Week 13 capsules: Tough road for Wildcats

November, 26, 2010
11/26/10
11:38
AM CT
Northern Illinois (9-2) at Eastern Michigan (2-9) on Friday
When, where:
11 a.m. at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich.
TV: None
Radio: WSCR-670 AM
Web: NIUHuskies.com
What you need to know: Northern Illinois was the 26th-ranked team in both the USA Today and AP polls this past week. With a win over Eastern Michigan on Friday, the Huskies will likely jump into the top 25. Northern Illinois has been one of the hottest teams in the country. It has won eight in a row, scoring 124 points in its last two games. Running back Chad Spann has scored six touchdowns over the last two weeks and leads all FBS running backs with 18 for the season. Eastern Michigan is coming off a 21-17 win over Buffalo. Northern Illinois has already clinched a spot in the MAC championship game.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Northern Illinois 52, Eastern Michigan 17

Northwestern (7-4) at Wisconsin (10-1) on Saturday
When, where:
2:30 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
TV: ABC
Radio: WGN-720 AM
Web: ESPN3.com
What you need to know: Northwestern closes out its regular season with a tough one at Wisconsin. The Badgers have won six in a row, and their offense has been unstoppable as of late. They’ve scored 30-plus points in their last six games and put up 83 points on Indiana two games ago. Wisconsin ranks 12th in the country with 239.9 rushing yards per game. The Wildcats struggled last week to stop the run. Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure rushed for 330 yards against them at Wrigley Field. Northwestern’s run defense and the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Evan Watkins will decide if the Wildcats have any shot in Madison. Watkins experienced some highs and lows during his first collegiate start last week. He can’t afford many mistakes against the Badgers.
Powers’ prediction: Wisconsin 37, Northwestern 21

Western Illinois (7-4) at Coastal Carolina (6-5) on Saturday
When, where:
12 p.m. at Brooks Stadium in Conway, S.C.
TV: None
Radio: None
Web: GoLeathernecks.com
What you need to know: Western Illinois earned one of 10 at-large FCS playoff bids and will be playing in its first playoff game in seven years. The Leathernecks are coming off an impressive 30-14 win over Northern Iowa. Quarterback Matt Barr threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Caulton Ray rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown in the win. Coastal Carolina started off slow, but is riding a four-game winning streak.
Powers’ prediction: Western Illinois 31, Coastal Carolina 24

Notre Dame (6-5) at USC (7-4) on Saturday
When, where:
7 p.m. at The Coliseum in Los Angeles
TV: ABC
Radio: WLS-AM 890
Web: und.com, usctrojans.com.
What you need to know: Coach Brian Kelly's Notre Dame team has won its last two games in convincing fashion, allowing only a field goal each against Utah and Army. The Irish defense has turned a corner down a dark and mean alley and hasn't allowed a touchdown in its last 11 quarters. The offense continues to be effective with freshman quarterback Tommy Rees taking the snaps. Rees was 9 years old the last time ND beat the Trojans, which will rely on backup QB Mitch Mustain after Matt Barkley went down in a blowout to Oregon State with a high ankle sprain. Mustain was 8-0 as a starter at Arkansas in 2006 before transferring to Southern California, where Mark Sanchez and Barkley left only a place on the bench open the last three years. Coach Lane Kiffin is looking for better production from Mustain in his first start at USC after the fifth-year senior completed 8 of 17 passes for only 60 yards in his last relief appearance. Rees is up against a hostile crowd for the first time but he also faces one of the worst passing defenses in the country, which is giving up 272 yards per game. The Irish will run into a formidable USC front four. The Trojans' leading rusher, Marc Tyler, was also lost to injury last weekend against the Beavers. Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o suffered a broken nose versus Army but will play. This rivalry hasn't featured two first-year coaches since Sam Barry (USC) and Frank Leahy (ND) were in their first seasons.
Wes Morgan's prediction: USC 34, Notre Dame 31.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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