I bothered, last time, to admonish Jesse for jinxing Northwestern in Week 1 against the Fightin’ Boat Rowers. Now that Northwestern lost to Illinois State, I...well, I’ve accepted it and moved on. Or something. Anyways, once again I’m here to look at what would make a successful Week 3 across the Big Ten. The conference has generally avoided making a fool out of itself on the national stage so far, and three marquee matchups this weekend give the conference an opportunity to assert itself nationally once more.
Let’s get to it!
My General Rules:
- Don't lose at home to G5 schools (welp).
- Beat Notre Dame.
- Blow FCS teams the hell out (double welp).
- Cover spreads on the road if you're the underdog.
- Cover the spread at home.
All games Saturday, all times CT.
Rutgers (-6) vs. New Mexico || ESPNN
Rutgers has to cover this and beat the Lobos going away. Janarion Grant will get his, yes, but the Lobos’ quirky running attack under Bob Davie has Teriyon Gipson putting up an otherworldly 12.2 yards per carry (that’s 243 yards on 20 carries)! Our Mountain West friends had this pegged as one of their two wins over the Big Ten this year, and the Scarlet Knights—who were admirably stingy at least against the Washington rush attack (if nothing else, it was 3.0 ypc)—will need to show up in the trenches. Stop the run, Rutgers, and cover that spread.
Penn State (-9) vs. Temple || BTN
Hoooo boy, that -9 line making anyone else nervous? I want to see the Nittany Lions keep the Owls in single digits (their offense is baaaaaad) and continue to be efficient on offense. Trace McSorley has quietly put up a solid 60.6% completion rate, throwing the ball seemingly at will for stretches against a Pat Narduzzi defense. The Lions’ defense isn’t as bad as Pitt made it look, and Penn State should be able to at least claim the mantle of second-best in the Keystone State. I want a Penn State cover.
#13 Iowa (n/a) vs. North Dakota State || ESPN2
Nooooooope. Nope nope nope.
Just win, Iowa. I have bad memories of Growing Up Gopher, and last week’s Northwestern debacle reminds us...just go out and take care of business against a team you should beat.
#9 Wisconsin (-34.5) vs. Georgia State || BTN
Yaaaaaawn. Do to the [Insert Probably Some Brand of Wild Cat Here] what you did to the Zips, Badgers.
#4 Michigan (-20) vs. Colorado || BTN
I know there’s been a lot of fun Kordell Stewart reminiscing this week, but there’s no reason that should even come close to happening again. While Sefo Liufau and the Buffs’ passing attack has been surprisingly potent in poundings of Colorado State and Idaho State, they still should be left in the rearview mirror. The Wolverines, on the other hand, would do well to get Chris Evans going early and often, running a train on the Buffaloes just like the western settlers of yore.
I mean really, that’s not totally fair because that means Michigan gets guns and the buffaloes get run over cliffs and stuff, but you get the idea. I want to see Michigan get the run going, cover the spread, and leave no doubt they’re a national title contender.
Colorado’s been trolling the hell out of Michigan on their official Twitter, too, in case you hadn’t heard. It’s pretty funny.
Nebraska (-3) vs. #22 Oregon || ABC
Dakota Prucop and the Ducks are going to sling the ball around, but I...actually have faith in the Cornhuskers’ defense? No, that can’t be right...
Well, I don’t think they’re terrible, at least. Fresno State relied almost exclusively on WR Aaron Peck, and the Blackshirts picked off Wyoming 5 times to stretch a big lead late.
A ball control offense that keeps the Ducks offense off the field and a faster start than in weeks past would be ideal for the Cornhuskers, but ultimately I just want a Nebraska win on the big stage to put to rest this Oregon obsession. Win and get you a ranking, Big Red.
Illinois vs. Western Michigan (-3) || ESPNN
Oh God. Ohhhhhh God. You gotta lock down Corey Davis and keep a linebacker spying on Zach Terrell, Illini. Just win. Find a way. Two Big Ten scalps for the ROWers would be...just way too damn much.
Maryland (-8.5) at Central Florida || CBSSN
Win, Maryland. Noted High School Wrestler Perry Hills has been passable so far this season, but establishing Lorenzo Harrison early against a Knights defense which showed it could and will sell out to stop the run would be ideal.
I’m not even demanding Maryland cover the spread on the road, because UCF strikes me as a tricky team, especially if the Scott Frost offense starts to click and that defensive performance against Michigan was for real. Just get outta there with a win, Terps.
#12 Michigan State at #18 Notre Dame (-6) || ABC
I despise Notre Dame. As a Catholic, I feel like I’m probably going to hell for that, but Brian Kelly is a raging jackass and probably a murderer and I hate them.
Win, Sparty. I don’t care how, I don’t care how many fap fap fap Little Giants fap fap fap bullshit you have to pull out. It’s a rule on my list: Don’t lose to Notre Dame.
(But seriously please actually get LJ Scott going early and often.)
#3 Ohio State (-1.5) at #14 Oklahoma || FOX
Win. Survive. Advance.
Maybe our Buckeye friends would like to see Ohio State actually step on the Sooners’ necks and run them off the field, but Baker Mayfield can put up numbers and if a couple drives stall out early or Mike Weber can’t get going quickly, the Buckeyes will be playing from behind and BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER BOOMER SOONER.
Don’t let that happen, Ohio State. Get a lead early and hold on.
Northwestern (-6.5) vs. Duke || BTN
Six point five.
A Big Ten team that just lost to Illinois State, scoring only seven points, is favored by SIX AND A HALF POINTS against, y’know, an actual P5 school. I get that Duke just lost to Wake Forest, who now has 3 ACC wins in 3 years, but...man, someone out there likes the ‘Cats a lot more than I do.
Win, ‘Cats. I don’t care if it’s 3-2 or 55-54, just win. Prove that Justin Jackson is not, in fact, dead, and that maybe Clayton Thorson and Austin Carr can get something going when they need a first down or big play. I’m not totally sure if I should be scared of Daniel Jones and the Duke passing attack yet, but the freshman has been completing a high number of passes and if Northwestern’s defense decides to keep bending all game, a weak offense won’t be able to make up the difference late.
So just win. Please. For my sanity, liver, and all those cans of Miller High Life.
Minnesota, Purdue, and Indiana vs. BYE (-4)
Try and cover the spread, I guess? I’m not quite sure. Don’t give the Star Tribune anything to talk about.
So what does it all mean?
What I Want:
11-0. Fuck Notre Dame. I don’t care if there are two Big Ten underdogs: one of those games is against a MAC team at home (this is as nice a thing as I will say about Illinois all year) and the other is against Notre Dame. Fuck Notre Dame.
What I Expect:
7-4. At least one ranked team, be it Sparty or Brutus, is going to lose. I just don’t think it’ll happen for both, heading on the road. From there, I am not sure about Nebraska’s ability to deal with an actually competent team’s passing attack. Western Michigan might actually play in an NY6 bowl. Northwestern still has Mick McCall as offensive coordinator. I want wins for the Big Ten across the board, but I just don’t see it this week.
Burn Mattresses in the Streets If...
Three ranked teams lose. Looking at you, Iowa.
5-6 or worse. That’s Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan State, Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers. Oh God I can actually convince myself that’ll happen. Oh God.
You tell us, OTE commentariat: How well should the Big Ten fare in Week 3? Should I be this pessimistic?