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Thursday, September 13, 2007

9/13/07 - Saturday Preview

Buffalo at Penn State 12:00 BTN
With Michigan's struggling, Wisconsin squeaking by UNLV, and Ohio State's anemic offense posting just 3 points at home against Akron, Penn State is starting to look like the early favorite to win the Big Ten. Granted wins over FIU and Notre Dame aren't too impressive, and a win over Buffalo would fall into the same category. Penn State QB Anthony Morelli has been solid in his first two games, but the Nittany Lions will only go as far as their defense will take them this year. With a defensive unit that ranks as one of the best in the nation, Penn State will take control early against Buffalo en route to another blowout win.
BTC Prediction: Penn State 38 Buffalo 6

Pittsburgh at Michigan State 12:00 ESPN
After wins over UAB and Bowling Green, Michigan State hosts 2-0 Pittsburgh on Saturday in a pivotal game for both teams. The Panthers will provide the biggest test so far this season for an improving Spartan squad. MSU has won using an impressive running attack as the recipe for success with the combo of Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick. The Spartans should be able to establish the run successfully against the Pittsburgh defensive front. Michigan State is young and inexperienced on defense, especially on the outside at cornerback. The Panthers big wide receivers should be able to take advantage of that and keep this game close, but in the end the Spartan running backs will win this game on the ground.
BTC Prediction: Michigan State 27 Pittsburgh 20

Akron at Indiana 12:00 BTN
The surprise team so far in the Big Ten is the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana is showing the success and offensive prowess that many pundits expected from Illinois this year. Everyone should have expected the blowout win over Indiana State, but the win last weekend on the road at Western Michigan shows a much improved Indiana team. Akron comes into Bloomington with a confident defense that held down Ohio State's offense for a half, but the Zips offense mustarded less than 100 yards of total offense in their 20-2 loss. Surprisingly, the Hoosier offense, especially their passing game, is much better than the Buckeyes at this point in the season (who would have ever thought they'd read that sentence!). Akron will be able to move the ball more than they did in Columbus, but IU's offense should be able to outscore the Zips.
BTC Prediction: Indiana 31 Akron 20

Illinois at Syracuse 12:00 ESPNU
Illinois will try to win it's first game played in a domed stadium since 1994 on Saturday when it takes on Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. The Orange have started off about as bad as any team in the nation. Between their losses to Washington and Iowa, Syracuse has been outscored 77-12, with an offense that has shown almost zero signs of life. The Illini defense seemed to show improvement last week in a shutout win of Western Illinois, and quite frankly Syracuse is playing like a 1-AA offense right now. Also, look for QB Juice Williams to rack up the yards on the ground. The Orange have always had problems with scrambling quarterbacks, and there are few running QB's better than Juice. As long as Illinois can limit turnovers and mistakes, the Illini should finally pick up a win in a dome.
BTC Prediction: Illinois 24 Syracuse 10

Central Michigan at Purdue 12:00 ESPN2
If you are looking for a high scoring shoot-out on Saturday, look no further than West Lafayette. The Boilermakers offense has been firing on all cylinders so far this season, with co-Big Ten Player of the Week QB Curtis Painter leading the way. Painter has a slew of talented receivers to throw to, and should continue his excellent play and pick apart the Central Michigan secondary. The Cippewas are coming off a strong victory against Toledo, after their embarrassing 52-7 loss at Kansas to open the season. CMU has given up over 300 yards passing to both Kansas and Toledo, which has to have Joe Tiller and the Purdue offense salivating more than one of Pavlov's dogs. The question in this game isn't who will win, but more how many points will Purdue put on the scoreboard.
BTC Projection: Purdue 48 Central Michigan 24

The Citadel at Wisconsin 12:00 BTN
After struggling at UNLV and barely escaping with a victory, The Citadel should provide Wisconsin with a chance to get their confidence back. The Citadel does come into Madison with a 2-0 record, but those wins came against Charleston Southern and Webber. Not exactly impressive victories. The Badgers will return home fired up and should be able to put Bulldogs away early. After their near disaster in Las Vegas, Wisconsin will get a much needed tune-up before opening the Big Ten season at home next week against Iowa.
BTC Prediction: Wisconsin 42 The Citadel 7

