It is On The Road week for the Big Ten non-conference slate. Seven of the 12 teams in the league will be taking a page from Jack Kerouac and head out into hostile territory. Some games are tougher than others. Illinois heads to the desert to face Arizona State while Purdue is the only team facing a ranked team on the road. It feels like most teams are taking on a solid test this week, as opposed to last week when most of the games were creamy cupcakes.
New Hampshire (1-0) at Minnesota (1-0) Noon, Big Ten Network
We've been here before, Goldy. The Golden Gophers have been a moribund 2-3 in their last five games against FCS teams. New Hampshire even comes in as a good one, ranked No. 14 in the FCS poll. They've beaten a Big Ten team before as well, knocking off Northwestern 34-17 in 2006. I think I speak for the rest of the conference when I say that Minnesota really needs to knock it off with losing to FCS teams. Even Indiana hasn't done that as much as Minnesota.
This is a scary game because, according to the Daily Gopher, New Hampshire beat Rutgers, Northwestern, Marshall, Army, and Ball State all in a row as FBS teams before losing to Pittsburgh and Toledo. They have a good running game and Minnesota gave up 159 yards on the ground last week. The Gophers also did not look good against UNLV.
I am picking them under the premise of "No Big Ten team should ever lose to an FCS team", but that is about the only reason. Minnesota 27, New Hampshire 24
Central Florida (1-0) at Ohio State (1-0) Noon, ESPN2
Both of these teams are ineligible for the postseason and both won big while scoring 50 or more points last week against MAC teams from Ohio. Central Florida has had two extra days of rest too. The Golden Knights should present a much tougher test for the Buckeyes. Blake Bortles had 168 yards and three touchdowns against Akron and Latavius Murray had 108 yards rushing.
Once again, the Ohio State offense was all Braxton Miller all the time. He had 204 yards passing and two TDs, but the defense he faces this week will be much tougher. Like his predecessor, Miller is dangerous when teams let him run. He had 161 yards and a score on the ground last week. Teams will eventually figure out that Miller is the OSU offense, but for now, that defense is more than enough if Miller is running wild. Ohio State 31, Central Florida 17
Penn State (0-1) at Virginia (1-0) Noon, ABC
Matt McGloin was okay last week with 260 yards passing and two scores, but everything else was rather disastrous after the Nittany Lions took a 14-3 lead into halftime. As I expected, this Penn State team is going to struggle to score points all year. Ohio is good, but they are hardly "shut a Big Ten team down for a half" good.
The Penn State defense was supposed to be a strength but it still gave up 499 yards, including 324 through the air. For Virginia, this is their first real test after cruising past the Richmond Spiders. Michael Rocco threw for 300 yards, so playing at home means he could have another big day. Virginia might only need 20 points to win this game, and it is capable of scoring that much. Virginia 24, Penn State 10
Indiana (1-0) at Massachusetts (0-1) 3:30pm, ESPN3
The Hoosiers survived their FCS opponent last week to get a pseudo-FCS team this week. UMass is in its first year at the FBS level, so they aren't quite on equal footing with everyone else yet in terms of scholarship players. This will be their first home game as an FBS program. It is somewhat similar to win Connecticut moved up to the FBS level and had Indiana in town to open their new stadium.
UMass was drilled last week 37-0 by Connecitcut and the Minutemen had three rushing yards. That is not a typo. On 24 carries UMass gained three yards. Their passing was not much better as it had just 56 yards. The UMass offense is the resistible force to the moveable object that is the Indiana defense. For good measure UMass gave up a pick six and a blocked punt for a TD.
Meanwhile, Tre Roberson wasn't awful against Indiana State with 280 yards passing. He should be fine here because honestly, if Indiana can't stop a pitiful UMass "attack" they will get annihilated in the Big Ten. Indiana 45, UMass 14
Air Force (1-0) at No. 19 Michigan (0-1) 3:30pm, ABC
Have the Wolverines recovered from being steamrolled last week? The game against Alabama was absolutely brutal to watch. It was like watching Carmel High School play Indy Tech or something. Yes, Tech is the best in the IPS league, but Carmel would drill them.
Air Force is coming off of a 49-21 win over Idaho State. As always, they run a triple option that is heavily slanted toward the running game. They rushed for 484 yards in week 1 to lead the Nation. In turn, Michigan gave up 232 yards. That's enough to put this game into "very interesting" territory. Unfortunately, Idaho State is not Michigan. In turn, Air Force is not Alabama. Michigan takes a big step down in weight class and Air Force a step up. Michigan 41, Air Force 17
No. 11 Michigan State (1-0) at Central Michigan (1-0) 3:30pm, ESPNU
The Spartans are brave enough to go on the road at a MAC opponent, something most Big Ten teams will not do. This is part of a deal where Michigan State will play one road game at each of the directional Michigans over the next few years. It is not a bad deal for the MAC schools, as they know a sellout is coming.
