Week Three, Get Gamm Previews
Iowa State at Iowa
Nothing like an early season, in-state rivalry to kick off week three for the Big Ten. Iowa and Iowa State are both 2-0 and both have already had at least one near-loss experience. For Iowa, that came last week when the Hawkeyes struggled in several facets of the game only to rebound with seven, yes, seven stops inside the 3-yard line in the second overtime of a win over Syracuse. Yes, that all took place without senior star Drew Tate, but it still raises some questions. Meanwhile, the Cyclones, who have won six of the last eight over the Hawkeyes, won on a failed Toledo two-point conversion in overtime in week one and with some controversy over UNLV a last week. Iowa State has Texas after this one so now’s the time to get things going right. IF Drew Tate plays for Iowa, the Hawkeyes eke out a close win, if not, ISU will rain on the Hawkeyes parade yet again. IOWA 24 – IOWA STATE 23.
Syracuse at Illinois
Syracuse is really a lot better than everyone thought, Iowa had a really bad day or it was a combination of both last week. The same can be said for Illinois in its loss to Rutgers. Whatever the case may be, we’ll find out more about these two teams when the Orangemen travel to Champaign to take on the Fighting Illini. Illinois was highly ineffective in all the areas that matter in a shutout loss at Rutgers. Syracuse couldn’t stay alive against Iowa even with seven chances to punch it in from close in a double overtime loss. This one might be a cure-all for insomniacs, or it could wind up being a good game. I don’t think the ‘cuse is as good as they “appeared” last week, nor is Illinois quite as bad. When in doubt, go with the home team… ILLINOIS 20 – SYRACUSE 17.
Michigan State at Pittsburgh
If not for the plethora of fantastic match-ups around college football this weekend, this game would be one of the best to take the time to watch. Two senior quarterbacks who are having great early season success lead their teams into the first true tests of the season. Michigan State looked somewhat unimpressive in its opener (Idaho) and aside from a few plays in a short period, dominated Eastern Michigan last week. Pittsburgh has certainly beaten better foes, well at least opponents from BCS conferences, but neither 1-1 Virginia nor 1-1 Cincinnati have done much to prove that they will go bowling this winter. The Panthers have a more proven defense but Michigan State has a much more balanced offensive attack. Both teams will score with relative ease but it will be a special teams play that changes this game. In a memorable battle, MSU edges Pitt on, of all things, a late field goal. MICHIGAN STATE 31 – PITTSBURGH 28.
Cincinnati at Ohio State
What is 109 years? That is the Jeopardy style question to the answer: The amount of time it has been since the Bearcats have defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in football. Will it end this weekend or extend another year? The answer to that question might not be as obvious as you think. Why? Simple, Ohio State comes in riding high after a huge road win at No. 2 Texas and is sandwiched between that victory and a huge battle with the other team that knocked them off last season – Penn State. The last time the Buckeyes were a national title contender, the Bearcats led for most of the game before falling to OSU in dramatic fashion. The scarlet and gray went on to win the national crown that season. The circumstances are similar except that was a better Cincinnati squad. Ohio State may have to shake some early cobwebs, but I fully expect the Buckeyes to roll in the second half and head into another big game with a perfect 3-0 record. OHIO STATE 33 – CINCINNATI 9.
Ball State at Purdue
It is MAC v. B10 Part XI when the Cardinals of Ball State cross the state to take on Purdue. After a heartbreaking loss to Indiana last week, Ball State will be hungry to take out its frustrations on the Boilermakers. Purdue barely escaped MAC foes Miami-OH last week, a team that lost its home opener to Northwestern, who got pounded by 1-AA New Hampshire last week. Okay, so none of that really matters. What does is the fact that Purdue is having trouble stopping anyone and Ball State is really a pretty good team with a better than you’d think defense. This would be a huge upset, but not a shocker. That said; look for the gold and black to edge BSU with a late drive: PURDUE 37 – BALL STATE 30.
Michigan @ Notre Dame
The Game of the Week, in my opinion, in all of college football this weekend. ESPN Gameday needs to bag the trip to Southern Cal and head to South Bend. The two winningest programs lace ‘em up for what should be a great battle. The Fighting Irish have more or less owned Michigan of late and the Wolverines have lost six straight road openers. Michigan has not win in South Bend since 1994 and it may be another couple of years if the passing game doesn’t come around. The Wolverines’ new zone blocking scheme has really paid dividends for Mike Hart and company, but it is Chad Henne and the passing game that is drawing some concern. If Michigan is to pull off the mild upset, the defense will have to be great and the offense productive. Notre Dame is explosive with the ball and better than recent memory on defense. If it comes down to special teams, the maize and blue might get the nod, but ND wins with the home crowd on its side. NOTRE DAME 24 – MICHIGAN 20.
The rest of the slate (hey, busy week and a late summer round of golf calls, so not much food for thought on the rest…)
Eastern Michigan @ Northwestern – Eastern gave Michigan State a scare for about 3 minutes last week while Northwestern lost to a 1-AA squad. This one will be closer than it should be, but Northwestern keeps the Big Ten unbeaten against the MAC. NORTHWESTERN 31 – EASTERN MICHIGAN 27.
Youngstown State @ Penn State – This isn’t a Jim Tressel coached YSU machine. Penn State is stinging after losing – and how – to Notre Dame and takes it out on Youngstown State. PENN STATE 45 – YOUNGSTOWN STATE 14.
Southern Illinois @ Indiana – It’s all about winning one for Coach this week for IU. After a tight battle with in-state MAC foe Ball State, the Hoosiers get a little breather. INDIANA 34 – SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 20.
Temple @ Minnesota – Minnesota’s OOC streak is over but a new one will start this week when Temple comes calling. The Owls might just have the worst program in all of college football, regardless of division. MINNESOTA 56 – TEMPLE 9.
San Diego State @ Wisconsin – San Diego State has a fighting chance in this one, though Wisconsin is slowly getting better in the preseason areas of concern. This will be tight until the 4t quarter when the Badgers kick it up a notch and grind out a win. WISCONSIN 30 – SAN DIEGO STATE 20.