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Big Ten Fearless Predictions, Nov. 15
Illinois QB Juice Williams
Illinois QB Juice Williams
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 13, 2008


Next week is when Penn State and Michigan State battle for the Rose Bowl, but Ohio State is still in the hunt for a BCS spot. Can Juice Williams and Illinois give the Buckeyes problems for a second straight year? Check out the Previews and Predictions for the Week 12 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 | Nov. 8

How are the picks so far? SU: 54-23... ATS: 37-30

- Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Nov. 15, Part 2 (Iowa vs. Purdue, Min vs. UW)

Big Ten
Game of the Week

Ohio State (8-2) at Illinois (5-5), 12 EST ESPN
Why to watch: Illinois appeared to deal a deathblow to Ohio State’s national title chances last year with a mid-November 28-21, but things got a wee bit weird over the final few weeks of the season. OSU isn’t playing for the national title this year, but it can go to the Rose Bowl by winning out and getting a Michigan State win over Penn State. Even if the Nittany Lions beat the Spartans, OSU could be a part of the BCS yet again with wins over Illinois and Michigan to close things out. Illinois is just looking to go anywhere for a bowl game needing to win one of its final two games to be eligible and needing to win both to be assured of a slot somewhere. The team hasn’t been able to put anything consistently together, and last week it didn’t wake up until it was too late in a 23-17 loss to Western Michigan that might have killed the season. On the plus side for the Illini, it has followed up a win with a loss all year long. The alternating is on the win side of the ledger going into this week.
Why Ohio State might win: The Illinois running game has gone bye-bye. There was the 292-yard, four touchdown effort against Indiana, but you and ten friends could do that at the moment on the hapless Hoosier run defense. Illinois is a passing team that’s relying way too much on the big plays. While Juice Williams has been able to crank out the yards and he’s been able to come up with the big throws, the attack could be in trouble against an Ohio State pass defense that’s starting to shut everyone down. Only two teams, Troy and Purdue, have thrown for more than 200 yards on the Buckeye D, and it took a combined 84 passes for both of them to get over the mark.
Why Illinois might win: Brit Miller. Ohio State is trying to throw the ball more and it’s getting a few big plays here and there, but the offense is all about the running game. Miller, the pudgy Illini linebacker who’s hitting everything that moves, and the rest of the defensive front has been excellent at coming up with the big stop against the run and have been even better at getting into the backfield. It’s a stretch to say Illinois will be able to do what Penn State did to the Ohio State offense, but Terrelle Pryor will have a far tougher day than he had against Northwestern.
Who to watch: Is Pryor improving? He blamed himself for the loss to Penn State, but he didn’t have an awful day and he threw for a season-high 226 yards. He’s being ultra-conservative throwing the ball, but last week he was able to throw for three touchdowns while keeping play after play alive with his strength and mobility. He’s still just a true freshman and is being held to the highest of high standards, but he’s playing like a star who’ll someday soon be truly special.
What will happen: Illinois will get its yards, but once again, it won’t come through when it needs to. Ohio State will get one big pass play to open everything up, and while Beanie will be bottled up for most of the day, he’ll break off one big run that’ll be the difference.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 37 … Illinois 20 ... Line: Ohio State -10
Must See Rating: (5 Quantum Of Solace – 1 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) … 3
 
