Big Ten Preview: Week 3

SOUTH BEND IN - SEPTEMBER 04: Keith Smith #8 of the Purdue Boilermakers is stopped by Darrin Walls #2 (R) and Jamoris Slaughter #26 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 4 2010 in South Bend Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


Well, despite having what I called last week as "no big games", the Big Ten didn't fare so well in week two, huh? The conference looks to rebound big this week, with no games on the road, and with the Big Ten favored in every single contest.

Illinois (1-1) vs Charleston Southern (0-2)

Line: n/a Charleston Southern isn't exactly the cream of the lower-division crop, having lost to the Citadel and Jacksonville in their first two weeks this season. Still, the Illini did give up 45 points and 510 total offensive yards last week in the beating they took from Arizona State.

Likely winner: Illinois. Despite the still-questionable status of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, the Illini should be able to rebound this week versus the Buccaneers. Rebound enough, at least, to get to 2-1.

Indiana (2-0) vs Ball State (1-1)

Line: Indiana -2.5 What's that you say? Indiana has the best record in their division in the conference? No, it isn't a joke, but the offensive proficiency of the Hoosiers might take a dip this week, as JuCo transfer Cameron Coffman takes over the starting quarterback role from Tre Roberson, who suffered a "clean break" of his leg in last week's win versus UMass. Roberson should be out the rest of the season.

Likely winner: Push. I keep picking the Hoosiers to lose, and they keep defying my diminished expectations. The loss of Roberson, though, who accounted for 21 of the Hoosiers' 45 points last week, may give the Cardinals an edge. Despite a beatdown by Clemson last week, Ball State is still eighth in the nation in rushing yards per game; if the Indiana defense can't keep that in check, it may be a long day.

Iowa (1-1) vs Northern Iowa (#6, 1-1)

Line: n/a Iowa comes off a very demoralizing loss versus in-state rival Iowa State last week, and have seen their offensive production slow down to a crawl this year; in two weeks, the Hawkeyes have totalled one touchdown on offense, and a combined total of 24 points (112th in the nation in offense), barely crawling by Northern Illinois (by one point) in week one. And this is no slouch of an FCS team, so...

Likely winner: Push. Northern Iowa took Wisconsin to the wire in week one, going into Madison and keeping it scarily close with the Badgers. They then rebounded by demolishing a fellow lower-division opponent, beating Central State 59-0. This game will likely be too close for comfort for the black and gold.

Michigan (#17, 1-1) vs Massachusetts (2-0)

Line: Michigan -47 This line seems a bit excessive...but it may not be. The Minutemen have been embarrassed in their first two games at the FCS level, losing to Connecticut and Indiana (Connecticut and Indiana) by a combined total of 82-6.

Likely winner: Michigan. The Wolverines' D were run over by Air Force last week, allowing the Falcons to gain 417. Despite the win, Michigan only outgained their opponent by five yards, and had seven fewer first downs. That being said...it's UMass. The Wolverines will take this one running.

Michigan State (#10, 2-0) vs Notre Dame (#20, 2-0)

Line: Michigan State -6 On paper, this is hands down the best game in the conference this week. Notre Dame plays its first game after the announcement of its move to the ACC (in all sports besides this one, natch), and their starting QB, Everett Golson, will definitely play despite sustaining a thumb injury in last week's close win over Purdue. That being said...

Likely winner: Michigan State. The Spartans' offense looked anemic in week one versus Boise, having issues moving the ball and with turnovers. They turned it around last week in their 41-7 throttling of Central Michigan, tallying almost 500 yards of offense. With a defense this good (arguably the best in the conference, not allowing a single offensive touchdown this year), their offense can get by with being merely okay the rest of the year, and the Spartans should still be a Big Ten championship contender.

