Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Illinois-northwestern
Big Ten Football Week 3 Preview and Predictions

Saturday, September 15th

Charleston Southern (0-2) @ Illinois (1-1)   Noon   Big Ten Network:  Charleston Southern has lost to The Citadel and Jacksonville…Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase is expected to play Saturday vs the Buccaneers.  His sprained left ankle feels much better according to reports from Illinois.  What needs to happen this week for Tim Beckman’s crew is that his defense needs to improve…they are 8th in the Big Ten right now allowing just under 385 yds/game..interesting note..looking through the Big Ten leaders in statistics through two games…as far as individual stats go…there is only one Illini listed in offensive statistics…it is redshirt freshman HB Josh Ferguson who’s 69.5 yds rushing per game is 10th in the conference..Scheelhaase needs to be healthy for Illinois to go to a bowl this year…Illinois rolls the Bucs on Saturday 45-7.

Western Michigan (1-1) @ Minnesota (2-0)   Noon   Big Ten Network:  The Broncos lost to Illinois in week one and beat Eastern Illinois last week…WMU’s Alex Carder was 29-40 last week for 364 and 5 TD passes…he completed 11 of those to freshman WR Jaime Wilson..for some reason there isn’t a huge spread on this game…I really like what the Gophers have shown this season…QB MarQueis Gray is atop the Big Ten rankings for pass efficiency..and…guess who has the #2 ranked defense in the Big Ten right now?…yep, Jerry Kill’s Gophers.  I can’t say it enough…well at least for another week I will say it…when they beat WMU this week, the ‘big boy’ portion of their schedule kicks in…THEN we will see how much better they are…but winning does good things to teams…yeah, I know…”when news breaks, you’ll read it here”…Gophers at home will be too much for the Broncos…31-23.

Arkansas State (1-1) @ Nebraska (1-1)   Noon    ESPN2: UPSET ALERT!!…ASU lost at Oregon and then beat Memphis last week…Gus Malzahn brings his high-powered offense to Lincoln this week and the Red Wolves all time leader in total offense and career passing yards QB Ryan Aplin…he has over 7700 yards passing and just over 9,000 total yards…the news coming out of Lincoln regarding HB Rex Burkheads’ playing status is murky…as of press time, he is questionable…my guess is he sits…The Corn is dead last in the Big Ten is rush defense…which is not a good thing and the Red Wolves had three players total at least 68 yards on the ground last week…including QB Aplin..David Oku is the real threat running the ball…Nebraska should win and after being lit up by UCLA, watch for Pelini to get his groove back by winning at home…but man..if ASU pulls this upset, Pelini’s seat could get pretty warm….Corn eeks out a W 33-28.

California (1-1) @ Ohio State (2-0)    Noon    ABC: There are two ways I am looking at this one…Cal got beat by Nevada in the home and season opener which was unimpressive and then let Southern Utah hang around far too long last week but still won…Cal head coach Jeff Tedford is under pressure and his team is not playing well…so either they can continue to throw this season in the outhouse (coincidentally, this game is being played in Columbus this week) and Tedford can take his show on the road this offseason OR they can pull together, clean up their mistakes and general sloppiness and put together a solid effort on the road…but I think whatever the Golden Bears do this week, their defense isn’t good enough to stop Ohio State..regardless of the HB situation behind Braxton Miller….which is bleak….OSU scratches one out 35-24.

Eastern Michigan (0-2) @ Purdue (1-1)   Noon    Big Ten Network: What has happened to the Eagles?…losing the opener on the road to Ball State I guess I can understand…first game jitters, blah, blah…but losing to Illinois State in your home opener was not good…but I am more interested in seeing how Danny Hope responds to his first L of  2012…the Boilermakers need to bounce back and get back to their winning ways….listening to the sound bites coming out of West Lafayette this week it sounds like they have their heads in the right place…after two games..Purdue is 4th in the Big Ten in total defense…behind MSU, Minnesota and Iowa…I think that is where the Boilers W starts…they will stifle an inconsistent Eagle offense and blow them out…Purdue wins big as they go 2-0 lifetime vs EMU…42-7.

Northern Iowa (1-1) @ Iowa (1-1)    3:30pm    Big Ten Network: UPSET ALERT!!  Northern Iowa lost to Wisconsin and then beat Central State last week…Kirk Ferentz is 5-2 the week after he loses to Iowa State…including once in 2005 when he beat Northern Iowa…surprisingly, Iowa’s defense isn’t that bad…3rd in the Big Ten…but their offense?…Orville Redenbacher (who is a Purdue Alum by the way…like many great others) had more pop than the 2012 Hawkeye offense..which is dead last in the conference…11th rushing the ball and 10th passing it..James Vandenberg looks like man who is trying to do it all…and this is not the week to have an identity crisis…remember when Northern Iowa came to Kinnick in 2009 and had an extra point blocked as time ran out in an attempt to tie Iowa and force OT….things may not go that well for Iowa this weekend.. I think Iowa gets a W…and I think Vandenberg gets some rushing help…but they need more…Hawks win ugly 21-16.

