Last week went well for the conference as a whole. If anyone embarrassed themselves it was Purdue in a 42-7 beatdown at the hands of Cincinnati, but at least we went out and played a real team. That is more than most of the conference can say. The league had a 10-2 week and expects more of the same this week.
Yes, the league seeks 12-0 again, but it will be much tougher with Illinois hosting Cincinnati and Michigan hosting Notre Dame. The rest of the games should be a breeze for the league.
Indiana State (0-1) at Purdue (0-1) Noon, Big Ten Network
Sorry for the lack of an opponent Q&A this week, but Sycamore Pride never responded to my inquiries. That does not take away from what we're all thinking: This should be a blowout in Purdue's favor, and if it is not it will be a very long season.
Yes, the Trees are a decent I-AA team and have greatly improved from the last time we played them, when they were probably the worst FCS team in America. They are still an FCS team and they will be without their best player by far. Their defense was absolutely torched by Indiana and without Shakir Bell, the offense did very little until long after the game was decided.
Yes, Purdue looked bad last week, but this is exactly what the Boilers need before playing Notre Dame. Simply put, if it does not work tomorrow, it is not going to work against anyone else. Purdue 45, Indiana State 10
South Florida (0-1) at Michigan State (1-0) Noon, ESPNU
Talk about a game that could be ugly. Michigan State fans were far from impressed with their offense last week, which was outscored by the Spartans' defense. That could very well happen again. South Florida was AWFUL in a 53-21 loss to FCS McNeese State. That score is not a typo. They got drilled by an FCS team at home in a game where they gave up a record number of points for an FCS team against an FBS team.
Will Michigan State settle on a quarterback? Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook were hardly excellent against Western Michigan. At least Jeremy Langford ran for 94 yards and could be a replacement for Le'Veon Bell. Much like Purdue, if the Spartan offense can't get on track against a really bad defense like USF it won't get on track this year. Michigan State 31, South Florida 0
Eastern Michigan (1-0) at Penn State (1-0) Noon, Big Ten Network
Yes, there is the history of the MAC challenging Big Ten teams, but there is also Eastern Michigan. The Nittany Lions host probably the worst program in the MAC and one of the worst in the country. Last year the Nordfense actually looked good in a 54-16 thumping of Eastern Michigan, so you know the defense has to be almost criminally inept.
EMU has not had a winning season since 1995 and has never beaten a Big Ten team as far as I can see. They won't beat one this year. Penn State 49, Eastern Michigan 10
Tennessee Tech (1-0) at No. 21 Wisconsin (1-0) Noon, Big Ten Network
The Badgers currently have the Big Ten's best defense as the only unit that has not given up a point. That trend could continue this week as they get another tune-up game. Tennessee Tech debuted last week with a 63-7 home win over Cumberland. Cumberland was famously the opponent that lost by a record 222-0 score to Georgia Tech back in 1916.
Something tells me Wisconsin will be a lot tougher than Cumberland. Wisconsin 52, Tennessee Tech 3
Cincinnati (1-0) at Illinois (1-0) Noon, ESPN2
There have been rumbling that the Fighting Illini are not as bad as last year and that they may have an offense. Last week Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns, but it easily could be a smoke and mirrors situation. They still struggled to get past a mediocre FCS team in Southern Illinois and the 42 points scored was their best day since scoring 44 last year against Charleston Southern, which was their FCS opponent and previous victory.
Against FBS competition they haven't topped 24 points since beating Indiana 41-20 on October 8, 2011. Against Indiana's "defense" last year they managed only 17, and the Bearcats are light years better than Indiana. If you want free money, Cincinnati is only a seven point favorite over Illinois. That is absolutely laughable after seeing Cincy last week. Cincinnati 38, Illinois 10
Missouri State (0-1) at Iowa (0-1) Noon, Big Ten Network
Black Heart Gold Pants Preview
The Hawkeyes join us as the only Big Ten team that lost last week and they also get a home game against an FCS team from the Missouri Valley Conference. Iowa also played a pretty good team last week in Northern Illinois, so their loss can be somewhat excused. A loss to the Bears this week can't be excused.
