Yes, Big Ten football started last week on Scott Frost Day with a delightful Illinois-Nebraska game. At one point it looked like Illinois could win 2-0. The rest of it was just a pants-on-head stupid type of game that is exactly what we deserve as a return to real Big Ten football.
This year’s week 1 gets to feature two teams that have already played, and it has a couple of conference games that offer a mixed bag of competition and likely blowouts.
Temple (0-0) at Rutgers (0-0) 6:30pm, BTN (Ed Note: This game is now postponed to Saturday due to flooding from Hurricane Ida).
Rutgers surprised many last year by just not being abjectly terrible anymore. They even won some Big Ten games, including their game at Purdue that might have been the worst defensive second half of the Brohm era. That gives them some momentum into this year, where Schiano hopes to get them to a bowl game. Temple is a regular opponent for them who was 1-6 last year, so the Scarlet Knights should be able to start strong. Rutgers 38, Temple 14
#4 Ohio State (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0) 8pm, FOX
Ohio State faces conflicting history here. On the positive, they have won 20 consecutive season openers, last losing a lid-lifter to Da U 23-12 in 1999. That was also the last non-bowl ban year they missed the postseason. On the negative, they are due for a B1G West night road game nightmare. Minnesota was really good two years ago and mediocre last year. The only other chance for a B1G West night game disaster is at Nebraska, which is laughable. Ohio State 31, Minnesota 27
Michigan State (0-0, 0-0) at Northwestern (0-0, 0-0) 9pm, ESPN
Northwestern was really good last season, except for an inexplicable loss at Michigan State when the Spartans were pretty terrible. Now we get to see if they fixed some offensive issues to go with a very good defense or not. I am not high on Michigan State at all. I think they have a lot of questions, they were not good last year, and Mel Tucker was not very inspiring at all at Big Ten Media Days. They have a ways to go. Northwestern 24, Michigan State 10
Western Michigan (0-0) at Michigan (0-0) Noon, ESPN
Western Michigan QB Kaleb Eleby had a great year last year with 18 touchdowns against just two interceptions. That means former Boiler Griffin Alstott probably won’t get a lot of playing time, but it does mean they have a feisty offense against a shaky Michigan team that seems itching to fire Jim Harbaugh. Michigan’s defense struggled last year, so put this game as a “Keep an eye on”. Michigan 27, Western Michigan 17
#19 Penn State (0-0, 0-0) at #12 Wisconsin (0-0, 0-0) Noon, FOX
Wisconsin is the pick to win the West, but they start with one of their tougher games in an East crossover. Penn State is attempting to bounce back after a down year. Wisconsin might have the best young QB in the conference with Graham Mertz. This should be one of the more exciting games of the day with a pair of evenly matched teams. Wisconsin 27, Penn State 24
Fordham (0-0) at Nebraska (0-1) Noon, BTN
There is never a valid reason for any Big Ten team to lose to an FCS team not named North Dakota State, especially on Scott Frost Day. Nebraska 45, Fordham 10
#17 Indiana (0-0) at #18 Iowa (0-0) 3:30pm, BTN
Fort the first time since the Eisenhower administration, and just third time ever, Indiana is ranked in the preseason polls. Will their stay be long? The Hoosiers play the always tough Hawkeyes on the road in week 1 and a top 10 Cincinnati in week 3. Their advantage is that Iowa is a slow starting team. An Indiana wins only stokes the #9Windiana and “They can win the East” fires. Iowa 20, Indiana 17
West Virginia (0-0) at Maryland (0-0) 3:30pm, ESPN
Taulia Tagovailoa might be the most exciting QB to watch in the conference. He had an up and down freshman season, but his ups were way up. Is he an Antwaan Randle El type in being an elite talent on a very bad team? Who knows. He is still going to be fun to watch. Maryland 24, West Virginia 21
I remain cautiously optimistic about Purdue, but this is a game where, if things go wrong, it can ruin the entire season. I think we see a much improved Purdue team Saturday night. The passing game should have a field day with a weaker defensive front and Oregon State having a ton of questions in the secondary. My largest concern is Oregon State’s running game. Can Purdue get stops? The defense has got to be better, but with George Karlaftis on the field, it will be. There will be points. Purdue 38, Oregon State 31
Texas-San Antonio (0-0) at Illinois (1-0) 7:30pm, BTN
Illinois did not look like world beaters last week, but they screwed up less than Nebraska and got a nice conference win as a result. Now they get one of those Group of Five teams from a football-mad area that can get some good second tier recruits, thus making them dangerous. They were 7-4 in last year’s regular season and gave a top 20 Louisiana a game in their bowl game. They also only lost by a touchdown to a ranked BYU on the road. The DANGER light is flashing for Illinois. Illinois 31, UTSA 24