany Lions in 2005 to give Joe Paterno his only loss of the season. While that was big, considering the Wolverines were in danger of a losing season, this would be even more important considering last week’s colossal gaffe in a 13-10 loss to Toledo and with all the heat being applied to head coach Rich Rodriguez. At 2-4, no one’s talking about a bowl game, but if Michigan can pull off the upset, the hope would be to spark a big winning streak just like the win in 2005 did. For Penn State, it’s all about focusing on the task at hand and not looking at the national title picture after a 7-0 start and a 48-7 thumping of Wisconsin. Everything is working. The defense has allowed seven points or fewer in three of the last four games, the offensive line has paved the way for the nation’s ninth ranked offense, and Derrick Williams and the special teams are among the nation’s best. If the Nittany Lions can get through this week, next week’s game at Ohio State would be a special showdown.
Why Michigan might win: The defensive line continues to be the one big bright spot. The offense stinks, the kicking game is shaky, but the D has been good against the run and great at getting into the backfield. With all due respect to the underperforming Wisconsin defensive front, Michigan’s front four, led by Brandon Graham, should give the Penn State offensive front its toughest test of the season.
Why Penn State might win: Toledo 13, Michigan 10. Again, Toledo … 13 … Michigan … 10. This was a Toledo team that was blasted 31-0 by Ball State and got blown out by Florida International. The Wolverine offense has been non-existent averaging a mere 292 yards and 19 points per game with no passing game whatsoever. On the other side of the ball, Michigan might have a good defensive front, but the secondary has been a major disappointment. The Penn State receiving corps should be able to do whatever it wants to, but there might not be too many big pass plays considering the defense should be able to shut down the abysmal Wolverine running game cold.
Who to watch
: Michigan will have to get creative and will have to get something out of the quarterbacks. Steven Threet was playing relatively well against Toledo completing 7-of-11 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown with an interception, but he bruised his elbow and was knocked out of the game. Nick Sheridan competed half of his passes for 65 yards and two interceptions, and while he hasn’t been ruled out if needed, he could have major problems against the Penn State pass rush it he sees time.
What will happen: Michigan came up with a shocker against Wisconsin when the Badgers apparently got hit with a bout of overconfidence, and there was a stretch in the Utah game when Michigan played like Michigan. But Penn State is too sound, too mentally tough, and too good on the lines to blow their dream season against a team this bad.
CFN Prediction: Penn State 45 … Michigan 17 … Line: Penn State -24
Must See Rating: (5 The Real Housewives of Atlanta – 1 Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew) … 3
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Indiana (2-4) at Illinois (3-3), 8:00 EST, Big Ten Network
Why to watch: Illinois is coming off a tough, mistake-filled loss to Minnesota, while Indiana is trying to work its way through a tough, mistake-filled season. The Hoosiers aren’t getting much in the way of offensive consistency, getting little from the attack without a home run, but they’re putting up big yards. Third in the Big Ten in total offense, drive after drive has been either stalling or finishing with a turnover. The points aren’t coming scoring just seven points against Minnesota nine in the loss to Iowa. The Illini is 1-2 in conference play losing to Penn State along with the Gophers, and with Wisconsin, Iowa (at Iowa), Ohio State and Northwestern (at Northwestern) left to play, this is the only breather left.
Why Indiana might win: The Illinois defensive line is doing a great job of getting into the backfield, but it’s not doing enough to keep runs reigned in. Too many tackles are being made down the field, while the secondary has been hit-or-miss. The IU defensive front should be able get to Juice Williams and make plenty of plays in the backfield. If Minnesota’s defensive line can win the battle up front, then Indiana’s should have few problems.
Why Illinois might win: Illinois should be able to hit Indiana’s defense either through the air or on the ground. Always known as a running team, the ground game has improved over the last few weeks while Juice Williams has been spreading around the passing game more. Illinois can score; Indiana can’t. Williams should be able to pick apart the IU secondary.
Who to watch: Why isn’t Kellen Lewis playing better? The Hoosiers’ star quarterback hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been running as much over the last few games, after running for 185 yards against Western Kentucky and 148 against Ball State in the first three weeks, and with James Hardy no a Buffalo Bill, the explosiveness in the passing game is gone. Last year he threw two touchdown passes or more in nine games, while he has only hit the two-touchdown passing mark twice so far and was shut out in three games.
What will happen: Illinois will use its offensive balance to do whatever it wants to. Juice will be in total control, and there won’t be the mistakes made last week in the loss to the Gophers.
CFN Prediction: Illinois 41 … Indiana 20 … Line: Illinois -16.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Real Housewives of Atlanta – 1 Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew) … 2.5
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- Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Oct. 18, Part 2 (Mich. vs. Penn St)