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What I Want in the Non-Con, Week 2

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Go sit in the corner, Northwestern.

Oh shit, that wasn't the best Directional Michigan?
Oh shit, that wasn't the best Directional Michigan?
Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Well, let's review.

General Guidelines for the Non-Con in 2014

No losses to non-AQ schools
2-1 against Notre Dame
Protect yo turf (no home losses)

I like to think these guidelines are pretty straightforward.

Wha' Happened? Week 1:

No losses to non-AQ schools

Illinois, you did your best. You too, Purdue. Iowa, just...whatever. But we held up this end of the bargain. Hugs and cookies all around.

2-1 against Notre Dame

/checks that Delany hasn't expanded to Houston

//confirms

Alright, so this one didn't matter this week. Sorry, Owlbros.

Protect yo turf (no home losses)

Northwestern. Step into my office, please.

/closes door

//opens door so other employees can hear

YOU DO NOT LOSE TO CAL AT HOME. YOU. DO. NOT. YOU SHOW THAT YOU CAN PUNT THE BALL FARTHER THAN AN AVERAGE OF 30 GODDAMN YARDS, YOU GIVE UP THIS DELUSION THAT YOU ARE POWER-RUNNING WITH TREYVON GREEN, AND YOU MAKE AN ADJUSTMENT BEFORE YOU'RE DOWN 31-TO-GODDAMN-7.

Now, I've received word from higher up that you can do better, so I've decided to give you another chance. We're sending in one of the underlings from the regional subdivision. But careful, he's one of the better ones. Be on your toes.

What I Want, Week 2:

(All games Saturday, all times CST, all rankings AP.)

Illinois (-6) vs. Western Kentucky (11am, BTN): So, Illinois, for the sake of the conference, I really hope 4th quarter Illinois shows up, not 1st-3rd quarter Illinois. I want the Fighting Illini to put a complete game together behind Wes Lunt and win by two scores.

#19 Nebraska vs. McNeese State (11am, ESPNU): FCS school. Run ball. Don't get hurt.

Penn State (-15) vs. Akron (11am, ABC/ESPN2): Win game. Make sure Christian Hackenberg stays safe, PSU OL, as our esteemed Aaron Yorke noted in his Five Takeaways, and fergodsakes wrap this one up a little sooner, Nittany Lions. I want Penn State by three scores.

Purdue (-3) vs. Central Michigan (ESPNews): Gulp. Nothing but the home-field advantage from Vegas, with an unimpressive showing against ROW ROW ROW ROW ROW last week. Just win, Purdue. Just win.

Rutgers vs. Howard (11am, BTN): Welcome to the BTN Gameday Experience, Rutgers. Drinking heavily is a good way to pretend you're not watching Rutgers-Howard AND to tune out Gerry DiNardo.

#18 Wisconsin vs. Western Illinois (11am, BTN): Can Tanner McEvoy learn how to pass? I sure hope not, because it makes for such better laughing! (But seriously, closed-circuit to Gary Andersen: this is probably a good game to make sure he knows how!) [Side note: LSU received two first-place votes in the AP Poll after beating Wisconsin by 4 thanks to a Badgers choke-job. I'm not sure who we laugh at here, but we need to laugh at someone.]

Minnesota (-17) vs. Middle Tennessee State (2:30pm, BTN): Cover the spread, and show me that Mitch Leidner is, in fact, capable of throwing the football without hurting friends and immediate family.

Iowa (-17) vs. Ball State (2:30pm, ESPN2): I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, Iowa fans, that Northern Iowa is that good and that Kirk Ferentz was just playing it that close to the vest. With non-conference games against Pitt and Iowa St-HAHAHAHAHA sorry I can't finish that sentence. But Ball State brings two explosive running backs, Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks, who the Hawkeyes need to contain. I expect the Hawks to score enough to win, but I'm taking the Cardinals to cover.

Northwestern (-6) vs. Northern Illinois (2:30pm, BTN): Win. Show me that Trevor Siemian is a capable spread--SPREAD, DAMMIT. NOT POWER.--sorry, where were we? Oh, yes. I want Northwestern to control the clock, be aggressive on defense, and bounce back in a big way. At least double digits, please, 'Cats. Otherwise the first flickers of flame under Pat Fitzgerald's seat might just start.

Maryland (-13) at South Florida (2:30pm, CBSSN): A nice, comfortable win. That's it, Maryland. Walk in, get the W, and walk out. No losses to non-AQ teams.

#7 Michigan State (+13!!!) at #3 Oregon (5:30pm, FOX): Don't pull a Wisconsin, Sparty. It would sure be nice for the Big Ten if you found a way to do to Oregon what Stanford has excelled at over the last few years, but I'll take whatever. The chest-thumping will be unbearable, but it might be more tolerable than complaining if the game comes down to a close contest where a last PI call puts Oregon in position to win it. I want a B1G win here, however it happens. I'm taking Sparty to cover regardless.

Michigan (+5) at #16 Notre Dame (6:30pm, NBC): 2-1 against Notre Dame, Big Ten. I have little faith in Northwestern and even less in Purdue, so The Empire needs to establish itself against the world's first British colony in a nice send-off for this rivalry. The Devin Connection paces the Wolverines, Greg Mattison draws up the scheme to keep Everett Golson in check, Michigan wins. I want that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to shower.

#8 Ohio State (-11) vs. Virginia Tech (7pm, ESPN): The Hokies bring a halfway decent passing attack under Michael Brewer to the 'Shoe. I want to see the Buckeyes prove they can handle a team that both runs and passes, covering easily and putting Michigan State on notice that the B1G East is still Ohio's to lose.

Indiana has the week off, evidently.

So How Will It Go?

What I Want:

12-1. Michigan State represents the brand well in Eugene but falls to a good Ducks offense that scores just enough to put them over the top. Northwestern bounces back, Purdue shocks the world with competence, and Michigan pulls out another wild shootout. Iowa shows that Northern Iowa was a fluke rushing performance, Ohio State rolls the Hokies, and Maryland takes care of a lesser program. Everyone else shows up and gets on with it.

What I Expect:

10-3. I'm gonna be honest: I don't feel good about this. I expect Michigan State to put up a good fight and lose, but I'm nervous about Northwestern, Purdue, and Michigan. I think two of those three teams lose, and one of them loses in an ugly fashion. Everyone else, save for maybe Iowa or Ohio State, takes care of business handily, though someone briefly struggles with their FCS opponent (Rutgers hangover for the first quarter?).

Burn Mattresses in the Streets If:

8-5. That would be Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan, and Iowa/Ohio State. That would be bad. Losing to two or three MAC teams in one weekend? The jokes would quite literally never stop. Northwestern would be facing relegation, Purdue already should have been relegated, and the typical Iowa narrative of "Losing a non-conference game they shouldn't" would just start up the same Kirk Ferentz flame-war in the comments. So thanks in advance, everyone, I'll be out buying some lighter fluid and a nice pillow-top.