Minnesota (2-0) vs Western Michigan (1-1)

Line: Minnesota -2.5 If you'd have told me before the season started that only five B1G teams would be undefeated headed into week 3, I would've shrugged and said, okay, not out of the realm of possibility. If you'd have said two of those teams were Indiana and Minnesota, I would've laughed you out of the room. The Golden Gophers are 2-0 for the first time since 2009, after their triple overtime win at UNLV last week.

Likely winner: Push. It's still Minnesota, and though they're favored, it should still be a close one. The Broncos lost to Illinois the first week of the season, then roared back and demolished Eastern Illinois last week.

Nebraska (1-1) vs Arkansas State (1-1)

Line: Nebraska -24.5 Coach Bo Pelini was reportedly disgusted by the Huskers' loss to UCLA last week, a game in which Nebraska let the Bruins roll up 653 yards of offense--close to the most yards a Cornhusker defense has ever given up. The Red Wolves were themselves demolished at Oregon in week one, but roared back and had 619 yards of offense themselves in week two versus Memphis.

Likely winner: Nebraska. I wouldn't want to be near Pelini when he's mad. I don't know if the Huskers will cover, but look for a 1-2 start for Arkansas State in Head Coach Gus Malzahn's (former offensive coordinator of Arkansas, Tulsa, and Auburn) first season with the Red Wolves.

Northwestern (2-0) vs Boston College (1-1)

Line: Northwestern -3.5 Boston College lost to Miami after a quick 14-0 lead, then rebounded last week by beating Maine. The Wildcats have banged out two wins in typical Northwestern fashion these past two weeks, beating solid teams in Syracuse and Vandy, letting up a fair amount of points but outscoring their opponents at the end.

Likely winner: Push. Northwestern looks to avoid the midseason collapse that plagued them last year, and Boston College looks to improve in ball control offense after having five turnovers in the first two games. With no decisive home field advantage in Evanston, this should be another close one for guys in purple.

Ohio State (#12, 2-0) vs California (1-1)

Line: Ohio State -17 The Buckeyes' starting running back Carlos Hyde will be out this week, injured like the preseason starting Buckeye running back Jordan Hall. The probable starter for Ohio State in that position is true freshman Bri'onte Dunn, but that shouldn't be an issue for a squad that started slow against UCF last week, but pulled away halfway through the game.

Likely winner: Ohio State. The Golden Bears lost to Nevada in week one, and allowed FCS Southern Utah to within 3 points in the fourth quarter of that game last week. Another line that I could see being not close--in favor of the Buckeyes.

Purdue (1-1) vs Eastern Michigan (0-2)

Line: Purdue -24 QB Robert Marve suffered more damage to his ACL (his third time being sidelined with such an injury) in last week's loss to Notre Dame, which cements Caleb TerBush as the Boilermaker starter at that position. This shouldn't be a problem for Purdue, with both QBs having gotten significant reps in the past.

Likely winner: Purdue. It won't be close. Purdue had a shot against Notre Dame before losing that one, and Eastern Michigan is not the Irish. The Eagles lost to FCS team Illiois State last week, turning the ball over five times in the process. Purdue wins this one, big.

Wisconsin (1-1) vs Utah State (2-0)

Line: Wisconsin -14 In retrospect, last week's game between the Badgers and Oregon State shouldn't have been such a big surprise. Wisconsin is notorious for playing significantly worse on the road than in Madison, and Danny O'Brien and the Badger offense was held to just 207 total yards in the 10-7 loss to the Beavers after barely scraping by FCS Northern Iowa in the first week. That being said...

Likely winner: Wisconsin. This game is in Camp Randall, which means the Badgers will probably win. It might be closer than predicted, as Utah State is no slouch (just ask the Utes after last week's contest), but this is also the Aggies' first away game of the season, and first opponent outside the state of Utah. Wisconsin fired its offensive line coach after last week's dismal performance, and look for the production on that side of the ball to pick up at least somewhat this week.

Agree? Disagree? Think I'm from planet Crazy Football Lady (what else is new)? Sound off in the comments.


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