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Thursday, October 4, 2007

10/4/07 - Saturday Preview

Wisconsin at Illinois 12:00 ESPN
Line: Illinois -2.5
Both teams enter this weekend's showdown in Champaign coming off big wins at home. Wisconsin outlasted Michigan State last Saturday, while Illinois proved it belongs in the upper half of the Big Ten with a 27-20 win over Penn State. This week things will be much tougher for the Illini as the Badgers come to town carrying a top 5 national ranking. Wisconsin will need to vastly improve their run defense after it was exposed last week by the Spartans. Illinois QB Juice Williams and RB Rashard Mendenhall have the capability to break some big runs, much like Javon Ringer was able to do last week. The nation's longest winning streak will come to an end if the Badgers continue to give up big chunks of yards on the ground. Look for Wisconsin to stack the line and dare Juice Williams to beat them with his arm, and if he can hit a few long passes it should be a very successful day for the Illini offense. The Badgers luck will run out this weekend.
BTC Prediction: Illinois 27 Wisconsin 20

Northwestern at Michigan State 12:00 BTN
Line: Michigan State -14.5
Northwestern may be underhanded again this weekend and perhaps for the rest of the season. It has been reported that RB Tyrell Sutton could redshirt this season for the Wildcats, and that is a huge loss. Northwestern doesn't have enough talent on offense to overcome missing that big of a piece the rest of the way. Michigan State is coming home after a tough loss at Wisconsin, and in previous years this would be the type of game the Spartans would lose. But this year's team is different, and don't expect a carryover loss this time around. The Spartans running game is just too good, with Javon Ringer emerging as the go-to back, and the defense should get back on track after giving up some big plays to the Badgers.
BTC Prediction: Michigan State 31 Northwestern 14

Minnesota at Indiana 12:00 BTN
Line: Indiana -13
After a very impressive road win at Iowa, Indiana is two wins away from becoming bowl eligible. If the Hoosiers plan on going bowling in December, this is a game they absolutely must win. Last week QB Kellen Lewis had his way with the Iowa defense, and Minnesota's pass defense has been giving up big plays all season. The Gopher's will certainly have their hands full with Indiana WR James Hardy. Minnesota should be able to run the ball against Indiana and keep it close into the 4th quarter, but the Lewis-Hardy connection will be the key in this game to a Hoosier victory.
BTC Prediction: Indiana 30 Minnesota 20

Eastern Michigan at Michigan 12:00 BTN
Line: Michigan -31.5
Word is that Michigan WR Mario Manningham will not play Saturday for violating a team rule. We will probably never find out, but it would be interesting to know when exactly the violation occurred and if Lloyd Carr waited for this game against Eastern Michigan before handing out his disciplinary action. Of course, the Wolverines haven't exactly been following every rule in the book this season! EMU comes to Ann Arbor with a record of 2-3 after getting waxed last week at Vanderbilt 30-7. It's probably safe to say that with or without Manningham, the Wolverines should be able to defeat the Eagles and do so handily. Michigan isn't exactly playing to its full potential, but this game should help QB Chad Henne and the offense get things ironed out and back on track.
BTC Prediction: Michigan 38 Eastern Michigan 10

Iowa at Penn State 3:30 ABC
Line: Penn State -8
Both teams come into this game looking for their first conference win of the season. After a promising start, Penn State has dropped back to back road games to Michigan and Illinois, and some are calling for a change at QB. Meanwhile, the Iowa Hawkeyes have dropped seven straight conference games dating back to last year, and are starting to look like the worst team in the Big Ten. However, Iowa has won five straight against Penn State, so a game against the Lions may be what the Hawkeyes need to get back on track. Of course, if Iowa doesn't start to get more production from their offense, it probably won't matter who they play. QB Jake Christensen had his worst game of the year in the loss to Indiana, and with most of his receivers out with injuries, the Hawkeyes need to find a way to get the running game going again. Penn State's offense hasn't looked much better in recent weeks, and it will be interesting to see how the Lion faithful will respond if QB Anthony Morelli struggles early. This will be a defensive battle, but if Penn State can limit turnovers, they should be able to get their first Big Ten win.
BTC Prediction: Penn State 20 Iowa 13

Ohio State at Purdue 8:00 ABC
Line: Ohio State -7
The game of the week features the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and 5-0 Purdue. The Boilermakers had not played Ohio State or Michigan the past two seasons, but they will face both in back-to-back weeks this season with the Wolverines up next week. Purdue has been mighty impressive on offense putting up 30+ in each of their five wins, but this will be their first test against a "real" defense. The Buckeyes may be playing the best football of any team in the nation right now, and Purdue RB Kory Sheets will have a very difficult time finding any room to run. As for the passing games, it will certainly be fun to watch two of the best receivers in the conference, Purdue's Dorien Bryant and OSU's Brian Robiskie. Both wide outs will get their yards and a touchdown for each, but in the end this game will be won on the ground. The Buckeyes will ride RB Chris Wells to another victory.
BTC Prediction: Ohio State 31 Purdue 20