With no "big games" on the slate this week, the Big Ten is nonetheless underdogs according to oddsmakers in five of the twelve matchups this week. The conference also reverts back to tried and true Saturday-only play, and has seven away games in the second week of play.
Illinois (1-0) at Arizona State (1-0)
Line: Arizona State -3.5 Last week saw Illinois cruise to a 24-7 victory over Western Michigan, but their starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase got hurt in the process. Scheelhaase is now questionable to play versus the Sun Devils, who decimated an FCS school last week.
Likely winner: Arizona State. Despite the fact that they're coached by Todd Graham (oh, he's still there?), Arizona State would probably beat a Fighting Illini team at full strength. Even if Scheelhaase can play, he will likely not be at full strength, and traveling down to Phoenix definitely won't help.
Indiana (1-0) at Massachusetts (0-1)
Line: Indiana -13.5 Indiana takes on its second FCS opponent in as many weeks when...wait, what? No? Massachusetts plays its second game in the upper division this week as it hosts the Hoosiers, who barely escaped at home versus FCS opponent Indiana State last week. Massachusetts is coming off a handed defeat against UConn.
Likely winner: Push. I know, I know, I thought Indiana State would pull the upset last week. And I'm thinking the same this week, as UMass plays its first FBS game at home. Indiana already matched its win total from last year (perhaps not coincidentally, their sole win last year was against an FCS opponent) and the fact that this is on the road doesn't bode well for the Hoosiers. Regardless, look for Indiana to not cover this spread.
Iowa (1-0) vs Iowa State (1-0)
Line: Iowa -4.5 Last year, ISU beat the Hawkeyes in triple overtime at home to capture their first in-state crown since 2007. This year, look for Iowa to attempt to exact revenge.
Likely winner: Push. For emotions alone, I'd look for the Hawkeyes to win easily, but their offensive woes last week against Northern Illinois (four field goals on five attempts, with the sole touchdown for Iowa coming with about 2 minutes left in the game) leave a lot to be desired. This should be a close rivalry game in Kinnick.
Michigan (#19, 0-1) vs Air Force (1-0)
Line: Michigan -21.5 The Wolverines pretty much got embarrassed in Dallas last week versus the defending national champions, and they will most likely be out to prove something, to others and themselves, this week in their home opener. Helping the home team out offensively will be running back Fitzgerald Toussant, who returns from a one-game suspension this week.
Likely winner: Michigan. Though I'm still not convinced the Wolverines are as good as their lofty preseason ranking would suggest, their dismal performance last week, Hoke's coaching ability, and the fact that the Falcons returned only four starters from their 2011 squad all add up to a big day in the Big House for Michigan.
Michigan State (#11, 1-0) at Central Michigan (1-0)
Line: Michigan State -20.5 While technically a road game for the Spartans, there should be plenty of green in CMU's stadium, located about 60 miles away from East Lansing. This isn't the Central Michigan team from a few years ago, either; the two years since Dan LeFevour graduated saw the Chippewas compile a 6-18 record.
Likely winner: Michigan State. And it won't be close. Le'Veon Bell had 265 all-purpose yards against Boise last week, and though the Broncos aren't known as a complete defensive juggernaut, look for him to replicate that type of performance this week as he makes a case for himself in the midseason Heisman race.
Minnesota (1-0) vs New Hampshire (#12 FCS, 1-0)
Line: n/a The Golden Gophers have had a bit of an FCS problem the last two years, losing to South Dakota and North Dakota State at home in 2010 and 2011 respectively. They look to correct that acknowledged problem this year versus New Hampshire.
Likely winner: Push. While the odds are in favor of Minnesota finally getting the better of their lower division demon, the triple-OT game the Gophers played last week at UNLV won't help matters. Plus, confidence plays a bit part in FCS upsets, and the Wildcats will look at the last few years and know they have a shot. This one should be close.
Nebraska (#16, 1-0) at UCLA (1-0)
Line: Nebraska -5.5 Rex Burkhead is questionable this week after injuring his knee versus Southern Mississippi last week. UCLA, like the Huskers, dominated a CUSA opponent last week, putting up 49 points versus Rice. Still...
Likely winner: Nebraska. Even without Burkhead, Nebraska will likely dominate. I was impressed last week with how they handled a good Southern Miss team after a slow start, and even though this game is on the road and they might be without their best offensive weapon, the Cornhuskers should be able easily plug any holes in their game and come out on top, by double digits.
Northwestern (1-0) vs Vanderbilt (0-1)
Line: Vanderbilt -3.5 In the battle of the smarties, the Commodores visit Evanston this week after narrowly losing to South Carolina. The Wildcats themselves were in a tight game last week, but came through on the winning end, defeating Syracuse on the road by one in typical high scoring, low-defense Northwestern fashion.
Likely winner: Vanderbilt. Even though they lost, the showing that Vandy made versus a top-ten team last week was impressive. Northwestern's showing versus the Orange, on the other hand? Not so much. As the home field "advantage" at Ryan Field is typically virtually non-existent, I'm expecting Vanderbilt to more than cover this week.
Ohio State (#14, 1-0) vs UCF (1-0)
Line: Ohio State -18 This is the Knights' second game in two weeks in the state of Ohio after demolishing the Akron Zips last week. OSU is coming off a slow start that developed into a throttling of Miami (OH), and will have additional incentive now that it's been announced that they can claim a divisional title despite their bowl ban.
Likely winner: Ohio State. Central Florida under George O'Leary is much better than many give it credit for, but it still won't be enough to overcome the Buckeyes. I have no gauge on what the score would be like (anything from a blowout OSU win to a low-scoring closer contest really wouldn't surprise me) but the Bucks will come out on top.
Purdue (1-0) at Notre Dame (#22, 1-0)
Line: Notre Dame -14 The Irish had luck with them last week as they beat Navy to a near-pulp in Ireland early last Saturday morning. Purdue catches a break as anointed starting quarterback Caleb TerBush returns after a one game suspension for violation of team rules (Miami transfer Robert Marve started in his stead in last week's beatdown of FCS Eastern Kentucky).
Likely winner: Notre Dame. I didn't want to be impressed with the win last week....but I was. Dammit. I still see this Fighting Irish team as dropping at least two or three this season (potentially all the remaining Big Ten and Pac 12 games), but after last week, I don't think this is one of them. Could be closer than the line, especially if some of those who predicted the Boilermakers as a darkhorse Big Ten candidate are correct, but I see the Irish pulling it off at home.
Wisconsin (#13, 1-0) at Oregon State (0-0)
Line: Wisconsin -7 Oh, Bret Bielema. Your douchiness knows no bounds, does it? This week, the Badgers' coach refused to send game film from his team's win over Northern Iowa to the Beavers, and even reached out to other Big Ten schools to request they not send film either. It doesn't help that this will be Oregon State's season opener, after their game versus Nicholls State was postponed from last week due to Hurricane Isaac.
Likely winner: Wisconsin. While stranger things have happened in Corvalis (see: OSU vs. USC, 2008), I'd be very surprised if the Badgers drop this one. This isn't last year's Badger team, but it also isn't the Oregon State team that the Rogers brothers brought to national relevance. The Badgers should win by double digits.
Agree? Disagree? Think I'm from planet Crazy Football Lady (what else is new)? Sound off in the comments.
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