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Saturday, November 15th

Northwestern (7-3) at Michigan (3-7) 12 EST ESPN2
Why to watch: Is Michigan starting the turnaround under Rich Rodriguez? The Wolverines got the offense moving in the heartbreaking hook-and-lateral loss to Purdue, and then last week they pitched a near-perfect game in a dominant 29-6 win over Minnesota. While the season has gone into the tank at 3-7, a win over Northwestern this week in the home finale would be a nice step forward going into next week’s battle with Ohio State. For the Wildcats, a 45-10 loss to the Buckeyes put them in their place in the Big Ten pecking order, but a win over Michigan would keep alive hopes of a New Year’s Day bowl game. NU is in somewhere, but now the question is where and how much of a spoiler the team can be. A win this week or next week over Illinois should lock up a spot in the top four of the conference which could mean either the Outback or the Capital One Bowl.
Why Northwestern might win: Michigan might have rumbled for 232 yards on Minnesota, but the running game has hardly been consistent and now Brandon Minor is out with a separated shoulder. Northwestern’s run defense hasn’t been a brick wall, but the defensive front is great at getting into the backfield and screwing plays up before the can have time to develop. While that didn’t happen last week all that often against Ohio State, Michigan doesn’t have Terrelle Pryor or Beanie Wells.
Why Michigan might win: In a game like this where there aren’t likely to be many explosive, big plays, field position will be critical. Northwestern’s punting game has been fine, but the return game has been abysmal averaging a Big Ten-worst 6.65 yards per try. Meanwhile, Michigan leads the nation in punting netting 42.16 yards per kick. If Northwestern has to keep cranking out long drives starting deep in its own territory, it’ll be a long day. NU is one of the few teams in America with as many turnover problems as Michigan.
Who to watch: C.J. Bacher is expected to be back in the mix for Northwestern. The starting quarterback up until he injured his hamstring in the stunning loss to Indiana, Bacher tried to give it a go last week against Ohio State, but there was no point as the game got out of hand. Mike Kafka, who did a great job of running the ball the last two weeks, will still be a part of the mix, but it’s Bacher’s gig. On the other side, Steven Threet is back for Michigan after suffering a concussion, but he’s going to rotate at QB with Nick Sheridan. Sheridan completed 18-of-30 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 33 yards, in the win over Minnesota.
What will happen: Michigan will stay hot offensively while the defense will slow down the one-dimensional Wildcats. With Tyrell Sutton and Omar Conteh out, there won’t be a NU running game unless Kafka is in, and even then the beleaguered Michigan defensive front will have produce if it plays like it did in Minneapolis.
CFN Prediction: Michigan 27 … Northwestern 20 ... Line: Michigan -3.5
Must See Rating: (5 Quantum Of Solace – 1 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) … 2
 
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Indiana (3-7) at Penn State (9-1), 12 EST Big Ten Network
Why to watch: Just how quickly can Penn State pick itself up off the mat? Last week’s loss was a stunner both in the way Daryll Clark threw the late game pick that gave Iowa life and in the way the Nittany Lion defense didn’t come up with the clutch stop. While Penn State might be beyond style points now when it comes to the national title discussion, anything less than a total obliteration of IU might be unacceptable. Next week is the big game against Michigan State for a shot, most likely, at the Rose Bowl. For Indiana, just getting another win over anyone would be a big deal, much less against a team like Penn State. The Hoosiers have lost seven of their last eight games and should have problems next week in Joe Tiller’s final game at Purdue. IU has beaten on FBS team this year.
Why Indiana might win: The defensive front is starting to pick it up a bit when it comes to getting into the backfield. There might not have been a lot of plays behind the line against Wisconsin, but the Hoosiers got a little bit of pressure on the quarterback. IU is showing just enough of a rushing offense to potentially keep Penn State off-balance if it’s not focused after the Iowa loss. The Nittany Lions have to be down after last week and they have to be thinking a little bit about next week’s game.
Why Penn State might win: 441 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s what the Wisconsin running game came up with last week against an IU defense that got steamrolled over. The smallish, quick Hoosier back seven were no match for the power of the Badger ground game or the speed of WR David Gilreath on the outside. Penn State doesn’t have to get cute. All it needs to do is power the ball, power the ball, and power the ball some more behind its great offensive line. Expect 300 rushing yards with a big day both rushing and receiving from ...
Who to watch: … Penn State’s Derrick Williams. He’s not only an elite kick returner and the team’s most dangerous receiver, but he’s also being used more as a runner getting 12 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown against Iowa. Being lined up occasionally at quarterback, he’s not only running after taking the direct snap, he completed a 23-yard pass last week. Penn State only has him for three more games and it’ll do everything possible to get the ball in his hands 15-to-20 times.
What will happen: Penn State will be able to call its shot. IU’s quarterbacks are too banged up and the run defense is too mediocre to have a chance of keeping this close.
CFN Prediction: Penn State 45 … Indiana 3 ... Line: Penn State -34
Must See Rating: (5 Quantum Of Solace – 1 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) … 2
 
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- Big 10 Fearless Predictions, Nov. 15, Part 2 (Iowa vs. Purdue, Min vs. UW)