B1G Week 2: What I Want in the Non-Con

Jake Rudock and the Hawkeyes look to bounce back and cut out the mistakes in Week 2. - Matthew Holst

10-2 in Week 1 wasn't awful. Let's see if we can do better in Week 2.

Looking Back:

I’m not going to say "I told you so." Instead, I’m just going to quote myself:

What I Expect:

10-2. I don’t think Purdue will win. I just don’t know if a road test in Hazell’s first game is a conducive setting for the Boilers, and I think they’ll just be a tad overmatched. I also don’t have as much faith in Iowa as my 6-6 (3-5) prediction for them would imply. I have them losing one of NIU and Iowa State, and this weekend’s likely as good as any.

So that happened. We’ve recapped the week, and no one’s burning mattresses in the street, so things are good for the time being. If I’m complaining, though:

· Sparty, you did not, as I recall politely requesting, "Get your quarterbacking shit together." Do better this instant. Though your punter looked awesome.

· Illinois, I wouldn’t call winning 42-34 "taking care of business," but I set the bar lower for you.

· Ugh, Purdue. You didn’t keep it close, and you didn’t prove that Rob Henry was going to be the answer at QB this season. There’s a reason you were ranked 12th in the Big Ten in the last Power Poll.

· Iowa, you didn’t win, but I covered that above. So that’s that.

· Penn State, you didn’t cover, but given that Hackenberg showed potential in his first start, we can let this slide.

· Nebraska, what the hell. Find a defense. If Southern Mississippi runs up that much on you, Lincoln should be in panic mode for the season.

B1G Picture: What I Generally Want for the Conference:

DO NOT LOSE TO A SINGLE NON-AQ SCHOOL.

So far, so good. Keep it going, Purdue.

GO 2-1 AGAINST NOTRE DAME.

Get it started, Michigan meteor. Sorry guys, I just can’t.

NO UPSETS.

Barely. But good.

Without further ado (too late), we examine Week 2 in the non-conference and what I want to see:

Saturday:

11am

Michigan State (-23) vs. South Florida: Cover it. You do this by finding an offense, Michigan State. For what it’s worth, that involves throwing and catching the ball, Maxwell, Cook, and Co. We know that the tire fire that is USF won’t pose a huge threat to your defense, but now your offense needs to hold up its end of the bargain.

Penn State (-24) vs. Eastern Michigan: I don’t doubt that you’ll cover against an awful MAC team, but watching Hackenberg come into his role as a Big Ten quarterback continues. Penn State turning in a balanced, multi-dimensional offense would go a long way towards its prep for the Big Ten schedule.

Wisconsin (-45) vs. Tennessee Tech: See: last week. Also, a challenge to you, Wisconsin: now have four 100-yard rushers this week.

Illinois (+8) vs. Cincinnati: Boy, what are the odds that at the end of the year, some idiot out there brags about Cincinnati going 2-0 against the B1G? Illinois would do well do show that its defense can bounce back from an unconvincing performance against a Cincinnati team that rolled Purdue. The Boilermakers did manage to pick off Munchie Legaux twice, but yielded 221 yards on the ground. If Illinois can keep this game within 10 going into the fourth quarter, it bodes well for the Illini actually picking up a conference win this year.

Iowa (-24.5) vs. Missouri State: Cover, Iowa. Jake Rudock showed against Northern Illinois that he has the ability to make quality throws, but better decisions from the pocket would be a good jumping off point for the Hawkeye offense. Oh, and no more fake punts, hmm?

Purdue (-17) vs. Indiana State: Bounce back, Purdue. Rob Henry needs a better performance, though rumor has it that "With Etling, Purdue is a bowl-caliber team who can beat anybody on their schedule on any given Saturday." So that’s interesting. Win this one by 20 or more, and no one worries about you. Win this by a possession or less, and we wonder if you’re not 2012 Indiana.

2:30pm

Ohio State (-28) vs. San Diego State: Cut down on the turnovers and cover the spread, Ohio State. Allowing under 300 yards to Buffalo wasn’t a horrible start for the defense, but two turnovers on offense and a near-third nullified by a hands-to-the-face penalty weren’t the best sign for the offense. The Bucks should roll, but a more comprehensive win would be swell.

5pm

Nebraska (-28.5) vs. Southern Mississippi: The 106th best offense from the NCAA last year should provide much less of a test for the Cornhuskers. We know Taylor Martinez and the offense can roll up the yards and points, but to see the offense cut down on turnovers and the defense turn in a Blackshirt-esque performance would go a long way going into the UCLA game.

Indiana (-13) vs. Navy: A more thorough defensive effort would be great, Indiana, as would keeping your foot on the gas pedal and not letting Navy bounce back like you let Indiana State. The addition of Tre Roberson should help IU run up more than the 30 they did on a defense that allowed 408 ypg last year. I expect you to cover, Indiana. Welcome to some people assuming you’re finally competent.

Northwestern (-12) vs. Syracuse: Some sites were refusing to set a line on this game until they knew Kain Colter’s availability. That’s not going to matter. Northwestern needs to put its defensive struggles during the Cal game behind it and match Penn State’s defensive effort against the ‘Cuse. Trevor Siemian should be able to roll up 30+ points on the Orange, and I expect the ‘Cats to cover and cruise, 38-17.

6pm

Minnesota (-16) @ New Mexico State: This is an interesting line. I would expect the Gophers to win by about two touchdowns, but most importantly for Jerry Kill’s squad, Philip Nelson needs to evolve more as a pocket passer and distribute the ball effectively. With both Donnell Kirkwood and Berkeley Edwards banged up, a more competent passing effort from Nelson could lighten the load on the Gophers’ run game. I want to see them cover and do it by throwing the ball effectively.

Michigan (-4) vs. Notre Dame: You’re at home, Michigan. Cover this and win. But above all, win. Forget what I said about the meteor (closed circuit to the rest of the B1G: don’t forget what I said), just take care of business against the Irish any way you can.

So How Will It Go?

What I Want:

11-1 + meteor. I want Illinois to put the scare in Cincinnati, but I have lower expectations than that. I want a meteor to fall on the Big House, and I don’t think that’s asking too much. Save for that, double-digit lines for every other Big Ten team means chalk in those 10.

What I Expect:

11-1, no meteor. Good, honest, decent people everywhere are disappointed about the latter half of that.

Burn Mattresses in the Streets If:

8-4 happens. Illinois takes a 30-pt thrashing just like Purdue, and things only get worse once the sun goes down. Indiana can’t get off the field against the Midshipmen’s triple option attack, Northwestern’s secondary loses another body and is starting true freshmen while bringing the punter in on the dime package in a loss to Syracuse. To top off an awful night, the Wolverines fall by double digits to the Fighting Irish at home, Pope Francis puts Brian Kelly on the fast track to sainthood, and ESPN can’t shut up about the decline of the Big Ten against Notre Dame.

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