We’ve marched into yet another year of predictions, and while I was looking for some old graphics in preparation for this week’s installment, I came across OTE’s Obligatory Predictions Competition’s origin story (on August 28, 2008*)! It’s delightful, replete with our fearless founders picking Vanderbilt-Miami(OH), for some reason.
Anyway, it struck me as particularly important because, as I head into what I think is Year Six of writing for Off Tackle Empire, I couldn’t help but notice cofounder Jonathan Franz’s introduction:
The picks competition has become a lazy feature of the sports blog -- unintentionally illustrating the vanity, ego, and blind irrationality that binds an otherwise capable concept.
We at The Rivalry, Esq. are not above the sort of self-declared polity that comes with crowning ourselves psychic masters of the college football universe and certifying our predictions for your consumption each week.
The more things change. Let’s pick some games.
*I was preparing to start my senior year of high school, that night I made a number of saves in a 2-2 tie with St. Thomas Academy, and the following night I tackled Richfield’s all-conference punt returner for one of my two career tackles in football. Jesus. I had peaked.
wisconsin badgers (1-0) vs. New Mexico Lobos (1-0)
11am | BTN | wi -35 | O/U 59
Straight-Up: wisconsin, 22-0
Against the Spread: wisconsin, 15-7
GoForThree: Wisconsin is runnin runnin and runnin runnin and runnin runnin and runnin RUNNIN
ziowa9: The fighting Bob Davies go quietly, Badgers hang half-a-hundred.
Boilerman31: Wisconsin keeps on a-runnin’ to a cover this time.
WSR: yawn. Let the fawning praise of another average win over an inept opponent continue.
BigRedTwice: New Mexico is very bad, and Wisconsin, Hornibrook excepted, isn’t very bad. This will be a boring game.
87townie: Wisconsin is going to win, but the Lobos can score. Wiscy wins but New Mexico covers.
Thumpasaurus: Wisconsin wins 34-3. Exact same game as last week.
Stewmonkey13: How many total passing yards in this game, both teams combined? 200? The clock is running the whole game, give me the points.
Dead Read: A fight between a real lobo and a real badger might be interesting to watch. This game, however, will be dreadful.
Andrew Kraszewski: baggers cover, nothing to see here
MNWildcat: Thump stole the bit I was gonna do. Anywho, the Lobos will try to air it out a little more with QB Tevaka Tuioti, but wisconsin is not the team that you’re going to get a ton of time to do that against. So we continue, badgers, 34-3.
Michigan Wolverines (0-1) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (0-1)
11am | FS1 | MI -27.5 | O/U 56.5
Straight-Up: Michigan, 22-0
Against the Spread: WMU, 14-8
GF3: Meeechigan shows WMU what big tough boys they really are.
ziowa9: Harbaugh’s _ffense gets the win, but doesn’t get the cover.
Boilerman: Meecheegan takes out the Broncs but 27 is too much to ask.
WSR: Western Michigan does not have Notre Dame’s defense, and will pay dearly for what happened to Michigan last weekend. At least one bit of a Bronco will end up in Jack Woltz’s bed.
BRT: UM should win, but I don’t see how they score enough to win by 27.
87townie: Western Michigan is bad. Syracuse went up 31 to 7 on the Broncos in the first quarter. Michigan gets Harbaughcle his “signature” win. Michigan wins and covers. /hat tip to Pat Forde for the new monicker.
Thump: Michigan attempts to figure out their own playbook in as shaky a 3-score win as you’ll ever see.
Stew: 27.5 points with that offense? I know it’s a MACrifice, but still, I’m taking the points against that MI offense until further notice.
DR: Based on what I have seen...based on what we have all seen...can we be sure Michigan will score 28 points in this game? No.
AK: Because it’s not a big or important game, Michigan will look like world-beaters and cover.
MNW: Western just gave up 55 to Syracuse, and Shea Patterson is a poor man’s Eric Dungey. No, I didn’t get that backwards. Michigan, 45-10.
Northwestern Wildcats (1-0, 1-0 B1G) vs. Duke Blue Devils (1-0)
11am | ESPNU | NU -3 | O/U 48.5
Straight-Up: Northwestern 14-8
Against the Spread: Northwestern, 13-9
GF3: Northwestern clobbers a Duke team that couldn’t stop Army from throwing for 200 yards.
ziowa9: Fuck Duke!
