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Rivals Big Ten football previews

UCLA (0-1, 0-0 PAC-10) vs. Illinois (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 11
11 a.m. CDT – ABC
Daily Line: Illinois plus 1.5
UCLA player to watch: Quarterback Drew Olson had a rough start against Oklahoma State in the Bruins opener last week, completing only 44 percent of his passes and throwing two costly interceptions. If Olson can’t bounce back this week, the Bruins could be in for a long day against the Illini.
Illinois player to watch: Running back Pierre Thomas had the first 100-yard rushing game of his career against the Rattlers last week. He and E.B. Halsey must be drooling over the chance to rip into a UCLA defense that allowed 261 rushing yards to Oklahoma State’s Vernand Morency.
The inside scoop: This game looks like it will not be a defensive struggle. These two teams combined for more than 1,000 total yards in their first games. Illini quarterback Jon Beutjer was extremely proficient, going 16 of 18 against Florida A&M, but the Bruins completely shut down Oklahoma State’s passing game. These are two underachieving teams, so you never know what to really expect in a situation like this.
UCLA will win if : it can keep the Illini backs under control and get Olson in an early rhythm.
Illinois will win if: it can establish the run and control the line of scrimmage. Illinois also needs its secondary to step up and prevent Olson from picking it apart.
Notes: Last year when these teams played, they combined for only nine points (UCLA won, 6-3).
The pick: Illinois 31, UCLA 28
Indiana (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. No. 24 Oregon (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10)
Saturday, Sept. 11
6:30 p.m. EDT – ESPN Plus
Daily Line: Indiana plus 20.5
Indiana player to watch: Quarterback Matt LoVecchio must have to have a big game if the Hoosiers are to have a chance in this one. He completed 73 percent of his passes (8 of 11) against Central Michigan last week, and if there is a weakness in a otherwise tough Oregon defense, it is the secondary.
Oregon player to watch: Wide receiver Demetrius Williams is pure excitement, averaging 18.3 yards a reception last season. He should be set to start off the 2004 season on an excellent note, feasting on the Hoosiers secondary.
The inside scoop: The Hoosiers are an improving team, but that won’t make a difference in this game. They will be pushed around by a deep, talented Ducks team from the opening gun to the final whistle.
Indiana will win if: it gets a lot of help from Oregon, a lot of help. An upset is not impossible in this game, but not likely.
Oregon will in if: it doesn’t self-destruct. The Ducks are the more talented team, but if they don’t take Indiana seriously, they could make this game a lot tougher than it should be.
Notes: This will be the first time these two teams have met since 1963-64 (Oregon won both games).
The pick: Oregon 38, Indiana 10
Iowa State (1-0, 0-0 Big XII) vs. No. 16 Iowa (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 11
11 a.m. CDT – ESPN Plus
Daily Line: Iowa minus 24
Iowa State player to watch: Running back Stevie Hicks rushed for 111 yards in the Cyclones opening win against Northern Iowa last week. That is the good news. The bad news is that he faces a Hawkeye defense that allowed minus-13 total rushing yards to Kent.
Iowa player to watch: Quarterback Drew Tate was fairly impressive in his collegiate debut against Kent, throwing for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He was not able to finish the game though due to dehydration, so he is taking extra precautions this week to try and prevent a repeat episode.
The inside scoop: The Hawkeyes rushed for 197 yards against Kent last week despite the suspensions of running backs Jermelle Lewis and Marques Simmons. Iowa didn’t have to punt much in its opener, but if this game somehow becomes a field position battle, look for Iowa to have the advantage. Punter David Bradley who averaged 50 yards a punt, and uncorked one for 70 yards against the Golden Flashes. The Cyclone defense gave Northern Iowa fits all day, holding it to a total of 80 yards and a paltry seven first downs.
Iowa State will win if: it can take Iowa’s best shot and hang in there. The Cyclones are more than a three touchdown underdog, but do have the players to make this a competitive contest if they play a perfect game.
