The third week of college football is usually pretty interesting because that is the time that teams start playing real opponents instead of FCS teams and MAC teams. The Big Ten is no different. Ohio State is leaving Ohio for a non-conference game. Wisconsin is playing a team stronger than a Madison frat flag football team. We have a double-ranked team matchup in Lincoln as part of the unofficial Big Ten/Pac-12 challenge. Purdue hosts Notre Dame, while Iowa-Iowa State get to battle to be the second best team in Iowa behind Northern Iowa.
This is should be a fun week. All told, there are four Big Ten/Pac-12 games, three MAC games, two FCS games, and a game with Notre Dame.
Bowling Green (2-0) at Indiana (1-1) Noon, ESPNU
Look, we all know Indiana sucks against the run. That makes the matchup against Navy such a bad one since all they do is run. This week's game will likely decide if Indiana is indeed going to go to an elusive bowl game or not. Before the season it looked like a slam dunk IU win. Now, Bowling Green looks a little feisty. The Falcons are averaging 37.5 points per game in wins over Tulsa and Kent State. Travis Greene ran for 145 yards last week, so they have a running game, but they can also pass well. If they can get the second MAC-over-Big Ten win of the season it is likely curtains for IU's bowl hopes.
For the Hoosiers, if they let Bowling Green score at will it is going to be a long season. We all know IU can score, but if Indiana can't stop anyone their hurry-up offense will only serve to get other teams back on the field faster. I agree with Adam at Crimson Quarry. It is gut check time for IU. I expect a fun shootout here because Indiana can definitely score a ton of points. Indiana 52, Bowling Green 38
Akron (1-1) at Michigan (2-0) Noon, Big Ten Network
Akron has been blasted by Central Florida and barely got past FCS James Madison last week 35-33. That is not the best place to be when coming in to face a team that is looking decidedly dangerous. Devin Gardner shows more maturity as the Wolverines easily cruise here. Michigan 56, Akron 10
Western Illinois (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0) Noon, Big Ten Network
Okay, Minnesota. We've been here before. This is not a team from the Dakotas, so don't screw this up. The Golden Gophers have been solid on special teams and decent on defense, but Philip Nelson only has one touchdown pass so far. In that time he has rushed for three. Even rob Henry has been a better passer so far, so I am sure Minnesota wants to work on more of a passing game here. Minnesota 41, Western Illinois 13
No. 16 UCLA (1-0) at No. 23 Nebraska (2-0) Noon, ABC
This is round two of the Big Ten/Pac-12 challenge and our conference already has a 1-0 lead thanks to Northwestern's win at California. It should be a fun one too since UCLA scored 58 in a win over Nevada and has had a week off to prepare. Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers have some serious concerns about their defense. Last season UCLA won 36-30 in LA and this one looks to have a lot more points scored.
I really like Ameer Abdullah and Taylor Martinez as offensive weapons for Nebraska. Martinez has played well so far and the ground game has generated 330 yards per game. When it doubt, pick the home team. Nebraska 31, UCLA 28
Youngstown State (2-0) at Michigan State (2-0) 2pm, Big Ten Network
That is not a typo. This is the odd staggered 2pm start on Big Ten Network as there are four noon games, this one, and the rest are at night. With this one we should find out if the Spartans are historically inept on offense. Through two games their defensive end, Shilique Calhoun, has more touchdowns than the entire MSU offense. He has scored on two fumble returns and an interception return, while MSU has only two offensive touchdowns, both from Jeremy Langford.
Youngstown State isn't a bad FCS team either. Just two years ago they beat North Dakota State for one of their only two losses in the last three years. Michigan State's offense is just bad enough that we could have an upset on our hands here, but the defense really is too good to let it happen. Michigan State 20, Youngstown State 10
Iowa (1-1) at Iowa State (0-1) 6pm, Fox Sports 1
I really shouldn't do this...
Okay, I can't resist:
Yes, we have no room to talk, but both of these teams have looked pretty bad so far. Iowa State lost to Northern Iowa and Iowa struggled against Missouri State. You also have last year's 9-6 turd to judge this game by, when Iowa State walked into Kinnick and started the downfall of our Most Hated Rivals.
