It is with great pleasure that I dig out an Off Tackle Empire staple and start talking about What I Want to see from the Big Ten in their Non-Conference portion. If you are unfamiliar with the series, basically, we look at what matchups we want the Big Ten to win, which matchups they should win, and eventually talk about which ones they will win. While it might be a straight forward premise, we put one of our finest writers on this year over year - a Northwestern grad no less.
Unfortunately, that Northwestern writer has been busy talking about beer. So, I’m your Week 1 host.
What I Want:
For the Big Ten to not fall apart at the seams, not have any bad losses, and not get bad press in Week 1.
What I Expect:
Honestly? For the Big Ten to not fall apart at the seams, not have any bad losses, and not get bad press in Week 1.
What will happen?
The Big Ten will fall apart at the seams, probably have at least one bad loss, and get bad press in Week 1.
Let’s get on to the matchups:
Indiana Hoosiers @ Florida International Golden Panthers
This is such a weird game. First off, the Hoosiers are traveling to Florida International. Dear Hoosiers, you are a Big Ten team, please start acting like it. Secondly, Indiana is favored by 10.5 points, which is a decent amount of points for Indiana. It remains to be seen if they have a defense, but Indiana should win this game.
Sometimes there aren’t upsides to playing a P5 team. This seems to be one of those times. Oregon State announced open tryouts for any student who was actively enrolled. Minnesota better dismantle the Beavers, otherwise people will be murmuring about how bad the Gophers looked against a bad team.
Furman Paladins @ Michigan State Spartans
So, speaking of no-win situations. Michigan State is hosting a 4-7 FCS team. Neat. Despite their warrior moniker, Furman is going to get splattered by the Spartans. I want the starters out at halftime.
Eastern Kentucky Colonels @ Purdue Boilermakers
Oh hey, cool. Another FCS school. Purdue... Do. Not. Lose. This. Game.
Yes, EKU isn’t terrible. No, that does not justify a loss. Just take care of business.
Howard Bison @ Maryland Terrapins
In a run of FCS schools getting paid to be murdered by teams that should know better, I give you the Howard Bison. Howard scored 14 points or less in 8 of their 11 games last season. Their only win was over a similarly awful Florida A&M. I literally don’t care how bad Maryland is. They should destroy Howard.
This is actually one of the better matchups of the weekend and that just makes me sad. I honestly believe that Northwestern is the better team and will win, but it would not surprise me to see PJ Fleck and ROW ROW ROW steal a win in Evanston. That said, I think Northwestern squeaks one out with a terrible offense and decent defensive effort. Congratulations, though, on scheduling a more challenging opponent than the previously mentioned schools.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors @ Michigan Wolverines
Hawaii played a game in Australia last week. Why are they playing a game this week? Oh, because Michigan needs someone to wail on for the bloodthirsty masses. Hawaii has a bad offense that looked okay against one of the worst defenses in football. Hawaii has a bad defense that will look bad this week against an unproven offense. I want nothing but carnage in this game.
There is an alternate dimension where Urban Meyer never leaves Bowling Green, somehow makes them a National Title contender, and instead of Rutgers, the B1G adds the Cyborg Falcons. That alternate dimension isn’t here, and while I think this is probably one of the better teams in the MAC, they’re also going to get absolutely punked in the Shoe.
I want Rutgers to win this game. Sure, it’s a West Coast special with Pac-12 refs and all, but I think that Washington is overrated and I’d love to see something crazy happen. I do not see any of that happening.
LSU Tigers vs. Wisconsin Badgers @ Lambeau
I wouldn’t mind seeing Wisconsin win as far as Big Ten pride goes and what not, but this is not the SEC. Geaux Tigers.
But uh, seriously, Wisconsin is going to lose this game and I don’t know why the spread isn’t larger.
Penn State and their new look, fancy-pants, offense take on Kent State and their terrible 2-10 record from last year. I want the Nittany Lions to take care of business and run roughshed over the Golden Flashes. They should do that.
Miami RedHawks @ Iowa Hawkeyes
I don’t think Iowa loses this game, but how Ferentzian would it be for Miami to be in this game late? What I want from the Hawkeyes is for them to act like this new Ferentz and CJ Beathard are for real and that a MAC team isn’t a threat.
Murray State Racers @ Illinois Fighting Illini
Know what is exciting? James Delany said that FCS opponents are off limits minus pre-existing contracts. But hey, nothing says exciting like starting the Lovie Smith era against the FCS powerhouse that is formerly 3-8 Murray State Racers.
You know what I want? For Nebraska to not lose its opener on a Hail Mary. It should be even more than that - a blowout would not be all that strange to see - but beggars can’t be choosers.
So where does that leave us? The Big Ten could legitimately go 13-1. That’s most likely the best case scenario with the only loss coming at the hands of LSU. A more likely scenario is that Big Ten drops another game somewhere - I see Northwestern as a prime candidate. A worst case scenario is 3 or more losses with any of them being FCS. What do I want in Non-Con Week 1? For the Big Ten to win 13 games, not lose a FCS game, and not get blown out.
What do you want to happen?