The pendulum really swings when looking at matchups this week. While on one side we have games that should be gimme wins (Indiana, Ohio State, Nebraska (DON’T LET US DOWN)), on the other side we have some games that could be great. UCF-Maryland is somewhere in the middle because I don’t know if anyone knows what to make of either team right now but we have two that could upset the top of the Big Ten standings.
#8 Michigan Wolverines at Purdue Boilermakers (+10) || 4pm ET || TV: FOX
If someone thought this one was even a remote possibility of being an upset pick going into the season then you should go buy some lottery tickets right now. Michigan’s defense has looked every bit of a shutdown defense through the first three games of the season but their offense is another story. The passing game has been inept to say the least and Wilton Speight has looked average at best, which has been begging teams to stack the box and dare them to try to win through the air. Luckily, special teams and defense have quite literally won them two of their three games (Florida, Air Force).
Purdue on the other hand has come out of the gates MUCH faster than anticipated under new head coach Jeff Brohm. The defense held returning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in check through 3 quarters before they let the lead slip away in week 1 and have otherwise dominated their opponents. Granted, Ohio and Missouri may not be the best examples, but for a Purdue team who struggled to get to three wins the last however many years, starting out 2-1 into conference play and looking impressive while doing it has heads turned. Can the stingy defensive performances and surprising offense keep up this week when the heat is turned up? Let’s see, as another Purdue Harbor would be fabulous.
Upset chances: 30%.
Meltdown if it happens: Epic
Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes (+12.5) || 7:30pm ET || ABC
James Franklin and Penn State are traveling west to take on the University of Akron - Corn Belt. Penn State has rolled through the non-conference, beating up on the likes of the University of Akron, University of Akron - Steel Mill, and University of Akron - Atlanta. Such a daunting schedule. They’ve looked dominant against the #69, #119, and #120 S&P+ teams, so obviously they are proven. In all seriousness, stopping Saquon Barkley will be tough for anyone and if Penn State can establish the run early they will run away with this.
Iowa will need to do what I said above and contain Barkley on the ground and in the passing game out of the backfield if they have any hopes of winning. Penn State’s passing game was so-so against their only P5 competition this year, completing just a shade over 50% of all passes in that game and featuring heavy doses of Barkley in the run game and passing game. Contain Barkley, make Penn State find someone else to go out there and do something. On offense it will be essential to get Akrum Wadley the ball. It’s not in Kirk Ferentz’s wheelhouse, but they’ll need to be creative in finding ways to do it as he is their best weapon on offense.
Upset chances: 20-25%
Meltdown if it happens: We might have to nuke the SMCD comments
Who has a better chance of pulling off the upset?
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