It should be a very easy win, one in which LeVeon Bell will actually get to rest. Remember Southeast Missouri State, the team Purdue destroyed 59-0 last season? Central Michigan struggled with them for four quarters before winning 38-27. It was 31-27 with under seven minutes to play. Something tells me MSU won't be so kind as guests. Michigan State 52, Central Michigan 10
Iowa State (1-0) at Iowa (1-0) 3:30pm, Big Ten Network
Mention the name Steele Jantz and fans of the Hawkeyes will shudder uncontrollably. Jantz threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns in last season's 44-41 win over Iowa in Ames that went to triple overtime. In addition to having a fantastic porn name, Jantz is back to torment Our Most Hated Rival after throwing for 281 yards and two scores last week in a win over Tulsa.
Iowa fans are already predicting the apocalypse if the Cyclones get a second straight win in the series. I'm not sure if the Mayans said much about this game, but the Mayans could also be in league with AIRBHG for all we know. Damon Bullock already thumbed his nose at AIRBHG last week with 150 yards and a score on 30 carries in Iowa's narrow win over Northern Illinois. If he is eaten by a shark as he runs on the field tomorrow we'll know the Mayans were right, I guess. Iowa State 24, Iowa 23
Purdue (1-0) at No. 22 Notre Dame (1-0) 3:30pm, NBC
I really want this game tomorrow and I feel it is there for the taking. For the first time since 2009 I really feel like we're entering the game against the Fighting Irish on a relatively level playing field. This is coach Hope's most talented team and the defense looked good even considering the opponent last week. If the Boilers do not turn the ball over and can create a few of their own I can see us springing the upset.
Unfortunately, the specter of the quarterback situation looms over everything. No one is excited about the prospect of a rotation. If Caleb TerBush comes in and plays well he needs to play the whole game. If he struggles and gets yanked in favor of Robert Marve, then Marve needs to stay in. I see the back and forth between the two as a detriment, and one that will be our undoing.
Purdue also needs to slow down Notre Dame's running game and force Everett Golson to throw and beat us. He can likely do it too with Tyler Eifert being a huge mismatch. As much as I want to pick us, I know of our history in South Bend. I think we keep it close, but like always, Notre Dame pulls it out in the end. Notre Dame 27, Purdue 20
No. 13 Wisconsin (1-0) at Oregon State (0-0) 4pm, FX
Yes, by the time this game starts you can feast yourself on an orgy of Big Ten Football on NBC, ABC, ESPNU, Big Ten Network, FX, and even online at ESPN3 (If you consider Indiana Big Ten Football, that is) all at the same time. Wisconsin will be the FX game and they head to the west coast to take on an Oregon State team that had to cancel its opener because its opponent, Nicholls State, couldn't get out of Louisiana due to Hurricane Isaac.
The Badgers nearly had to go sit in the corner and think about what they did last week. A late fourth down stop in your own territory to beat an FCS team is hardly confidence building, especially before you go all the way out to Oregon. Fortunately, the Beavers were 3-9 last year and lost to an FCS team themselves. They also lost to Wisconsin 35-0 in Madison. Wisconsin 28, Oregon State 10
No. 16 Nebraska (1-0) at UCLA (1-0) 7:30pm, FOX
I think UCLA is the only team with more ACL injuries than Purdue. They had three extra points blocked last week in a 49-24 win at Rice. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 214 yards and three touchdowns, so they should have a puncher's chance if he can make headway against the Nebraska defense.
Taylor Martinez was the story for the Cornhuskers last week in throwing five touchdowns. He will need a similar effort since Rex Burkhead is limited with a knee injury. There is no doubt Nebraska is hoping this is a scouting trip for a return on January 1. Nebraska 30, UCLA 17
Vanderbilt (0-1) at Northwestern (1-0) 8pm, Big Ten Network
Sure, it is SEC vs. Big Ten, but it certainly does not feel like it. Both teams were far from solid last week. Vanderbilt couldn't get much offense going in a rainy, sloppy game against South Carolina. Northwestern, of course, pissed away a lead on the road only to come back and win at Syracuse.
It is still a night game in Evanston, and weird things happen during night games in Evanston. Purdue, which brought the forward pass to the Big Ten, won a night game in Evanston without really being able to throw because Rob Henry ran wild. Vanderbilt might be the better team, but there is a chance this another Northwestern team that somehow wins nine games with seven of them coming on final possession plays. If the Wildcats win on a 97-yard triple reverse on the game's final play, you'll know. Northwestern 24, Vanderbilt 21
Illinois (1-0) at Arizona State (1-0) 10:30pm, ESPN
Okay Illinois, you impressed me last week with a comfortable win over a team you struggled with last year. Now they head to the desert to face Arizona State after winning 17-14 in Champaign last season. Arizona State opened with a 63-6 win over Northern Arizona, so not a lot can be said about them.
We'll know a lot more about the Fighting Illini after this game. Defense was their story last week as once again the offense did not do much. I expect another low scoring game here where turnovers could decide things. Nathan Scheelhaase only had 126 yards passing last week with a score. He'll need to do more, but can he? Half of his yards came on the one TD pass to Ryan Lankford. Arizona State 24, Illinois 21