One week of college football is officially completed, but I'm not sure we learned a whole lot about how well the teams in the Big Ten will perform this season. It doesn't that help that none of the Big Ten members were involved in any blockbuster games, and it's very unwise to use the first game of the season to determine how good of a year a team will have (Example: 2009 Iowa beat FCS Northern Iowa 17-16 in week 1 and went on to easily win the Orange Bowl). But, I do think there were a couple of take home messages from the first week of the season.
Northwestern really showed me something with their road victory over Boston College on Saturday. Sure, Boston College isn't one of the more fearsome opponents in college football, but Northwestern gutted out a tough victory without fringe Heisman candidate Dan Persa. And 227 rushing yards for the Wildcats? That could be a tough offense to deal with this season, but the Badgers will not face the Wildcats this season unless both teams reach the Big Ten Championship game.
I also think that Jerry Kill has Minnesota on the right track. Tim Brewster was a coach full of big talk with no results. On the other hand, Kill is a coach who demands hard work and does not believe in moral victories, a sentiment he echoed after Minnesota's 19-17 loss to USC in Los Angeles this past weekend. He also isn't bringing out grandiose language and talking about how he will take Minnesota back to the promised land. He just wants to change the culture of losing and it appears he's well on his way to doing that. But will he start a culture of winning this week?
Week 2 Games (all games on Saturday):
11 AM CT:
0-1 Oregon State Beavers (+20.5) at No. 8 1-0 Wisconsin Badgers (ESPN): The Beavers are undergoing a string of injuries to key players rivaled only by the Big Ten's very own Purdue Boilermakers. Any uneasiness by Badger fans going into this game should be alleviated by that and also the fact they just lost to FCS Sacramento State.
1-0 Iowa Hawkeyes (-6.5) at 1-0 Iowa State Cyclones (Fox Sports Net): Remember earlier when I mentioned Iowa beating Northern Iowa by one point in week one? Well, Iowa State just did the exact same thing last week. This means that the Cyclones are now set on the course towards a great season culminating in a BCS bowl victory. But in all seriousness, ISU junior quarterback Steele Jantz does not have what it takes to lead the Cyclones to their first victory over the Hawkeyes since 2007. I do see a backdoor cover for Iowa State with a garbage time touchdown, however. Iowa 27, Iowa State 21.
1-0 Toledo Rockets (+18) at No. 15 1-0 Ohio State Buckeyes (BTN): Toledo will provide a significantly stiffer test for the Buckeyes than the one Akron offered last week. Toledo defeated Purdue last season by a score of 31-20, and are the preseason pick to win the MAC this year. The Rockets piled on 591 yards against FCS New Hampshire, and it will be very intriguing to see how well they will be able to move the ball against Ohio State's strong defense. I think Toledo will have some success, but won't be able to keep the Buckeyes off the scoreboard. Ohio State 42, Toledo 21.
2:30 PM CT:
1-0 No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (-10) at No. 23 1-0 Penn State Nittany Lions (ABC): Yes, we all know that Penn State is playing two quarterbacks, and that's not usually a good thing for an offense. But Joe Paterno knows what he's doing on the sideline. And I think Alabama has plenty of their own offensive concerns after QB A.J. McCarron threw two interceptions against Kent State. I definitely see Penn State's defense keeping them in this game in front of all of those crazed Nittany Lions fans. Alabama 21, Penn State 17.
0-1 New Mexico State Aggies (+20) at 0-1 Minnesota Golden Gophers (BTN): Did Tim Brewster ever even win a game by 20+ points? I like the Gophers to cover this spread. Jerry Kill is whipping this motley crew into shape and they should only get better as the season goes on. Minnesota 37, New Mexico State 10.
1-0 Purdue Boilermakers (-1.5) at 0-1 Rice Owls (CBS College Sports): The closest spread in any Big Ten game this week doesn't mean that this game will be the most exciting. I think Off Tackle Empire best described the current state of Purdue football: unsafe for children. Anyways, I have no clue who will win this game. Purdue 30, Rice 27.
6:00 PM CT:
1-0 Virginia Cavaliers (-7) at 0-1 Indiana Hoosiers (BTN): Kevin Wilson now knows it won't be an overnight job to rebuild Indiana football. That Hoosiers offense is nowhere where it needs to be if it plans on carrying this team to victories. Regardless, I think they'll eke out a victory over Virginia this weekend, though the Cavaliers did win this game 47-7 in Charlottesville two seasons ago. Indiana 35, Virginia 34.
7:00 PM CT
0-1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-3) at 1-0 Michigan Wolverines (ESPN): Anyone else see that Notre Dame fail last week? I was there in person, for all 6 hours of it. If ND ended up winning that game, I would have been really salty. All of the Irish fans said that their team would have won if they didn't turn the ball over five times....no sh*t. Anyways, this is the first night game in Michigan Stadium history, so the atmosphere will be electric. Notre Dame is a more talented team however, and I expect them to play with a chip on their shoulder and get the victory. Notre Dame 38, Michigan 30.
Games too boring to deserve a paragraph summation:
1-0 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (+21.5) at 1-0 Illinois Fighting Illini (11 AM, BTN): Illinois 38, South Dakota State 24.
0-1 Florida Atlantic Owls (+32) at No. 17 1-0 Michigan State Spartans (11 AM, ESPN2): Michigan State 42, Florida Atlantic 17
1-0 Eastern Illinois Panthers (+31) at 1-0 Northwestern Wildcats (2:30 PM, BTN): Northwestern 41, Eastern Illinois 7
0-1 Fresno State Bulldogs (+27.5) at No. 10 1-0 Nebraska Cornhuskers (6:00 PM, BTN): Nebraska 31, Fresno State 10
My record so far:
Overall record: 11-1, 91.6%
Record against the spread: 6-6, 50%