Iowa will in if: it can avoid keeping Iowa State in the game. The Hawkeyes are the superior team this season, but in a rivalry game, stranger things have happened. Iowa has to get up big early on the Cyclones and not let them find any rhythm in their offense.
Notes: Iowa leads the overall series 34-17, but Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz is just 1-4 against his in-state rivals.
The pick: Iowa 38, Iowa State 10
No. 8 Michigan (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Notre Dame (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 11
3:30 pm EDT – NBC
Daily Line: Michigan minus 13
Michigan player to watch: Running back David Underwood got the starting nod last week and picked up 66 yards and two touchdowns in the win against Miami of Ohio. He will find the road more difficult against an Irish team that allowed only 35 yards on the ground on 22 attempts.
Notre Dame player to watch: Wide receiver Rhema McKnight was the lone bright spot offensively for the Irish last week. He caught eight passes for 92 yards and one touchdown against BYU, but will be in for a rude awakening against one of the top secondary units in the nation.
The inside scoop: Notre Dame rushed for 11 yards last week against the Cougars. If the Irish put together a similar performance against the Wolverines, they will be in for a long day. Due to the lack of a rushing attack, Irish quarterback Brady Quinn had to put it in the air 47 times last week. Michigan put up 43 points in its first win of the season, but only had 274 total yards of offense.
Michigan will win if: it gets up early on the Irish. The fans are already less than happy with the state of Notre Dame football, and an early deficit will take the wind out of the crowd.
Notre Dame will in if: it shuts down the Michigan running game and forces Henne to go vertical with his passes.
Notes: Michigan leads the overall series 18-12-1, but is only 2-6-1 in South Bend since 1980.
The pick: Michigan 28, Notre Dame 13
Central Michigan (0-1, 0-0 MAC) vs. Michigan State (0-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 11
12 p.m. EDT – ESPN Plus
Daily Line: Michigan State minus 26
Central Michigan player to watch: Running back Jerry Seymour rushed for 93 yards against Indiana last week and is the Chippewas' best weapon on offense. Standing only 5-foot-6, he led the MAC last season in yards per game, and at 190 pounds, is difficult to bring down.
Michigan State player to watch: Running back Jason Teague will have to establish himself as the dominant rusher on the team. The uncertainty at the quarterback position will be a distraction, but if Teague can take care of his own business, he could put up career numbers against a bad Central Michigan team.
The inside scoop: Michigan State head coach John L. Smith wants a quarterback to emerge in this game so the team can focus on one starter going into next week with Notre Dame. The Spartans had only 23 rushing attempts against Rutgers last week, and couldn’t break the century mark in yards on the ground. Look for that to change this week.
Central Michigan will win if: it catches a Michigan State team that is still wounded from the opening loss to Rutgers, or is looking ahead to Notre Dame next week.
Michigan State will in if: it doesn’t go into panic mode against Central Michigan. MSU may not run away with this one, but should be able to breathe easy and put the opening week debacle behind.
Notes: Michigan State leads the overall series 3-2, including a 35-21 win in 2001.
The pick: Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 10
Illinois State (1-0, 0-0 Gateway) vs. No. 22 Minnesota (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 11
2:30 pm CDT – ESPN Plus
Daily Line: No Line
Illinois State player to watch: Running back Demetrus Johnson had a huge game in the Redbirds' first game, rushing for 161 yards and three touchdowns. He will need a big game against a Golden Gophers rush defense that allowed 94 total yards against Toledo last week.
Minnesota player to watch: Wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright made his NCAA debut a memorable one, catching two passes for two touchdowns in the Gophers 63-21 rout of Toledo. The 6-foot-5 receiver combines a rare mix of size and speed and will be in position for another big game against an undersized Illinois State secondary.
The inside scoop: Illinois State is a pretty good Division I-AA team, but that won’t matter when it takes on the Gophers this week. Minnesota quarterback Bryan Cupito was impressive in his first collegiate start, completing 10 of 12 passes for 279 yards. The scariest stat if you have Minnesota on the schedule is that it had 68 rushing attempts for 415 yards in the opener as well.
