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Week 3: Big Ten Weekend Preview

Check out the latest with the Big Ten in Week 3.

Welcome to the first edition of the Big Ten weekend preview for the 2023 season.

Every week, I will “loosely” rank the B1G slate based on MY interest level and each game's relevance to Wisconsin this year. Fair warning, this weekend’s slate of games stinks, and thus, so do these rankings! Let’s dive in:

1. Minnesota at North Carolina, 2:30 PM on ESPN (North Carolina -7.5)

It pains me to do this. But this game matters. I think we are all trying to gauge what the competition looks like in the B1G and especially the B1G West. Minnesota is 2-0. They’ve beaten Nebraska (thanks to a few acts of god) and Eastern Michigan. I think it’s fair to say that both of those teams aren’t a great measuring stick this early on in the season.

North Carolina, however, is ranked No. 20 in the country. Their QB, Drake Maye, is a future top-five pick in the NFL draft and a potential Heisman candidate. Minnesota has to go on the road in this one and I think by the end, we’ll know if Minnesota is going to be competing for the B1G west this year.

Personally, I think North Carolina wins but Minnesota covers thanks to their strong defense.

2. Penn State at Illinois, 11 AM on FOX (Penn State -14.5)

Despite Illinois getting beaten down last week in Kansas, this game still intrigues me quite a bit.

First of all, it’s a B1G game. Second, Penn State is going on the road for the first time this year. Third, Bert (Brett) beat Penn State on the road in 2021.

Bert has continued to surprise me in the B1G and I think this could be a closer game than the oddsmakers say. Illinois secondary is their biggest liability at this point. Penn State is a wagon this year. I’m interested to see if Illinois can keep this close and to see if Penn State is who everyone says they are.

By the way, Illinois QB Luke Altmyer has looked good so far. He might be the best QB in the West.

3. Syracuse at Purdue, 6:30 PM on NBC (Syracuse -2.5)

Last year, this was a very good football game with Syracuse winning 32-29.

Purdue is not the same team they were last year (already 1-1 with a loss to Fresno State) but with the Badgers heading down to West Lafayette next Friday night, this game jumps ahead of many others.

I don’t have any feeling for how good Purdue is this year and my intention is to find out Saturday night. They have a first-year head coach in Ryan Walters (formerly DC of Illinois) and a transfer QB in Hudson Card. I am excited to find out what Purdue looks like this year.

4. Washington at Michigan State, 4 PM on Peacock (Washington -16.5)

Michigan State is the second biggest s**t show in college football (trailing only Northwestern) after Mel Tucker was suspended this week. Every indication is that he could eventually be fired from his position because of an ongoing sexual assault investigation.

Washington is ranked ninth in the country. Michigan State is 2-0 and a big home underdog. As Badger fans know, crazy things happen in East Lansing. This one may not be a good game but it definitely has interesting storylines so this feels like an appropriate spot in the rankings.

Side note; the Peacock streaming thing is going to get old very quickly.

5. Louisville at Indiana, 11 AM on BTN (Louisville -10)

Wisconsin plays Indiana in November and that’s the only reason this game is ranked so high. None of us are going to watch this. Its ranking is a testament to all the crappy games this weekend.

6. Virginia Tech at Rutgers, 2:30 PM on BTN (Rutgers -7)

Rutgers is 2-0. Virginia Tech is not a good football team. Do not waste your time. Wisconsin plays Rutgers in 3 weeks at Camp Randall.

7. Georgia Southern at Wisconsin, 11 AM on BTN (Wisconsin -20)

Bounce back game for the Badgers. Check out all of our coverage on Bucky’s 5th Quarter.

8. Northern Illinois at Nebraska, 6PM on FS1 (Nebraska -11)

Nebraska is 0-2. They should win this game but wouldn’t it be pretty amusing if they didn’t? What’s our over-under on the number of games it takes for Nebraska fans to start calling for Ruhle to be fired? I’m going to say 5.5. This is obviously an overreaction, but Nebraska is known for that.

9. Virginia at Maryland, 6 PM on FS1 (Maryland -15)

Clear your Friday night plans! Just kidding…

10. Northwestern vs. Duke, 2:30 PM on ACCN (Duke -18.5)

Northwestern won a football game last week! They will not win this one so let’s focus on who wins this matchup off the field and in the classroom. US News has these two schools in a TIED for tenth in its rankings.

BUT, Duke has a 91% graduation rate and Northwestern has an 86% graduation rate. That’s enough evidence for me to declare Duke the winner. I started this thinking I would provide more info and do more research but I do not care enough and neither do you.

11. Western Kentucky at Ohio State, 2:30 PM on FOX (Ohio State -29.5)

Cupcakes are best served on a Saturday afternoon in front of a national audience? Apparently, Fox thinks so. I will not be indulging.

12. Bowling Green at Michigan, 6:30pm on BTN (Michigan -40.5)

Jim Harbaugh was confident enough to suspend himself for this game. I suggest we all do the same.

Unranked. Western Michigan vs Iowa, 2:30 PM on BTN (Iowa -28)

I’m so disappointed in myself. I’m a sicko who lives for the Iowa Hawkeyes and I forgot their game in my original rankings so they go unranked this week. Take note of the point spread though. 28!

The last time Iowa beat a nonconference opponent by that sort of margin was in 2019.

Do we really expect Brian Ferentz to somehow be creative enough to do that in the year 2023? Is Western Michigan really that bad? I’m not sure what to think here.

That’s probably gonna require a few defensive touchdowns. Brian Ferentz has one more week to inflate his point-per-game average against a nonconference opponent before he has to go up against real defenses. He has failed to help himself in the first two weeks and now his offense needs to average 25.6 points the rest of the way to keep his job.

What a trainwreck in Iowa City.