- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Minnesota (2-8) at Northwestern (5-5)
When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN-720 AM
What you need to know: Northwestern can earn bowl eligibility with a win over Minnesota on Saturday. The Wildcats have returned to .500 after having a 2-5 record. Northwestern’s offense has been consistent throughout its three-game winning streak, and the defense has continued to improve. Minnesota isn’t a team to overlook, though. The Gophers did defeat Iowa and lost to Michigan State by only seven points.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Northwestern 42, Minnesota 20
No. 17 Wisconsin (8-2) at Illinois (6-4)
When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
Radio: WIND-560 AM
What you need to know: Illinois’ season has been a tale of two halves. The Illini went 6-0 during the first part. In the second half, they’ve spun the wrong way and gone 0-4. They’ll be the underdogs again this weekend against Wisconsin. Illinois coach Ron Zook is feeling the pressure and even walked out of a press conference this week after being asked about his job. This week could be Zook’s last chance to save himself. A win over Wisconsin would be notable. Illinois’ offense will have to come to play for that to happen. The Illini haven’t scored more than 14 points in their last four games.
Powers’ prediction: Wisconsin 31, Illinois 17
Boston College (3-7) at Notre Dame (7-3)
When, where: 3 p.m. Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
Radio: WLS-890 AM
What you need to know: Notre Dame has bounced back nicely after its loss to USC last month. The Irish have won their last three games and are back in the AP poll. They should be able to roll again this week against Boston College. The Eagles have struggled to score points for most of the season. They haven’t put up more than 19 points since September. They did pull out a 14-10 win over NC State last week.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Notre Dame 41, Boston College 17
Northern Iowa (8-2) at Illinois State (7-3)
When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill.
What you need to know: This could be one of the better FCS games this week. Northern Iowa is ranked No. 4 in the FCS rankings, Illinois State is at No. 14. Illinois State is also riding a five-game winning streak and had last week off to prepare for Northern Iowa. After a rough start to the season, Illinois State’s defense has come through for the Redbirds. Northern Iowa’s losses have been to Iowa State and North Dakota State.
Powers’ prediction: Illinois State 27, Northern Iowa 24
Southern Illinois (3-7) at Indiana State (6-4)
When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute, Ind.
What you need to know: Southern Illinois is coming off one of its better games of the season with its 45-28 win over Eastern Illinois. The Salukis’ offense has especially clicked the last three weeks. Outside of a season-opening loss to Penn State, Indiana State has been competitive with everyone on its schedule. The Sycamores offense has, at times, struggled this season.
Powers’ prediction: Indiana State 37, Southern Illinois 31
North Dakota State (9-1) at Western Illinois (2-8)
When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Hanson Stadium in Macomb, Ill.
What you need to know: Western Illinois closes out its season against one of the top FCS schools in North Dakota State. Western Illinois dropped its fifth consecutive game last week when its offense struggled again in a loss to South Dakota State. The Leathernecks haven’t scored more than 17 points in their last four games. North Dakota State did endure its first loss last week when Youngstown State pulled off an upset.
Powers’ prediction: North Dakota State 31, Western Illinois 17