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Big Ten Non-Conference Schedule, Week 2: EL ASSICO IS NIGH

Also there’s Oklahoma at Ohio State, Nebraska at Oregon, and more! We preview them and see how well the conference should do in Week 2.

Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

True to my OTE writerdom, I got to watch very little college football this weekend. Camping amid the locals of La Crosse will do that to you.

So after watching Minnesota nearly choke on its bison burger, I saw little, save for most of wisconsin-Utah State (camping with filthy badgers will lead to this), the second half of Northwestern-Nevada when I went to the campground bar to charge my phone, and a blip of Nebraska-Arkansas State when I grabbed some more firewood. It was fun! I was spared the Zany Adventures of Mick McCall and an FBS Offense, drank a lot of Hamm’s, and only got yelled at by the fiance once. Progress!

Last weekend was...a mixed bag for the conference, even though I got, well, what I wanted:

What I Want:

10-2. I’m writing off rutger and Purdue, yes. But I would love to see the Terps go on the road and stun Texas, for all the reasons wrapped up in a perennially-overrated Texas’ presence in the Top 25.

And yet there’s the bitterness of a bad IPA in my mouth. I don’t know why, because looking at the demands, here’s how we did:

Minnesota: I want to see Minnesota cover [-26]

rutger: find a way to cover modestly

wisconsin: Cover... figure out who your linebacker is going to be

Penn State: Cover. Don’t get Saquon Barkley hurt. [barely achieved]

Maryland: manage to beat the spread.

Illinois: Just get the W.

Iowa: A cover would be nice, but I’ll take a win with some caveats.

Michigan State: a salt-the-earth, oh-the-humanity, stop-they’re-already-dead beat-em-down

Michigan: Win.

Northwestern: Cover.

Purdue: beat the spread and show signs of life on offense.

Nebraska: meet the expectations of a cover.

My General Rules:

  • Don't lose at home to G5 schools.
  • Beat Notre Dame.
  • Blow FCS teams the hell out.
  • Cover spreads on the road if you're the underdog.
  • Cover the spread at home.

And away we go!

Purdue Boilermakers (-4.5) vs Ohio Bobcats

7pm, Friday || FS1

Future Montreal Alouettes star AJ Ouellette and QB Quinton Maxwell could have a day against the Purdue defense, but I’d be more concerned about the Bobcats’ defense. Frank Solich has them humming along as the perennial MAC East bridesmaids, and a wacky Friday night showdown with a questionable David Blough against a defense which bent a lot, but didn’t break a ton, picking off 13 passes in 2016.

But let’s not forget what Bill Connelly said about the Bobcats:

Yeah, they are sound, and they are going to give hell to better teams ... that will probably beat them. Basically, that’s Ohio’s rep at this point.

Give us a cover and a reason to believe you know your quarterback going forward, Purdue.

Northwestern Wildcats (-3.5) at Duke Blue Devils

11am || ESPNU

Unselfish me: Win. However you have to do it.

Selfish me: Win, because I’ll be there and want to see more than Justin Jackson the Ball Carrier running over and over again into stacked lines. Start mixing in those change-ups you definitely were holding out of the Nevada gameplan, Fitz.

(ps Clayton Thorson is really good whether you like it or not)

wisconsin badgers (-32) vs Florida Atlantic Owls

11am || BTN

Yawn. Cover.

#11 Michigan Wolverines (-34) vs Cincinnati Bearcats

11am || ABC

Be your best Harbaugh, Michigan. Run up the score, preferably with a 2-point conversion to make it 50-7 late in the third quarter, and keep the national media talking about another third-place Michigan team as a national playoff dark horse.

Actually if Wilton Speight didn’t throw so many picks that’d be good, too.


The Team Out East (-2) at State


Give us an El Assico to remember, Hawks. I don’t care if it’s a 42-3 beatemdown, a 9-2 punt-fest, or a 55-52, 3OT win in which New Iowa State QB Titanium Rockz runs for 200 yards and 3 scores. I mean, cover the spread and all, but make it a memorable one.

Maryland Terrapins vs Towson Fighting Canaries

11am || no one cares

See above.

#6 Penn State Nittany Lions (-20.5) vs Pitt Panthers

2:30pm || ABC

The Panthers are coming off a nearly-blown game against Bo Pelini’s Band of Misfit Toys and Sometimes Social Deviants in which they needed overtime to salt away the upstart Penguins. Cover, run it up, and keep Saquon Barkley miles away from special teams.

