Thursday, September 18, 2008

Big Ten Week 4 Preview


Illinois, Wisconsin
and Michigan have the week off. One could argue, by virtue of their schedules, that Penn State (vs. Temple) and Ohio State (vs. Troy) come pretty close to having the week off before they open up their Big Ten conference schedules. This week may leave a lot to be desired overall, but let’s take a look at some intriguing match-ups:

1. (Purdue vs. Central Michigan) Purdue’s Curtis Painter vs. Central Michigan’s Chris LeFevour: The stellar quarterbacks go toe-to-toe in what could be a match-up eventually seen on Sundays. Last year, LeFevour put up strong numbers (17-34, 296 yards, 4 touchdowns) in a dramatic shoot-out loss (51-48) to the Boilermakers, in which Painter threw for over 500 yards and three touchdowns. Expect nothing less from these two future pros in this season’s sequel. Not enough to whet your appetite? Central Michigan is 109th in passing defense, yielding 285 yards a game. Who will put on the better show for the scouts? PREDICTION: Purdue 85, CMU 77

2. (MSU at ND) Will MSU running back Javon Ringer continue his Heisman campaign against Notre Dame? Ringer leads the NCAA FBS in attempts (104) and touchdowns (nine) and is third in yards (498). On the other side of the ball, ND’s defense was susceptible to the shifty running of Michigan’s Sam McGuffie (25-131, 5.2 yards/carry). Defensive captain and inside linebacker Maurice Crum left the game early last week. He’s still a little banged up, but the word on the street is that he will be ready to play against Michigan State. Does Notre Dame build on their 2-0 start and continue their 180-degree turnaround from ’07? PREDICTION: MSU 20, ND 17

Iowa at Pittsburgh? OK, so I may be stretching it here since Pittsburgh has stumbled out of the gate 1-1 (win vs. Buffalo, loss to Bowling Green), but this is a nice road test to see if Coach Kirk Ferentz is putting Iowa (3-0) in serious position to compete in the Big Ten again. It is early, but did you know that, along with Michigan State’s Ringer and Wisconsin’s P.J. Hill, Shonn Greene of Iowa is also a member of the top ten rushing club (Greene is ninth nationally with 359 yards and three touchdowns)? Keys to the game: Pittsburgh comes in stout against the run, ranked 34th (94.5 yards/game), but will be tested by the strong running of Greene. Iowa’s 29th ranked pass defense will face a similar test going up against Pittsburgh’s 37th ranked pass offense. This one will almost certainly NOT be mistaken for an old-fashioned shoot-out. PREDICTION: Iowa 17 Pittsburgh 13