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2009 Big 10 Fearless Picks, Week 7
Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 15, 2009


Previews and Predictions for the Week 7 Big Ten Games


2009 Big Ten Fearless Predictions

Week 7 ... Oct. 17 Games

Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota
Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin
 
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Game of the Week

Iowa (6-0) at Wisconsin (5-1), 12:00 EST, Saturday, October 17, ESPN

Why to watch: Iowa is 6-0 and on a ten game winning streak, but it’s not like anyone is ready to print tickets for Pasadena for either the Rose Bowl or the BCS Championship. The offense has consistency problems, there’s little to count on from the running game, there’s no pass rush, and the return game that was bad before is without the best returner, Paul Chaney, who tore his ACL. But the Hawkeyes find ways to win, they’re playing with supreme confidence, and they have wins over Penn State and Michigan under their belt. If they can get out of Madison alive with a win over Iowa alum Bret Bielema’s Badgers (the UW head coach has a Hawkeye tattoo), it’s a two game season with trips to Michigan State and Ohio State to deal with. But beating Wisconsin isn’t going to be a breeze. The Badgers played a bizarre game in a 31-13 loss to Ohio State. They dominated the time of possession, the defense kept the Buckeyes off the field and made Terrelle Pryor look awful, and there were several chances to turn the game around. But two interceptions went for touchdowns and a kickoff return was taken for a score to kill the upset hopes, and now the team is looking to stop a potential slide before it starts. The Badgers are better than they’re getting credit for, but it’s time to prove it with a big win, and if they can pull it off, the rest of the slate is winnable facing Purdue, at Indiana, Michigan, at Northwestern, and at Hawaii. But will the team play up to its capability? Will Iowa be Iowa and pull off another tough win that defies logic? Whatever happens, the Big Ten title picture will clear up just a little bit.
Why Iowa might win: Only Air Force (20) has forced more takeaways than Iowa (19). Michigan gave it away five times, Iowa State threw five picks, and Penn State lost it four times. Wisconsin has been tremendous in turnover margin for most of the year, but it has had an awful time with fumbles putting 12 on the ground (including six against Wofford) and losing seven of them, and the normally reliable Scott Tolzien threw two bad interceptions last week. Iowa doesn’t have the offense to outpunch Wisconsin, but there will be several chances to create big plays for the O to capitalize off of. Iowa probably can’t win if the Badgers are secure with the ball, but the Hawkeye defense will have something to do with that.
Why Wisconsin might win: Wisconsin didn’t lose because of the Ray Small kickoff return for a touchdown or the two pick sixes; Wisconsin lost because the offensive line got destroyed by the Ohio State defensive line. Tolzien kept battling throughout and the running game wasn’t awful, gaining 118 yards, but no one had time to breathe because of the pressure generated by the Buckeye front four. That’s not going to be an issue this week as the Iowa defensive line doesn’t come up with sacks, doesn’t make things happen behind the line, and can be shoved around. Michigan ran for 195 yards and three touchdowns, and the Badgers, if they stick with the running game, should be able to get over 200 yards.
Who to watch: Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi gets a bit of a bad rap. He throws way too many interceptions, he has eight in the last five games, and he struggles with his accuracy, he completed just 11 of 26 passes for 135 yards against Penn State, but he has thrown for over 200 yards in four games and threw for 197 yards and four scores against Iowa State. He has taken more of the offense on his shoulders and has been reliable when the team absolutely needs him to be good, but he’s not going to bomb the team back into the game if the Badgers get up early.
What will happen: There’s a reason Iowa struggled so much with Northern Iowa and Arkansas State. The Hawkeyes haven’t faced an O line like this one, while the offensive line will struggle with the Wisconsin pass rush. Bryan Bulaga struggled with Michigan’s Brandon Graham last week, and he’ll have a nightmare of a day with Wisconsin’s O’Brien Schofield.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 31 … Iowa 27 ... Line: Iowa -1
Must See Rating: (Bored To Death 5 … My Monkey Baby 1) … 4
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Northwestern (4-2) at Michigan State (3-3), 12:00 EST, Saturday, October 17, ESPN2