Minnesota at Florida Atlantic 1:00 ESPN360
Minnesota heads south to take on FAU after two consecutive overtime games against MAC schools at home. Not exactly how Tim Brewster was hoping his tenure would start to say the least. The problem for the Gophers hasn't been their offense. They've showed good balance averaging 276 yards per game on the ground and displaying an improved passing game led by freshman QB Adam Weber. Minnesota is the more talented team and that should show on the field, but if the Gophers continue to turn the ball over and don't cut down on the penalties and mistakes that have hindered them so far this season they may be in for trouble.
BTC Prediction: Minnesota 31 Florida Atlantic 20

Iowa at Iowa State 1:30 Versus
Speaking of coach's who wish they could start over. Iowa State's new head coach Gene Chizik would fall into that category after two embarrassing losses at home to Kent State and 1-AA Northern Iowa. This year's battle for the "Cy-Hawk Trophy" will certainly put the rivalry game theory of "throwing out the records" to a test. The Hawkeyes struggled a bit in their opener against Northern Illinois, but seemed to iron out the kinks against Syracuse at home. Iowa has struggled away from home recently, and they always seem to get Iowa State's best effort. It will be interesting to watch how Iowa QB Jake Christensen will handle his first experience of a hostile crowd. Don't be surprised if ISU keeps this one close for most of the first half, but in the end the Hawkeye defense should prove too tough for the Cyclones.
BTC Prediction: Iowa 31 Iowa State 17

Notre Dame at Michigan 3:30 ABC
Throw out the records when these two teams meet! I'm sure both Lloyd Carr and Charlie Weis wish they could this year. Both Notre Dame and Michigan come into their annual winless and starting true freshman quarterbacks. All eyes were certainly be watching the play of Michigan QB Ryan Mallett as he squares off against fellow phenom Jimmy Clausen. Reports are that Chad Henne will miss at least three games with an apparent knee injury, and Mallett, if he plays well, could take over the starting spot and permanently plant Henne on the sideline. Wolverine RB Mike Hart has guaranteed victory, and he will show up big time in this game making it easier on the freshman QB. The Michigan defense has been shredded in their two losses, and if they have trouble stopping a bad Irish offense, it will prove to be a very long season in Ann Arbor. Look for Michigan to rely heavily on Hart's running and notch a win on the board before next week's clash with Penn State.
BTC Prediction: Michigan 27 Notre Dame 13

Ohio State at Washington 3:30 ESPN
Despite what you have been told by the media, this week's most intriguing matchup will be played in the Pacific Northwest. Fresh off their lackluster home performance against Akron, Ohio State heads west to face a Washington team who just stopped the nation's longest winning streak in an upset win over Boise State. However, the Huskies have yet to face a defense as talented and as good as the one the Buckeyes will bring to town. OSU will shut down the Washington running game and QB Jake Locker, but don't expect their offense to provide many sparks. This is the same group that managed just 20 points at home against Akron. Both teams will be geared up for this one. The Huskies are ready to to show they belong back on the national scene, and the Buckeyes want to prove they are a top 10 team.
BTC Prediction: Washington 20 Ohio State 17

Duke at Northwestern 8:00 BTN
Duke comes into this week's primetime matchup with Northwestern carrying a 22-game losing streak. The Wildcats needed some magic last week to come from behind in the 2nd half and beat Nevada. Northwestern surely expects to put up some points against a very weak Blue Devil defense even with RB Tyrell Sutton likely to miss this game. Brandon Robinson filled in nicely against Nevada with 128 yards and a score, and the Wildcats will need production like that to keep Duke honest on defense and give QB C.J. Bacher time to pick apart the Blue Devil secondary. Bacher should put up solid numbers again, and this time he won't need to lead any last minute drives to take the lead.
BTC Prediction: Northwestern 30 Duke 14

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