Big Ten Football Game by Game Predictions: Week 3

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Sep 12, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back LJ Scott (3) falls forward for a first down against the Oregon Ducks during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force (2-0) vs. No. 4 Michigan State (2-0), 12 p.m. ET on ABC

Air Force comes to town with the second-best run game in the nation, but the Spartans have had one of the top-five run-stopping defenses in the country over the past few years. Expect this one to be a grind-it-out effort early on with the Spartans pulling away late.

It also helps that Air Force’s starting quarterback, Nate Romine, is out for the year with a knee injury, leaving the duties to senior backup Karson Roberts. Passing will be at a premium for the Falcons in this one.

Prediction: Air Force 17, Michigan State 38

Illinois (2-0) vs. North Carolina (1-1), 12 p.m. ET on ESPN 2

Much to the surprise of basically everyone who has followed the Illinois offseason drama, the Fighting Illini have begun the year 2-0 with the chance to add a big road win against North Carolina in week three.

Wes Lunt will have a big day for the Illini, passing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, but being on the road in a hostile environment will be too much for this team to handle. North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams will have a career day against an otherwise stingy Illini defense.

Prediction: Illinois 24, North Carolina 28

South Florida (1-1) vs. Maryland (1-1), 12 p.m. ET on ESPNU

It’s going to be tough for Maryland to rebound from the game it had against Bowling Green in which the Terrapins lost by three scores last week. However, it will need to take advantage of the home field as South Florida comes to town after a gritty loss to Florida State.

Maryland’s pass game, behind Perry Hills, will need to get off the ground in this one as the rushing attack has already asserted itself through two weeks. South Florida, led by Marlon Mack, is also more of a run-first squad.

Prediction: South Florida 21, Maryland, 28

Next: Saturday's games: Part 2