Welcome back to another season of Big Ten action everyone! Last season, a lot of people were surprised by your Nittany Lions, but it seems that this year no one will underestimate Penn State, which enters the season as a top ten program. Around the league, Wisconsin looks to repeat as B1G West champs, while Ohio State is once again reloading. Can teams like Michigan and Nebraska make some noise and try to move out of third place in their divisions? How will this week’s B1G games go down? Let’s find out!
Big Ten Week 1 Preview
Buffalo (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0)
Thursday, 7:00 PM at Minneapolis, MN
Line: Minnesota -24.5
Minnesota could be one of those dark horse teams at the end of this season, especially with new head coach PJ Fleck in charge. A solid defense coupled with a decent run game means they’ll attempt to be Wisconsin Lite all season. Buffalo should be a good opening week test, but the Golden Gophers start their season with a Thursday night win.
Prediction: Minnesota 27, Buffalo 10
#2 Ohio State (0-0) at Indiana (0-0)
Thursday, 8:00 PM at Bloomington, IN
Line: Ohio State -22
What’s weirder than a Big Ten conference game in the opening weekend of college football? A Big Ten conference game on Thursday night of the opening weekend of college football! I’m pretty bullish on Indiana this year, but Ohio State has too many horses. This game could be close at halftime, but the Buckeyes pull away for a convincing win.
Prediction: Ohio State 45, Indiana 21
#8 Washington (0-0) at Rutgers (0-0)
Friday, 8:00 PM at Piscataway, NJ
Line: Washington -30.5
Oh man. Rutgers is going to have a pretty rough go of things this year, and it does not help them to have the defending PAC 12 champions coming to town. Washington wants to get back to the Playoff, and they make a resounding opening week statement.
Prediction: Washington 49, Rutgers 10
Utah State (0-0) at #9 Wisconsin (0-0)
Friday, 9:00 PM at Madison, WI
Line: Wisconsin -28
Remember last year, when everyone said Wisconsin would be a good team, but that their schedule would keep them from getting a B1G West championship? Yeah, this year’s version of Wisconsin is theoretically better than last year’s, AND they have an easier schedule. I think the biggest enemy the Badgers face this year will be themselves, and 12-0 is on the table. Wisconsin wins a laugher.
Prediction: Wisconsin 42, Utah State 14
Maryland (0-0) at #23 Texas (0-0)
Saturday, 12:00 PM at Austin, TX
Line: Texas -18.5
DJ Durkin has Maryland on the rise, of that there can be very little doubt. Problem is that the previous regime did not leave much in the cupboards. Tom Herman takes over for a Longhorn team that is not short on talent, thanks to ex-coach Charlie Strong. The Terrapins put up a fight, but Texas prevails.
Prediction: Texas 37, Maryland 21
Ball State (0-0) at Illinois (0-0)
Saturday, 12:00 PM at Champaign, IL
Line: Illinois -6.5
Illinois figures to be one of the B1G West’s bottom dwellers for the foreseeable future, and so this game against Ball State may be one of very few chances for Lovie Smith to notch a win. I’ll take the Illini to win here, but don’t be surprised if it takes a last second score to clinch it.
Prediction: Illinois 31, Ball State 27
Wyoming (0-0) at Iowa (0-0)
Saturday, 12:00 PM at Iowa City, IA
Line: Iowa -11.5
Hoo boy. So here’s the thing: Iowa probably won’t be as good as they were last year, as they’ve lost a good amount of talent. Conversely, Wyoming is one of those sneaky good teams, and happens to be helmed by potential #1 overall NFL Draft Josh Allen. Iowa has shown that they are not immune to early season upsets, losing to FCS North Dakota State last year. I’ll tentatively pick the Hawkeyes to win, but a loss here would not surprise me in the least.
Prediction: Iowa 24, Wyoming 14
Bowling Green (0-0) at Michigan State (0-0)
Saturday, 12:00 PM at East Lansing, MI
Line: Michigan State -17
Michigan State did not have the best year last year, and has lost a TON of talent. That being said, MSU got to the playoffs a couple years ago off of Mark Dantonio’s ability to turn not-so-good talent into pretty-good talent. If anyone can turn the Spartans around, it will be him. Bowling Green also had a poor year, and so Sparty gets to notch at least one win under their belt this season.
Prediction: Michigan State 35, Bowling Green 14
#17 Florida (0-0) at #11 Michigan (0-0)
Saturday, 3:30 PM at Arlington, TX
Line: Michigan -5
Michigan finished third in their division in 2016 with a squad chock full of talent and senior leadership. This year they’ll just be talented, which may just be enough to repeat last year’s magic. Originally I was leaning toward the Gators for this one, but approximately all of their players are suspended for the season opener. The Fightin’ Harbaughs get the win in Texas.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Florida 27
Nevada (0-0) at Northwestern (0-0)
Saturday, 3:30 PM at Evanston, IL
Line: Northwestern -24
I really like Northwestern to compete for the West this year, as their backfield may be the second best in the conference. Nevada, meanwhile, suffered a losing season in 2016, including a bad loss to a 4-8 Notre Dame squad. I’ll take the Wildcats to run all over the Wolfpack.
Prediction: Northwestern 42, Nevada 14
#16 Louisville (0-0) at Purdue (0-0)
Saturday, 7:30 PM at Indianapolis, IN
Line: Louisville -24.5
How cruel must the football gods be to allow Purdue to schedule anyone other than Texas State or FAU in their nonconference? Louisville won’t be as good as last year, but they’re still going to run roughshod on the Boilermakers in a game that is inexplicably being played in prime time in Indianapolis. Cover your kids’ eyes.
Prediction: Louisville 56, Purdue 17
Arkansas State (0-0) at Nebraska (0-0)
Saturday, 8:00 PM at Lincoln, NE
Line: Nebraska -16.5
Hey, did you hear that Nebraska had four losses last year? That’s weird, I’m pretty sure they got rid of a pretty good - if somewhat feline-obsessed - coach for finishing every season with four losses. Strange. In any case, I don’t think Arkansas State will be one of Nebraska’s four losses this year, so Big Red gets the W at home under the lights.
Prediction: Nebraska 45, Arkansas State 28
BSD Staff Picks
In all my year of blogging, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such unanimity among a blogging staff like this week. Of the 13 games, only three have picks that aren’t uniform across the board. First, Eli likes the Terrapins to take down the Longhorns, which seems like a longshot to me. Next, Cari and Rowen are calling for the Gators, playing with both hands behind their back, to defeat the Wolverines. Lastly, Jared, Tim, and Rowen all like the Cowboys to beat Iowa, which would be a very Iowa thing to do. What say you, dear reader? Did the masthead get it right?