Illinois State will win if: Minnesota misses the team bus over to the dome. The Redbirds have no chance.
Minnesota will in if: it dresses at least 22 players. This game is a classic mismatch and there is next to zero chance of the Gophers stumbling in this one.
Notes: This is the second meeting ever between these two schools. Minnesota won the first one, 55-7, in 1999.
The pick: Minnesota 49, Illinois State 14
Arizona State (1-0, 0-0 Pac-10) vs. Northwestern (0-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 11
11 a.m. CDT – ESPN2
Daily Line: Northwestern minus 2
Arizona State player to watch: Quarterback Andrew Walter torched UTEP last week, completing 18 of 37 passes for 241 yards, and three touchdowns. He was considered a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman last season, but with a below average rushing performance against the Miners last week, all of the pressure will be on Walter to lead the offense.
Northwestern player to watch: Kicker Brian Huffman missed five field goals in the Wildcats opening loss to TCU. If this game comes down to a battle of kickers, Northwestern is hoping that Huffman has a short memory and can work past the troubles he had against the Horned Frogs.
The inside scoop: Both teams came out with huge offensive numbers in their openers (ASU went for 487 total yards, while Northwestern went for 637). Is it that each team has that powerful of an offense, or is it that they each faced below average defenses? The Wildcats will look to get Noah Herron going on the ground, while the Sun Devils will look to see if Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez has another career game in him (passing for 513 yards in the loss).
Arizona State will win if: it can confuse Basanez with multiple coverages and cause turnovers. The Sun Devils also need to establish some sort of running game to assist Walter on offense.
Northwestern will in if: it can establish the run, and finish off drives with touchdowns, rather than having to attempt six field goals.
Notes: Arizona State leads the overall series 2-0, with the last win coming in 1978 in Evanston. The only player for the Wildcats from Arizona, Loren Howard, will miss the game (and possibly the entire season) with his injured ankle.
The pick: Northwestern 35, Arizona State 31
Marshall (0-1, 0-0 MAC) vs. No. 9 Ohio State (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 11
3:30 p.m. EDT – ABC
Daily Line: Ohio State minus 16
Marshall player to watch: Running back Earl Charles rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, but last week was only able to carry the ball for 56 yards on 21 attempts. If Marshall can not get a ground game going against a stingy Ohio State run defense, things could get ugly in Columbus.
Ohio State player to watch: Quarterback Justin Zwick wasn’t overly impressive in his debut for the Buckeyes last week, throwing two interceptions and fumbling the ball several times in a 27-6 victory over the Bearcats. He has been named starter this week, but back-up Troy Smith will see playing time as well. This is a critical game for Zwick to show he can lead the team before it has to go on the road next week to visit North Carolina State.
The inside scoop: Marshall has been wanting Ohio State on the schedule for several years now, but this is not the year for it to have them. The Ohio State defense was strong against Cincinnati last week despite not registering a sack. This could spell trouble for a Herd team that only was able to manage 177 total yards against Troy State.
Marshall will win if: it catches Ohio State looking ahead to NC State. Marshall has proven it can go on the road and knock off a big boy, but this is not the same Marshall team as the team last year that won at Kansas State.
Ohio State will in if: it sticks to the game plan. The Buckeyes are a much deeper team and should have little problem with the Herd, unless it helps Marshall with turnovers and penalties.
Notes: Ohio State is 351-101-25 at home since Ohio Stadium opened in 1922. Their current 17-game home winning streak is the longest in the nation. Jim Tressel is only 2-3 against Marshall in his career.
The pick: Ohio State 31, Marshall 13
Penn State (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Boston College (1-0, 0-0 Big East)
Saturday, Sept. 11
8 p.m. EDT – ABC
Daily Line: Penn State minus 2.5
Penn State player to watch: Quarterback Zack Mills did a little bit of everything last week against Akron, passing for two touchdowns, catching a touchdown pass on a trick play, and running one in for good measure. Penn State will find out this week that the Boston College defense will be a little tougher than the Akron defense.