Look, I want toe Hawkeyes to be bad. I want them to struggle, mostly so we have someone else we can beat this year. Purdue pretty much has to beat Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan State and hope two wins come from somewhere else. Both of these teams are pretty bad, but at least Iowa didn't lose to an FCS team. Iowa 13, Iowa State 12
Central Florida (2-0) at Penn State (2-0) 6pm, Big Ten Network
This will be very interesting. Central Florida has only given up seven points this season, but they have played the likes of Akron and Florida International. The UCF-FIU game in Miami last week was famously out-attended by a huge high school game, if that says anything. Blake Bortles and Christian Hackenberg should put on a nice quarterbacking display.
Everyone who expected the Nittany Lions to suck as the sanction began to take hold will be gravely disappointed. This is not a bad Penn State team, at least judging by the results so far. The defense is pretty solid and should be able to keep it in most games. I think that means they'll be just fine coming out of the sanctions in two years. Penn State 24, Central Florida 14
No. 19 Washington (1-0) vs. Illinois (2-0) at Soldier Field, 6pm, Big Ten Network
Where did THAT come from last week, Illinois? I said it was easy money that Cincinnati was a 7-point favorite over the Fighting Illini and Illinois went out and vented on a team. This is an Illinois offense that had been so inept in its last 18 games against FBS competition that I thought it would take three games to score 41 points. Now Nathan Scheelhaase has already passed many of last year's numbers.
Washington has had a week off since playing Potato State, but they have to fly across the country for a game that definitely looks a lot tougher than it did a week ago at this time. Last Friday I wondered allowed if Illinois would win another game. Now I am wondering if they might be a dark horse in the Leaders Division. If they spring an upset here they just might be. Washington 24, Illinois 21
No. 4 Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1) 7pm, FOX
Last year this was a closer-than-expected game in Columbus where the Golden Bears had a legitimate chance to steal a win in the second half. Sonny Dykes, the new Cal coach, was once rumored to be interested in Purdue before we got Darrell Hazell. He has a nice passing-oriented offense that can put up some points, but Cal has already lost to Northwestern and struggled with Portland State last week.
This should be a game that the Buckeyes handle with ease, even with the long road trip. This is mostly because Cal doesn't have a discernable defense. Ohio State 45, California 28
No. 21 Notre Dame (1-1) at Purdue (1-1) 8pm, ABC
Purdue hasn't been getting a lot of respect all week, and with good reason. Yes, this is our one chance to show the nation that something is under construction in West Lafayette, but through two games our offense has scored a grand total of two touchdowns and against teams that have surrendered 114 points against their other opponents. Our defense isn't bad, but we're not so much the Cradle of Quarterbacks right now as the Soiled Bed Linens of Offensive Putridity.
With this game the Notre Dame bandwagon should be full again, especially if Bowling Green beats Indiana earlier in the day and the IU "fans" that started paying attention after their epic 73 points against Indiana State return to their One True Football team. As Purdue fans, we have to deal with these people, the current state of our own team, and all the negative recruiting momentum going in basketball.
We need some good news, and a shocking upset of the Fighting Irish would make us forget a lot of those things. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it would be: shocking. Unless we see a completely different offense than the one seen the last week we're in for another long, disappointing night game at Ross-Ade.
No wonder Morgan doesn't want lights. I hope I am wrong with this pick. Notre Dame 38, Purdue 10
Western Michigan (0-2) at No. 17 Northwestern (2-0) 9pm, Big Ten Network
Guys, Northwestern is pretty damn good this year. Western Michigan lost last week to FCS Nicholls State. That is really all you need to know. Northwestern 56, Western Michigan 10
No. 20 Wisconsin (2-0) at Arizona State (1-0) 10:30pm, ESPN
This game features the best two defenses in America! Neither team has given up a single point yet. Of course, they have played two FCS teams and probably the worst team in the MAC combined, but a combined score of 148-0 in their three games to this point is pretty impressive.
That is why this is likely the best game of the week. You have two pretty good teams playing the late game and it is their first real opponent of the season. Hopefully Purdue is still in their game with Notre Dame by the time this gets going at 10:30pm.
The Badgers are back to doing what they do: run all over everyone. Melvin Gordon and James White are rolling as they have 780 yards rushing as a team. That pretty much relegates the quarterback controversy because Wisconsin only needs a guy to stand back there and hand off. I can do that. Wisconsin 24, Arizona State 21