Boilerman: Northwestern takes it to the other nerds.
WSR: I ran my numbers 4 times to see who would win the Nerd Bowl, and it came up Northwestern. So I had to go with Duke. Insightful stuff, I know, ut this game will make no sense because David Cutcliffe is the best coach in the game and neutrals who watch this will hate themselves for it.
BRT: This is a totally scientific gut feeling that Duke wins.
87townie: I think the Northwestern vs. Duke game is a barn burner. Duke isn’t going to turn the ball over as often as Purdue did. Northwestern will be able to run on them. I’m taking the Cats to win and cover.
Thump: Nern defies expectations and picks up this win.
Stew: I suspect Fitz gets too cute and gives the game away.
DR: Ths should be a close and competitive game. Going with the cats.
AK: Northwestern escaped last week because Sindelar channeled his inner John O’Korn. Duke isn’t a great or entertaining team, but they usually play sharp, give me the upset.
MNW: Yeah, I’m being that guy. My heart says the ‘Cats are gonna come out and dictate the pace and tempo of this game with an 11am ESPNU Northwestern Special, but I don’t have confidence in Northwestern’s DBs to keep Daniel Jones from marching the Blue Devils down the field.
It is widely on the record that I do not have any other thoughts on the Northwestern offense, save for the fact that Jeremy Larkin is good and can run very well. ‘Cats, 34-33.
Purdue Boilermakers (0-1, 0-1 B1G) vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-0)
11am | BTN | PU -15 | O/U 54.5
Straight-Up: Purdue, 21-1
Against the Spread: Purdue, 18-4
GF3: Purdue pur-does.
ziowa9: Boilermakers get back on track in this one.
Boilerman: Purdue gets back on track and railroads the EMUs.
WSR: EMU isn’t as good as Northwestern, and Purdue isn’t as bad as Monmouth. As long as they don’t take a dumb penalty late in the game they shouldn’t have any problem covering.
BRT: I believe in Purdue.
87townie: Purdue gets some swagger back at EMU’s expense. The Boilers roll over the Eagles to win and cover.
Thump: Purdue puts EMU away like competent Big Ten teams do.
Stew: Purdue wins, but the Eagles aren’t exactly a pushover any more, I think they cover.
AK: Feels like a line Purdue should cover. Even with last week’s disappointing result, still high on Brohm.
MNW: OH MY GOD WE DID IT
CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE WE DID IT PURDUE, 42-24
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-0) at Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0)
2:30pm | BTN | OSU -35 | O/U 64
Straight-Up: Ohio State, 22-0
Against the Spread: Ohio State, 19-3
GF3: Thanks, Greg Schiano.
ziowa9: The State University of New Jersey gets a score or 2 in garbage time to beat the numbers.
Boilerman: THE BLOOD, MY GOD, THE BLOOD.
WSR: 35 points seems really low for this game.
BRT: Rutgers may have very tall buildings in a city in a state adjacent to their own (I’ve been told this is a point of pride) and they’re going to have to cling to that after the bad things OSU does to them.
87townie: Ohio State destroys rutger 66-0.
Thump: Rattled by criticism after a 77-31 win, the Buckeye defense clamps down in a bloodbath.
Stew: I’m not sure they could set this line high enough.
DR: Ohio State plays with its food a bit before covering.
AK: This program contains graphic violence, viewer discretion advised
MNW: It’s like playing with your food at this point. Can this even be fun for Ohio State? I don’t mean shitposts at OTE, I mean for the actual players themselves. You go out, you take care of business...but really you could be doing whatever it is college-age kids are doing on weekends (sleeping off hangovers). I feel bad for them. Ohio State, 55-7.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-0, lightning) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (1-0)
2:30pm | ABC | UNL -5.5 | O/U 64
Straight-Up: Nebraska, 14-8-rain
Against the Spread: Colorado, 14-8-rain
*Note: Jesse was late filling out the spreadsheet, and started as I was getting to Colorado-Nebraska. So welcome Jesse Collins, with us to pick the last half of games.
GF3: Colorado with the upset in Nebby’s first game.
ziowa9: Scott Frost gets his first Nebby win as this ‘rivalry’ resumes.
Boilerman: Nebraska wins assuming they get past the opening kickoff.
WSR: You know, we all really wanted an extra week of buildup before the release of joy and excitement regarding Scott Frost’s first game. Right? Anyway, Colorado looked really good dismantling a putrid CSU last Friday, but I don’t think they’ll be able to get away with that this week because Memorial Stadium is going to be just electric.