Boston College player to watch: Running back L.V. Whitworth rushed for 136 yards against Ball State. He will need to have a big game to take the pressure off of quarterback Paul Peterson.
The inside scoop: Boston College is a better team than the one that showed up in the opener against Ball State. If the Eagles stay committed to keeping the ball on the ground, that will play right into the Nittany Lions' hands. Look for Peterson to try and go up top more and throw underneath the PSU secondary. Penn State’s new offensive coordinator, Galen Hall, did a great job of keeping the Akron defense guessing in the opener. Penn State will come out again early putting an emphasis on running the ball.
Penn State will win if: it can keep from becoming one dimensional in the game.
Boston College will in if: it can score early and get the crowd into the game and knock PSU out of sync.
Notes: Penn State leads the overall series 19-3, and BC is on a two-game winning streak (including a 27-14 win at Penn State in 2003).
The pick: Penn State 24, Boston College 21
Ball State (0-1, 0-0 MAC) vs. No. 25 Purdue (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 11
1 p.m. EDT –No TV
Daily Line: Purdue minus 30
Ball State player to watch: Running back Larry Bostic was completely shut down in the opener against Boston College. If the Cardinals are to have any chance in this one, must keep the Boilermakers offense off the field with some sort of a ground game. Bostic did not provide that in the first game, rushing for 38 yards on 11 attempts.
Purdue player to watch: Quarterback Kyle Orton showed why he is the best in the Big Ten last week, passing for 287 yards and four touchdowns. He should be in for another big game going against a mediocre Cardinals secondary.
The inside scoop: Purdue will not have any trouble moving the ball against the Ball State defense. This game will do a lot in working out any kinks on the offensive side of the ball for the Boilers. This game will do no favors to the defense, though, which will be going against another below-average offense. The questions will still linger to how good this team really is until it takes on a team with a potent offense.
Ball State will win if: Purdue doesn’t show up to the game, and IUPUI suits up instead. Hanging in with Boston College was a tremendous effort for the Cardinals, but Purdue is a much more potent team.
Purdue will in if: it makes it to the stadium on time. This game will be an old-fashioned blow out. Joe Tiller will get the chance to see a lot of players in this one and get ready for the big bye-week next weekend.
Notes: Purdue has never lost to Ball State, winning all five previous games.
The pick: Purdue 49, Ball State 9
UNLV (0-1, 0-0 Mountain West) vs. No. 21 Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 11
11 a.m. CDT – ESPN
Daily Line: Wisconsin minus 16.5
UNLV player to watch: Running back Dominique Dorsey was the lone bright spot for the Rebels against Tennessee last week, rushing for 121 yards on 18 carries.
Wisconsin player to watch: Running back Booker Stanley will be the man if Anthony Davis can not answer the bell with his injured eye. In relief duty against UCF, Stanley rushed for 47 yards, but he will have to be more effective against the Rebels.
The inside scoop: The Badgers defense only allowed 230 total yards last week against UCF, but should be in for a tougher battle against UNLV, especially if Dorsey is able to get loose. Quarterback John Stocco didn’t set the world on fire with a pedestrian 8 for 18 effort. UNLV gave up 513 total yards to Tennessee on Sunday night. Rebels wide receiver Earvin Johnson, led UNLV with eight receptions against the Vols.
UNLV will win if: it can shut down the Badgers run offense. There is no chance of sneaking up on Wisconsin this season. This game has been circled on Wisconsin schedules for an entire year. UNLV does have the talent to make this a game. The only question is, will it?
Wisconsin will in if: it can establish a ground game, with or without Davis. The Badgers can’t let revenge get in the way of just sticking to the game plan and pushing the smaller team around.
Notes: Anthony Davis played in last season's match-up, but was knocked out of the game after only two carries (The Badgers only managed a paltry 52 rushing yards in the game).
The pick: Wisconsin 28, UNLV 17