Let the games begin!
Enough of this Big Ten versus no one stuff. Time to roll up the sleeves, tighten the chin straps and get ready to enter a new era of B1G football! No sense beating around the bush. Phats is picking again - the Boiler is on a roll - and this is when and where it all starts to get interesting...
Minnesota at Michigan; Noon EDT (BTN)
The Battle for the Little Brown Jug. A trophy the Gophers have had all of once since 1987. Good chance it isn't leaving Ann Arbor for the Twin Cities this week either. Minnesota lost to an FCS foe, is 1-3, and their coach is having notable health concerns. Michigan is off to another 4-0 start with a defense that has improved but a passing offense that has taken a step back. The Wolverines still lack a good power running back and that will haunt them at some point but not now. Minnesota is depleted, down and staring at 1-11. It'll be close early with the rivalry factor, but Robinson outshines Gray. Michigan 34 - Minnesota 13
Phats - Michigan 31 Minnesota 10- I feel bad for Minnesota with the health of their coach, but that was just an ugly loss to North Dakota State.
Northwestern at Illinois; Noon EDT (ESPN2)
I'm not totally sure what to make of this game. Illinois is an impressive 4-0, but struggled mightily with a good but still MAC foe Western Michigan and has one overall great performance (ASU win) to hang its hat on. Conversely, Northwestern won what then looked like a good one at BC (the Eagles, it turns out, are not good at all) and then lost at West Point. Granted, Dangerous Dan Persa has yet to take a snap this year and is set to return this week, but what about the rust? Illinois has a stout defense (tops in run defense) but can be had at times through the air. Northwestern is last in total defense and that means Illinois will pound the rock. Maybe if Persa had a game under his belt, I'd change my mind. But another rivalry tilt goes to the home team. Illinois 27 - Northwestern 17
Phats - Northwestern 24 Illinois 17- Going with the upset here and I have no idea why.
Penn State at Indiana; Noon EDT (ESPNU)
Do I have to write this one up? Penn State is as boring as those uniforms. Indiana is perhaps incapable of even being Top 25 among FCS foes. Loss to Ball State? Loss to North Texas? Come on! Penn State does have a fundamentally sound team - at least defensively. The kicking game is going to bite the Nits at some point though, and I'm still not sold on McGloin. Indiana is desperate and might be up early, but despite losing a key defender in Mauti, Penn State will impose its will on the Hoosiers and walk in Bloomington. Penn State 24 - Indiana 7.
Phats - Penn State 42 indiana 10- Surprised IU didn't try to sell this game to some east coast city like they did last year, doesn't really matter where it's played PSU will roll.
Michigan State at Ohio State; 3:30 EDT (ABC)
This mirrors the Capital One Bowl Mascot Challenge game of the week between Sparty and Brutus. MSU has not won in C-bus since the 1998 stunner. OSU is the only Big Ten team that Coach Dantonio has failed to defeat. The Spartans boast 24 players from Ohio - many of who were shunned by OSU in the recruiting process. This game puts the leagues' best defense (MSU) against the leagues' worst offense (OSU). Stats aside, we know both have beaten on inferior opponents and laid eggs on the road. OSU is still undermanned and has completed 11 passes in the past two games. I read it somewhere and agree - first one to 20 wins. MSU pulls off a mild upset in a game that starts a make or break month for Big Ten title hopes. Michigan State 23 - Ohio State 17
Phats - Ohio State 17 Michigan State 14- Should be a solid game, and could easily go either, so went with the home team.
Nebraska at Wisconsin; 8pm EDT (ABC) - TFS Game of the Week
Welcome to the Big Ten Big Red! You get to play the best team in the Leaders Division and one of the more complete teams in the country. My one caution for Badgers out there though is this - who have you played? At least Nebraska faced a good Fresno State team, a solid PAC 12 foe in Washington (Oregon State might be banned after the start they are off to) and went on the road for a game with a middling opponent in Wyoming. UW has played three of four at home, and against teams that might actually make Indiana look good! Back to the game. Russel Wilson vs. Taylor Martinez. Black Shirts against UW tailbacks. Both teams are high powered and have sound special teams play. The advantage only comes in the raucous crowd. In a thriller that lives up to the Game Day hype - Wisconsin 27 - Nebraska 24.
Phats - Wisconsin 35 Nebraska 21 Wow, welcome to the Big Ten Nebraska your first game to play at one of the toughest stadiums in the conference. I am not sure Nebraska's defense will be able to slow the Badgers offense enough to get them a shot Badgers take it.
Notre Dame at Purdue; 8pm EDT (ESPN)
Another good game in a weekend full of them on the national landscape. Purdue is well-rested and gets to welcome a rival to Ross-Ade. ND struggled on the road after finally getting on the board with a nice win over Michigan State. NotreND's propensity to cough the ball up like a cat does a hairball, it will be a good game. Notre Dame - 30 - Purdue 20.
Phats - Purdue 24 Notre Dame 21- A little night time Ross Ade magic as Carson Wiggs will kick a 70 yard field goal as time expires and Ross Ade will be a crazy scene. Alright so I am a sucker I admit that this probably won't happen but Purdue is my school I can't pick against them even when my head is screaming NO, my heart still says yes so I have to go with my Boilers. Boiler Up!