Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Nov. 8
Iowa DT Mitch King
Iowa DT Mitch King
Posted Nov 7, 2008

Previews and Predictions for the Week 11 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 | Oct. 18 | Oct. 25 | Nov. 1

How are the picks so far? SU: 51-20... ATS: 34-27

- Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Nov. 8, Part 2 (Michigan vs. Minn)

Big Ten Game of the Week

Penn State (9-0) at Iowa (5-4), 3:30 EST ABC
Why to watch: If the gaffe is going to come, it’s expected to be this week. Penn State is unbeaten and pushing for a spot in the national championship, but it’s currently third in the BCS rankings behind Alabama and Texas Tech. However, the Red Raiders have a brutal schedule remaining and the Tide still has some nasty games to deal with; it’s unlikely they’ll each finish unbeaten. Basically, if Penn State takes care of business and wins out, it’ll be in Miami playing for the whole ball of wax. However, JoePa and the boys have to get past a traditional nemesis. The Nittany Lions won last year 27-7, but Iowa had won the previous five matchups. The Hawkeyes lost a tough 27-24 battle against Illinois last week, but they’re playing good enough defense and have a decent enough running game to pull off the upset if things aren’t clicking for the Nittany Lions. The last two games are at home for Penn State, including the showdown with Michigan State.
Why Penn State might win: The Iowa lines aren’t up to snuff. Oh sure, the Hawkeye defensive front is a rock against the run, tackles Matt Kroul and Mitch King are among the best in the Big Ten, but there’s almost no consistent push into the backfield and there’s little pressure coming from the outside. On the offensive side, despite paving the way for Shonn Greene’s huge season, the line has been awful in pass protection. Doing just one or two things right up front isn’t going to cut it against the rested Penn State lines that could dominate at times.
Why Iowa might win: King and Kroul. The two studs on the Iowa defensive front have combined for 86 tackles so far and they don’t get moved around. Everything focuses around these two, and while Penn State might have had two weeks to figure out how to run around them, no one has had much luck all season long. The Iowa defense is good enough to keep this a low scoring game, and at home, and with all the pressure on Penn State to not just win but do it impressively, things could get extremely tight down the stretch.
Who to watch: One of the big question marks going into the Ohio State game was whether or not QB Daryll Clark could produce in the clutch. We still don’t know. The senior was knocked out of the game with a concussion and it was Pat Devlin who led the way to the win. Clark has had two weeks off and is ready to go. With 11 touchdown passes and just two interceptions on the year, he has been a steady conductor for the offense. Considering how good the Iowa run defense has been, Clark will have to be on with his arm early on.
What will happen: It won’t be quite the 6-4 slugfest of 2004, but it might not be far off. Don’t expect a whole bunch of offensive fireworks. Greene will be held to under 100 yards for the first time all year, and while Penn State won’t look like a world-beater, it’ll come away with the tight win to make it 11 straight dating back to last season.
CFN Prediction: Penn State 20 … Iowa 10 ... Line: Penn State -7.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Non-Stop Election Coverage – 1 The Non-Stop Election Analysis) … 4
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Saturday, November 8th

