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Big Ten Preview: Week One

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Each of the Big Ten conference contests in bloggerific preview.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to college football season! The offseason seems like it gets longer and longer every year, but we made it through yet again and here's our reward. After years of being the laughing stock, the B1G suddenly has a shine and won't be constantly searching for validation, still some positive results in a few games and avoiding slip ups in others will go a long way toward how this season plays out.

Michigan @ Utah

When: Thursday, 8:30pm FS1

Line: Utah -5.5

Over/Under: 46

Where did we leave the Wolverines? They canned a coach and an AD, hired some new guys to do those things, and even managed to sneak in a book about the whole ordeal. Anyways, Jim Harbaugh and his frightening cult are rolling into Utah to kick-off the season. Surprisingly, Michigan has a lot of sunny predictions for this season, but those only seem realistic if Brady Hoke was one of the worst football coaches ever. The Utes are finally at a Power-5 conference level of talent following the move to the Pac 12 and should have stout defense with questions surrounding their offense.

#2 TCU @ Minnesota

When: Thursday, 9pm ESPN

Line: TCU -15

Over/Under: 57.5

Where did we leave the Gophers? Jerry Kill keeps marching Minnesota up the B1G West standings and could win the whole damned thing this year. TCU is a playoff favorite, so it's not the best scenario for the Gophers to start the season and they didn't fare terribly well in this game last year. Losing their top running back and receiver probably won't change their fortunes against the Horned Frogs, but that won't impact the long term trajectory over the course of their season.

#5 Michigan State @ Western Michigan

When: Friday, 7pm ESPNU

Line: Michigan State -18

Over/Under: 58.5

Where did we leave the Spartans? Beating a Baylor team that was just outside the Playoff by the slimmest of margins was the other big reason the perception of the B1G changed. PJ Fleck's Broncos have been out recruiting some B1G squads, Michigan State is not one of those teams. Spartan DC Pat Narduzzi left to coach Pitt and it remains to be seen how much that will impact Michigan State this season, however the talent is there to for a potential playoff run.

Kent State @ Illinois

When: Friday, 9pm BTN

Line: Illinois -14.5

Over/Under: 52

Where did we leave the Illini? Our beautiful buffoon coach Tim Beckman managed to survive the season just be be axed last week. Bill Cubit takes the reins in what is probably an upgrade in every way, whether this actually gets things sorted out or Mike Thomas decides he needs to make another terrible hire has yet to play out. Mike Dudek tore his ACL, so offensively Illinois won't be near their potential, but Kent State is probably a middle of the road MAC team and shouldn't be too much of a hurdle. All that said, never count out MACtion.

#21 Stanford @ Northwestern

When: Saturday, 12pm ESPN

Line: Stanford -12

Over/Under: 46.5

Where did we leave the Wildcats? Losing the finale left them on the outside of the bowl picture, but it probably extended Tim Beckman beyond the season, so we all won a little bit anyway. Stanford is a popular darkhorse playoff candidate and Northwestern will be breaking in a new starting QB after what feels like almost a decade of Trevor Siemian behind center.

Illinois State @ Iowa

When: Saturday, 12pm BTN

Line: Off

Over/Under: Off

Where did we leave the Hawkeyes? Iowa is in a state of suspended animation, Kirk Ferentz is still the coach, but maybe they can finally afford his buyout. The interesting question is what exactly is the bar he need to clear in what will likely be yet another middling season. Don't sleep on the Redbirds, as it would classic Iowa to lose to Illinois State to open the season.

Richmond @ Maryland

When: Saturday, 12pm ESPNU

Line: Off

Over/Under: Off

Where did we leave the Terrapins? Maryland got exposed terribly by the aforementioned Stanford in their bowl and hangs their hat on a victory the barely eked out over the weakest Penn State team, potentially ever. Randy Edsall seems primed to supplant Tim Beckman as the requisite buffoon coach of the B1G, a proud tradition, as he continues to clownishly do everything possible to make a rivalry. Richmond will be another opportunity for the Terps to puff out their chests.

Norfolk State @ Rutgers

When: Saturday, 12pm ESPNNews

Line: Off

Over/Under: Off

Where did we leave the Scarlet Knights? Ralph Friedgen walked away from the offensive coordinator position and with him probably the biggest reason for Rutgers' success last year.  Don't worry about the BTPR fans though, I'm sure they have the Scarlet Knights spot in the Playoff this year written in Sharpie.

BYU @ Nebraska

When: Saturday, 3:30pm ABC

Line: Nebraska -7

Over/Under: 63.5

Where did we leave the Cornhuskers? Nebraska traded in consistency for uncertainty in hiring Mike Riley to replace Bo Pelini. The Huskers have decided nine wins isn't acceptable, as it once did with Frank Solich, we'll see if they have to learn the same lesson again. BYU is an interesting opponent and one I hope Penn State works to get back on the schedule, but as an independent not named Notre Dame it's difficult to have too high of a ceiling.

Southern Illinois @ Indiana

When: Saturday, 4pm ESPNNews

Line: Off

Over/Under: Off

Where did we leave the Hoosiers? "Chaos Team" fell apart last season after their quarterback went down, this season it might finally get over the hump and to a bowl. Tevin Coleman may be gone this year, but in true Indiana fashion they'll still have to have to need to keep scoring and praying the defense can make a stop occasionally.

#20 Wisconsin @ #3 Alabama

When: Saturday, 8pm ABC

Line: Alabama -10.5

Over/Under: 50.5

Where did we leave the Badgers? Gary Andersen escaped the helicopter AD/coach Barry Alvarez for Oregon State and Paul Chryst returned to Madison, meanwhile QB Joel Stave has reportedly conquered his case of the yips. Alabama is still wondering why they weren't awarded a MNC for simply winning the SEC, but Wisconsin lost Melvin Gordon and the Crimson Tide look to be better than the LSU squad the Badgers pushed to the limit last year.

Purdue @ Marshall

When: Sunday, 4pm FS1

Line: Marshall -7.5

Over/Under: 63

Where did we leave the Boilermakers? To be honest, I keep forgetting Purdue exists. Darrell Hazell has cobbled together a team out of thin air and will do so until a real program snatches him away. Purdue might even win some games this year, though probably not this week, any upsets among them will probably expedite Hazell's departure to much greener pastures.

#1 Ohio State @ Virginia Tech

When: Monday, 8 pm ABC

Line: Ohio State -12

Over/Under: 53.5

Where did we leave the Buckeyes? Last seen going through the College Football Playoff like a hot knife through butter and entering this season as a double digit favorite every game this season, Ohio State has morphed from punchline to juggernaut. Avenging their lone loss will probably lead to a blowout of the Hokies, despite missing a number of key pieces. The question remains whether the Buckeyes will be the buzzsaw everyone is predicting.