Indiana Hoosiers (-2.5) at Virginia Cavaliers

2:30pm || ACCN

Prove that Ohio State wasn’t just a moral victory, Indiana, but the sign of something to come under Tom Allen. That’ll include much better defense focused on containing RB Jordan Ellis, who can catch it out of the backfield from QB Kurt Benkert. So I’d like an Indiana win while holding the ‘Hoos under 20 points.

Oh, and please don’t let Richard Lagow’s arm fall off quite yet.

Celebrate the State!

Michigan State Spartans (-8) vs Western Michigan Broncos

2:30pm || BTN

Keep that redemption tour rolling, Sparty, because the Broncos are still feisty now that their energetic toddler packed up his oars and rowed west. LeVante Bellamy remains a huge threat for Western, having racked up 102 yards and a score out of the backfield against USC. I want to see Brian Lewerke continue to grow into a real dual threat at QB, and him doing that should help secure a Spartan cover.

rutger Scarlet Knights (-4) vs Eastern Michigan Emus Eagles

2:30pm || BTN

Brogan Roback. Get used to hearing that name, because he’ll challenge a Scarlet Knights secondary that actually held up for a good portion of the weekend against Washington and should be able to contain RB Shaq Vann. I want to see rutger not only win, but cover convincingly. That’ll require a better rush attack out of Gus Edwards and Robert Martin, along with fewer mistakes from Kyle Bolin. The EMUs housed a pick-six in week 1; if this goes pear-shaped I could see them doing it again.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Oregon Ducks (-14)

3:30pm || FOX

Ooooooof. After giving up something like 500 yards to Arkansas State, the Huskers head out west to visit a Ducks offense which rolled up approximately 1000 yards in week 1? There’s gonna need to be even more ball control with Tre Bryant and Tanner Lee. Settle in and keep this game under 60 combined points, Nebraska. I just want a cover, but if you control TOP and get to Justin Herbert, you could steal one.

#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (-7.5) vs #7 Oklahoma Sooners

6:30pm || ABC

Avoid a slow start and cover. If this whole “best conference in the country” thing is for real, a big win over the Sooners would sure go a long way toward proving that. Sure, Baker Mayfield only missed on one pass in the Oklahoma romp over UTEP, but with Oklahoma CB Jordan Parker lost for the season with injury, JT Barrett and the Buckeyes wideouts should find space underneath and deep.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (-8.5)

7pm || BTN

Home dogs.

At home.

To a C-USA team.

I want a win because them’s the rules of the game, Illini, but man... part of me almost wants to settle for a cover.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Oregon State Beavers (-1.5)

9pm || FS1

When I saw the Beavers go on the road and lose in convincing fashion to Colorado State, I figured Minnesota would romp through Corvallis.

Then whatever the hell that Minnesota-Buffalo game was happened.

This one will be 17-14 and it won’t be pretty. I want to see Emmit Carpenter get right from distance, the tenacious Gophers D contain bowling ball Luke Nall, and PJ Fleck to pick which mediocre quarterback will row him to a 7-5 finish. Get the W, Minnesota.

So what will happen?

What I Want:

13-1. Only one of Illinois, Minnesota, and Nebraska loses, and both show life in the offing and prove that the West after wisconsin isn’t a total tirefire. There’s a lot that has to go right here, but a pretty stellar W-L record from Week 1 means expectations nudge slightly higher.

What I Expect:

10-4. Illinois and Nebraska both take the L, and two of Minnesota, Northwestern, rutger, Indiana, and Purdue lose. I genuinely think Oklahoma is not in the same conversation as Ohio State, Michigan State is going to build up expectations only to have old demons come back for Big Ten play, and Iowa State +2 is a sick joke. I expect the conference to take a slight step back, but the wheat and chaff to self-separate by virtue of a bad loss or two.

Burn Mattresses in the Street If...

7-7 or 8-6 with a Penn State/Ohio State loss. There are a lot of games I look at and think “woof, that...could be really bad.” And if they all go the way they could, we could have a nasty conference-wide hangover on Sunday. But the real threat comes if Ohio State or Penn State lose amid some other unflattering conference results. This week is a chance to really make the case that two Big Ten teams could be knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff; no sense ruining that just yet.


In Week 2 non-conference games, the Big Ten will go...

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    14-0 get me another drink
    (33 votes)
  • 4%
    (12 votes)
  • 21%
    (57 votes)
  • 32%
    (85 votes)
  • 17%
    (46 votes)
  • 6%
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    8-6 with a PSU/OSU loss
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    8-6 without a PSU/OSU loss
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    7-7 or worse
    (7 votes)
264 votes total Vote Now