Week one of the college football season provided us with mixed results in the Big Ten. Teams like Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Purdue, and Northwestern showed us something, or won the games they were supposed to win in a big way.
Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, and Iowa all did enough to win, but answered absolutely no questions.
And Illinois, well 37-9...granted, injuries plagued the Illini, but that game was flat ugly. Juice, you let me down, ah well...
Moving on to week two we will see several key out-of-conference matchups. here is the breakdown, all times are EST:
Saturday, September 12
Illinois Fightin' Illini vs Illinois State Redbirds 7:00 PM
So Juice Williams and the Illini are thinkin' "what's next"? After a 37-9 spanking at the hands of the Missouri Tigers, Illinois needs to get its act together before the Big Ten season opener. They will need some positive momentum headed into the rest of the season.
Illinois State will be just the cure for what ails the Illini. Standout wide receiver Arrelious Benn and running backs Daniel Dufrene and Jason Ford are slated to return for the Illinois offense, which will roll this week. The Redbirds lost last week's opener 31-6 to Eastern Illinois, so they obviously have some issues to resolve.
Illini - 42 Redbirds - 6
Indiana Hoosiers vs Western Michigan Broncos 12:00 PM
As predicted, the Hoosiers defense stepped up in their first game against Eastern Kentucky, and the Hoosiers squeaked by with a win. Western Michigan is a horse of a different color, however, and Indiana may struggle if Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton can't produce the same type of pressure against quarterback Tim Hiller that Michigan did.
Hiller is an experienced quarterback and the Western Michigan offense will bite the Hoosiers if they don't play even better than last week.
Hoosiers - 24 Broncos - 21
Iowa Hawkeyes @ Iowa State Cyclones 12:05 PM
Iowa, what can we say about Iowa? Two blocked field goals were what it took for the Hawkeyes to walk away with a win last week against Northern Iowa, but they did it. Without Jewel Hampton, there is a significant drop-off in talent at the Iowa tailback position.
Junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi will be able to find a way to win this one, and Iowa should start living up to the preseason hype. Iowa has lost four out of their last five at Jack Trice Stadium, and they will definitely need to get more pressure on Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud than they did on UNI's quarterback last week.
Hawkeyes - 17 Cyclones - 13
Michigan Wolverines vs No. 18 Notre Dame Fightin' Irish 3:30 PM
Freshman quarterbacks Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson and the rest of the Michigan Wolverines really let Western Michigan have it last week. Michigan football is comin' back folks. The Wolverines young offense will be tested by Notre Dame's defense, which blanked out a solid Nevada offense last week.
Jimmy Clausen will look to continue his stellar play after going 15-18 for 315 yards and four touchdown performance last week. That's 21 yards per completion. The Michigan defense looked really solid, tackling well and getting pressure on the quarterback consistently. The key to this game will be the play of the defensive lines on both sides. Whichever team consistently pressures the quarterback will have the advantage.
Maize and Blue - 27 Fightin' Irish - 21
Michigan State Spartans vs Central Michigan Chippewas 12:00 PM
Michigan State looked like a team on a mission in last week's thrashing of Montana State. Of course, it was Montana State. Be that as it may, Keith Nichol and Kirk Cousins were both very good, combining for five touchdowns.
The Spartans defense will need to tighten up against the run, but they are a very talented group, especially at linebacker. Chippewa quarterback Dan Lefevour will provide a nice trial for the defensive secondary. Michigan State's defense is just to good for the Chippewas however, and the offense will not slow down any this week.
Sparty - 27 Chippewas - 20 (my wife's pick)
Sparty - 34 Chippewas - 17
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs Air Force Falcons 7:00 PM
The Gophers squeaked by Syracuse in their opener in overtime by a field goal. The Gophers will have to show more emotion and pick up assignments better on the defensive side of the ball, as Air Force is just coming off of it's biggest offensive game ever, a 72-0 pounding of Nicholls State.
Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker was solid with 9 receptions for 183 yards, but no touchdowns. Gopher quarterback Adam Weber will have to improve on a 19-42 passing day, and the Gophers' defense will need to step it up. The return of Freshman linebacker, Sam Maresh, from open heart surgery, should give the Gophers the emotional boost they will need.
Also, this will be the first game in the Gopher's new TCF Bank stadium. And, by the way, the Orange scored 20 first half points against the Gophers last week, and 0 in the second half.
Gophers - 27 Falcons -17
Northwestern Wildcats vs Eastern Michigan Eagles 12:00 PM
Eastern Michigan is not exactly your traditional football powerhouse. However, the importance of these non conference games to the confidence of Northwestern's players cannot be overlooked. The Wildcats need to generate more of a pass rush on defense, while looking to exploit the Eagles' weak rush defense. Look for Wildcats quarterback Mike Kafka to have a big game, and at least one Northwestern back to break 100 yards rushing.
Northwestern - 42 Eagles - 13
No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes vs No. 3 University of Southern California Trojans 8:00 PM
This is definitely the game of the week, and an opportunity for the Big Ten to get a leg up on its return to national prominence and respectability. Ohio State looked great at times last week against the Navy, but needing a failed two point conversion attempt to win a game does not bode well for the Buckeyes.
The Trojans come to town bringing their potent rushing attack, and that is where Ohio State was gouged last week. Yeah the option Navy uses makes it hard to prepare all the time for the pass, but poor tackling plagued the Buckeyes in the fourth quarter, allowing the Midshipmen back into the game.
Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor will lead the team, and USC quarterback Matt Barkley will try to limit mistakes, and hand the ball off. The Ohio State defense will have to stop the run to win this game...
tOSU -21 USC - 17
No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions vs Syracuse Orange 12:00 PM
Welcome to football, Greg Paulus. The Duke point guard turned Syracuse quarterback was a lackluster 19-31 in his debut. The Nittany Lions defense, led by linebacker Navarro Bowman will do some welcoming of their own in this game. The Lions recorded four sacks against Akron, and is looking to build on that momentum. Penn State quarterback Darryl Clark will have a big day again this week against the Orange defense.
Nittany Lions - 34 Orange - 10
Purdue Boilermakers @ Oregon Ducks 10:15 PM
Ah yes, Purdue! The other team that threw me off last week, but at least they won their game! Where did that rushing game come from? This game looked like a huge mismatch a week ago, but after the whooping of Oregon and Purdue's offensive explosion, it looks like it might be a good game. T
he Boiler defense will look to contain Duck's quarterback Jeremy Masoli, and the offense led by quarterback Joey Elliot and Running back Ralph Bolden, will look to make a mark in Autzen Stadium.
Boilers - 28 Ducks - 27
Wisconsin Badgers vs Fresno State Bulldogs 12:00 PM
The Badgers have had some off the field problems this week, as ten of their players have come down with flu-like symptoms. However, they will not have problems on the field as Fresno State comes to town looking to avenge last season's home loss to the Badgers.
Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien was solid in his debut, and will need to be again for a Badger offense that did not run the ball exceptionally well in its first game. Fresno State hopes for a repeat of last weeks 511 yard offensive outburst against an inexperienced Badger defense. The Badgers will win this one though, and Fresno State will return home empty, once again.
Badgers - 34 Bulldogs - 17
Look for the Big Ten to break out of the ESPN led weak conference bias in this week, with victories over USC, Notre Dame, and Oregon highlighting a perfect week.