Each week of the 2009 college 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 3 is as follows:
Overview of Week 2
In my post from last week, I messed up on only a few picks. While I was wrong on my pick of OSU over USC, I was closer than the Vegas spread, which makes me feel good. I also picked Michigan State over Central Michigan, and that cost me. However, I, along with those of you who took the poll, correctly picked Michigan over Notre Dame. Overall, the entire Big Ten did extremely well last week, going 8-3, and easily outscoring their opponents.
Indiana @ Akron
The first Big Ten game this week will feature Indiana hosting Akron. Akron, who started the season off with a loss to Penn State, dominated Morgan State last week, shutting them out 41-0. Indiana, on the other hand, barely squeezed by Western Michigan, with a four-point margin. Two weeks ago, it was a 6-point margin over Eastern Kentucky. The main reason that Akron won their game was that they forced two turnovers, while Indiana, in their last game, gave the ball away three times. Watch for Akron to continue to pressure and force turnovers, and I expect that to be the deciding factor. Indiana 10, Akron 24. This game will be televised on ESPN U at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Michigan State University @ Notre Dame
With both teams coming into this game having just suffered a loss, you can expect both Notre Dame and MSU to fight hard for the victory. Michigan State had their game wrapped up, but some poor clock management, and a failure to grab the onside kick, cost them the game. Notre Dame was in a shootout with Michigan, and loss an equally tough game. Poor clock management, and an amazing last minute drive by UM, cost them the game. Frankly, I see both teams as being the same caliber, and thus think that home field will win it. MSU 17, Notre Dame 20. This game will be televised on NBC at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Northwestern @ Syracuse
Northwestern does have two wins this season, but they haven’t been playing like it. In their near miss to Eastern Michigan, the Wildcats turned the ball over three times – they were lucky that EMU had no idea what to do with it. Syracuse, however, does know what to do with a football. While they got creamed by Penn State last week, their home opener against Minnesota resulted in overtime, and they came very close to winning it. Northwestern will likely turn the ball over and struggle, while Syracuse will just rack up the points. Northwestern 10, Syracuse 28. This game will be televised on ESPN Gameplan at 7 p.m. Saturday.
#11 The Ohio State University vs. Toledo @ Cleveland
This game will be played at Cleveland Browns, so although it is technically a home game for Toledo, it really is a neutral site. Ohio State just lost their premier game of the season, and lost it in the final seconds. Even with good coaching, and an outstanding defense, their quarterback just couldn’t do anything right. While it seems as though they will be down, rest assured that OSU will jump back into it. Toledo, however, just came off an impressive win against Colorado. They put up 600+ yards and forced four turnovers. While OSU is a tougher team, I still expect Toledo to give them trouble, and maybe get close to that upset; but the strength and experience of OSU will help manage to grab the win. OSU 21, Toledo 17. This game will be televised on ESPN Plus at 12 p.m. Saturday.
#5 Penn State vs. Temple
Purdue vs. Northern Illinois
Purdue has been strong this year, blowing out Toledo and almost beating Oregon at Oregon. They also have had problems with turnovers, as they have given the ball away three times in each of their two games. The Huskies of Northern Illinois are also having a strong year. They won their last game, and almost beat Wisconsin. Unlike Purdue, the Huskies have no problem keeping a hold of the ball, and have actually forced five turnovers. While I expect the turnovers to keep Northern Illinois in the game, the home crowd, and the 450+ average yards per game, will help give Purdue the advantage. Purdue 28, Northern Illinois 24. This game will be televised on BTN at 12 p.m. Saturday.
Iowa vs. Arizona
This is bound to be a tough game for both teams involved. Iowa, after barely beating Northern Iowa, easily took on Iowa State. They are averaging about 375 yards a game, and have forced seven turnovers so far this year. Arizona, who won their two games as well, is averaging about 475 yards a game, and is even in turnovers (each team has four). While the two teams look about evenly matched in offense, their defenses are greatly different. While Iowa’s can force turnovers, they have allowed 300+ yard games, while Arizona’s allows only 200 yard games. I expect the Arizona defense to shut down Iowa’s offense and go for the kill. Iowa 16, Arizona 31. This game will be televised on ABC at 3:35 p.m. Saturday.
University of Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
For Michigan, who is finally getting the respect they deserve, this week's game is a statement. Not only would it tie their win count from last year (three), but it will also serve as a notice to the nation that they are back. After barely scraping by Notre Dame, they are desperate for this. Eastern Michigan, on the other hand, simply wants to start winning this season. After getting crushed by Army, but almost beating Northwestern, they are looking to earn some redemption. However their offense and defense struggled in both of their games, while Michigan’s offense was a powerhouse. I fully expect Michigan to run this game from the start, and use it to show off to the nation. UM 41, Eastern Michigan 10. This game will be televised on BTN at 12 p.m. Saturday.
University of Minnesota vs. #7 Cal
This game is bound to be the game of the week for the Big Ten, as they are looking to Minnesota to beat Cal, simply to redeem the Big Ten vs. Pac-10 losses from last week. The Golden Gophers, who have been having an interesting season, might be able to do it. Sure, they barely won their last two games, while Cal dominated in theirs, and they had problems controlling the clock, but they have something that Cal doesn’t. It is a noon game, in Eastern Time. This means that the Cal players will not be fully awake, will not have had much sleep, and will generally be lethargic. I fully expect Minnesota to use this to their advantage and grab the win. Minnesota 28, Cal 17. This game will be televised on ESPN at 12 p.m. Saturday.
Wisconsin vs. Wofford
Who the hell is Wofford, and where are they from? Apparently, it is some tiny school in South Carolina that plays FCS football. Oh, well then Wisconsin should win the game, right? Well, if you look at their close win against Northern Illinois and their overtime game against Fresno State, you might start to doubt it. Wisconsin struggled in both games, even though they took the ball away from Fresno three times. Wofford, which was blown away one game, and then dominated the next, will probably present a challenge to the Badgers. I fully expect the game to be close, until the Badgers wear them down late in the 4th. Wisconsin 28, Wofford 21. This game will be televised on BTN at 12 p.m. Saturday.
Overall, I expect this to be a down week for the Big Ten conference. There will be several losses this week, and several blowouts. Furthermore, there will be some close games, and the Big Ten easily could see a few upsets. They should be getting an upsets themselves, as Minnesota will beat Cal. In total, the Big Ten will be losing four nonconference games, making them 4-6 for the week.