Massachusetts (0-2) @ Michigan (1-1)   3:30pm    Big Ten Network: It sure is hard to get a read on how good or bad this Michigan team may be…you can’t really judge them on the Bama game because the Tide is so much better…and it’s hard to get a gauge on the Air Force game because they run such a different offense and it is unlike anything else they will see…this week won’t be a good measuring stick either because other than Savannah State, no team in D-1 has looked as bad as the Minutemen…so it may not be until after the Purdue game when we get a good feel about how this team will play the rest of the season….but a small precursor may be this:  If Michigan doesn’t score 50 pts vs UMass or if they give up more than two scores…it wouldn’t be a good thing and difficult times may be on the horizon…But I like UM to win big…56-6.

Boston College (1-1) @ Northwestern (2-0)   3:30pm    Big Ten Network: BC lost to Miami, Fla and beat Maine last week…The Brainiac tour continues this week for Northwestrn…maybe it will conclude this year in a bowl game vs Stanford….who cares…one guy BC should care about is NW HB Venric Mark…he leads the Big Ten in all purpose yards per game with just under 220…almost 18 per kickoff return and over 102 yards per game rushing help that…but as a typical Wildcat season should show..NW is at the absolute bottom of the Big Ten in total defense yielding 457 yds/game…how about BC?..it doesn’t seem to be the awful team that littered the field in Chestnut Hill in 2011…with respectable numbers on offense and defense this year, they seem to be on their way back…but I just am not sure if they have enough to win on the road…I like new role QB Trevor Siemian plays…essentially a closer..or even more correctly a finisher..NW wins another…27-14.

Navy (0-1) @ Penn State (0-2)   3:30pm   ABC: Navy got their bye week after losing to Notre Dame…Hmmm..can’t really figure out why ABC chose to broadcast this one…but…I think this offers Penn State’s best chance to get their September W…although I was surprised to see how well they played in Charlottesville last week..Navy presents a set of unique challenges for the Nittany Lions…stopping that option attack is first and foremost…statistically it’s a bit strange to see PSU so far down the ranking in the Big Ten..9th in total defense, 6th vs the run and 11th against the pass..I think Matt McGloin will have a nice day though..he is 3rd in the conference in yards per game and he has the leading WR in the conference with Allen Robinson grabbing almost 10 passes per game…I think PSU bounces back and gets its first W of 2012…Nittany Lions win 35-17.

Ball State (1-1) @ Indiana (2-0)   8:00pm   Big Ten Network: Ball State beat Eastern Michigan and lost to Clemson last week…IU will play its second straight night home game at The Rock…and with a new QB named Cameron Coffman…who replaced the injured Tre Roberson last week vs Massachusetts…Coffman was 16-22 for 159 and a TD pass…he is a JUCO transfer…but the W’s are going to be a little more difficult to come by (especially with Roberson done for the season) beginning in a couple of weeks for Kevin Wilson and the Hoosiers…after a bye next week, they go to Northwestern, then come home for games vs Michigan State and Ohio State…depending on how IU looks this week, they might be able to beat Northwestern….maybe?…IU gets the W and they will need it..Hoosiers 28-20.

Notre Dame (2-0) @ Michigan State (2-0)   8:00pm    ABC: Notre Dame has beaten Navy and Purdue…how good is Andrew Maxwell…he looked nervous and jittery vs Boise at home to open the season..but cooled down a bit and looked solid  vs Central Michigan…can Le’Veon Bell get back on track vs the Irish defense…I think we will see more run-heavy MSU attack because I am not sure how the Spartan WR’s are doing…but that could be where the game is won…if Maxwell can hit enough WR’s down the stretch…I think ND will be able to contain Bell, but he will break a couple…that ND run defense will have to play it’s best game of the season..because Dantonio shouldn’t stop running until ND makes them…ND is 16-14-1 at Spartan Stadium but hasn’t won there since 2006…they are 2-1 in the last three games vs MSU…ND has scored at least 30 pts on MSU the last three games…I think we will see more D than that…ND pulls off another W..24-20.

Utah State (2-0) @ Wisconsin (1-1)   8:00pm   Big Ten Network: The Aggies have beaten Southern Utah and Utah…Utah State has an extremely prolific QB…Chuckie Keeton, a 6’1” sophomore has gone 44-57 for 520 yards and 4 TD’s…Bret Bielema fired his offensive line coach Mike Markuson this week…the Badgers pride themselves on rushing the football and after two weeks, they simply were not doing it…ranked 103rd in the country and under 3 yards per carry…a grad assistant named Bart Miller gets the gig…so watch Wisconsin pound the turf and let Montee’ Ball get rolling..I would expect Ball to get about 35 carries and almost 200 yards….that is Wisconsin football…if he doesn’t, then the Wisconsin problems may just be getting underway…Badgers win 38-24.

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