It's not fair. I get busy for one week* and Jesse gets to preview all the fun matchups and Northwestern embarrasses itself at home to the Fighting Boat Rowers.
THIS IS WHY I DO THIS PIECE, JESSE.
Anyways, thanks to Jesse for picking up my slack last week! I'm going to do my best to return this segment to the low standard you all hold for my writing: dick jokes, angry rants, and a ton of cognitive dissonance.
It's worth noting that, unlike perhaps a larger-than-I-think number of you, I wouldn't complain if I saw a whole mess of your teams lose on Saturday. In fact, I think it' d be absolutely hilarious if Iowa got shellacked by Iowa State or, better yet, lost 9-7 while turning the ball over 8 times.
Not that that would ever happen, mind you.
But in any regard, 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 1 Big Ten performance therein, and WIWNC takes a similar approach to the Week 2 matchups.
My General Rules:
- Don't lose at home to G5 schools (welp).
- Beat Notre Dame.
- Blow FCS teams the hell out.
- Cover spreads on the road if you're the underdog.
- Cover the spread at home.
Maryland (-10) at Florida International
Saying that I want Maryland to cover feels like a tall task for the Terps, but I don't think there's really any way around it at this point. If Indiana can do it and you want to prove that you're already ahead of Rutgers in the new coaching department, Maryland, you'll have to blow the Golden Panthers out of the water. That likely includes showing off a strong ground game and letting high school wrestler Perry Hills shine in play action situations.
Nebraska (-24.5) vs. Wyoming
Cover and show us that the shellacking of Fresno wasn't a fluke, Huskers. I get that Craig Bohl is out for blood and Wyoming's Josh Allen had a monster day throwing the ball against Northern Illinois, but you'll have to keep the defense coming and not let Wyoming's ball control offense keep that stable of running backs off the field.
Penn State at Pittsburgh (-5)
Win, Penn State. Find a way not only to go on the road, but to beat Narduzzi & Co. in a manner that shows James Franklin can restore the Nittany Lions' dominance over the state. It seems like it shouldn't be a tall order, and I have no doubts that Saquon Barkley can put in the yards, but I worry that Trace McSorley will get blitzed off the field by a hungry Panthers defense. Protect the quarterback, control the ball, and come out on top.
#5 Michigan (-35.5) vs. Central Florida
Win, cover, actually pull the starters and show a little mercy, Harbaugh.
Cincinnati (-6) at Purdue
Wait...only minus-6 for this bad boy? Alright, Purdue! Look at you, making your way up in the world and all.
I'd love to see Purdue get the home win and give Boilermaker fans something to actually cheer about, but even a cover here sounds like a moral victory of sorts to me. I want to be at the point where I can look at games like this and say I want Purdue to spring the upset, but I haven't seen it out of the Fightin' Trains yet.
Rutgers (n/a) vs. Howard
Minnesota (n/a) vs. Indiana State
[2:30pm] Northwestern (n/a) vs. Illinois State
Show some legitimate offense, cover, and don't get anyone hurt, all of you. Oh, and fewer targeting penalties would be ideal, Gophers.
#4 Ohio State (-29) vs. Tulsa
A standard cover performance would be just fine, but it'd be nice to see JT Barrett get off to a hotter start. I know, pick-sixes happen, but seeing the Buckeye offense march down the field on the first drive would set a nice standard for the rest of the year.
#10 Wisconsin (-24) vs. Akron
#10? Seriously? OK, then. It's Week 2, I suppose.
Either way, Wisconsin here is the same as Michigan and Ohio State, playing overmatched G5 competition. Win, cover, and will Bart Houston throw a goddamn touchdown? STAY TUNED! (don't though)
Indiana (-18) vs. Ball State
Welp. 18 points for the Hoosiers against a team they've lost to in their last three matchups (side note: holy shit, seriously). Well, Indiana, I guess put-up-or-shut-up time is coming a lot earlier this year. Want to ditch the #TeamChaos moniker (at least for the non-conference)? This is a team it's come time for you to get close to covering against. I think a two-score win would assuage my concerns that the Hoosiers are paper-tigery.
Illinois vs. North Carolina (-9)
Wes Lunt had an efficient-as-hell day at the office against the Racers, going 15-for-21 for 226 yards and three scores. North Carolina's defense is beatable, but the Illini have to get off to a hot start early. I want (I don't, really, but again, we're playing the game) to see the Lovie Era start off with a bang, and a home victory over the Tar Heels would really prove that there's some muscle in the Big Ten.
#16 Iowa (-15) vs. Iowa State
Just blow them the fuck out. Kirk's got his contract, the time is ripe for an epic pants-shitting...just get the job done against a lesser team, don't make any bones about it, and prove that you've maybe, just maybe turned a corner under #NewKirk (or is it #OldKirk).
Whatever. Enjoy the 5 more articles about Iowa-Iowa State this week. They totally don't care about that rivalry and want to see it end [you wouldn't fucking know what to do with yourselves and you know it].
So How Will It Go?
What I Want:
11-2. Favorites cover, Penn State or Illinois pulls the upset. I don't think I can reasonably demand both the Nittany Lions and the Illini to pull off the upsets, but Penn State seems like the one where, well...it should probably happen. Sorry, Purdue.
What I Expect
10-3. I'm taking chalk on the lines. It's gonna get uglier around here if you're a State fan...just punch your time card and find a nice bottle of scotch.
Burn Mattresses in the Streets If...
9-4 or worse. Look, There are a couple tricky ones here, especially the Iowa-Iowa State matchup, Maryland-FIU, and Indiana-Balls. Those Big Ten teams should still win. Period. After all, it's not like any Big Ten teams would do something stupid like losing to MACtion at home, right? Right. Keep that conference #brand strong.