After tomorrow there will only be two non-conference games left involving Big Ten teams before the bowl season. The first is our date with Marshall next week. The second is Indiana's October 20th trip to play at Navy. The Hoosiers were one of two teams that couldn't get it done and give the league a perfect record last weekend.
This weekend's slate is very similar to last week in that there is only one really good game. Michigan's trip to Notre Dame is the highlight of the week by far. Your next best one is Syracuse at Minnesota, which is important for other reasons.
Since the Boilers are off this week let's go around the league and see what there is to see on Saturday.
UAB (0-2) at No. 16 Ohio State (3-0) Noon, Big Ten Network
The Buckeyes have yet to face a real defense and they won't this week, either. The Blazers are ranked 123rd in the nation in points allowed at 44 per game and 110th in points scored. They can't run the ball even against bad defenses, let alone good ones like Ohio State. Jonathan Perry is a good quarterback, but he's going to have to go mad bomber for UAB to have any chance.
I know what you're going to see here. Braxton Miller is going to run around unchecked once again and we'll hear about how awesome he is even though he hasn't faced a real defense yet. For another week the unparalleled genius of Urban Meyer will reign supreme. Ohio State 45, UAB 7
UTEP (1-2) at Wisconsin (2-1) Noon, ESPN2
What will the Badgers try next? After the Oregon State loss they fired their offensive line coach. After getting lucky as hell last week Danny O'Brien was benched in favor of Joel Stave. So far, nothing has solved the malaise of the Wisconsin offense. Will a new quarterback stave off the critics this week (sorry, I could not avoid that bad pun)?
UTEP is another mid-major that could be dangerous in Camp Randall. They played Oklahoma close at home in their opener, lost at Ole Miss, and scored 41 last week in beating New Mexico State. Nick Lamaison has had a good season at quarterback so far with 552 yards and five TD's against no interceptions. Much of that came last week when he was 21 of 32 for 300 yards and four scores. He's a hot QB, and that could be trouble for Bucky. Wisconsin 24, UTEP 16
Central Michigan (1-1) at Iowa (2-1) Noon, Big Ten Network
Central Michigan is not a good football team. They have fallen far from the days where Dan LeFevour was winging the ball all over the place and Antonio Brown was scorching secondaries. The team that never figured out Curtis Painter struggled to get past Southeast Missouri State in the opener before getting blasted by Michigan State. That was two weeks ago.
For now, Iowa seems to have figured things out. AIRBHG continues to lay waste to their offensive backfield, but a touchdown is no longer the offense's mortal enemy. The Hawkeyes are down to Mark Weisman, a 225 pound fullback, as a primary ballcarrier after he went for 113 yards and three scores last week. That only means his season-ending injury is days away. Iowa 34, Central Michigan 7
South Dakota (1-1) at Northwestern (3-0) 3:30pm, Big Ten Network
Northwestern, don't screw this up. Please. So far you have been the one shining beacon the Big Ten has. You are undefeated and you have beaten three BCS conference opponents. You're now playing a South Dakota team that has already beaten the Big Ten once, and you have a history of gacking away impressively easy non-conference games at home.
As usual, no Big Ten team ever has an excuse for losing to an FCS team. Northwestern 45, South Dakota 10
Eastern Michigan (0-3) at No. 21 Michigan State (2-1) 3:30pm, Big Ten Network
Eastern Michigan is fresh off getting torched by our running game and now they have to face Le'Veon Bell. Michigan State is also probably a little cranky after having last week's no-show offensively against Notre Dame. This could be a bloodbath.
At least we'll get an early idea of how well we stack up with the Legends Division favorite since we're now one of the Leaders Division favorites. May we celebrate with the Spartans over the bruised and battered carcass that is Eastern Michigan! Michigan State 52, Eastern Michigan 10
Idaho State (1-1) at No. 25 Nebraska (2-1) 3:30pm, Big Ten Network
Idaho State lost to Air Force by four touchdowns but beast something called Black Hills State 38-5 two weeks ago. I didn't even know there was a college called Black Hills State. Whatever it is, I doubt they have an Ameer Abdullah, who has been one of the surprises in the Big Ten with Rex Burkhead being limited. The Cornhuskers should be able to pick their score. Nebraska 56, Idaho State 10
Temple (1-1) at Penn State (1-2) 3:30pm ABC
I see that ABC once again had slim pickings for its 3:30 ABC game if the Nittany Lions are back here. Perhaps they are looking for a chance to see the nation's longest winning streak of one team over another fall by the wayside. Temple last beat Penn State on October 18, 1941. The Nittany Lions have won 25 in a row over the Owls since then.
Of course, the last five games have been erased from the record books, but the last one, erased or not, was way too close for comfort. Last season Temple only lost 14-10 at home. Penn State may debut new kicker Gus the Mule, which would likely be an improvement over Sam Ficken. Penn State 17, Temple 16
No. 18 Michigan (2-1) at No. 11 Notre Dame (3-0) 7:30pm, NBC
The last two seasons have seen Notre Dame get out to early leads only to have Denard Robinson become attached to a Playstation controller somehow and gain the ability to dance through tacklers at will. For that reason I beg for Brady Hoke to turn him loose. The Fighting Irish are a legitimately good team, but I have already seen some of the insufferable nature of their fans come back when I saw an earlier tweet about how they could not tell "mediocre Big Ten teams" apart in Michigan State and Purdue.
Michigan needs this game if it is truly going to be a contender in the Big Ten. Going 2-2 in the non-conference is recoverable, but it was 2-2 with losses against their only two good opponents. For a team coming off of a BCS bowl win that's not a good place to be.
That said, this Notre Dame defense is becoming something special. The Wolverines are going to struggle.
Notre Dame 21, Michigan 17
Syracuse (1-2) at Minnesota (3-0) 8pm, Big Ten Network
The Golden Gophers haven't been pretty at times and they are without MarQueis Gray this week, but they are undefeated. A win with Max Shortell directing the show as more of a true passer puts them two wins away from bowl eligibility, which is a goal they need to have. No one has delusions of Minnesota in Indianapolis, but a win this week plus a third straight over Iowa suddenly makes the Northwestern game at home in a few weeks very interesting.
Syracuse's only win has been over Stony Brook, but they fell by a point to Northwestern at home and hung with a likely overrated USC team. These two teams are fairly evenly matched, so I have to go with home field for the advantage. Minnesota 31, Syracuse 24
Louisiana Tech (2-0) at Illinois (2-1) 8pm, Big Ten Network
Louisiana Tech features one of the nation's best offenses. The Bulldogs have virtually burned the city of Houston to the ground in their last two games, scoring 56 points in both wins over Houston and Rice. They gave up 49 and 37 points, respectively, though. You know that means a Saturday night shootput in Champaign.
Colby Cameron has already thrown for 629 yards and seven touchdowns in two games and Tevin King has rushed for 316 yards. La Tech is going to get its yards and score points. It is a question of if the Fighting Illini offense can keep up with them. Riley O'Toole was fine with 333 yards and five touchdowns last week, but Charleston Southern sucks.
The last team with the ball here wins. Louisiana Tech 45, Illinois 42