The Huskers will make a silly mistake or two just because of all the energy, but it’ll also help them just roll through the Buffs. I fully expect the Nebraska WRs to put on a show the handful of times that they actually get the ball, and that’ll be enough to pull off the W and get Nebraska fans planning where they’d like to have the National Title parade in Lincoln.
BRT: CU certainly looks to be a better team right now, or at any rate, not the type of team a team that won four games last season wants to play its first game against. NU’s chance in this game is that it’s in Lincoln, and though the atmosphere may not be as electric as last week (heh), it still may be a very tough place to play.
87townie: I don’t know how good Nebraska is, but I know how good Colorado looked last week. Buffs win.
Thump: An entertaining shootout, but Steven Montez is the truth and the experienced QB leads the Buffs to victory.
Stew: I really have no idea how UNL is almost a TD favorite. My Buffs ruin Frost’s debut.
DR: Hoping for the win, but wish I had more than hope to justify this pick.
AK: A lot more intriguing now that it’s the debut of the Frost era...no real idea what to expect in this one, give me the points.
MNW: I honest to God have no idea. I’ll give the Huskers the Scott Frost bump, but Steven Montez could damn well put on a clinic for Adrian Martinez. Nonetheless, Frost leans on Greg Bell and Devine Ozigbo and Maurice Washington and Miles Jones and Jesus Christ if only there were some sort of offensive set that relied on a number of backs in the backfield someone should tell Scott Frost about that. Huskers, 27-21.
Iowa Hawkeyes (1-0) vs. Iowa St. Cyclones (0-0, storms)
4pm | FOX | IA -3.5 | O/U 46.5
Straight-Up: Iowa, 16-7
Against the Spread: Iowa, 12-11
GF3: Iowa State establishes itself as the football power in Iowa.
ziowa9: Ferentz drops to 10-10 against the ‘Clones, and gets another 38 year contract extension.
Boilerman: Iowa wins, but does anyone really win this game?
WSR: Iowa was stunningly pathetic on offense in the first half (137 yards? Wow.) before grinding NIU into a fine powder in as the Husky starters wore down in the 2nd half. That won’t happen again, because ISU is well rested having used the Nebraska Football Season Blue Balls machine to get an extra week of rest while a bunch of players served their suspension against lightning.
That week of rest, combined with the depth that future SOMEBODY ELSE coach Matt Campbell has been building, and added to the fact that the Iowa offense is not good will lead to some terrible people wearing rejected USC uniforms being very happy.
WSR: Iowa should win, but that they will probably struggle will bring joy to the hearts of all.
87townie: Jeez, the all Iowa game. Ugh. I’ll take (flips coin) Iowa to win and cover.
Thump: Iowa wins a close game in a very stupid way.
Stew: Iowa’s defensive line disrupts ISU all day, and the Iowa offense establishes a competent running game with the starting tackles back. Iowa pulls away in the 4th and comfortably covers.
DR: I will hate watch the shit out of this.
AK: It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since ISU wrecked an Iowa season? Gimme the ‘clones.
MNW: On HawkTalk this week, Kirk told Dolph that because there were only 13 plays of game tape on Iowa State (from their aborted game with South Dakota State), the coaches had a short Sunday and then “went and played a round of golf.” And I hate myself for not knowing whether he was joking or not, but...
...yeah, I still don’t know. Because wouldn’t that just be the most Kirk Ferentz thing ever? Anyways, in keeping with how I’ve approached this article, I full expect this game to be a 17-13 rock fight, with Iowa possibly losing. So Iowa, 38-23.
Maryland Terrapins (1-0) at Bowling Green Falcons (0-1)
5pm | ESPN+ | MD -15.5 | O/U 65.5
Straight-Up: Maryland, 22-1
Against the Spread: BGSU, 12-11
GF3: Maryland dicktrips and wins by 10.
ziowa9: This one’s close for a while, then Maryland pulls away late.
Boilerman: Maryland wins but has a bit of a letdown from last week and doesn’t cover.
WSR: The most important thing that BGSU did against Oregon last weekend was injure the Ducks’ starting TE for the season. Maryland, protect your QBs. For the love of God put them in a big shell or something.
BRT: Terps build a win streak, or, if they don’t, we get to watch Texas fans have a secondary meltdown, which is fun.
