It's that time again. After an impressive debut, the OPC is back up to bat. Remember to get your picks in by 11:00 a.m. Saturday.
1. FRESNO STATE at WISCONSIN, 12:00 p.m. EST (9/12), ESPN
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts WISCONSIN by 10
What did we learn about Wisconsin from last week's squeaker over NIU? They have a more open and explosive offensive system than last year, but it isn't quite fully functional yet. Bielema went right at NIU, surprising the Huskies with misdirection and deep throws, which haven't exactly been staples of the Wisky offense over the years. This is positive for the Badger faithful. Most of the 433 total yards gained against NIU were in the air, setting the stage for a (gasp) balanced offensive attack this year. I stand by my preseason prediction.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts WISCONSIN by 7
Wisconsin is coming off of a solid, if not spectacular debut. They surrendered just 6 points on two field goals for 51 minutes in last week's 28-20 win over Northern Illinois. Meanwhile, Pat Hill's Bulldogs routed UC Davis 51-0, racking up 310 yards on the ground and six rushing touchdowns. Although that's a seriously impressive rushing attack, if there's one thing the Badgers should be able to defend it's the run. Wisconsin has won two of their last three meetings with Fresno State, they'll squeeze this one out at home.
2. IOWA at IOWA STATE, 12:05 p.m. EST (9/12), Big Ten Network
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts IOWA by 10
Remember when Mike Hart called Michigan State "little brother"? This game has a distinct little bro feel, as an injury and suspension plagued Iowa team will still be too much for the talent-lacking Cyclones. I haven't ruled out Iowa 's chances yet, but their run game struggles do make this a closer battle than I would have expected.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts IOWA by 10
There are a lot of things that went wrong last week for the Hawkeyes. Iowa managed just 104 yards of total offense in the first two quarters, and were outgained by their FCS competition 354-329. Running backs Paki O'Meara and Adam Robinson mustered a meagar 79 yards on 24 carries. I suspect they've learned from their mistakes. Although it won't be all thunder and lightning, Week 2 will see a Hawkeye squad that performs far more closely to expectations. They'll do it against an Iowa State squad that allowed 210 yards rushing last week.
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts NOTRE DAME by 7
I am listening to Spandau Ballet "True", a classic ballad from the 1980's. Oddly enough, Notre Dame may be returning to national prominence for the first time since that lovely Reaganized decade. The reborn Domers must face the young Michigan spread, fresh off a victory that allowed much of Ann Arbor's population to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Can Tate Forcier succeed again, this time against a ND defense that shut out Nevada? Will Jimmy Clausen be able to wing it deep against Cissoko and the Michigan secondary? I am hedging my bets here - although my heart will be with the Maize and Blue, I see an experienced ND offense scoring just enough to win.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts NOTRE DAME by 10
It's hard to understate the positive effects of Michigan's 31-7 opening win over Western Michigan. Although the Rodriguez system may not be flying, it is cleared for take off, on the arm of Tate Forcier, and legs of the enviously fast Denard Robinson. If there was a weakness, it was a defensive backfield that gave up 263 yards through the air. Sadly, passing is the Gipper's last name. Michigan will compete, and Michigan will execute. Their shortcomings will be more a reflection of Jimmy Clausen's arm and the hands of Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph than Michigan growing pains.
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts USC by 10
This may be the most challenging pick this year. There are so many early season questions that I cannot keep my brain on one track. Matt Barkley's inexperience, Terrelle Pryor's ability to run past USC's young LB's, Jim Tressel's overly conservative gameplans, USC's reputation as a Big Game team. Somewhere the guy who created the term X-Factor is having an aneurysm.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts USC by 10
I want to believe. I want to believe that Ohio State's line struggled to run block last week because they couldn't use their strength against irregular blocking schemes. I want to believe that the Buckeye defense couldn't stop an unusual triple-option run and got beat on the big play because they were forced to employ a unique scheme. I want to believe Terrelle Pryor really can spiral, and not shotput the deep ball. I want to believe that this USC is really in transition and that anyone could run up the score on SJSU.
The problem is, try as I might, I'm simply not convinced in our energy, ferocity, and leadership. Sure, the Horseshoe is a tough place to play. But I think Pete Carroll and Co. steal the show in the second and third quarters. A late Ohio State touchdown makes the game look closer than it really is.
But man, do I hope I'm wrong. I will be one of the 107,000 plus on hand Saturday night. Anyone who leaves with their vocal chords in tact is a failure. For spirit. For courage. For loyalty. For strength. For Ohio...
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts OREGON by 10
The Mighty Phil Knights limp back to Autzen sans national dignity, a star RB, and any semblance of an offensive attack. But I think the imagination and creativity that made the Duck's offense so powerful isn't entirely extinguished by one bad performance. Purdue's young team plays hard, but can't overcome the home field advantage and the Spread.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts OREGON by 10
The Boilermakers played the Ducks hard last year, forcing a heartbreaking overtime loss in West Lafayette. Danny Hope's squad showed promise last week in a 52-31 route of Toledo. Oregon, meanwhile -- well, let's just say I can't think of a worse week in the program's history. The good guys have a chance if they can establish a ground game that pays dividends like last week. Still, Autzen is an tough place to play away, and the Ducks have a ship to right. Try as I might to sell it any other way, I think they get it done at Purdue's expense.