Week 8 NCAA Game Picks

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IOctober 21, 2009


Week 7 has come and gone and I had a mediocre week moving to 6-12 ATS and 11-9 in picking winners.

Moving on to week 8, say what you will about the Big Ten, but 2 of the biggest games, in an otherwise slow college football weekend, are in the Big Ten this week. 2 games that will begin to shape the Big Ten Championship picture, along with some BCS implications. Lets get started.

Iowa @ Michigan State
7pm on Big Ten Network
Line: Pick'em

Iowa continues their consistent, error free, impressive and opportunistic run. They come in ranked 6th in the BCS and have won some impressive games on the road this year, helping their computer rankings. Their defense remains strong and their offense doesn't do anything flashy but also doesn't make mistakes. Iowa does everything they need to do to win games.

At Wisconsin last week, Iowa quickly fell behind 10-0 before Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien began to give the game away, as each of the quarterbacks in Iowa's key victories have done. Tolzien threw 3 interceptions resulting in 20 unanswered points by Iowa.

Iowa is now traveling to East Lansing to face a Michigan State team that seems to be growing and getting better as the season moves forward. After a slow start, the Spartans have won 3 in a row and have been playing well balance football.

The key for Michigan State will be when its defense is on the field. Michigan State ranks 9th in the country in rushing defense at home. They need to force Iowa to win by throwing the ball.

Weather should not be a factor in this game, so if Michigan State can limit its mistakes, they can win this game. They have a lot to play for as the Big Ten is wide open, and will be even more wide open should Michigan State hand Iowa its first loss.

This is Iowa's third big night game in 4 weeks and this is the week their luck runs out.

Michigan State, with some help from the home crowd wins this game 19-17.

Penn State @ Michigan
3:30pm on ABC
Line: PSU -4

Michigan has been one of the surprise teams in the Big Ten this year, and even in the Nation. Coming off of a 3 win season, Michigan has already won 5 games and is in the mix for the Big Ten crown. Tate Forcier is in the running to be freshman of the year, and given that his main competition in that category is Matt Barkely who has much more talent around him at USC, Forceir deserves this award.

Statistically, Penn State is the far superior team. The Nittany Lions come in with the more experienced quarterback, a stronger defense, and a superior passing game. The only edge Michigan has is in the run game due to their read option offense. Michigan also gets the edge in points per game, with 37, however, Penn State is only giving up 8.7 points per game, and is coming off a shut out performance against Minnesota last weekend. This will be the key match up in this game.

Penn State's defense only faced one mobile quarterback this year, and that was Juice Williams, however Illinois is so bad this year, it is not fair to compare them to Michigan and Tate Forcier. Having Sean Lee back at Linebacker, and a healthy Navarro Bowman should help the defense contain Forcier and force him to throw. He will get his couple big plays with his feet, but will that be enough?

On the other side of the ball, Michigan is allowing over 230 passing yards per game, and Penn State is averaging over 240 passing yards per game. This should play right into Penn State's strength with their tall and fast wide receivers on the outside.

All things point to Penn State winning this game comfortably but we know better than that. When Penn State travels to Ann Arbor, crazy thing happen. Penn State is 0-5 in its last 5 trips to Michigan, and most of these losses have come in heartbreaking fashion. However, in those years, the level of talent and experience was much closer than it is this year.

Penn State wins this game 28-17.