2009 Big 10 Fearless Picks, Week 4, Part 2

Posted Sep 24, 2009

Previews and Predictions for the Week 4 Big Ten Games, Part 2

2009 Big Ten Fearless Predictions

Week 4 ... Sept. 26 Games, Part 2

Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota
Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin
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- Week 4, Part 1

Michigan State (1-2) at Wisconsin (3-0), 12:00 EST, Saturday, September 26, ESPN

Why to watch: Wisconsin had some soul-crushing losses last year, the choke against Michigan was most galling and allowing Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State to score on a late drive also stung, but the loss to Michigan State was almost more brutal. The Badgers finally appeared to turn things around with a nice win over Illinois, and they had the Spartans dead in what should've been a tough road win, but they couldn't close. MSU scored 12 points in the final 8:13, with Brett Swenson nailing a 50-yard field goal and a 44-yard game-winner in the game that turned out to be the key in sending the Spartans to a New Year's Day bowl. This season, Michigan State needs to come up with some more magic in a big hurry after losing to Central Michigan in a last-second stunner and after blowing a wide-open chance to beat Notre Dame last week. The Spartans are two plays away from 3-0, but instead they're in desperation mode with Michigan up next week. Wisconsin has played better than the final scores might indicate, but with two road games ahead at Minnesota and Ohio State, this needs to be when the team hits its stride and plays a full sixty minutes for the first time all year.
Why Michigan State might win: The passing game will push the soft Wisconsin corners. The Badgers played a bend-but-don't-break pass defense against Fresno State two weeks ago, and while they didn't give up any big plays and they ended up coming through with some big interceptions, they also got picked clean by Fresno State's Ryan Colburn. Michigan State has dangerous receivers who should be a matchup nightmare for the Badger secondary. QB Kirk Cousins has been the Big Ten's most efficient passer over the first three games of the season and he should get plenty of time to work behind a line that has allowed just one sack so far.
Why Wisconsin might win: The Badger defense will pin its ears back and go full-bore into the backfield. The MSU offensive line has been a rock, but the Wisconsin linebackers will be good enough against the middling Spartan running backs to allow the line to take several chances. Don't let the stats fool you; Wisconsin has been good against the run when the outcomes were still in question. The D will let Cousins dink and dunk all day long, but it'll also hit the quarterbacks on a regular basis. Offensively, QB Scott Tolzien has been fantastic; he'll throw for 250 yards against the struggling MSU defensive backs.
Who to watch: MSU LB Greg Jones has been every bit the All-American he was expected to be coming into the season. The junior is sixth in the nation in tackles, averaging close to 13 per game highlighted by a 15-stop day against Central Michigan. He was a terror against the Badgers last season making 13 stops with a tackle for loss, and he'll make friends with Badger running backs Zach Clay and John Clay all game long.
What will happen: This won't be the typical Wisconsin – Michigan State running game slugfest. The game will be put in the hands, and on the arms, of the two solid quarterbacks, and Tolzien will outplay Cousins when the game is on the line, while the Badger running game will be better than the MSU ground attack. Cousins will get his stats, but Tolzien will get the win.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 27 … Michigan State 23 ... Line: Wisconsin -3
Must See Rating: (I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell 5 … Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself 1) … 3
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Illinois (1-1) at Ohio State (2-1), 3:30 EST, Saturday, September 26, ABC

