<
>

Week 3 football preview

Notre Dame (1-1) at Michigan State (2-0)

When, where: 7 p.m. at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich.

TV: ABC/ESPN2.

Radio: WLS-AM 890.

Web: UND.com, MSUSpartans.com.

What you need to know: Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist is fine after a shot to the head sidelined the junior for most of the first half Saturday in a last-minute loss to visiting Michigan. The Irish will need him at hostile Spartan Stadium considering ND's defense is giving up 195 rushing yards per game and Michigan State boasts a three-headed attack that's piling up 261 per contest. Larry Caper, MSU's leading rusher last season, returns to action after sitting out victories over Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic with an injured hand. In his absence, Edwin Baker rattled off 300 yards and Le'Veon Bell chipped in 190. Last week against the Wolverines, the Irish's Armando Allen ran for 89 yards and up-and-comer Cierre Wood disappeared after totaling just 10 yards on six carries. Notre Dame has to have consistent production from Wood if the Irish are to have any chance of keeping pace on the ground. Despite missing nearly half the game, Crist hooked up with tight end Kyle Rudolph eight times for 164 yards -- a career high for the 2009 Mackey Award finalist who currently leads all TEs with 207 yards on 13 receptions. Irish star receiver Michael Floyd has yet to have a breakout game, and sophomore Theo Riddick is still adjusting to his role in the slot. Freshman T.J. Jones continues to produce, scoring his second touchdown in as many weeks against Michigan. They'll look to exploit a Spartans secondary that's surrendered nearly 500 passing yards against two middle-class opponents. MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins, having already established himself as one of the all-time best in program history, hasn't had to carry the load yet but is very dangerous -- evidenced by his 302-yard performance against ND in South Bend last season, and has a very capable receiving corps. This rivalry never fails to produce instant classics, and Saturday should be another physical showdown between two teams that genuinely despise each other.

Wes Morgan's prediction: Notre Dame 37, Michigan State 31.

Northern Illinois (1-1) at Illinois (1-1)

When, where:11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: WIND-AM 560

Web:NIUHuskies.com, FightingIllini.com

What you need to know: Illinois has been better than expected after two weeks. Redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is holding his own, and running back Mikel Leshoure has been unstoppable. Defensively, Illinois has been solid all around despite many doubters. If Illinois is a changed team this season, this is another game that it should easily win. Northern Illinois has not been as good as initially advertised. The Huskies struggled in their opening-week loss to Iowa State and weren’t much better in a 23-17 win over North Dakota last week. Quarterback Chandler Harnish was effective on the ground in the win, but will need to be better in the air to have a chance against the Illini. The Huskies’ defense has been containing opponents’ running games.

Scott Powers’ prediction: Illinois 31, Northern Illinois 14

Northwestern (2-0) at Rice (1-1)

When, where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas

TV: None

Radio: WIND-AM 560

Web:RiceOwls.com (streaming live video), WGNRadio.com

What you need to know:Northwestern is on the road for the second time in three weeks. Like the Wildcats’ Vanderbilt road trip, this could be another difficult test. The Owls fought Texas in the opening week before losing 34-17 and defeated North Texas 32-31 last week. They’re no slouch. Northwestern’s offense has been spectacular with quarterback Dan Persa and his 212.06 pass-efficiency, rating which leads the nation. The running game improved against FCS opponent Illinois State last week and will be closely analyzed again this week. This game will be a homecoming for seven Northwestern players from Texas.

Powers’ prediction: Northwestern 34, Rice 20

Southeast Missouri State (1-1) at Southern Illinois (1-1)

When, where:6 p.m. Saturday at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

TV: None

Radio: None

Web: SIUSalukis.com

What you need to know:There was talk of Southern Illinois upsetting Illinois last week, but it wasn’t to be. Illinois was too much for the Salukis on both sides of the ball, and they suffered their worst loss in six years with a 35-3 defeat. Southern Illinois looks to rebound against Southeast Missouri State, which has a win over Murray State and a loss to Ball State. Southern Illinois has defeated the Redhawks by 18 or more points in their last three meetings. Salukis kicker Kyle Dougherty needs one field goal to break the school’s career record.

Powers’ prediction: Southern Illinois 38, Southeast Missouri State 14

Sam Houston State (0-1) at Western Illinois (1-1)

When, where:1 p.m. Saturday at Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill.

TV: None

Radio: None

Web:GoLeathernecks.com

What you need to know:Western Illinois actually held its own last week against Purdue and lost 31-21 on the road. The teams were tied at 7 before Purdue scored 10 points in the final 18 seconds of the second quarter. Matt Barr threw for 286 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Sam Houston State lost to Baylor 34-3 two weeks ago and had last week off. Western Illinois defeated the Bearkats last season for its only win of the season.

Powers’ prediction: Western Illinois 41, Sam Houston State 17

Illinois State (1-1) at South Dakota State (0-1)

When, where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings, S.D.

TV: None

Radio: None

Web:GoRedbirds.com

What you need to know: The Redbirds are coming off a 37-3 loss to Northwestern. Their defense was out-matched, but the offense was respectable, especially in the first half. Junior wide receiver Marvon Sanders, a transfer from Eastern Michigan, has been a bright spot for Illinois State. He has 10 receptions for 130 yards this season. South Dakota State is ranked No. 20 in the FCS and lost last week to No. 16th-ranked Delaware. The Jackrabbits defeated Illinois State 38-13 last season.

Powers’ prediction: South Dakota State 24, Illinois State 20

Eastern Illinois (0-2) at Tennessee-Martin (0-2)

When, where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Graham Stadium in Martin, Tenn.

TV: None

Radio: None

Web: EIUPanthers.com

What you need to know: Eastern Illinois’ season is off to a rough start with back-to-back 37-3 losses to Purdue and Central Arkansas. The Panthers aren’t likely to fall by that score this week. They defeated Tennessee-Martin 37-13 last season. Eastern Illinois looks to get more from its quarterback and offensive line this week. Brandon Large has thrown for under 100 yards in his first two games and was sacked six times in last week’s defeat.

Powers’ prediction: Eastern Illinois 27, Tennessee-Martin 21