Week 3’s best game is the last on the card as Iowa visits Arizona late Saturday night (don’t overestimate the timing of this one). I think there is great upset potential here as well as in Illinois where Northern Illinois is not going to give the Fighting Illini an inch. Those are the only upsets I see, Big Ten fans. The rest of the day should play to form, which includes USC thumping Minnesota in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. No conference games for a couple of weeks when we can look forward to Penn State-Iowa and the beginning of the merry-go-round.
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Saturday, Sept. 18
Northern Illinois at Illinois, 12 p.m.
Two teams fighting for the title of the second best team in the state (Northwestern is top dog in my opinion). Northern Illinois is supposed to be a contender in the MAC. We will finally see why as they put Ron Zook on pink slip watch with an upset win. Love the Huskies as TD-plus dogs.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 27, Illinois 23
Ball State at Purdue, 12 p.m.
They may have got the victory last week but the Boilermakers were outgained by Western Illinois. QB Robert Marve is not the cure-all everyone was expecting, but they still have more than enough talent to handle Ball State. This team is not showing much before Big Ten play begins.
Prediction: Purdue 31, Ball State 16
Kent State at No. 22 Penn State, 12 p.m.
Penn State learned something last week : They are not a BCS contender. They are better than any team in the MAC and will cruise to victory this week against the Golden Flashes. QB Bolden will remind us why we thought the Nittany Lions could have upset Alabama.
Prediction: Penn State 42, Kent State 16
Massachusetts at No. 20 Michigan, 12 p.m.
After a couple of impressive wins Michigan gets to take their foot off the gas this week against UMass. You could call this one the Forcier Bowl because the way Denard Robinson has been playing this is the most action last year’s starting QB will see all season long.
Prediction: Michigan 49, Massachusetts 9
Ohio at No. 2 Ohio State, 12 p.m.
The Buckeyes are primed for a letdown, but not enough to lose the game. Ohio will try and shorten the game by running the ball, and the team is well coached by ex-Husker Frank Solich. Two years ago Ohio only lost by 12 as a four TD dog. This week’s line is 31.5. PASS!
Prediction: Ohio State 42, Ohio 20
No. 18 USC at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
USC was not sharp against Virginia last week, but Minnesota lost to South Dakota in another one of those FCS shockers. Both teams have stuff to work on, but this is still a huge talent mismatch. Look for USC to take out some frustration on the Golden Gophers, who don’t have much to hang their hat on after two games. USC needs to work itself out, too, before Pac-10 play starts or else it will be another long season the Trojans At -14 USC just might be a steal…if they are focused.
Prediction: USC 42, Minnesota 10
Arizona State at No. 11 Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
It seems to be a trend of Big Ten vs. Pac-10 during the regular season lately with three such contests this week. When it was scheduled this was probably a pretty good game, but the demise of ASU make this just another tuneup for the Badgers against a team from the west. The Sun Devils are the rare BCS team with two FCS games on their schedule. Of course they won both, but reality has to set in some time, like this week against Wisconsin. Start John Clay on your fantasy team if you have him.
Prediction: Wisconsin 35 , Arizona State 17
Indiana at Western Kentucky, 5 p.m. on ESPN
Every week there are a bunch of "Who cares?" games, which is why I am surprised this one made it to the "Worldwide Leader." I wonder if it is the–nobody else starts game at 5 p.m. on a Saturday. So far WKU has served as a punching bag this season and the Hoosiers pass offense is much better than most people think, so the punches will continue. The Hilltoppers were lucky to get this game at home, but it won’t matter in the end; they will have to wait until conference play to grab their first victory.
Prediction: Indiana 38, Western Kentucky 10
Northwestern at Rice, 7 p.m. on ESPN
Rice was definitely better than expected against Texas, or maybe Texas isn’t any good. They followed up with a win over North Texas, a team many think is improved from last year. Either way Northwestern should continue their perfect season with another solid victory. They don’t know how to do it any other way under coach Pat Fitzgerald. This game may not be exciting but it should be close.
Prediction: Northwestern 28, Rice 20
Notre Dame at Michigan State, 8 p.m. on ABC
I am not sure this game is prime time-worthy, but it should be a close contest. Both head coaches are former Cincinnati Bearcats coaches. Who knew that was such an important gig? MSU doesn’t back down against ND; they have won two or three and six of 10 in the series. Not much value in the line until it moves some more. If you are lucky your local cable provider will be showing Texas-Texas Tech, another close game that might be more entertaining than this one.
Prediction: Michigan State 27, Notre Dame 24
No. 9 Iowa at No. 24 Arizona, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN
The Arizona Wildcats have snuck into the rankings, giving up eight points in two games (two on a safety). A statistic like that will get people's attention, no matter the competition. This game will test the Hawkeyes' focus as they have a chance at a stellar season. But Iowa can’t afford to dig holes in games like they did last year when they played from behind a lot despite the gaudy record. Arizona is rolling like they haven’t in more than a decade and their offense is better than people expected. I hope people will stay awake to watch this upset. Should be the best game of the night.
Prediction: Arizona 30, Iowa 28