Ohio State (7-2) at Northwestern (7-2), 12 EST ESPN2
Why to watch: Could this really be for the No. 2 spot in the Big Ten pecking order? If Ohio State wins, then yes, this could be the gateway game to a possible at-large BCS spot, and at the very least, a trip to Florida for a New Year’s Day game depending on what Michigan State does against Penn State. For Northwestern, an improbable interception return for a game-winning touchdown against Minnesota changed around what appeared to be a quickly deteriorating season. All appears lost after a 21-17 gaffe to Indiana complete with injuries to QB C.J. Bacher and RB Tyrell Sutton. The Wildcats have Michigan and Illinois to follow, but this would be the big one. Beating Ohio State would legitimize a good 7-2 season that was lacking a signature moment until last week. For the Buckeyes, who had a week to recover from a hard-hitting 13-6 loss to Penn State, they, like Northwestern, finish up with Illinois and Michigan.
Why Ohio State might win: Film. Everyone knew Northwestern QB Mike Kafka was going to run the ball against Minnesota, but the Gophers had to guess against the Wildcat running game. Kafka tore off 217 yards in the win, but now Ohio State knows what’s coming. James Laurinaitis and the linebackers aren’t going to worry about anything other than spying on Kafka taking off. Ohio State will be more than happy to dare Kafka or Bacher, who’s expected to be back, to throw the ball.
Why Northwestern might win: The Buckeye defense continues to be fantastic, it shut down Penn State until the critical late drive, but it’s still having major problems getting into the backfield. Kafka isn’t going to find much room to run, but he should be able to hang back and work the short passing game a bit. He threw two interceptions against the Gophers, and is all but certain to give away at least one pick this week, but he completed 12-of-16 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Who to watch: With all the attention paid to Kafka, or Bacher, who is expected to be a gametime decision, and with Omar Conteh out with a knee injury, the offense needs someone to step up and help the running game. Conteh was held to 12 yards on 12 carries against Minnesota, and now the Wildcats have to look to sophomore Stephen Simmons, who has four carries for 19 yards, with Jacob Schmidt and Scott Concannon getting time. Watch out for Bacher to be under center and Kafka to see a little bit of time in the backfield as a runner.
What will happen: Ohio State’s defense will stop the Northwestern ground game cold. Kafka won’t be bad throwing the ball, but the Wildcats will lose the turnover battle and won’t be able to come back from the adversity.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 23 … Northwestern 10 ... Line: Ohio State -11.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Non-Stop Election Coverage – 1 The Non-Stop Election Analysis) … 3
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Wisconsin (4-5) at Indiana (3-6), 12 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: It’s the second week of November and Wisconsin should be in the hunt for a BCS berth. Instead, it’s fighting for a bowl game and to get out of the Big Ten cellar. The Badgers continue to show they have the talent and the physical ability to be among the Big Ten’s best, but the heads aren’t in it. Whether it’s a key late penalty against Michigan or Michigan State, or whether it’s missed tackles against Iowa, or whether it’s the inability to slow down the negative momentum against Penn State, this has been, arguably, 2008’s most disappointing team. On the other side, Indiana hasn’t been able to build off of last year’s success losing six of its last seven games. The offense is moving the ball, but the points aren’t flowing to overcome a rough year from the defense. Last week’s loss to Central Michigan marked the second defeat this year to a MAC team, and now the Hoosiers have to go on a run of wins against the Badgers, Penn State and Purdue just to become bowl eligible. Wisconsin needs to win two of its last three against IU, Minnesota and Cal Poly to be eligible, but it might have to win all three games to get a 13th date.
Why Wisconsin might win: The Badger offense should be able to mix it up. There’s next to nothing coming from the wide receivers, but TE Garrett Graham has been a steady producer, catching six passes in each of the last three games. Meanwhile, the running game is starting to work again, pounding away on Illinois two weeks ago and rumbling at will against Michigan State before the brain cramps started kicking in late. Indiana knows what’s coming, but it won’t be able to stop the attack.
Why Indiana might win: If the Hoosiers can get a little bit of early momentum, Wisconsin might go in the tank. The Badgers have shown no ability whatsoever to overcome adversity. The defense isn’t generating enough of a pass rush to bother the IU quarterbacks. The Hoosier passing game might not be anything special, but it’s just effective enough to keep the Badgers on their heels. Michigan State was able to comeback when it needed to through the air, and IU, if needed, could do the same.  
Who to watch: Wisconsin owns Kellen Lewis. The Indiana quarterback has had some big moments against just about everyone in the Big Ten, but he’s been able to do a fat load of jack squat against the Badgers over the last few years, bottoming out with a turnover-filled 17-of-33, 113-yard, two interception day last year in a 33-3 loss. He had a big run and finished with 59 yards, but fumbles were a problem. This year, he can’t shake an ankle injury and will be in a rotation for the second straight week with Ben Chappell. Lewis completed 5-of-9 passes for 57 yards against Central Michigan, but he can’t move like he needs to for the ground game.
What will happen: Wisconsin won’t be pretty, but it’ll pound out 250 yards on the ground, will own the time of possession, and basically will play Wisconsin football. Indiana won’t get anything going on the ground and will lose the turnover battle.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 38 … Indiana 20 ... Line: Wisconsin -10.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Non-Stop Election Coverage – 1 The Non-Stop Election Analysis) … 2
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- Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Nov. 8, Part 2 (Michigan vs. Minn)