2009 Big 10 Fearless Picks, Week 9
Indiana QB Ben Chappell
Indiana QB Ben Chappell
Posted Oct 29, 2009

Now it's about survival in the Big Ten. Penn State will try to keep improving with a road date at Northwestern before the Ohio State showdown next week, while Indiana and Ben Chappell will try to pull off the big upset over Iowa. Check out the Previews and Predictions for the Week 9 Big Ten Games

2009 Big Ten Fearless Predictions

Week 9 ... Oct. 31 Games

Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota
Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin
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Game of the Week
Indiana (4-4) at Iowa (8-0), 12:00 EST, Saturday, October 31

Why to watch: Yes, Indiana is part of the Big Ten's biggest game of the week, and no, it's not because it's special in any way. The Hoosiers are still in the hunt for a bowl game, but they suffered a crippling blow last week in a 29-28 collapse against Northwestern. With Wisconsin and Penn State up in the next two weeks, things aren't getting much easier in the quest for six win, but with or without a bowl game, this might be chalked up as a successful season if they can ruin the hopes and dreams of an Iowa team that has a nasty habit of playing down the competition. The Hawkeyes have managed to come through with every clutch play needed in a charmed season, with an epic late drive last week to beat Michigan State in what might go down as one of the greatest scoring marches in the program's history if it turns out to be the difference in a Rose Bowl run. This isn't the greatest team, but it keeps on winning and is building a tremendous résumé with road wins over Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State, to go along with a nice win over Arizona. Now the Hawkeyes have to get up for Indiana and not let up. Yes, they're playing well enough to be in the national title discussion, and yes, they are just flaky enough to blow it against a team like IU.
Why Indiana might win: Indiana doesn't make a lot of mistakes. The Hawkeyes have lived off of takeaways this season and need them to help jumpstart the offense. Last week, Michigan State didn't turn the ball over and Iowa struggled to put points on the board. Indiana doesn't have a consistent attack, but it has a little bit of explosion and it doesn't give up the ball. There has only been one interception thrown in the last three games and just five fumbles lost on the season. If Iowa wants to score, it's going to have to do it with its offense marching on long drives, and that could be a problem against a Hoosier defensive front that's great at getting into the backfield.
Why Iowa might win: The IU secondary has been horrible. Even with lots of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the pass defense is getting ripped apart on a regular basis. Who gives up 305 passing yards to Virginia? Only Ohio State and Akron have problems throwing the ball, and Iowa isn't going to have a problem being efficient. On the other side, the Hawkeye defense should be terrific against the Hoosier passing game and will force the running attack to try to work. Even if IU gets out to any lead, it shouldn't be able to hold it.
Who to watch: Iowa's offense was struggling to begin with, and it just suffered two crippling blows. Adam Robinson wasn't Shonn Greene, but he filled in nicely as the team's top rusher. He ran for 109 yards against Michigan State, but he suffered a badly sprained ankle and is out for at least the rest of the regular season. In steps Brandon Wegher, a true freshman who hasn't been bad as a receiver and a kick returner, and he was one of the stars against Iowa State with a 101-yard day. Also lost is All-America caliber guard Dace Richardson to a broken leg. He's expected to be able to return for the bowl game, but he was having a dominant season before the injury.
What will happen: Iowa has the defense to keep the Hoosiers under wraps, but the offense is going to sputter just enough to keep this close. IU will come up with two big plays, one with a kick return and one on a run, to throw a scare into the Hawkeyes, but not enough of one.
CFN Prediction: Iowa 27 … Indiana 14 ... Line: Iowa -18
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 3
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New Mexico State (3-5) at Ohio State (6-2), 12:00 EST, Saturday, October 31, Big 10 Network

