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Thursday, October 18, 2007

10/18/07 - Weekend Preview

Northwestern at Eastern Michigan 7:00 ESPNU
Line: Northwestern -10
Northwestern and Eastern Michigan will square off in a neutral site Friday night contest. The game will be played in Detroit and is a must-win for the Wildcats, if they plan to keep their bowl hopes alive. EMU comes into the game with a 2-5 record, having lost 3 straight games on the road. Northwestern is coming off back-to-back overtime wins over Michigan State and Minnesota. Eastern Michigan will have a tough time keeping up with an NU pass offense that is averaging 321 yards through the air per game. Wildcat QB C.J. Bacher will look to continue his unbelievably hot play against the Eagles. In his last two games, Bacher has thrown for 990 yards and 9 TDs without an interception. If Northwestern can avoid the upset in Detroit, they would need just one more win with 4 to play to become bowl eligible.
BTC Prediction: Northwestern 31 Eastern Michigan 20

Penn State at Indiana 12:00 ESPN
Line: Penn State -7.5
The Hoosiers will look to bounce back from their worst loss of the season last weekend at Michigan State. The only problem for Indiana is the team coming to town Saturday is Penn State. The Nittany Lions have never lost to Indiana in ten games. However, this year's Hoosiers are one of the better Indiana teams of recent memory. Penn State has looked mighty impressive in their last two wins against Iowa and Wisconsin, but the Lions have been a different team away from Happy Valley this year, 0-2 on the road so far. The key to victory for PSU will be to contain Indiana QB Kellen Lewis, and keep him from beating you with his feet. For Indiana to win, they need to get pressure on Penn State QB Anthony Morelli and force him into making bad decisions. If the Hoosiers can come up with a few turnovers, they could be celebrating their first ever win over Penn State.
BTC Prediction: Penn State 27 Indiana 21

Iowa at Purdue 12:00 ESPN2
Line: Purdue -6.5
Panic has officially started in West Lafayette. After a 5-0 start, Purdue has been blown out in two straight games against Ohio State and Michigan. Now is the time for the Boilermaker offense to step up and prove their impressive start wasn't a fluke and thanks mostly to a weak non-conference schedule. The only problem is their first five wins were over 1-AA Eastern Illinois and four 1-A teams with a combined record of 8-20. Saturday will be another test for the Purdue offense against a quality defense. The good news for the Boilers is that it shouldn't take too many points to outscore Iowa. The Hawkeyes were very impressive last week shutting down Illinois, but the offense still only garnered 10 points in the win. If Iowa can hold down the Purdue offense and somehow score enough to get the win, the Hawkeyes will suddenly catapult themselves back into bowl contention.
BTC Prediction: Purdue 24 Iowa 20

ND State at Minnesota 12:00 BTN
No Line
North Dakota State comes into the Dome undefeated and one of the best teams in Division 1-AA. They will also be looking for some revenge after nearly pulling off the upset against he Gophers last year. Minnesota held on to beat the Bison 10-9 in last year's meeting. This year, the Golden Gopher defense has not been able to stop anybody's offense and don't expect that to change anytime soon. No one should be surprised if the Bison win this game, and it shouldn't be called an upset if they do. Gopher fans won't like to hear it, but North Dakota State is the better team. This is a team that won at Central Michigan 44-14 earlier in the year, and Central Michigan is currently leading the MAC. The same MAC with teams Bowling Green and Miami (OH). Minnesota beat Bowling Green in overtime early this season, and lost to the Redhawks in 3 OT's at home the next week.
BTC Prediction: North Dakota State 31 Minnesota 28

Northern Illinois at Wisconsin 12:00 BTN
Line: Wisconsin -23.5
Once the favorite to win the Big Ten this year, Wisconsin has fallen completely out of the Top 25 after an embarrassing 38-7 loss at Penn State last weekend. This is the perfect time for another tune-up for Wisconsin as they play host to hapless Northern Illinois. The one thing this Badger team cannot do is get behind early, as we saw against Penn State. The Wisconsin offense is not built for them to come from behind and play catch up. Luckily for them this week, NIU has scored an average of 13 points in their last three games, all losses. P.J. Hill has been a bit banged up recently, but the Badger running game will dominate against the Huskies and help get Wisconsin back on track with huge games against Ohio State and Michigan still looming in a few weeks.
BTC Prediction: Wisconsin 38 Northern Illinois 13

Michigan State at Ohio State 3:30 ABC
Line: Ohio State -17
The Ohio State Buckeyes are once again the number one team in the land. Now OSU just needs to avoid the upset bug that has been biting just about everybody so far this season. Michigan State is coming off their most impressive win of the year after running all over Indiana last Saturday night in East Lansing. The question will be whether the Spartans can continue that success running the ball against arguably the best defense in the nation this year. Ohio State's defense has given up more than a touchdown only once this season when Washington scored 14. This week could be the Buckeye's toughest test against a Spartan team that is currently leading the Big Ten in scoring offense. MSU RB Javon Ringer has turned into one of the biggest home run hitters in the conference, and he'll need another huge day for the Spartans to stay close. The Spartans should be able to get a couple of touchdowns, but it won't be enough to knock off the #1 team.
BTC Prediction: Ohio State 34 Michigan State 14

Michigan at Illinois 8:00 ABC
Line: Michigan -3
These two teams seem to be heading in different directions. After an 0-2 start, the Wolverines have now won five in a row, and are coming off their best overall performance of the year, a 48-21 win against Purdue. On the other sideline, Illinois comes in after a disappointing loss to Iowa on the road. The good news for the Illini, is their offense looks a lot like Appalachian State and Oregon's. Running quarterbacks have given the Wolverine defense fits this year, and Illinois has one of the best in Juice Williams. Coach Ron Zook has said that he will stick with Juice as the starter and bring Eddie McGee in off the bench. Michigan is expected to be with RB Mike Hart, who will be playing on a testy ankle. If Hart is not able to go or seriously hindered by the ankle injury, Illinois will win. A healthy Hart, and the Wolverines pull out a close one.
BTC Prediction: Michigan 21 Illinois 20