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Big Ten Preview: Week Three

Each of the Big Ten conference contests in bloggerific preview.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The B1G rebounded in a big way last week, undefeated minus the two additions. Thanks Delaney! Somehow this week became an impromptu ACC-B1G challenge with five games between the conferences.

Illinois @ North Carolina

When: Saturday, 12pm ESPN2

Line: North Carolina -9.5

Over/Under: 63.5

This is the game you could count on Tim Beckman to lose, but under a new, competent coach the Iliini may actually steal a victory on the road. The Tar Heels lost to an unimpressive South Carolina to open the season and got their first victory against North Carolina A&T last week. The most notable detail about North Carolina is Gene Chizik was hired as defensive coordinator this offseason.

South Florida @ Maryland

When: Saturday, 12pm ESPNU

Line: Maryland -7

Over/Under: 51

Maryland was completely embarrassed by Bowling Green last week and caused something of a meltdown. The Terps are currently a mess on offense and are changing quarterbacks this week, but defense is where everything is on fire and seemingly have no solutions. South Florida was competitive with Florida State for the first half last week, before getting run over. Former-Nittany Lion Steven Bench is still the back-up quarterback on the Bulls roster and saw some mop up duty week one against Florida A&M.

UNLV @ Michigan

When: Saturday, 12pm BTN

Line: Michigan -34

Over/Under: 49.5

For as much press as the Jim Harbaugh hire got, perhaps the most interesting hire was by UNLV as they tapped Bishop Gorman coach, Tony Sanchez, to take over the Rebels. High school coaches going directly to head coach position in college is generally ill advised, Gus Malzahn took the more successful coordinator route first, and while the immediate returns have been unsuccessful it's far too early to judge. Michigan eventually got itself sorted out after trailing in the first quarter and blew out an underwhelming Oregon State in Ann Arbor last week.

Air Force @ #4 Michigan State

When: Saturday, 12pm ABC

Line: Michigan State -26.5

Over/Under: 59

The Spartans have the marquee win for the conference with their victory over the Ducks last week, despite repeated predictions of collapse by a number of observers during the game. Michigan State's balanced offensive attack proved too much for Oregon to stop consistently. This week, Air Force and their linebacker coach, Ron Vanderlinden, who has plenty of experience against the Spartans, come to town.

Kent State @ Minnesota

When: Saturday, 12pm BTN

Line: Minnesota -24

Over/Under: 46.5

Following their impressive showing against TCU in a loss, the Gophers eked out a victory on the road at Colorado State. The question is which Minnesota is the real team? Was one of the first two weeks an outlier or is this a team that plays up or down to the level of their competition each week? Kent State has looked pretty bad this year, meaning those questions probably won't get answered this week.

#23 Northwestern @ Duke

When: Saturday, 12:30pm ESPN3

Line: Duke -3.5

Over/Under: 48

This could prove to be a measuring stick game for the conference, however, oddly enough, this game is relegated to ESPN3, which I thought wasn't supposed to happen anymore since the BTN came into existence. Northwestern defeated Stanford to open the season, but must travel on the road to face the Blue Devils. Duke really hasn't been tested yet this season, instead living on the reputation David Cutcliffe has established the past few years.

Nebraska @ Miami

When: Saturday, 3:30pm ABC/ESPN2

Line: Miami -3

Over/Under: 58

Al Golden is on the hot seat at Miami and needs to continue riding the wave of blowouts to open the season. Nebraska should be the Hurricanes stiffest test yet, but really might not be that great this year. Miami could be putting together a potent offense with Kaaya and Yearby. The defense, on the other hand, is still an unknown and will certainly have their chance to shine against the Huskers.

Northern Illinois @ #1 Ohio State

When: Saturday, 3:30pm ABC/ESPN2

Line: Ohio State -34.5

Over/Under: 66.5

There's not much to say for these games with Ohio State. The Buckeyes are good. So, let's talk about our old friend Bert down in Arkansas, who can't help but say dumb things. I can't wait for his return to the B1G, when Iowa hires him in a year or two. In the meantime, Bert can whine all he wants, but until he starts beating teams like Toledo, maybe he ought to focus on his schedule instead of worrying about what happens in another conference.

Virginia Tech @ Purdue

When: Saturday, 3:30pm ESPNU

Line: Virginia Tech -6

Over/Under: 46.5

Virginia Tech will take an elite road trip to West Lafayette to discover the wonder of the B1G known as Purdue. If the Boilermakers manage to steal a victory against the Hokies, this may ultimately prove to be the end of the Frank Beamer era in Blacksburg. This is simply the one game the ACC cannot afford to lose.

Troy @ #24 Wisconsin

When: Saturday, 3:30pm BTN

Line: Wisconsin -34.5

Over/Under: 58

Troy opened the season getting routed by NC State, so this shouldn't be much of a contest for Wisconsin. The Badgers still haven't got their running game churning yet, instead choosing to let Joel Stave still handle the bulk of the offense. Look for Wisconsin to continue to work on their running game and again turn the defense loose as they did against Miami(OH) last week.

Western Kentucky @ Indiana

When: Saturday, 4pm ESPNNews

Line: Indiana -1.5

Over/Under: 69.5

The line for this game is only 69.5 and it has all the hallmarks of an offensive track meet. "Chaos Team" has little interest in defense and the Hilltoppers have moved the ball well thus far. Ultimately, this could come down to turnovers in order for one team to grab the edge.

Pittsburgh @ Iowa

When: Saturday, 8pm BTN

Line: Iowa -5.5

Over/Under: 47

Pat Narduzzi returns to the B1G as he brings 5B to Iowa. Kirk Ferentz has bucked trends this year with a pair of kind of impressive performances, perhaps sensing his job may be on the line. I might be more inclined to pick 5B given Narduzzi's familiarity with the conference and not complete lack of talent on the Panthers, but under the lights in Iowa City, I like the Hawkeyes chances to keep their season opening winning streak going.