This is a very short week in the league. Three of the 14 teams in the league are on bye, but conference play officially begins Saturday night with Penn State traveling to Rutgers for the first Big Ten game in the state of New Jersey. In the meantime, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin have the week off. There are a couple of teams playing major conference foes with Illinois going to Washington, Purdue facing Notre Dame, and Maryland hosting a rivalry game with West Virginia.
Here is the full week's preview:
West Virginia (1-1) at Maryland (2-0) Noon, BTN
Nothing says Big Ten vs. Big 12 like... West Virginia against Maryland? Well, at least it should be a good game. West Virginia was surprisingly chippy in an opening night loss to Alabama before blowing out Towson in week 2. The Mountaineers have a decent offense and hold a 26-22-2 lead in the all-time series. They had won seven in a row over the Terrapins before a 37-0 rout last season on a neutral field in Baltimore. Maryland 34, West Virginia 31
Indiana (1-0) at Bowling Green (1-1) Noon, ESPNU
This looked like it was going to be a challenging game for the Hoosiers, as Bowling Green was one of the preseason favorites to win the MAC. Then quarterback Matt Johnson got injured. That didn't stop them from winning 48-7 over VMI last week. The Falcons have a horrible pass defense, however. Indiana might have struggled in the first game of the year to get much going through the air, but they were fantastic last year. When a Big Ten team goes on the road to a MAC team there is always a danger, but this should be a winnable game for Indiana. Indiana 48, Bowling Green 24
Kent State (0-2) at Ohio State (1-1) Noon, ABC/ESPN2
Who will have the better day, Darrell Hazell's old team or his new one? You have to think that the Buckeyes are looking to vent some frustrations here. Their proud Ohio-and-0 streak, where they haven't lost a game at Ohio Stadium to a team from the state of Ohio since something ridiculous like 1642 is on the line, but it is likely in no danger. That will come when they host Cincinnati this season. Ohio State 52, Kent State 10
Miami (OH) (0-2) at Michigan (1-1) 3:30pm, BTN
With Brady Hoke moving on to the hot seat after the debacle at Notre Dame does anyone else want to see what happens if they were to lose to the Redhawks? Miami is on the nation's longest losing streak at 18 straight, having not won since October 27, 2012 against Ohio. If they pulled off the victory I think we would have to mount a rescue mission to Ann Arbor for Juan, since it would likely be burning to the ground by sundown. Michigan 42, Miami (OH) 7
Iowa State (0-2) at Iowa (2-0) 3:30pm, ESPN
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The Corn Trophy bowl pits a sad 0-2 team against a team that is probably damn lucky to not be 0-2. The Hawkeyes have won the fourth quarter of both of their first two games, and that is about it. They have not looked good at all, but Iowa State has looked worse. They made the stupid decision to schedule North Dakota State (seriously: DO NOT SCHEDULE NORTH DAKOTA STATE). That said, it likely means that Iowa State finds a way to pull off the victory in the ugliest looking 9-6 game imaginable. Kirk Ferentz just got aroused because of that sentence. Iowa 13, Iowa State 10
Minnesota (2-0) at TCU (1-0) 4pm, Fox Sports 1
I can't believe that Minnesota is a 16 point underdog here. What is this based on? Playing on the road against a Big 12 team? Beating Samford by 34 points? Texas football? A phase of the moon? If anything, these teams are pretty evenly matched. I like Minnesota's defense and running game, but their passing game is...not good. TCU was only 4-8 last year, so this line is ridiculously absurd. The Gophers will win and gain traction as the dark horse pick in the west. Minnesota 24, TCU 21
Illinois (2-0) at Washington (2-0) 4pm, FOX
This should be an underrated fun game. Illinois sucks except for having a very good quarterback in Wes Lunt, who has saved them in each of the past two weeks. Washington lacks a defense. Really. They gave up 52 points to Eastern Washington last week. The Huskies are also a very ugly 2-0, with a one-point win over a godawful Hawaii team and a shootout win over Eastern Washington. I predict scoring, and lots of it. Washington 48, Illinois 42
Purdue (1-1) at Notre Dame (2-0) 7:30pm, NBC
So it has come to this. I mapped the route from my house to Lucas Oil Stadium and it is 4.2 miles. If I could walk as the crow flies it is probably closer. I could climb onto my roof and see the stadium. I am very likely NOT attending a game so close. Over the summer finances were tight and the ridiculous prices put out by Notre Dame were a deterrent. Now, with a new job and a little disposable income I am still loathe to drop $120 apiece on a secondary market ticket. Why? I don't want to spend that amount to see us get killed, which is the most likely scenario.
And that is exactly what would happen if I went tomorrow night. I have a HORRIBLE record seeing Purdue in venues for the first time away from Ross-Ade. Only three times has Purdue won when I have seen them in a venue for the first time: at Cincinnati in 2001, at Northwestern in 2006, and in the Little Caesar's Bowl in 2011. Most of the time Purdue gets absolutely crushed (at Michigan in 2007, at Wisconsin in 2009, and at Minnesota in 2012) when I see them somewhere new. I have a record of 3-11-1 the first time I see Purdue in a venue (yes, my first game at Ross-Ade was a tie in 1987).
So, by staying home I am at least giving us a small chance. I could see sitting on my couch around 10:30pm Saturday regretting that I didn't get to see this upset in person, while I could also see myself filing out of Lucas Oil at 10:30 wondering why I wasted the money to go. At least the purchased beer in my fridge is free.
A LOT has to go right for Purdue to have a chance, and judging by what I saw last week, that includes multiple cases of dysentery suffered by Notre Dame starters (and reserves for that matter). We're likely going to lose, and lose by a lot. Notre Dame 45, Purdue 13
Penn State (2-0, 0-0) at Rutgers (2-0, 0-0) 8pm, BTN
Welcome to the Big Ten, Scarlet Knights. The first Big Ten home game in Rutgers history gives them a team that is excited to be off its bowl ban. The Nittany Lions are the surprise contender now in the East since they are eligible, and with Ohio State and Michigan looking awful they might just be able to pull it off. They cannot afford to trip up in a highly-charged night game against a Rutgers team that isn't that bad. Penn State 27, Rutgers 24
Nebraska (2-0) at Fresno State (0-2), 10:30pm, CBS Sports Network
If you're into late night football he Cornhuskers are your pick this week. Yes, Fresno is 0-2, but they are always tough at home. This is their home opener and Nebraska hardly inspired a ton of confidence last week. Fortunately, Fresno has one of the worst defenses in the nation so far giving up 52 points to USC and 59 to Utah, respectively. Nebraska 52, Fresno State 24