87townie: Maryland beat a top 25 team in Texas, BGSU did not. I’m going with Maryland for the win, but they don’t cover the 15.5 point spread.
Thump: UMD proved they are a competent Big Ten team and continue to look like one.
Stew: MD takes a bit of a step back, playing at Bowling Green, but Bowling Green is not good, and it’s never really in doubt.
DR: If Maryland is going to be a good team, they have to win games like this. I think they will.
AK: Terps cover. Line feels a bit low, even with the road trip.
MNW: I just might start to believe if Kasim Hill can stay healthy for a second straight game. But Jarret Doege is gonna get his, and when the Terps take that punch on the road we’ll see if Matt Canada has them ready to respond. Maryland, 40-30.
Indiana Hoosiers (1-0) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (1-0)
6:30pm | BTN | IU -7 | O/U 52.5
Straight-Up: Indiana, 16-7
Against the Spread: Indiana, 12-11
GF: Virginia because never bet on Indiana to do anything right.
ziowa9: IU wins & covers against the Packline Defense.
Boilerman: Bad football for bad people.
WSR: I have no reason for picking Virginia other than I wasn’t impressed with Indiana and I think the Hoos aren’t crap.
BRT: I am already bored by this game.
87townie: Indiana pounds Virginia into the turf. Reminding the Cavaliers that the B1G does not lose to the bottom-feeders of the ACC. I’m a Hoosier fan this week.
Thump: Indiana exploits an inexperienced secondary and lights up the Hoos like a Labrador.
Stew: Bronco Mendenhall has UVA more consistent, and playing dirty. They squeeze the win out of Indiana.
DR: Indiana finds a way to cover.
MNW: I just don’t believe in Indiana yet. I want to, but...could UVA be on the up-and-up? The Hoos had a lot to replace at QB, but Bronco might be legit and I don’t know if IU really has their front seven figured out yet. Virginia, 34-31.
Illinois Fighting Illini (1-0) vs. Western Illinois Leathernecks (0-1)
6:30pm | BTN
Straight-Up: Illinois, 22-1
[We’re not using lines for an FCS game, but if ever there was one to do it for...]
GF3: Illinois I guess?
ziowa9: If the Illini don’t win this one, things will get interesting in Chambana.
WSR: You’re halfway to having a successful season of Illinois Football! YOU CAN DO IT! WIN IT FOR MIKEY DUDEK!
WSR: Woohoo, Illinois! Get those wins! Savor them!
87townie: Illinois gets its lone win of the non-con this week. It’s ugly and does little to convince us that the Illini actually want to play football.
Thump: No, goddammit, we are not losing this game. If we’re going to lose to an FCS team, it sure as hell isn’t gonna be this one. Trust me, I’ve done an embarrassing amount of research into WIU.
Stew: Illinois wins, they look bad doing so. If this were Illinois State, I’d probably be picking them.
DR: A lot of survivor picks hinge on this one.
AK: Signs of progress in the second half last week. Let the good times roll, Illinois gettin’ that win streak baby!
MNW: I shit you not, I tried to paste the “full Illinois” icon 22 times into my spreadsheet that I make these in...and Microsoft Excel quit on me. Just froze me out. It was poetic. The Illini lost Cam Thomas, but...AJ Bush, I guess. If that’s not enough to beat Western, we’ve got bigger problems. Illinois, 35-10.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-0) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (1-0)
6:30pm | FS1 | MN -2.5 | O/U 47.5
Straight-Up: Minnesota, 12-11
GF3: Fresno State shows a 53% freshman roster what’s up.
ziowa9: A late field goal gets the Gophers a 3 point win.
Boilerman: Minnesota gets snapped back to reality.
WSR: They’re raw up front, and we’re going to take advantage of that. ZA is healthy, so he’ll be able to make passes when he needs to, and we’re not spotting them 7 turnovers and 2 TDs off blocked FGs.
Also: Marcus McMaryion is winless in his previous visit to TCF Bank Stadium. History repeats itself, Goldy wins, and I get a picture with the Bulldog mascot at the end of the game.
BRT: Fresno hasn’t been very good in recent years, have they? But it sure seems they are at least capable of scoring, though Idaho is very bad--this could be an interesting game for Minnesota.
87townie: Fresno State is gonna sink the boat this week. Fresno State looks like a legit team. They absolutely destroyed Idaho last week. They can score. They can defend. Special teams for Fresno blocked two field goals and took them both back for scores. Minnesota will need to be on their toes just to hang with Fresno State.
