1. NORTHWESTERN at MICHIGAN STATE, 12:00 p.m. EST (10/17), ESPN2
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts MICHIGAN STATE by 10
Michigan State faced one spread passing offense, the boys from Central Michigan, and gave up 328 yards passing. The Spartans defense played soft coverage the whole damn game, refusing to press the wide receivers or pick up the HB coming out into the flat. I think Pat Narduzzi and Dantonio took the hint, because ever since the shocking CMU loss, we’ve seen a more aggressive defense and a focus on getting pressure on the quarterback (witness the 6 sacks against Illinois last week). Shout out to Huber Heights product Jerel Worthy, the Spartan redshirt frosh who has been shooting gaps and picking up sacks from his DT position.
Kafka was pedestrian last week against Miami (OH YEAHHH) and Northwestern showed its proclivity of playing uninspired football. Who cares if the Spartans have injuries in their backfield? Cousins is playing the whole game because of Nichol’s injury, surely a good sign. Vegas gives MSU two touchdowns and I can’t get over the fact that NW just isn’t living up to my expectations this year.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts MICHIGAN STATE by 7
Yes, Northwestern's defense has finally awoken from its September slumber. And yes, this game will bear witness to two of the Big Ten's most proficient passers -- Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Northwestern's Mike Kafka. I think the consensus is that both will have a big (200 yards plus) day Saturday. The difference for me when I put these teams next to each other is the Spartans have a slight advantage on the ground. MSU stomps out another close one at home.
2. No. 11 IOWA at WISCONSIN, 12:00 p.m. EST (10/17), ESPN
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts IOWA by 7
The second hardest game to pick this week, because Vegas says Wisky by 2 but Iowa keeps winning close games via it’s defensive prowess. Who really wants to bet on Ricky Stanzi in Camp Randall? So let’s talk this out…Iowa has one of the nations best pass defenses, allowing less than 170 ypg while forcing quarterbacks to the bench via bad play and concussive hits…Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien looked fearful against the OSU defense, throwing fadeaway picks and generally looking rattled…Ricky Stanzi has made a general life decision to give the ball to the other team with dire consequences every game…Camp Randall is one hell of a place to play, this could be undefeated Iowa’s Waterloo…Nope, I won't bet against the Hawks defense.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts IOWA by 7
This is one of those games that everyone in the country should be watching, and no one in the country will be watching because of the time conflict with the Red River Shootout. A struggling Iowa offense with a wounded receiver corps, and a fluent but fickle passer in Ricky Stanzi is depending on a solid defense to save its ass almost weekly. Sound like another Big Ten team you know? Maybe a Big Ten team that buried the Badgers last week while its offense was bedridden? Iowa has a textbook advantage coming into this matchup. The Hawkeyes are second in the FBS with 19 turnovers and third in the Big Ten in scoring defense (allowing just 15.8 points a game). I think they'll hand WIsky a generous portion of rope and let it hang itself. Still don't think it's that easy? Consider this, Wisconsin's offensive line struggled last week against a capable defensive front 7. It's Penn State all over again.
3. No. 20 OKLAHOMA at No. 3 TEXAS, 12:00 p.m. EST (10/17), ABC
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts TEXAS by 10
This is the "no guts, no glory" week. Each of these games has a team that "should win," but at least one of these favorites will fall. It’s up to you to figure out which team will get knocked off their high horse. It certainly won’t be Texas, who features an aggressive defense (#15 in points allowed per game, #4 in yards allowed) and a killer passing game. Oklahoma, obviously still a talented team, has not seemed cohesive in their efforts this year. Bradford is still recovering from the BYU hit, while his laser-rocket balls haven’t been zipping as accurately as last year. While the Sooner defense is solid and YOU CAN THROW OUT THE RECORDS IN THISSS GAME (Keith Jackson Voice!), the Oklahoma offensive line doesn’t have the horses to slow down Sergio Kindle and the suddenly fierce Texas D.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts TEXAS by 7
All you people out there who covet the upset pick: here's your chance. I was close to pulling the trigger myself, until logic got the better of me. I think all the things Oklahoma expects to go in their favor, don't. Texas establishes the run with Colt McCoy, moves the chains, and corralls the Sooners on defense, despite the loss of three NFL starters from the 2008 squad. Oklahoma's inexperience up front is a killer, as the Longhorns get pressure early and often. The final score makes this one look closer than it is.
4. No. 6 USC at No. 25 NOTRE DAME, 3:30 p.m. EST (10/17), NBC
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts USC by 14
The Golden Domer’s can’t really win this game, right? After the combined 76-3 beatdowns of the last two years, it’s hard to believe ND can play on the same field. But Jimmy C has proven to be resilient. Don’t get me wrong – this game is all about which USC shows up. The injured and discombobulated Trojans that fell to Washington and should have lost to OSU…or the powerful Carrollites that overran Cal. Vegas is favoring USC by 10, but upset points should factor into your analysis. One thing to remember – NO ONE has stopped the Chuck Weis passing game in 2009. Hmm…
LAW BUCKEYE predicts USC by 14
This is actually the game I'm looking most forward to watching Saturday, because it's the game in which we'll learn whether Charlie Weis gets to keep his job. How do I figure? Well, if college football programs were historic structures, the Irish are the Pantheon. They are the definition of elite in our sport, and they expect to compete with other elite programs. Charlie Weis has now had plenty of time to populate his ranks with his players, teach his players his system, and get his players experienced. If his finished product -- and don't kid yourself, that is exactly what this Notre Dame team is -- can't go tit for tat with another marquis program now, it never will. USC's is the most vulnerable it's been since 2000, the last time the Irish put a feather in their cap. That being said, I think the words of Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, whose team beat the Trojans and lost to the Irish this year are most telling:
Sarkisian believes Notre Dame's talent level remains closer to his current team than his former one. "I don't know. I kind of thought they would be a physically better-looking team," Sarkisian said. "We kind of went toe-to-toe with them and we shouldn't be able to do that, in reality.
Deep down I'm pulling for the Irish, but ultimately, I think Saturday is the final chapter in the bruised tenure of Charlie Weis in South Bend. USC rolls.
5. ILLINOIS at INDIANA, 7:00 p.m. EST (10/17), Big Ten Network
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts INDIANA by 7
The Illini are favored going into Memorial, but I don’t buy it. Indiana has shown more fight and offensive firepower than Ron Zook’s squad. Although our 9-3 predictions for Illinois are way out the window, Vegas seems to still believe there’s enough magic left to defeat the suddenly slumping Hoosiers. I see a big home win for the bowl bound Hoosiers! Sure, Indiana gave up almost 600 yards to moribund Virginia, but they’ll get up for a home tango against Juice or Eddie.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts ILLINOIS by 10
Credit to Bill Lynch for keeping the wheels on the bus for as long as he did, but they fell off last week in a deplorable loss at Virginia that made the conference fan in me shudder. Ilinois earns a largely empty win on the road.