Why to watch: New Mexico State isn't all that bad. With three wins, the Aggies have done more under DeWayne Walker than they were able to do in most of Hal Mumme's years, but they've fallen on hard times over the last two weeks. After beating Utah State in a major upset, NMSU lost to Louisiana Tech and Fresno State by a combined score of 79 to 10. Yes, Ohio State fans, there is an offense in America worse than yours, and New Mexico State is about to show it off. The Aggies are last in the nation in total offense and second-to-last in scoring, meaning that Ohio State can really, really screw up Purdue-loss style and still not blow it. Everyone calmed down a little bit after the Boilermaker loss thanks to a nice game by Terrelle Pryor in a 38-7 win over Minnesota. With at Penn State, Iowa, and at Michigan to finish things up, any problems the Buckeyes have will need fixing right now. This is the light scrimmage needed to work the kinks out.
Why New Mexico State might win: Ohio State has a quirky way of playing down to its competition. There was the close call against Navy, the loss to Purdue, and over the years, a few too many games that should've been over after two drives going deep into the fourth. Ohio State made its statement last week in the easy win over Minnesota. This week will be about getting in, getting the easy win, and moving on to the plans ahead. If the Aggies can use their not-that-awful secondary to make OSU one-dimensional, this might be interesting for a few drives.
Why Ohio State might win: New Mexico State doesn't score. The offense can't throw, and the offensive line doesn't have a prayer of holding up against the OSU defensive front. With no pass rush, Pryor will get all the time he wants to operate and he'll be able to sit back, have a sandwich, and make some big plays happen. NMSU has the least–efficient passing game in America, and it'll show right away.
Who to watch: Ohio State sophomore WR DeVier Posey is coming into his own. After making 11 catches as a true freshman, the one-time superstar prospect has become Pryor's favorite target, especially over the last few weeks, with nine catches against Purdue and a breakout eight-catch, 161-yard, two score day against Minnesota. With the running backs banged up, OSU will rely on Posey even more.
What will happen: Ohio State will go through the motions and win, but it's Ohio State. This isn't always going to go perfectly, but the Buckeyes will go on a late run to make this a blowout.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 48 … New Mexico State 10 ... Line: Ohio State -40
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 1
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Purdue (3-5) at Wisconsin (5-2), 12:00 EST, Saturday, October 31, ESPN2

Why to watch: Wisconsin isn't in the Big Ten title race at this point, but it has the chance to go on a tremendous run coming off a two week break and with an easy finishing kick. Three of the final four games are on the road, but they're against Indiana, Northwestern, and Hawaii, and the home game is against Michigan. This week might be the team's most dangerous test the rest of the way, and coming off a two-game losing streak against Ohio State and Iowa, the program and the coaching staff can't afford to lose. The Boilermakers have been just good enough to be alive in every game, and now it has all come together with back-to-back wins over Ohio State and Illinois to show that the Danny Hope era might turn out to be a good one. With three road games in the final four, it's going to take a minor miracle to get to a bowl game, but Michigan and Indiana are beatable and Michigan State has to come to West Lafayette. But if Purdue is good enough to beat Ohio State, it's good enough to beat Wisconsin and have a shot to win the rest of the games on the slate.
Why Purdue might win: Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien will be on his back for stretches and will be under pressure all game long. The banged up Badger offensive line has been able to get by over the first half of the year, but it's starting to struggle a bit, is still hurting, and it's going to have a nightmare of a time against the Boilermaker pass rush that's been heating up. Tolzien was playing at an All-Big Ten level to start the year, but he has thrown five interceptions and no touchdown passes in the last two games. Purdue has made 21 sacks on the year with 11 in the last three games. Expect at least three sacks this week.
Why Wisconsin might win: Purdue didn't turn the ball over against Illinois. That's more indicative of how bad the Illini are than how tight the Boilermakers were with the ball. Only Miami University has turned the ball over more than Purdue with the mistakes coming in bunches, and while Wisconsin isn't big on forcing the big mistakes, the defense is opportunistic. The Boilermaker defense can get into the backfield, but it can't hold up against the run and should get steamrolled over. Even with a patchwork O line and a hobbling John Clay carrying the mail, the Badgers should be able to rumble for over 250 yards.
Who to watch: It'll be a shocker if Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield don't end up on everyone's first team All-Big Ten defensive line. Coming off a seven sack season, Kerrigan, a former tight end, was a terror throughout the offseason showing off more quickness and burst. It has shown up on the field with 7.5 sacks so far including two against Minnesota and three against Ohio State, and he has been a steady producer against the run. Schofield has 6.5 sacks, but he has been even more of a terror and has had to be accounted for on every play. More of a beefed up linebacker than a true end, he's a flash of lightning who makes big plays in bunches.
What will happen: Purdue will hang around by getting to Tolzien early and often, but Wisconsin will be +2 in the turnover margin and will control the game in the fourth quarter with its ground game.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 34 … Purdue 27 ... Line: Wisconsin -6.5
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 3
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- Week 9, Part 2 (Penn State at Northwestern, & more)