Chicago Colleges: Ball State

Big Ten viewer’s guide: Week 7

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
10:00
AM CT
Week 7 is here, and let’s not sugarcoat it: Big Ten football has looked more interesting on other weekends. This first Saturday of the season without nonconference action lacks marquee matchups. Still, the division races will continue to take shape.

Here’s a look at the five games (all times Eastern):

Noon

Illinois (3-3) and Wisconsin (3-2), ESPN2: Will Melvin Gordon run for 300 yards? If the Badgers wanted it to happen, Illinois’ 119th-ranked rushing defense would likely comply. More of the intrigue in Madison involves the quarterbacks. For Wisconsin, Joel Stave, who returned last week against Northwestern, will see time, in addition to Tanner McEvoy, who might also take a shot at receiver. And with Illinois’ Wes Lunt out with a fractured leg, senior Reilly O’Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey, who was set to redshirt, have competed in practice this week.

Indiana (3-2) and Iowa (4-1), ESPNU: Indiana has shown it can win on the road in tough spots, handing Missouri its lone loss on Sept. 20. The Hoosiers are more explosive on offense than any foe Iowa has faced. But Indiana still can’t defend well, in particular against proficient quarterbacks. The Hawkeyes are going back to Jake Rudock at the start, but C.J. Beathard will play. How well can Greg Davis manage this? If it’s a disaster, Indiana might just find itself in the right place at the right time for an upset bid.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cobb
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesDavid Cobb and Minnesota can take a big step in their quest for a Western Division crown by beating Northwestern on Saturday.
Northwestern (3-2) at Minnesota (4-1), BTN: Who would have guessed a month ago, as the Golden Gophers fell flat at TCU and the Wildcats sat winless, that this game would have legitimate implications for the West Division title race? It does, with NU in quest of a third straight unexpected win to open league play. Its defense led the charge against Penn State and Wisconsin. Minnesota is simply solid, led by David Cobb, statistically the league’s most valuable offensive player. Minnesota has defended the pass especially well in recent games and will test Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian, 13th in the Big Ten in QBR.

3:30 p.m.

No. 8 Michigan State (4-1) at Purdue (3-3), ESPN2: At least it’s not the best team in the Big Ten against the worst. Purdue escaped the low spot last week with a win over Illinois. And sophomore quarterback Austin Appleby looked good in the victory. Very good, in fact. Back at home, he figures to find a much more difficult situation against the Spartans, who might come in a bit angry after nearly blowing a 24-point, fourth-quarter lead against Nebraska.

7 p.m.

Penn State (4-1) at Michigan (2-4), ESPN2: The visitors from Happy Valley, after an off week, get an opportunity to show that their anemic performance against Northwestern was just a fluke. With an upcoming stretch of three challenging games, no better time exists for PSU to get healthy than at Michigan, trying to avoid its first 0-3 start in the Big Ten since 1965. Against a good Penn State front, the Wolverines must protect Devin Gardner and throw the football, neither of which they’ve done well in recent weeks.

Required reading

Week 11 college football preview

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
11:11
AM CT


Rice (3-6) at Northwestern (4-5)


When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN-720 AM
Web: NUSports.com
RiceNorthwesternWhat you need to know: Northwestern never lost confidence throughout its five-game losing streak. The Wildcats believed they weren’t that far from turning it around, and it appears they were right. They’ve won their past two games, including last week’s 28-25 upset at Nebraska. Their defense especially came through against the Cornhuskers. It was the first time it had allowed less than 30 points since Sept. 17. Rice shouldn’t present a huge challenge for Northwestern. Rice’s defense has had its struggles this season, giving up 73 points to Houston two weeks ago.
Powers’ prediction: Northwestern 45, Rice 24


No. 24 Michigan (7-2) at Illinois (6-3)


When, where: 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
TV: ABC
Radio: WIND-560 AM
Web: ESPN3.com
MichiganIllinoisWhat you need to know: Illinois hasn’t been losing by much, but it has been losing, and that’s what’s important right now. Just as Illinois coach Ron Zook stated, a win was a win after a narrow victory over Western Michigan, a loss is still a loss. The Illini have dropped their past three games and are on the verge of seeing their season slip by. After starting 6-0, they’re now 6-3 and still have games against Michigan and Wisconsin. Last year’s Michigan game was a shootout with the Wolverines pulling out a 67-65 victory in triple overtime. Illinois’ defense should be better than that. The question is whether its offense can get going. The Illini haven’t scored more than 14 points in their last three games. They are coming off a bye last week.
Powers’ prediction: Michigan 24, Illinois 21


Notre Dame (6-3) at Maryland (2-7)


When, where: 6:30 p.m. Saturday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
TV: NBC
Radio: WLS-890 AM
Web: ESPN3.com
Notre DameMarylandWhat you need to know: Notre Dame is amidst the easier portion of its schedule with Navy, Wake Forest and Maryland in consecutive games. Last week’s win over Wake Forest wasn’t as cushy as the Irish would have liked. Notre Dame needed to score 14 points in the third quarter and shut out Wake Forest in the second half to pull out a 24-17 win. Quarterback Tommy Rees is still searching for consistency. He threw two interceptions last week. Maryland enters this game on a five-game losing streak, but it has had some close contests. Its offense hasn’t put up more than 17 points in the last three weeks.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Notre Dame 34, Maryland 17


Ball State (6-4) at Northern Illinois (7-3)


When, where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill.
TV: ESPNU
Radio: WSCR-670 AM
Web: ESPN3.com
Ball StateNorthern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Northern Illinois, which has won five straight, is in first place in the MAC West, but it still likely needs to win out to remain atop the league. Their offense was its usual stellar self in Tuesday’s win over Bowling Green. What was different in the win was the defense also came to play. After allowing a touchdown on the opening play, Northern Illinois only gave up one more score the entire game. Ball State, one game behind the Huskies, has given up its share of points this year. In its four losses, it allowed 37 points or more.
Powers’ prediction: Northern Illinois 45, Ball State 27


Eastern Illinois (2-8) at Southern Illinois (2-7)


When, where: 2 p.m. Saturday at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.
TV: None
Radio: None
Web: EIUPanthers.com, SIUSalukis.com
Eastern IllinoisSouthern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Neither team’s season has gone as it hoped. Eastern Illinois looked like it had some potential at the beginning of the season, but have fallen on the wrong side of close games. The Panthers have lost four games by seven points or less, and two of those were by one point. Southern Illinois was 2-1 early in the year, but has lost its last six games. The Salukis’ offense struggled at first, but their defense has been the cause of defeat the last few weeks. They lost to South Dakota State 45-34 last week. This will be the final game for Eastern Illinois coach Bob Spoo, who is retiring.
Powers’ prediction: Eastern Illinois 38, Southern Illinois 31


South Dakota State (4-6) at Western Illinois (2-7)


When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Hanson Stadium in Macomb, Ill.
TV: None
Radio: None
Web: GoLeathernecks.com
South Dakota StateWestern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Western Illinois has dropped its past four games. The Leathernecks’ offense has struggled the last three weeks, failing to score more than 17 points in any of those games. South Dakota State’s problem this season has been stopping opponents from scoring. The Jackrabbits have given up 30-plus points in seven games. Something will have to give in this one.
Powers’ prediction: South Dakota State 34, Western Illinois 24

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