Each week of the 2009 football season, I will be examining all of the games that a Big Ten team plays in. All kickoff times are ET and all poll numbers are from the coaches poll as provided by ESPN. Week 2 is as follows:
Overview of Week 1
In my post from last week, I obviously missed quite a few picks. Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan managed to pull off wins, while Iowa and Minnesota barely made it past their opponents. While some of my picks were quite far from reality, other picks – such as the closeness of the OSU v. Navy game – were right on the money (take that, Vegas). Overall, the entire Big Ten did extremely well last week, going 10-1 and easily outscoring their opponents.
Indiana University vs. Western Michigan
Last week, I bet against Indiana and for Western Michigan, both were a mistake. Though the Hoosiers barely beat their opponents last week, they played a well balanced game and took control after the first half ended. That said, they also turned the ball over 3 times, which they need to get under control. Western Michigan was pounded by the University of Michigan, much to the determent of my picks. They played sloppy and looked like a high school team against the Wolverines. I expect Indiana to easily win this game. Indiana 28, Western Michigan 10. This game will be televised on BTN at 12 p.m. Saturday.
Michigan State University vs. Central Michigan
Last week, the Spartans massacred their opponents and earned themselves some votes in the coaches poll. They have enough, in fact, that they are the 26th best team in the country. Central Michigan is not much of a team, and they showed that in their loss last week. The Spartans clearly want to break into the Poll, and so you can expect them to dominate this game. MSU 48, Central Michigan 7. This game will be televised on ESPN and ESPN2 at 12 p.m. Saturday.
Northwestern University vs. Eastern Michigan
Wow, it really seems as though the Big Ten likes playing against teams from various geographic locations in Michigan. Northwestern won their game last week in a commanding 47-14 route. They are looking to use that momentum and drive themselves forward, hoping to be a player in the Big Ten this year. Eastern Michigan, who lost to Army last week, is hoping to be the only non-conference Michigan team that will win this week. I think that Northwestern is going to struggle and turn the ball over, and Eastern Michigan will take advantage for a close win. Northwestern 14, Eastern Michigan 17. This game will be televised on BTN at 12 p.m. Saturday.
#7 The Ohio State University vs. #3 University of Southern California
This is bound to be the game of the week for both conferences, and it is the only game between two top 10 teams this week. OSU, who barely edged out Navy in The Shoe last week is looking to get revenge for what happened last year. USC, who dominated their opening game last week, is looking to expand on their amazing record against Big Ten teams. With so much riding on this game, and the slap-in-the-face as OSU dropped a spot in the polls, I expect that this will be OSU’s game to lose. Add to this the fact that it is played in The Horseshoe, and I expect OSU to have an easy victory. OSU 31, USC 14. This game will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. Saturday.
#5 Pennsylvania State University vs. Syracuse
Penn State is enjoying one of their highest rankings in recent history. They are also enjoying some of their best seasons these past few years. The Nittany Lions are a strong team that absolutely decimated their opponents last week. Last week, Syracuse, though they lost in overtime, gave Minnesota a major scare. I expect Syracuse to try and use this momentum, though the force of Happy Valley will keep this game strongly in Penn State’s hands. Penn State 34, Syracuse 7. This game will be televised on BTN at 12 p.m. Saturday.
Purdue University @ Oregon
Last week, Purdue surprised me by winning their opening game. Not only did they win the game, but they showed a well-balanced offense and an ability to control the clock. They didn’t show an ability to control the ball, and those three turnovers will probably cost them in any other game. Oregon, who was ranked last week, lost a close game to Boise State. They also happened to lose on of their better players, as he decided that the football match was really a boxing match. I expect a very off-balance Oregon team which I think will help Purdue grab a victory from the jaws of defeat. Purdue 17, Oregon 14. This game will be televised on FSN at 10:15 p.m. Saturday.
University of Illinois vs. Illinois State
Illinois lost last Saturday, but it wasn’t really much of a surprise. The Fighting Illini are a weak team this season, and I expect that they will be losing a bunch more before the year is over. Illinois State also lost last week by about the same amount. I also expect them to lose a bunch more this season. While Illinois is a very lousy team, I believe that they are slightly more skilled then Illinois State, and expect that to give them the victory. Illinois 14, Illinois State 7. This game will be televised on BTN at 7 p.m. Saturday.
University of Iowa @ Iowa State
Going from ranked to unranked even though you win is a tough thing for any team. Dropping down several ranks because you blocked a field goal TWICE is even tougher. For Iowa, they just have to show that the close game was a fluke, and that they really are a great team. Iowa State, on the other hand, is looking to complete Iowa’s demise, and knock them down a peg. I expect Iowa to come out eager, and pissed, and take control of the game from the opening snap. Iowa 31, Iowa State 3. This game will be televised on FSN at 12:05 p.m. Saturday.
University of Michigan vs. #20 Notre Dame
Over the last two years, Michigan has been an absolute Joke. However, after winning last Saturday’s game, the Wolverines look like they have their swagger back, and they are looking forward to taking on the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has also been struggling for the past few seasons, though a deafening win last week gives them hope for a new beginning. I expect a close fought battle, but home field should give Michigan the victory. UM 24, Notre Dame 21 in overtime. This game will be televised on ABC at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
University of Minnesota vs. Air Force
Minnesota survived a very close scare last week, and they are hoping to avoid that same scare this week. Though Minnesota should have easily won the game, they turned the ball over far too often and couldn’t convert on their third downs. If the Golden Gophers want to be a factor this year, they need to get this under control. Air Force is a tough team, and they are looking to spoil Minnesota’s season early on. The Falcons are an extremely strong team, and they will control the ball for most of the game. However, I do have some doubt in their defense, and expect Minnesota to find a way to get long passes past their secondary. Minnesota 28, Air Force 21. This game will be televised on BTN at 7 p.m. Saturday.
University of Wisconsin vs. Fresno State
Ahh Wisconsin, the team that keeps trying to be a factor, but rarely is. After a good victory last week, the Badgers are looking to keep it going. However, Wisconsin started suffering late in Saturday’s game, and they did turn the ball over 3 times – both of these factoids will give them trouble later in the season. Fresno State, on the other hand, easily won their game last week – hell, they outright dominated it. They too had some issues late in the game (scoring only a safety in the 4th quarter) and turned the ball over 2 times. I am expecting this game to be one of two mediocre teams trying to outdo each other, and home field is the advantage. Wisconsin 17, Fresno State 9. This game will be televised on ESPN and ESPN2 at 12 p.m. Saturday.
Overall, I expect the Big Ten to do extremely well this week. Though many of the teams have easy games, there are a few large games that will be taking place. I expect the conference to go 2-0 against the Pac 10, as both OSU and Purdue will complete some upsets. I also expect Michigan to come roaring back onto the national scene when they upset Notre Dame. With the sole exception of Northwestern losing to Central Michigan, the Big Ten will have a fabulous Week 2, and grab a 10-1 record from it.