Thursday, September 30, 2010
Week 5 football preview
By Scott Powers and Wes Morgan
Notre Dame (1-3) at Boston College (2-1) 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass. TV: ABC.
Radio: WLS-AM 890.
Web: und.com, bceagles.cstv.com.
What you need to know: Boston College has won six of the last seven Holy Wars, but Notre Dame came out ahead last fall with a 20-16 victory in South Bend. The Eagles, coming off a shutout loss to Virginia Tech, end a four-game home stand with a new quarterback. Sophomore Dave Shinskie lost his spot after throwing two picks and completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes against the Hokies. Either classmate Mike Marscovetra or freshman Chase Rettig will get the nod. No matter who lines up under center for the Eagles, coach Frank Spaziani will rely heavily on tailback Montel Harris, a junior averaging 102 yards per game. Defensively, Boston College is giving up nearly 240 passing yards per game but has snagged five interceptions. Notre Dame hasn't rushed the ball for over 100 yards since Week 2 and has only scored two touchdowns on the ground all season. Senior tailback Armando Allen struggled in last week's loss to Stanford, totaling just 49 yards on 15 attempts. Irish quarterback Dayne Crist threw for over 300 yards but tossed an interception that was returned for a TD against Stanford. Michael Floyd had his biggest receiving performance of the year in terms of yardage against the Cardinal with 110. Star tight end Kyle Rudolph made no impact Saturday with one catch for one yard. Inside linebacker Manti Te'o registered a staggering 21 tackles and is trying to encourage the rest of his teammates to step up their games. If ND coach Brian Kelly is correct about a tough early-season schedule toughening up his squad, the Irish should pull this one out against an Eagles team that didn't look incredibly impressive in wins over Weber State and Kent State.
Wes Morgan's prediction: Notre Dame 27, Boston College 21.
Northwestern (4-0) at Minnesota (1-3) When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis
Radio: WGN-AM 720, WNUR-FM 89.3
What you need to know: Northwestern enters the Big Ten season on the easier end of the competition scale. Minnesota has had its struggles this season with losses to Northern Illinois and South Dakota at its new TCF Bank Stadium. Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann exposed holes in Minnesota’s defense last week and ran for 200-plus yards. That was welcomed news for Northwestern’s running backs. The Wildcats’ running game could use a jumpstart after another so-so game against Central Michigan. Northwestern’s Dan Persa is leading the country in quarterback rating. Defensively, the Wildcats have recorded at least one interception in their last eight games. They have eight this season.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Northwestern 38, Minnesota 17
No. 2 Ohio State (4-0) at Illinois (2-1) When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WIND-AM 560
What you need to know: Opposite to where Northwestern starts the Big Ten, Illinois begins its conference play with No. 2 Ohio State. The Illini defense will have its hands full with quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who has thrown for 939 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Ohio State also possesses a strong run defense This could be a chance for Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure to put himself on the national map with a big game. Leshoure has rushed for 100-plus yards in his last four games and is averaging 132.7 yards this season. Illinois redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will make his Big Ten debut.
Powers’ prediction: Ohio State 41, Illinois 21
Northern Illinois (2-2) at Akron (0-4) When, where: 5 p.m. Saturday at InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio
Radio: WYLL-AM 1160
What you need to know: Northern Illinois begins MAC play after back-to-back Big Ten games. The Huskies lost to Illinois and upset Minnesota on the road. Chad Spann was especially impressive in last week’s win over the Gophers as he rushed for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Compared to the Huskies’ past two opponents, Akron should be a cakewalk. The Zips are winless, and one of their losses was to Gardner-Webb.
Powers’ prediction: Northern Illinois 31, Akron 14
Southern Illinois (1-3) at Illinois State (3-1) When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill.
Web: SIUSalukis.com, GoRedbirds.com
What you need to know: These teams are heading in different directions. Southern Illinois, once a top-5 FCS team, has dropped its Past three games, including a 31-28 loss to Youngstown State last week. The Salukis have committed seven turnovers in their last two games. Illinois State has won its past two games and is coming off a 44-41 double-overtime victory over Missouri State. Ashton Leggett, a transfer from Michigan State, has a team-leading 281 rushing yards and six touchdowns for the Redbirds. He scored four times in last week’s win.
Powers’ prediction: Illinois State 27, Southern Illinois 24
Southeast Missouri (3-1) at Eastern Illinois (0-4) When, where: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at O’Brien Field in Charleston, Ill.
What you need to know: Eastern Illinois is off to a 0-4 start for the first time since 1977. The Panthers rallied last week from a 28-9 deficit and were in striking distance in the final seconds, but they had a pass intercepted on the 3-yard line with 1.2 seconds left and lost 28-23. Freshman quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a Rolling Meadows’ graduate, made his first career start last week for Eastern Illinois. Southeast Missouri is 2-0 in conference and has a win over Southern Illinois.
Powers’ prediction: Southeast Missouri 30, Eastern Illinois 14
Western Illinois (3-1) at North Dakota State (3-1) When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.
What you need to know: The Leathernecks have been a huge surprise so far this season. Last week, they defeated Indiana State 40-7, and Bryce Flowers and Caulton Ray each rushed for 100-plus yards. North Dakota State will present a new challenge for Western Illinois. North Dakota State will be its first ranked FCS opponent of the season.
Powers’ prediction: North Dakota State 21, Western Illinois 17