Why to watch: Past sins are quickly forgiven when the conference season starts up, and no Big Ten team is more in need of a fresh beginning than Illinois. The Illini were terrible in an season-opening clunker against Missouri, and they lost QB Juice Williams early in the easy win over Illinois State in a stumbling moment that epitomized the team's start. Williams has had two weeks off to rest up and is fine, as is star WR Arrelious Benn, and now the two would like a repeat of their last trip to Columbus two years ago when they upset a national title game-bound Buckeye team. Ohio State bounced back from the tough loss to USC to hammer a high-powered Toledo team 38-0, and now is when the team needs to hit its stride. With Wisconsin at home next week and with relative layups against Purdue, Minnesota, and New Mexico State to follow, OSU can build up the résumé before the showdown at Penn State in early November. But first, an impressive performance against a rested Illini would be a plus for a program still buzzing about the USC loss.
Why Illinois might win: The pass rush should get to Terrelle Pryor. The Illini defense has been miserable over the first two games, especially against the pass, but Ohio State isn't going to start winging it around unless Pryor has time. While he has improved as a passer, he's not going to be allowed to take too many chances, if any, and Illinois will force him out of the pocket time and again. The aggressive Illinois defensive front will dare Pryor to take off running with the goal to make the OSU offense one-dimensional. Illinois will take a 100-yard rushing day from Pryor, but it wants to limit everything else.
Why Ohio State might win: The defense is coming off a gem. Actually, it's coming off of two straight excellent performances holding USC under wraps until Matt Barkley's final drive. Toledo was among the nation's leaders in total offense, but it was held to just 197 passing yards and just 13 on the ground against an OSU defensive front that's playing better than it has in years (including the BCS Championship game seasons). On the other side of the ball, yeah, Illinois will bring the pressure, but if it doesn't get to Pryor it's uh-oh time. Illinois got torched by Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and was ripped up by Illinois State's Matt Brown two weeks ago.
Who to watch: While the injuries to Williams and Benn got most of the national headlines, the biggest problem for Illinois was the loss of LB Martez Wilson, the star of the defensive front who hurt his neck against Missouri and is out for the year. His loss means it's sophomore Ian Thomas's time to shine in the middle of the Illini defense, a position that has put up huge numbers over the years for marginal talents like J Leman and Brit Miller. Thomas came up with 17 tackles against Illinois State, and now he'll have to play a smart, disciplined game to spy on Pryor and keep him from tearing off huge runs.
What will happen: Illinois has a solid chance of making this close throughout with a dangerous passing game and the best receiving corps Ohio State will see all season long, but the Buckeye defense will be a rock and Juice Williams will throw three picks and the ground game will go nowhere in the loss.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 27 … Illinois 16 ... Line: Ohio State -14
Must See Rating: (I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell 5 … Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself 1) … 3.5
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Purdue (1-2) at Notre Dame (2-1), 8:00 EST, Saturday, September 26, ESPN

Why to watch: There will be a whole bunch of passing and chunks of yards given up in this week's version of the Must Win Or Else game for Charlie Weis. The Irish will complete the Big Ten portion of the program after being saved by a wide-open miss by Michigan State at the end of last week's win and with Michigan pulling off a late shocker two weeks ago. Purdue is back to being the wide-open team it was known for a decade ago, but it hasn't translated into wins. The Boilermakers have lost two straight following up a heartbreaker against Oregon with a home clunker against Northern Illinois, and now they get to find out how good they really are before diving into Big Ten play against Northwestern. This is game two of a run of five home dates in six for the Boilermakers, but with a tough slate ahead, and after the loss to NIU this might be a must-win to have any real hope of going bowing.
Why Purdue might win: The Irish secondary has been terrible. The defensive front is providing a little bit of pressure, but not enough, while the defensive backs have given up way too many yards in key moments. Michigan's Tate Forcier threw well when he had to, and Michigan State's passers combined to bomb away for 354 yards and two touchdowns. The Irish were saved by a bad throw by MSU QB Kirk Cousins, who missed a wide open receiver for what would've been the game-winning touchdown, and it was followed up by a second bad throw leading to a Notre Dame game-sealing interception. Before that he bombed away at will, and Purdue's Joey Elliott, should do the same. However …
Why Notre Dame might win:… he has had problems with interceptions, throwing five in the first two games. Kept under wraps a little bit last week as he tried to be stingier with the ball, he was mistake-free but the offense fell flat against NIU. Offensively, Notre Dame should be able to do whatever it wants to through the air. QB Jimmy Clausen has a bum toe, but he should add on to his suddenly-amazing passing stats against a secondary that gave up 423 yards to Toledo in the opener and was saved the last two weeks only because the run defense was getting gouged. The Purdue secondary really isn't that bad, but you won't know it this week.
Who to watch: Who'll replace Michael Floyd? Before breaking his collarbone against Michigan State, the Irish star was on his way to an All-American season was one of college football's most dangerous deep threats. Now it'll be up to Golden Tate to do even more as the No. 1 target. He stepped up last week catching seven passes for 127 yards and a score, but he can't do it alone meaning the opportunities will be there for Kyle Rudolph, Duval Kamara, and Robby Parris to become bigger parts of the offense.
What will happen: Clausen will throw for 350 in a fun shootout. Purdue will keep up the pace, but four turnovers will prove too costly to overcome as the Irish go to Armando Allen and the ground game late to capitalize on the key mistakes.
CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 38 … Purdue 27 … ... Line: Notre Dame -7
Must See Rating: (I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell 5 … Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself 1) … 3
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- Week 4, Part 1