Notre Dame (2-1) at Michigan State (3-0)
The Irish are licking their wounds after the beating they received from Michigan on Saturday and they seem to be arriving in East Lansing at the wrong time. After two lackluster performances to open the season, the Spartans played their best game of the year in winning at Pitt, 38-23. Michigan State's dynamic duo on offense of quarterback Drew Stanton and running back Javon Ringer will make life tough on the Irish defense. State currently ranks third in the nation in rushing offense. Meanwhile Notre Dame is averaging only 84 yards per game rushing on the season. The Spartan crowd will be loud and boisterous for a night game against one of their biggest rivals. The Irish need to force some early turnovers and protect Brady Quinn better in order to help their cause. The guess here is that they will.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31 Michigan State 27
Penn State (2-1) at Ohio State (3-0)
Penn State arrives in Columbus to take on Ohio State after beating Division 1-AA Youngstown State on Saturday by a score of 37-3. Ohio State sleepwalked their way through a win over Cincinnati by a 37-7 margin. Quarterback Troy Smith still leads the Heisman race. He's completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception. Wide Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. is averaging a touchdown every three catches. Penn State seems likely to struggle on both sides of the ball against the nation's best team.
Prediction: Ohio State 38 Penn State 13
Wisconsin (3-0) at Michigan (3-0)
Michigan is clearly on a high after pounding Notre Dame on the road. Quarterback Chad Henne played his best game of the year in the toughest surroundings he's faced. The running game remains solid and the defense has been staunch. Wisconsin really struggled through a 14-0 home win against an inferior San Diego State team. Running back P.J. Hill ran for a season-high 184 yards and a touchdown, but quarterback John Stocco struggled all day to connect with his receivers. Wisconsin would need to play their best game and hope to catch Michigan on a let down in order to have a real chance. It won't happen.
Prediction: Michigan 29 Wisconsin 10
UConn (1-1) at Indiana (2-1)
Indiana is coming off a tough upset loss at home against Division 1-AA Southern Illinois. The Hoosiers are having a hard time adjusting to life without head coach Terry Hoeppner, who is out after having a second surgery to remove a tumor in his head. They also will be missing top wideout James Hardy, who will be serving the second of his two-game suspension. UConn is coming off a home loss to Wake Forest. Against a tougher opponent one could easily see Indiana losing again. Against UConn one can see them pulling it out.
Prediction: Indiana 17 UConn 14
Minnesota (2-1) at Purdue (3-0)
Minnesota arrives at Purdue coming off of a 62-0 lambasting of lowly Temple. Purdue beat Ball State on Saturday 38-28. The Boilers are one of the more unimpressive 3-0 teams one will come across, as their three wins have come against two middle of the pack MAC teams and one Division 1-AA team. And they struggled at various points against all three. Minnesota, on the other hand, beat up on two typical Glen Mason non-conference patsies (Kent State and Temple) and got clobbered by Cal. Purdue's defense is their main weakness and will likely have a hard time stopping the Golden Gophers vaunted ground game, led by running back Alex Daniels.
Prediction: Minnesota 34 Purdue 24
Iowa (3-0) at Illinois (1-2)
Iowa is another team that has had a tough time living up to lofty pre-season expectations. Their unbeaten record includes uninspired efforts against Montana and Syracuse. With Drew Tate back under center they played their best game of the year on Saturday in upending Iowa State 27-17. Illinois, meanwhile, did manage to cross mid-field against Syracuse on Saturday (they didn't run a single play in Rutgers territory the week before). But while true freshman quarterback Juice Williams passed for 227 second half yards and two touchdowns, the Illini were flagged for 12 penalties for 106 yards. Yuck. Look for Iowa to hammer Illinois on the road.
Prediction: Iowa 41 Illinois 6
Northwestern (2-1) at Nevada (1-2)
Northwestern is coming off a tepid 14-6 home win against Eastern Michigan this past weekend. This week they have a rare Friday night game in Reno against the Nevada Wolf Pack. Nevada beat Colorado State last week 28-10 in their best performance of the year thus far. Northwestern's starting quarterback, Mike Kafka, was replaced after halftime by Andrew Brewer, but Brewer wasn't really any more effective than Kafka and Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald isn't saying who will start this week. One can assume whoever does will struggle to get Northwestern into the end zone with any frequency.
Prediction: Nevada 20 Northwestern 16
Big Ten Matchup
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