Why to watch: Neither team is considered a serious Big Ten title contender, but there’s still plenty of time for each one to make a lot of noise and move up in the conference bowl pecking order. Northwestern has been shaky, extremely shaky, in close wins over miserable Miami University and Eastern Michigan team, but there was a nice road win over Purdue to show that the team could play a little bit. But beating Michigan State in East Lansing would be the team’s best wins of the year, and it would set the tone for the second half of the season that still has lightweights Indiana and Illinois on the schedule. Michigan State turned its season around with wins over Michigan and Illinois, and it can make a huge statement next week against Iowa. Michigan State won 37-20 last season, but these two have played some classics with the 2006 and 2007 games among the best in the respective seasons.
Why Northwestern might win: Northwestern takes the ball away and Michigan State doesn’t. The Wildcats have forced 17 turnovers, but it also gives the ball away with 12 losses. However, Michigan State is having a hard time forcing big mistakes with just six takeaways. Northwestern is having problems with its firepower, and if it’s going to pull off the win, it needs to be at least +2 in turnover margin. It’s going to help the Wildcat defense that the MSU backfield is banged up. RB Larry Caper and quarterbacks Keith Nichol and Kirk Cousins are also hurting.
Why Michigan State might win: Northwestern’s offense simply isn’t working on a consistent basis. It’s not awful, averaging 383 yards per game, and the passing attack is third in the Big Ten, but the running game has struggled and the passing yards mostly came in a two-game stretch against Syracuse and Minnesota. If MSU can take away the midrange passes, it’ll be tough for the Wildcats to move the ball. MSU will get pressure on NU QB Mike Kafka, while the Spartan O line has been a rock in pass protection.
Who to watch: Who’ll be the quarterback for the Spartans, and will he play better? MSU has played around with the quarterback situation since the start of the season, but Cousins has an ankle injury and Nichol has an elbow problem. Cousins didn’t see any time against Illinois, while Nichol struggled when he finally got his chance to shine completing 13-of-25 passes for 179 yards with a pick. His big advantage is his mobility, but he only ran for 27 yards against the Illini. Cousins ran for 75 yards against Michigan, but he threw two picks in the game and has struggled with his consistency. The NU secondary can be beaten, but it’ll come up with interceptions if the MSU quarterbacks aren’t sharp.
What will happen: Mike Kafka, meet Greg Jones. The MSU linebacker will make at last 12 tackles, keeping the Wildcat quarterback from taking off and doing anything with the ground game, while the Spartan offense will overcome three turnovers to get an ugly win.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 30 … Northwestern 23 ... Line: Michigan State -12
Must See Rating: (Bored To Death 5 … My Monkey Baby 1) … 3
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Delaware State (1-3) at Michigan (4-2), 12:00 EST, Saturday, October 17, Big 10 Network

Why to watch: For those of you interesting in seeing a Michigan scrimmage, this isn’t going to be as interesting. Delaware State isn’t good. The offense doesn’t score, the defense can’t stop anyone from throwing the ball, and the lone win came against Hampton. The Hornets are coming off a loss to Bethune-Cookman, but they get their shot to show what they can do in the Big House. Meanwhile, the Wolverines, fresh off of losses to Michigan State and Iowa, will be trying to tune up and rest up for Penn State. They need to do more with the passing game, need to get the time of the attack down, and they need to do more to get into the backfield. Basically, it’s time to use this game to get the house in order in order before a big finishing kick.
Why Delaware State might win: DSU has a nice kickoff returner in Travis Tarpley, who’s averaging 33 yards per try. He’s not much of a receiver, with just one catch on the year, but he has the potential to break off a big run and provides the team’s best chance to score. The Hornets have a bend-but-don’t break defense. They give up a ton of yards, but not a lot of points, while the offense doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.
Why Michigan might win: Michigan can win this game by not throwing a pass. That’s not the point of playing a Delaware State, the Wolverines need to work on the problem areas, but the Hornet run defense has struggled all year long. The linebackers aren’t in place to deal with the spread. The goal will be to put this away after two drives, and then let the experimenting begin.
Who to watch: How bad is Tate Forcier’s shoulder? Left out at the end of the Iowa loss after playing poorly, as it turned out, Forcier was hurting. The team needs him for Penn State, and even though he’s expected to play, Denard Robinson will get to show what he can do when the offense is all his. If he’s going to end up being the main man for the foreseeable future, he has to tune up his passing. He has only thrown 15 passes on the year, completing seven of them, but he has thrown three interceptions including the game-killer late against the Hawkeyes. He can run, and he could tear off 150 yards if he wanted to against DSU, but that’s not the point. Even if he ends up throwing a slew of picks, he needs to throw the ball as much as possible in live action. Basically, he needs the at bats.
What will happen: Michigan can make this as ugly as it wants to.
CFN Prediction: Michigan 48 … Delaware State 0 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (Bored To Death 5 … My Monkey Baby 1) … 1
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- Week 7, Part 2 (Minnesota at Penn State, OSU at Purdue, & more)