It’s here! It’s really here! Penn State, and the rest of the Big Ten, will finally get their respective shows started. And my, there are some bangers right off the bat. Michigan at Minnesota, Nebraska at Ohio State, and even Illinois at Wisconsin provide just enough intrigue to keep those games on the TV. With everything going on, and with having to be on point from day one, this season will prove to be quite exciting. And, if the rest of the country is any indication, expect the unexpected. To the games!
Illinois at No. 14 Wisconsin
8 PM Eastern (Friday), BTN
Illinois was one of the few teams able to beat Wisconsin last season (Ohio State and Oregon being the other two), and the Badgers likely have revenge on their mind as they open the season. Wisconsin does have to contend with the loss of Jack Coan, who is out indefinitely, while Illinois brings back a number of guys who already know how to beat the Badgers. Graham Mertz is expected to replace Coan at quarterback, and most consider him to be the better option overall. No one, however, would have wanted his first game in college to come in such a situation.
Should you Watch? Do you have any other plans?
Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Illinois 17
Nebraska at No. 5 Ohio State
Noon Eastern, Fox
Ohio State -27.5
The running joke is that Nebraska’s insubordination led to the kind of schedule they were given, but the reality is the Huskers were in trouble in all three variations of the 2020 schedule. Did they have to open with Ohio State on the road? Ask Kevin Warren to see what he thinks. All that said, the last time Nebraska played in Columbus, they nearly pulled the upset. Will this be the year the Huskers start to compete with the big dogs in the Big Ten?
Should You Watch? Yes, if only for the LOLs.
Prediction: Ohio State 49, Nebraska 34
Noon Eastern, BTN
Michigan State -13.5
Greg Schiano is back with the Scarlet Knights, and everyone in Piscataway is hoping that this sequel resembles The Godfather 2 and not The Matrix 2. Schiano loaded up on transfers in order to make things work quickly with Rutgers, and the hope is that he experience pays dividends right away. Mel Tucker, on the other hand, was hired too late at Michigan State to really make a splash on the recruiting trail, so Michigan State might be in for a world of hurt in his first season.
Should You Watch? Do you enjoy watching train wrecks? If so, this is your game.
Prediction: Rutgers 13, Michigan State 10
Iowa at Purdue
3:30 PM Eastern, BTN
Iowa is sitting exactly where they like it most: Not being talked about much, with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even Nebraska hogging all the airwaves from the West. That’s when the Hawkeyes have done the most damage under Kirk Ferentz. On the other side, Purdue returns a lot of people from a combination of injury, opt-back-ins, and the experience their young players got when thrown into the fire early. Can the Boilers compete this year, or will it be more of the same?
Should You Watch: No, you have other obligations.
Prediction: Iowa some weird AF prime number, Purdue some other weird AF, smaller prime number.*
No. 16 Michigan at No. 21 Minnesota
7:30 PM Eastern, ABC
Michigan tries to prove they’re going to be a contender this year, while Minnesota looks to prove last season wasn’t a fluke. While lacking their formidable offensive coordinator (where’d that guy go anyway?), the Gophers do return a lot of firepower on offense, headed by quarterback Tanner Morgan and receiver Rashod Bateman. On the other hand, presumed-to-be starter Dylan McCaffrey transferred out of the program during the offseason, leaving it up to Joe Milton to take the mantle, and, presumably, Cade McNamara to back up Milton.
Should You Watch? Yes. This could be a sneaky good game.
Prediction: Minnesota 27, Michigan 24
Maryland at Northwestern
7:30 PM Eastern, BTN
Who did Pat Fitzgerald have to **** to get this time slot? Outside of Fox insisting that noon is the new primetime, there’s no reason to put these two teams as the nightcap on a network that’s been yearning for viewership for nearly 8 months. The two other games on BTN that same day are more compelling. Oh, you were expecting a preview?
Should You Watch? At least Rutgers/Michigan State will be funny and intriguing.
Prediction: They can’t be as bad as last season, right?*
And of course, our very own...
No. 8 Penn State at Indiana
3:30 PM Eastern, FS1
It’s finally here! The season gets started for the Nittany Lions, who, outside of losing their best player to op-out, returns a big core of players back from a team that was pretty good in its own right. Indiana, on the other side, won eight games for the first time since the 90s, so the Hoosiers will be feeling pretty good when they take the field. Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. feels pretty good about the Hoosiers’ chances, so this game should be fun, if anything.
Should You Watch? Whatever virtual wedding you’re stuck attending has a TV somewhere.
Prediction: Penn State 56, Indiana 17
Since I have to pick all games:
Iowa 28, Purdue 21
Maryland 27, Northwestern 24