[Skip these paragraphs unless you’re new here. If you’ve been here longer than 6 months, just skip to the comments and argue like I didn’t write anything. You know the drill. —MNW]
I write this piece from the perspective of the best interests of the conference on the national scene. Our ace Illinois writer, Thumpasaurus, has already penned a great column this week looking Beyond the Empire at the rest of the national college football scene and contextualizing the Week 3 Big Ten performance therein, and WIWNC takes a similar approach to the Week 4 matchups.
My General Rules:
- Don't lose at home to G5 schools (welp).
- Beat Notre Dame (hey!)
- Blow FCS teams the hell out (welp).
- Cover spreads on the road if you're the underdog (hey!)
- Cover the spread at home (eh.)
Let’s get to the sadness!
Minnesota (-16.5) vs. Colorado State
11am || ESPNU
I honestly don’t know what to make of Minnesota at this point. Is Oregon State not totally shitty this year? We don’t know yet! Is Indiana State an FCS school? Yes they are! ...so I have no conclusions to draw on the Gophers’ current 2016 performance. I know, that’s totally not in keeping with OTE rules.
Would you believe me if I told you Mitch Leidner was completing barely 50% of his passes for only 7.2 ypc?
You would! But that’s not what he’s at, surprisingly: The Gophers signal-caller has completed 58.9% of his passes for 7.59 ypa and 12.88 ypc. That’s...actually not that bad. But, again, Oregon State and Indiana State. In reality, though, that’s not even what we’re here to watch Minnesota do. We’re here to watch bowling ball Rodney Smith (4.74 ypc, 3 TDs) bounce off Rams tacklers and chew up clock for the Gophers.
Since an absolutely depressing 44-7 blowout at the hands of Colorado, the Rams have recovered...nicely?...holding off UT-San Antonio by 9 at home and blowing out FCS foe Northern Colorado. Our Mountain West Connection friend Terrance Dickens noted that QB Nick Stevens would be on a short lease, and...he has barely played since the blowout to Colorado. Instead, freshman Collin Hill entered midway through the win against UTSA and proceeded to go HAM the next game against the Bears, completing 78% of his passes for 4 TDs and no picks. He’ll start against the Gophers. Three Rams—Dalyn Dawkins, Marvin Kinsey Jr., and Izzy Matthews—have each toted the rock at least 29 times for State, giving the Gophers plenty to watch out for on offense.
Terrance picked: Gophers, 27-24
What I Want: I think a Gophers cover is in order here. They’re at home, the Rams haven’t shown a ton of offensive prowess against capable defenses in 2016, and Mitch Leidner hitting receivers against real teams needs to happen at some point, right? Show that you can challenge wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa for the conference with that weak schedule, Goldy.
Purdue (-5.5) vs. Nevada
11am || ESPNN
So how are things going in West Lafayette? Well, you already know the answer, but not ideal. So let’s check in with BoilerTMill and see how Hazell’s job security is—
Well, Purdue fans, never fear, because David Blough has already had to throw 100 times this year in two starts!
Holy shit, seriously? 100 times?!
Despite a 39-10 loss at Notre Dame, Nevada has been solid in 2016, as Tyler Stewart has completed 64% of his passes for a little over 10 yards a completion but only 6.9 ypa, while James Butler has already racked up 347 yards on the ground (5.3 ypc, 5 TDs). MWCC writer Daniel Connolly noted that HC Brian Polian refuses to drop the pistol offense, but it’s working at least capably for the Wolf Pack in 2016. That will test a Purdue defense which is allowing 4.7 ypc and an average of 2.5 passing TDs per game.
Blough’s penchant for interceptions (6 of those against 3 TDs) is of concern for the Boilers, too, as Dameon Barber pulled down 6 INTs last year for Nevada and is a strong leader for just a sophomore in the Pack’s defensive backfield.
Oh, and Akeel Lynch plays for Nevada now, Penn State fans! So that’s exciting! He’s got a concussion and is questionable, though.
Daniel’s pick: "I think Purdue will take this game, but it's definitely going to be close."
What I Want: I, frankly, don’t care if it’s close. Purdue’s still bad and needs a win, any win, to set themselves up for what are two winnable games to start the Big Ten season (@MD, @IL). Win, Boilers, and we’ll worry about the rest later.
Indiana (-7.5) vs. Wake Forest
2:30pm || BTN
2-0 Indiana. 3-0 Wake Forest. What a weird world we live in.
The Hoosiers have been doing it with defense in 2016, allowing only 2 TDs and just 5.2 yards per play, along with the 7th-fewest yards in the conference. (Yes, that’s an improvement.) As the Demon Deacons have...struggled on offense so far, dropping 38 on Delaware but only 24 on a bad Duke team [YES THAT MEANS NORTHWESTERN HAS A TERRIBLE OFFENSE GOD SHUT UP] and 7—SEVEN—on Tulane, IU has a chance to make some hay against an error-prone passing attack. Keep an eye on John Wolford, as the junior QB will tuck it and run if he needs. Perhaps most importantly, the Hoosiers have been competent on the ground, allowing just 3.4 ypc so far against Florida International and Balls Tate.
Offensively you know IU will continue to do their thing—Richard Lagow and Devine Redding have been helping the Hoosiers rack up the yards. Wake, though, comes in allowing only 168 passing yards and 80 rushing yards per game. Indiana’s easily the best offense the Deacons will have faced so far, but junior DE Duke Ejiofor will have something to say about the Hoosiers pass attack—he’s already got 4.5 sacks on the year.
What I Want: A home cover and a 3-0 Indiana. That’s not too much to ask, is it? RIGHT? Either way, with a heavily frontloaded schedule (#8 MSU, @ #2 OSU, #20 UNL the next three weeks) the Hoosiers need a strong, going-away win here. I’d love to see TEAMCHAOS keep its hot start going.
What I Want:
3-0. I’d say three covers, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on Purdue. Or Minnesota to score 17 points against a vaguely passable defense.
What I Expect:
3-0, believe it or not. Purdue, you’re playing a Mountain West school at home. Get your shit together.
Burn Mattresses in the Streets If...
0-3. And then don’t even get too worked up about it. It’s still Minnesota, Purdue, and Indiana. No sense wasting a good mattress.
Happy non-con, y’all!