BHGP is in the same mood I am if you click on their preview. They don't believe Missouri State can be competitive and it will be a disaster if the game is close. The thing is, neither Purdue nor Iowa has an offense that I would say inspires confidence. At least mark Weisman ran for 100 yards last week and Damon Bullock had 76. Expect them to die in a horrible meth lab explosion brought from Missouri State fans into Kinnick, mostly because of AIRBHG. Iowa 45, Missouri State 10
San Diego State (0-1) at No. 2 Ohio State (1-0) 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2
What is going on here with Big Ten teams hosting schools that got pounded by the FCS last week. Almost as bad as USF's loss to McNeese State, eastern Illinois traveled much farther to southern California and stomped the Aztecs 40-19 in their own house. Now what's left has to come across the country to face the Buckeyes.
Last week's game was a little closer than most expected, but Ohio State still won with ease. Braxton Miller and Jordan Hall will once against be able to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. Ohio State 59, San Diego State 13
Syracuse (0-1) at Northwestern (1-0) 6pm, Big Ten Network
Like Cincinnati, Syracuse begins the season with two straight Big Ten teams, but their duo of Penn State and Northwestern are much tougher than Purdue and Illinois. The Wildcats weren't perfect, but they did well out at Cal with a comfortable win despite Venric Mark and Kain Colter not playing much. That is why I think they will win the Big Ten in the end.
The Wildcats have serviceable replacements in Treyvon Green and Trevor Siemian. This is also their toughest remaining game before a surprisingly delicious contest against Ohio State in Evanston on October 5th. Northwestern 27, Syracuse 17
Navy (0-0) at Indiana (1-0) 6pm, Big Ten Network
Certain elements last Thursday night were talking awfully loudly on Twitter about how much better Indiana's defense was. Currently, IU has the top scoring offense in the country and is 88th in scoring defense. The defense did well last week only once Shakir Bell left the game. Before that, the Hoosiers were the same as they have always been against the run: awful.
Well, here is the ultimate test of run defense. Indiana gave up 257 yards on the ground in a 31-30 loss to Navy last year and even gave up 96 yards passing. Indiana knows the run is coming because of Navy's triple option. Can they stop it? If not, expect more career days from Big Ten running backs later this year. Indiana 52, Navy 31
Southern Miss (0-1) at No. 22 Nebraska (1-0) 6pm, Big Ten Network
The Cornhuskers had to sweat last week's win over Wyoming for far too long, and now they get the team with the longest active losing streak in the country. Southern Miss was 0-12 last season as the long winless team. Still, fans are worried because the Nebraska defense is no longer the Blackshirts. In fact, they don't think any lead is safe.
Southern Miss might actually have a chance here, as they have the No. 12 passing offense in the country in terms of yardage. This is a week after Brett Smith threw for 383 yards and four touchdowns on them. If there is going to be a true upset this week don't be surprised if this is it. Nebraska 45, Southern Miss 34
No. 14 Notre Dame (1-0) at No. 17 Michigan (1-0) 8pm, ESPN
You have one job to do, Michigan, so don't screw this up. This is the one time of year you're the lesser of two evils and everyone is behind you. Devin Gardner didn't look great last week, but surely he can do better than whatever-the-hell-that-was last year from Denard Robinson. If you screw this up we might be subject to another year of Notre Dame's return to glory, and no one wants that.
I'd do it myself but I don't trust Purdue's offense against a good defense like Notre Dame's at all. Not after last week. How bad is it already? There is a Heisman push behind Tommy Rees. TOMMY REES!!!
Don't screw this up again, Michigan. Michigan 24, Notre Dame 21
Minnesota (1-0) at New Mexico State (0-1) 8pm, No TV
You're not going to see this very often, but a major conference program is playing a game that will not be televised. With the WAC officially dissolved New Mexico State was forced into the wilderness that is independence when you're not named Notre Dame. They have the longest active streak of any FBS that has not gone to a bowl game, having not played in the postseason since 1960. They will join the Sun Belt next season, but this year they are independent, and that means they needed games.
So, after beating the Golden Gophers two years ago in Minneapolis, they convinced them to come to Las Cruces. Minnesota should win after the Aggies gave up 56 points to Texas last week, but strange things can happen in the desert. Minnesota 45, New Mexico State 20