Get Gamm - Week Two
The cupcakes have been removed from the pantry. After a week one slate in which virtually everyone played no one (except Illinois), the competition steps up a notch for week two. If the old adage that the greatest improvement comes between the first and second games holds true, the Big Ten should have a great week. But my gut tells me there are too many tough games for that to lead to a perfect weekend.
St. Louis Sparty will join me as winner of week one. We might actually see a little separation already after this slate:
Central Michigan @ Michigan State
I give you two years as evidence that Central can come into East Lansing and win: 1991 & 1992. Granted, neither of those MSU teams - even the one that was preseason top 25 in 1991 - could hold a candle to the 2009 squad in terms of depth and talent, but at the same time this is a much better CMU team as well. The Chips held their own in Arizona last weekend while MSU smashed Montana State. This will be a game for a half or so, but then State pulls away. Michigan State 31 - Central 13.
St. Louis Sparty says... I don’t see MSU having a problem with this one. CMU was pretty bad in their loss at Arizona a week ago. I know they have LeFevour, but MSU and their dual QB threat, multiple RB’s, Blaire White and the defense led by Greg Jones will be way too much for them in this game. I see the Spartans taking an easy one. MSU 35- CMU 14
Eastern Michigan @ Northwestern
A slight step up for the 'cats this weekend. EMU is a perpetual rebuilder that has never taken the step forward that rivals Western and Central have. Northwestern is a pretty good team but we'll have no idea how good until they play someone of note. Northwestern 40 - Eastern 10.
St. Louis Sparty says... NU 31 - EMU 10
Fresno State @ Wisconsin
The first of many good games on tap this weekend. Fresno State seems to find a way to rise to the occasion against big opponents, particularly on the road. Wisconsin had to dig in to hang on against Northern Illinois in the opener. A platoon at quarterback is working so far, but the Bulldogs bring a lot more to the table than NIU. The Badgers' ground game holds serve and leads to victory. Wisconsin 24 - Fresno State 18.
St. Louis Sparty says... Wisconsin 33 - Fresno 20
Syracuse @ Penn State
Greg Paulus has immediately (and surprisingly in my mind) raised the Orangemen to a level of respectability. He made a big mistake in last week's overtime loss but showed that Syracuse will be tougher than in the past few seasons. Penn State got little more than a scrimmage out of Akron last week and while 'cuse provides more for them to prepare for, I expect a runaway in State College. Penn State 38 - Syracuse 10.
St. Louis Sparty says... Penn State 38 - Syracuse 17
Western Michigan @ Indiana
Sorry Hoosiers' fans, but if your team has to sweat out a win versus Eastern Kentucky, you won't like what you see this weekend. Western laid an egg in Ann Arbor last week, but don't be fooled, this is a good team with a great quarterback. Indiana will struggle to get on track and Western will score another for the MAC over the Big Ten. Western Michigan 27 - Indiana 23.
St. Louis Sparty says... Indiana 24 - Western 23
Iowa @ Iowa State
So, do I let Iowa's lackluster opening week performance against a good and highly motivated FCS foe sway me with this pick? How about the fact that the Hawkeyes have lost four of the past five meetings in Ames? Iowa State isn't very good. But how good is Iowa with the loss of Jewell Hampton for the season and the departure of King and Kroul? Not as good as I thought. Still, Iowa rises up and gets it done, barely. Iowa 17 - Iowa State 14.
St. Louis Sparty says... Iowa 24 - Iowa State 14
Notre Dame @ Michigan
This game is garnering a lot of national hype because of how the teams fared last weekend. It deserves hype from the standpoint that these are the two winningest programs in D1 history, but I am not totally sold on either team yet. Both are better than a year ago, Michigan most markedly improved, but the Wolverines are young. ND has the edge on experience and that will override the home field advantage. It will be a good game that goes to the wire. Notre Dame 23 - Michigan 21.
St. Louis Sparty says... Probably the second biggest game in the country. Most people are talking about this one due to resurgence in Notre Dame, and the good first game for Michigan. However, I still think Notre Dame will have the upper hand in this game on the road. I see it fairly close throughout, with ND coming out on top in the end. ND 28 - Michigan 20.
Air Force @ Minnesota
I've seen the new stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota and if looks, style and locker room won the game, Minnesota might go unbeaten for the next decade. No doubt, the Gophers will be hyped for this one. The overtime win over Syracuse was closer than it should have been, but it was a road win nonetheless. Air Force annihilated its opening opponent with a 72-0 drubbing. Adrenaline and excitement, a strong aerial attack and the legs of Duane Bennett will carry Minny to victory. Minnesota 30 - Air Force 28.
St. Louis Sparty says... People up in Minneapolis are pumped for this game. Not only is it their home opener, but they are opening up a new facility (outdoors finally-November games @ Minnesota will never be the same!). I was just in Minny and it looks nice, and as mentioned, people and the school are ready to christen the stadium with its first win. Minnesota takes this one from Air Force. Minnesota 37 - Air Force 21.
Illinois State @ Illinois
The easiest game of the week for anyone in the conference, and just what Illinois needs after the pasting it took last weekend. Illinois 45 - Illinois State 6.
St. Louis Sparty says... Illinois 38 - ISU 3.
USC @ Ohio State
This game means a ton - not just to Ohio State but for the national perception of the entire conference. In my preseason prognostications, I pegged this one as a loss for OSU. Based on the struggles the Buckeyes had with Navy last week, that seems about right. But, USC is starting a true freshman quarterback, making his first ever road start. He has never played in an environment close to that of the 'shoe. Add in a few key injuries to skill positions for USC and any upper hand the Trojans had is erased. I look for Pryor to have his best game to date and for Ohio State to shut up the pundits... at least for a week. Ohio State 26 - USC 24.
St. Louis Sparty says... No question that this is the game of the week across the country. People have circled this one for a while. Ohio State may be the cream of the crop in terms of the Big 10, but I just don’t think they can win this game…even in the horseshoe. I think USC comes in with their touted freshman QB and takes a close one. USC 28 - OSU 24
Purdue @ Oregon
This one got interesting with the way Purdue came out of the gates last week and Oregon's loss and turmoil at Boise State. Autzen is one of the toughest places to play in college football and west coast trips can be brutal. Purdue might hang for a half, but not much after that. Oregon 34 - Purdue 17.
St. Louis Sparty says... Rebuilding is one thing…but rebuilding with a night game in Eugene isn’t going to help things in West Lafayette. 52 against Toledo was a good start, but Oregon will be too tough at home even without Blount at RB. I see Oregon taking a relatively easy one at home Saturday night. Oregon 35 - Purdue 21.