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NCAA Football Big 10 Football

Big Ten Previews and Predictions for Week 3

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Week 3 Big Ten Predictions

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With the college football season in full-swing and week two in the books, the Big Ten has seen five teams climb into the national top-25 rankings -- the second-most of any conference. The Big Ten trails the SEC by just two teams in the top-25 and that isn't unattainable seeing as a couple teams are knocking on the door to get into the coveted weekly rankings.

While the season is still young yet, the conference is showing much progress from some poor seasons in the past couple years. In fact, the conference as a whole is 21-3 combined in the first two weeks of the 2013 season. Most teams don't play tough games in the non-conference schedule, but just three losses for an entire conference is nothing to overlook.

The Ohio State Buckeyes look to be the favorite to win the conference so far and, right now, are the only team to break the top-10 heading into week three. The Michigan Wolverines are also favorites to challenge for a conference title, and coming off a win against rival Notre Dame, there's no reason why they can't.

Some teams are exceeding expectations this season such as the Illinois Fighting Illini. Coming off a two-win season in 2012, head coach Tim Beckman's job was a bit uncertain. Now that the Illini are 2-0 with a blowout win against Cincinnati, things are looking up in Champaign. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has seen his career resurged a bit and he has been one of the best performers of anyone in the conference through the first two weeks.

Right now it's hard to tell just who is performing the best based on the lowly opponents of most teams. This season is sure to be a good one and a lot will be found out about the conference after week three.

Take a look at the Big Ten's week three previews and predictions of each game.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at muldown5@gmail.com.

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Bowling Green at Indiana

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana has begun the 2013 season with a record of 1-1 after a loss to Navy at home. Sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld looks to have won the starting job for good and why not? He is completing over 70 percent of his passes and has eight touchdowns this season. This game matches up two pretty dynamic offenses.

PREDICTION: Bowling Green 21, Indiana 40

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Western Illinois at Minnesota

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Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota is one of the best up-and-coming teams in the conference. Head coach Jerry Kill has this team headed in the right direction after making their first bowl game in recent memory last season. Dual-threat quarterback Philip Nelson leads the team in rushing while struggling in the pass game.

PREDICTION: Western Illinois 20, Minnesota 41

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No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska

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Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins will travel to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers in one of the best week three matchups in college football. Quarterback Brett Hundley of the Bruins is one of the best at his position in the nation as head coach Jim Mora Jr. has put this team back on the map. Taylor Martinez leads a strong Nebraska offense -- this game is sure to be high-scoring.

PREDICTION: UCLA 33, Nebraska 38

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Akron at No. 11 Michigan

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan is set to host the Akron Zips in an early-season battle. The Wolverines are coming off a solid week two win over rival Notre Dame and look stronger than ever under head coach Brady Hoke. Devin Gardner seems to have settled into his role as starting quarterback and this game should be no contest for Michigan.

PREDICTION: Akron 3, Michigan 41

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Youngstown State at Michigan State

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Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State has been in the midst of a quarterback controversy all season long and it doesn't look like it's ending any time soon. Freshman Damion Terry is getting his first shot this week and it could be the answer for this struggling offense. Too bad for youngstown State, the Spartans defense is one of the best in the nation.

PREDICTION: Youngstown State 3, Michigan State 27

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Iowa at Iowa State

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Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa is led by sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock who has improved this offense, passing game especially, since taking over the starting role. The rushing attack is always one of the better ones in the conference -- despite all the injuries and bad luck -- as Mark Weisman has 280 yards on 50 carries this season. Neither team is a clear favorite in this matchup, but it is a rivalry game and that makes it very interesting.

PREDICTION: Iowa 24, Iowa State 20

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Central Florida at Penn State

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Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Talented freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg won the starting job in week one and carried that solid play over into week two. Hackenberg has passed for 589 yards and three touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes. Wide out Allen Robinson has been on the receiving end of a good chunk of those yards with 262 and two scores. The Nittany Lion defense isn't too easy to score on, either.

PREDICTION: UCF 13, Penn State 28

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No. 19 Washington at Illinois

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Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Scheelhaase has had all offseason to think about what kind of impact he wanted to make on this team moving forward. The senior quarterback has seen his career resurge and with 728 yards and six touchdowns so far this season, he has already led the Illini to as many wins as they had all last season -- two. Too bad they face a tough Washington team with an experienced quarterback of their own.

PREDICTION: Washington 33, Illinois 26

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No. 4 Ohio State at California

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Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes will have to face off against a potent passing attack from the Cal Bears on Saturday. The Buckeyes' secondary is solid, but will need to gameplan for the talented freshman quarterback they are facing. However, the Cal defense is mediocre and Braxton Miller should have no trouble running all over them.

PREDICTION: Ohio State 42, Cal 15

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No. 21 Notre Dame at Purdue

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Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue has struggled mightily this season on offense, ranking in the lower-tier of all college teams in most major categories. The Boilermakers have a new head coach in Darrell Hazell who will use this season as a rebuilding year moving forward. They will have to face off against a normally-good defensive squad from Notre Dame, though. This game could get ugly.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame 37, Purdue 13

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Western Michigan at No. 17 Northwestern

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Western Michigan has the tough task of traveling to yet another tough Big Ten school. The Broncos face a talented multi-dimensional Wildcats squad that is led by senior quarterback Kain Colter and junior gunslinger Trevor Siemian. These two are one of the rare, but successful, quarterback duos in the nation. The run game is also solid. Once Venric Mark gets healthy at running back, he will be scary for opposing defenses.

PREDICTION: Western Michigan 17, Northwestern 41

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No. 20 Wisconsin at Arizona State

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Stave is doing a great job leading this prolific Wisconsin offense into battle week after week. The sophomore quarterback has over 400 yards and five touchdown passes on the young season while the Badgers' run game is third-best in the country with 390 yards per game. Arizona State is in for some trouble in the desert.

PREDICTION: Wisconsin 34, Arizona 20