1. PITTSBURGH @ IOWA, 12:00 p.m. EST (9/17)
GRAHAM predicts IOWA
Well apparently this isn't your 2009 Hawkeye defense. But how do you pick against a wounded Hawkeye team at home? You don't. Iowa wins.
JON predicts IOWA
Last week I went to a bar in Pasadena at 9:00 a.m. donned in scarlet and gray to watch Ohio State play Toledo (Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles doesn't offer the Big Ten Network) and unexpectedly found myself smack in the middle of a sea of Iowa alumni who were there to watch their beloved Hawks take on Iowa State. Things were cordial at first. After all, I always root for the B1G out of conference. But then Toledo took a 15-7 lead, one of the Iowa fans shouted "Go Zips!" [Ed. I think he met Rockets. But you get the idea], and the entire contingent started obnoxiously rooting against the Buckeyes (and by extension, me). An Iowa fan with a mullet slapped me on the back when Tyler Moeller missed a tackle, and in the process I spilled a few ounces of beer.
That was the final straw. Naturally, I did what any self-respecting fan would. I started cheering hard for the Cyclones.
To be sure, Iowa's ultimate loss -- and Ferentz's horrible late game decision making -- made the B1G partisan in me sick. But they don't know that...
As much as I want to penalize the Hawks for an embarrassing defensive showing last week in Ames, I think this team rebounds and makes a run in conference. Redemption starts Saturday at Kinnick.
2. MIAMI (OH) @ MINNESOTA, 3:30 p.m. EST (9/17)
GRAHAM predicts MIAMI
The ol' Alma Mater showed me a lot of defensive toughness against Mizzou in their first game. Minnesota has one stud WR and...not too much else. Miami OH wins, on the road. Their last matchup in the Dome was a classic, btw.
JON predicts MIAMI
Funny Graham should mention that last Miami/Minnesota matchup. My sister's boyfriend was Miami's kicker in that game. I've followed this Redhawk team pretty closely (including seeing them up close and personal last year at Bowling Green, versus Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game, and in the GoDaddy.com bowl), and I'm convinced this is the strongest group of athletes Oxford has had since 2002 when Miami was led by Big Ben. Zac Dysert shreds the Gopher secondary a la Matt Barkley, and the Redhawks claim a B1G scalp.
GRAHAM predicts MICHIGAN STATE
Domers being the home favorite makes no sense of course. Especially after showing defensive and offensive breakdowns in their two losses. MSU, the solid team, wins in South Bend.
JON predicts MICHIGAN STATE
I've picked Notre Dame two weeks in a row. No more. I don't want to hear about Brian Kelly's offense, or how the Irish would be 2-0 if not for their self-inflicted wounds. The Irish are painfully, embarrassingly average. They're soft, undisciplined, lightweights. Again.
Meanwhile Michigan State played about as close to a perfect football game as is humanly possible last week. You tell me who wins...
4. No. 17 OHIO STATE @ MIAMI (FL) 7:30 p.m. EST (9/17)
GRAHAM predicts OHIO STATE
First I thought Miami would be a solid matchup because of questions at QB for OSU. Then I thought Miami's program might implode and this was going to be a blowout. Then OSU struggled against Toledo and I'm back to "who knows." You have to assume that Buckeye defense will do what it takes, like they did late against Toledo. So. Bucks win.
JON predicts MIAMI
Jim Bollman's vanilla play calling doesn't explain the Buckeye's lack of energy on the O-line last week. It also doesn't account for Joe Bauserman's trouble finding open receivers, or Carlos Hyde's inability to take advantage of the Rocket's overpursuit. Sure, Toledo played 9 in the box, but come on. Good offenses exploit a one-sided defensive gameplan.
I really want to believe that Toledo was the perfect wake up call, and that the return of several starters will generate much needed production, but lets face it. Miami's strengths are our weaknesses. I hope I'm wrong, but with Nathan Williams sidelined, I don't think our D-line has the numbers to put pressure on Jacory Harris. The Cane's skill position athletes find the seams and reek havoc on special teams.
5. No. 1 OKLHAOMA @ No. 5 FLORIDA STATE (9/17)
GRAHAM predicts OKLAHOMA
OK wins. Until FSU shows me they've got the defensive chutzpah to beat a team at Oklahoma's level, I will not believe.
JON predicts OKLAHOMA
What he said.