Stew: Seems like most people are now aware that Fresno State is pretty damn good. The gophers are not. MN can’t run the ball as well, and Annexstad is not quite ready for prime time. FSU wins.
MNW: If Minnesota turns it over 2+ times, they lose. Marcus McMaryion is going to march up and down the field unless the Gophers can get some pressure, and the Oregon State transfer moves his feet much better than whatever stiff New Mexico State was trotting out. So I’ll give it to the visiting Bulldogs. Fresno, 29-24.
Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0*) at Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0)
7pm | ABC | PSU -8.5 | O/U 55
Straight-Up: PSU, 18-5
Against the Spread: PSU, 12-11
GF3: Pitt ain’t it.
ziowa9: Pitt dominates the state.
Boilerman: Penn State wakes up in time to win, but doesn’t get going in time for the cover.
WSR: It’s a good thing that PSU looked completely dominant in that win over Appy State, isn’t it? There’s nothing at all to be worried about when going to in-state non-rival opponent people Pitt. I think PSU will get back on track, but I’ve got pages of “IT WAS JOE MOORHEAD ALL ALONG” jokes ready to go just in case the unexpected happens and Penn State shames the conference yet again.
BRT: PSU has a way of winning even when they shouldn’t, presumably just to piss off the universe, so I assume that continues here although they won’t deserve the win.
87townie: I’m more concerned about the Pitt game this week than I was a week ago. Pitt scored a touchdown on a kickoff. We gave one up last week. Pitt has a good scrambling quarterback. They have edge speed in Maurice French. However, they are vulnerable to the pass. PSU’s offense is too much and the defense holds it together. PSU wins and covers.
Stew: Pitt gives PSU a scare, but PSU pulls the win out of their butt in the waning moments. PSU fans start to believe in clutch.
DR: This could devolve into a rock fight. I’ll take psu.
MNW: I would normally take Pitt to keep this close, and at this point I’ve talked myself out of anything making sense. PSU punches them in the mouth on a couple Trace McSorely bombs, the Moorhead talk quiets, and the Lions roll. Penn State, 42-20.
Michigan State Spartans (1-0) at Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0)
9:45pm | ESPN | MSU -6.5 | O/U 53
Straight-Up: Michigan State, 18-5
Against the Spread: Michigan State, 13-10
GF3: MSU shows up this time.
ziowa9: MAMU wins, Herm’s team beats the spread.
Boilerman: Arizona State—traveling west doesn’t bode well for Sparty.
WSR: DO NOT GO ON THE ROAD TO PLAY PAC 12 TEAMS AFTER DARK! THIS IS A MISTAKE AND YOU WILL PAY FOR IT WITH BLOOD, SPARTY. Or, you know, the game. Because you’re getting screwed somehow by PAC refs.
BRT: Is there a single Spartan fan who feels confident in this game? Oof. It’ll be interesting to see how Sparty responds to laying that massive egg last week--but history shows that early-season MSU often has another shit-show or two in them before they hit their stride... so buckle up, Spartan fans, is what I’m saying.
87townie: Arizona State has some speed. They put the wood to the UTSA Road Runners last week. But Herm Edwards is no Mark Dantonio. Michigan State has something to prove after last week. They run Arizona State out of the stadium. MSU wins and covers.
Thump: Michigan State wins a track meet shootout and never wants to see N’Keal Harry again.
Stew: Hey, B1G teams, here’s a tip: Don’t play non-con games in Arizona. Bad things will happen. ASU wins.
DR: Until MSU proves otherwise, I have no faith in them. I am picking Herm straight up.
AK: Points, no upset, take the over on antacids for me.
MNW: Has a game at Arizona State ever had an O/U of 53?! That’s usually what one team scores by itself. Anyways, I’m taking the over, because I think we’re going to see a much more pass-happy MSU with Brian Lewerke, even if they do try to impose the run against Sparky. Give me Sparty, 35-28.
Vote in polls, comment with picks, etc. Happy weekend, y’all.
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Big XII football is better...
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...in the Big Ten
...in the PAC-12.
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America Needs Farmers
Actually Helping Farmers
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...a Virginia win
...an Indiana win
...an intrauterine device
...you can’t make me
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Pick the kinda-naked guy
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With the pitchfork
With the helmet and spear