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Week Two Game Previews: Part One, The Clunkers

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Kristofer Green

Week two features some exciting match-ups, as well as what should be some real clunkers.

Big Ten teams will face three directional MAC schools from the state of Michigan, a scrappy team from the WAC, and an FCS team that is getting a giant paycheck for the opportunity to be beaten.

Fun stuff, right?

We here at FBT will always save the best for last, therefore and without further ado...

Week Two Previews and Predictions: Part One, The Clunkers
Eastern Michigan at Northwestern--12:00 PM ET  Big Ten Network

The Wildcats opened the 2009 season with a dominating performance in which they scored touchdowns on their first four drives and finished with a 47-17 win over FCS Towson.

On Saturday, hoping to build momentum toward the Big Ten season, the Wildcats will try to do it all over again against MAC foe Eastern Michigan, who opened the season with a 27-14 loss to Army.

Northwestern will lean on running backs Stephen Simmons and Arby Fields to wrack up big yards and control the clock, but it will ultimately be Mike Kafka's ability to pass the ball that could be EMU's undoing.

The Eagles, coached by former Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English, are far from a powerhouse and currently sit at No. 2 in ESPN's "Bottom 10".

Fast Facts: Northwestern leads the all-time series 2-0; Northwestern has won eight of 11 meetings with MAC teams since 1996, doing most of its damage on the ground, where its rushed for 179.9 yards per game; Eastern Michigan has allowed at least one rushing TD in each of their last 12 games, good enough for the third-worst clip in the nation.

Prediction
: Northwestern 41, Eastern Michigan 24


Western Michigan at Indiana--12:00 PM ET  Big Ten Network

It wasn't pretty, but Indiana found a way to win last week's thriller with FCS Eastern Kentucky. The challenge gets much tougher this week when the Hoosiers will welcome a angered Western Michigan team coming of a 31-7 loss to Michigan.

The Broncos, a bowl team from a year ago, boast an extremely talented quarterback in Tim Hiller and a usually potent offense. The Hoosiers, who have lost two straight to MAC opponents, will need to limit turnovers on offense (IU had three last week) and play sound assignment defense to slow down the Broncos.

Fast Facts: Indiana leas the all-time series 4-0; All five of Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell's touchdown passes have been for more than 30 yards, giving him the third highest total among active Big Ten quarterbacks; Tim Hiller led the MAC in just about every offensive category last season, most of which turned out to be single-season school records as well.

Prediction: Western Michigan 31, Indiana 24


Central Michigan at Michigan State--12:00 PM ET  ESPN2

Michigan State massacred FCS opponent Montana State last week with great performances from not one, but two quarterbacks. Both Keith Nichols and Kirk Cousins are expected to play again this week against a talented Central Michigan who lost a tough one on the road at Arizona.

If Sparty isn't expecting a fight, Central could give them one right down to the end. Quarterback Dan Lefevour has NFL talent and is surrounded by talented players that are comparable to MSU's. But, Defensively the Spartans are far superior and will get after LeFevour from the beginning.

The Spartans are sitting at 27th in this week's AP poll and are itching to join Penn State and Ohio State in the top 25. Another strong win over the talented Chippewas will most likely do the trick.

Fast Facts
: Michigan State leads the all-time series 4-2; After utilizing a one-back system last season with Javon Ringer, seven Michigan State tailbacks combined to rush for 157 yards against Montana State; MSU kicker Brett Swenson ranks first among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision active leaders in scoring, with 287 career points.

Prediction: Michigan State 38-17


Fresno State at Wisconsin--12:00 PM ET  ESPN

On the very first play of last week's 28-20 win over Northern Illinois, Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien heaved an 80-yard pass to Isaac Anderson for a touchdown. From that point on scoring became a little tougher for the Badgers.

The Fresno State Bulldogs have built a strong reputation for not fearing anyone. Coach Pat Hill's team has done extremely well in recent years going on the road and giving the "big boys" a real fight.

Last season, the No. 10 ranked Badgers beat the 'Dogs 13-10 in an intense match-up with a controversial ending. This season the Bulldogs, who beat UC-Davis 51-0 last week, are out for blood.

I will be at Camp Randall covering this game and I think the Badgers could be in for a long afternoon if the Badgers don't pick up their game. Fresno State is waiting.

Fast Facts: Wisconsin leads the all-time series 2-1; Wisconsin has won 15 straight non-conference home games, dating back to 2003; At 29-11, Bret Bielema's record is second-best among the 11 head coaches hired prior to the 2006 season. He trails only Chris Petersen of Boise State (35-4).

Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Fresno State 23


Illinois State at Illinois--7:00 PM ET  Big Ten Network

The Fighting Illini would love to just forget about week one. A fifth straight loss to rival Missouri and a plainly pitiful and embarrassing performance are not memories one likes to hang on to.

This week, the competition is dramatically more manageable and the match-up with FCS Illinois State provides the Illini with the perfect opportunity to refocus and recover before a grueling conference schedule kicks in.

The Redbirds, who lost to FCS Eastern Illinois last week, are the perfect opponent to cure what plagues the Illini. Whether Arrelious Benn and Daniel Dufrene play, ISU's defense shouldn't be a threat to Juice and company and the Redbirds' offense is hardly one that should keep the Illini's embattled defense up at night.

Fast Facts: Illinois leads the all-time series 2-0; Juice Williams' career totals are strikingly similar to those of Tim Tebow's in 2007 when he won the Heisman Trophy. Williams and Tebow are two of only four active players to combine at least 6,000 career passing and 2,000 career rushing yards; Since 1996, Illinois is 7-0 at home in games before a bye and 0-6 in such games on the road.

Prediction: Illinois 52, Illinois State 24

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