Big Ten Preview: Week 3

Northern Illinois at Illinois (12:00, Big Ten Network)

After the Fighting Zooks took care of their confederate brethren (Southern Illinois) 35-3 last week, they face their upstate neighbors, the Northern Illinois Huskies. A member of the MAC, Northern Illinois is likely going to be without their head coach who has been in the hospital since Sunday fighting complications from a recent surgery.  Nevertheless, the Illini are curiously favored by less than a TD (6.5), even though the Huskies lost to Iowa State by 17 in week one.  This is Illinois' last tune up before playing Ohio State October 2, as they're off next Saturday.

Ohio at Ohio State (12:00, Big Ten Network)

The Bobcats of OU are trying to replicate the success they had in the first three quarters against Ohio State two years ago, when they led 14-12 before being outscored by two touchdowns in the final frame. After last week's big win against Miami, there's certainly a risk of a let down by the Buckeyes, but the guys in the desert doubt it: they like the home team by 30.5.

Ball State at Purdue (12:00, Big Ten Network)

Purdue tries to go to 2-1 as they face the Ball State Fighting Lettermans on Saturday at Ross-Ade stadium. Ball State lost to Liberty last week and travels to Kinnick next week. They seem far removed from the days of Jason Whitlcok anchoring the o-line, and Purdue ought to make quick work of them.

Massachusetts at Michigan (12:00, Big Ten Network)

There are four Big Ten games on the Big Ten Network at noon; this is the only one in which the visiting team isn't from the MAC. The fans of the Massachusetts Minutemen, the despised Mass-holes who've helped ruin MLB for me, apparently heard about how obnoxious Michigan fans can be and decided they ought to show them what obnoxious is. The most compelling question in this one is likely whether or not Denard Robinson shows any signs of slowing down. After this one, Michigan hosts Bowling Green and then travels to Indiana before their next true test when Sparty drives down to visit the whore (i.e. Ann Arbor) on October 9.

Southern California at Minnesota (3:30, ESPN)

For Tim Brewster's sake, I hope (and Goldy prays) that Minnesota lost last week because they spent their entire week preparing for USC instead of South Dakota. While that one bit them in their Golden behind, all would be forgiven if they could somehow take down visiting USC on national TV. The Trojans haven't been playing particularly well on defense, and if the weather intervenes to help slowdown the USC attack, I think Minnesota might have a chance.  Maybe Vegas does too, because the 12 point spread seems low to me.

Arizona State at Wisconsin (3:30, ABC)

Ex-scUM quarterback Steven Threet leads the undefeated Sun Devils into Camp Randall where the Badgers hope to win their 26th straight home contest. Threet lead the Wolverines to a victory against Wisconsin in 2008 -- and that Badger team was ranked 9th, two spots better than Wiscy is right now - but the experts still like Wisconsin by two touchdowns. Despite their two wins, Wisconsin has underwhelmed me so far, presumably they'll get up for the first true test.

Indiana at Western Kentucky (5:00, Big Ten Network)

Folk Hero and Indiana QB Ben Chappel returns to the gridiron after the Hoosiers took a week off to prepare for the 0-2 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.  If you're wondering why there's a push to expand the conference schedule to 9 games when Nebraska starts playing in the Big Ten, look no further than Bowling Green, Kentucky. While some Big Ten teams can sell enough season tickets to sell out against FCS teams, others are forced to travel to arguably the worst team in college football, a team that has lost 22 straight games.

Northwestern at Rice (7:00)

There's a lot about this game that I frankly don't understand. It appears not to be on television. Despite the fact that Northwestern has looked solid in their first two outings-and QB Dan Persa has been near perfect-the Wildcats are favored by less than a touchdown (6.5) against the 1-1 Conference USA Rice Owls, who only beat the North Texas Mean Green 32-31 last week. Northwestern will likely be favored in every game they play-save against MSU in Evanston-before they travel to Happy Valley on November 6 and could definitely give us a scare the week after we play Michigan.

Notre Dame at Michigan State (8:00, ABC)

A real interesting game in East Lansing on Saturday night. I don't know what to think of either of these teams ; MSU is 2-0 (and has the 11th best rushing attack in the country) against weak competition. The Irish beat a Purdue team that appears to be at least a year away from being a legit threat, but probably could have beaten Michigan last week if Dayne Crist hadn't been injured. Sparty's favored by 3 and a half, which is right in the ballpark of Vegas throwing their hands up in the air and saying they don't know what to expect. There's a 30 percent chance of rain, but it's unlikely that we see anything like the 2006 game and its hurricane-esque rains in which Mike Valenti soaked his onions, but here's hoping we somehow get a radio clip that's just as hilarious after this one.

Iowa at Arizona (10:30, ESPN)

Your gambler's special features the Iowa Hawkeyes traveling to play in front of their grandparents in Tucson. Unlike last year and the come-from-behind victories that typified Iowa's season, the Hawkeyes have looked solid in each of their first two contests. This one figures to be closer -- Vegas likes Iowa by 2 - as the 24th ranked Wildcats feature a prolific passing attack. But I have a feeling that it's going to be a feast for Adrian Clayborn and Iowa's front seven, who likely will have plenty of opportunities to attack Arizona QB Nick Foles, another Pac 10 passer who transferred from a Big Ten school, in his case, MSU. 

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