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Thursday, September 20, 2007

9/20/07 - Saturday Preview

Illinois at Indiana 12:00 BTN
Line: Illinois -3
A win this week for either team would put them in a good position to battle for a bowl bid. Indiana has not made a bowl game since 1993, and a win over Illinois would mark their first 4-0 start since the 1990 season. Illinois is looking for their first three-game winning streak since 2001. The most intriguing matchup to watch in this game will be Indiana's ground attack against the Illini front seven. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten with an average of 259 yards rushing per game. Illinois' defense has been very tough against the run, shutting down Western Illinois and Syracuse, and making it very tough for Missouri to gain any substantial yards on the ground. If the Hoosiers expect to win this week, they are going to need QB Kellen Lewis to continue to shine and add to his impressive passing totals. The quarterback on the other side, Illinois' Juice Williams has yet to show much consistency this season, and will need to play a turnover free game for the Illini to win on the road.
BTC Prediction: Indiana 27 Illinois 24

Penn State at Michigan 3:30 ABC
Line: Penn State -2.5
Without a real clear cut favorite to win the Big Ten this year, the winner of this early season matchup will take a big step towards that goal. For Penn State, this week marks their toughest road test of the year. After Saturday, the Nittany Lions have conference road tilts at Illinois, Indiana, and at Michigan State. Penn State plays Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue all in Happy Valley this year. The schedule is very favorable for the Lions this year, but it is obviously way too early to be talking about a Big Ten title, especially with one of their toughest games of the year two days away. Much like Penn State, the Wolverines looked mighty impressive in their dominating win over Notre Dame, but a win over Notre Dame means about as much as a win over FIU and Buffalo this year. The one consistency this season for Michigan has been the play of RB Mike Hart. Hart has had three straight 100+ yard games to go along with his five touchdowns so far. The stingy Penn State defense will have their hands full stopping Mr. Hart. PSU, on the other hand, is still looking for that same consistency from one of their backs. So far the Nittany Lions have been led by QB Anthony Morelli, and with the way Michigan's secondary has been shredded this year, expect Morelli to have another big day. If Penn State can give him time, Morelli should lead the Lions to an important victory.
BTC Prediction: Penn State 27 Michigan 17

Michigan State at Notre Dame 3:30 NBC
Line: Michigan State -13.5
Notre Dame continues their stretch of Big Ten opponents this week when they host Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans travel to South Bend with a 3-0 record and a very strong, consistent running game. Michigan State RB's Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick should be able to pick up good chunks of yardage against the Irish defense, and that will help the Spartans control the clock and the game. Notre Dame is starting over this week and MSU is probably the weakest team they've played so far, but the Irish are still a bad team. Michigan State will win the game, but this week's BOLD prediction is that Notre Dame will score their 1st offensive touchdown on the season.
BTC Prediction: Michigan State 28 Notre Dame 13

Northwestern at Ohio State 3:30 ESPN
Line: Ohio State -22
You probably didn't hear much about it, but the Ohio State Buckeyes traveled to Washington last weekend and stomped the Huskies in the 2nd half of their 33-14 statement win. The Buckeyes have been using the familiar formula of excellent defense and just enough offense on their way to a 3-0 start. Northwestern travels to Columbus after a very disappointing home loss to Duke. The Wildcats haven't won at Ohio State since 1971 and don't expect that trend to change. Northwestern expects RB Tyrell Sutton to be back for this game, and having the Ohio native in the backfield will be a big boost to their offense. But this year's Ohio State defense has been as good as any in the nation so far, and will take an amazing performance from Northwestern to pull off the upset.
BTC Projection: Ohio State 31 Northwestern 13

Iowa at Wisconsin 8:00 ABC
Line: Wisconsin -7.5
One of the most interesting matchups of this weekend will take place in Madison on Saturday night. Iowa is coming off an embarrassing road loss to a very bad Iowa State team. The Hawkeyes have played probably the weakest schedule in the nation to date with wins over 0-3 Northern Illinois and Syracuse. If Iowa plans on being a part of the upper half of the Big Ten, Saturday is time to make a statement. On the side stands a Wisconsin team that is a bit hard to figure out. The Badgers came into the season with top 5 rating and a favorite to win the Big Ten. However, after a lackluster performance at UNLV and last week's home game against The Citadel where the Wisconsin defense gave up 31 points. If Wisconsin wants to re-establish themselves as a possible BCS team, they need to beat the Hawkeyes handily. Don't be surprised if this game ends up being a tight one, with both teams looking to establish their running games. Quarterback play might be the difference, and with the way Iowa's Jake Christensen looked in the 1st half at Iowa State, the QB advantage goes to Wisconsin's Tyler Donovan. If Donovan can step up and make a few big plays, the Badgers will win.
BTC Prediction: Wisconsin 24 Iowa 17

Purdue at Minnesota 9:00 ESPN2
Line: Purdue -14
The Boilermakers are looking at a very legitimate shot at starting the season 5-0. Purdue travels to Minnesota this week, then takes a shot at Notre Dame next week. Boilermaker QB Curtis Painter has been absolutely stellar this season. Painter has thrown for 952 yards with 13 touchdowns on the season, and has yet to throw an interception. Purdue will continue to rack up the passing yards this week against a bad Minnesota defense. The Gopher offense has been able to score, led by QB Adam Weber and a strong running game. But the offense hasn't been able to keep up with the amount of points Minnesota's defense has been giving up this year. Purdue will win this shootout, and the disappointment will continue for Minnesota. This will be a long season for the Gophers.
BTC Prediction: Purdue 51 Minnesota 38