The Big Ten is back! The past week has been a struggle, but once we get to Saturday, it’ll all be worth it. This week, there will be some larger tests for some squads as more conference play is underway. Here’s a look at how it’ll shake out.
Game of the Week
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
Saturday 9/23, 8 ET, FOX
If Michigan State wants to erase the memories of last season’s 3-9 record, this would be a good start. Notre Dame is a team nobody can get a true read on, but a beatable one for sure. The Spartans have been largely untested through their first two games and should be primed to go coming off a bye week. A home atmosphere in East Lansing, a primetime setting and a regional battle should provide plenty adrenaline for the Spartans, who should be able to dispose of the Fighting Irish.
Big Ten Battle No. 1
Saturday 9/23, 4 ET, FOX
After yet another lackluster performance from Wilton Speight against Air Force, Michigan will truly face a good test this Saturday in going to Purdue, who lately has been on the rise. Michigan lost a top receiver during the game against Air Force, the super freshman Tarik Black. Throughout the course of the year thus far, Black has been a target in Jim Harbaugh’s passing offense, and his presence will certainly be missed for the remainder of the season. Don’t expect to see Michigan give up too many points this weekend, while Purdue is playing good football, they still don’t match up with the Wolverines’ elite defense.
-Nick Cotter, Armchair Michigan Writer
Big Ten Battle No. 2
Saturday 9/23, 7:30 ET, ABC
The Nittany Lions head to Iowa City this weekend to take on the Hawkeyes as the two teams begin Big Ten play. Penn State is coming off a big first three games, outscoring their opponents 141-14, while only giving up one touchdown. Iowa will be the biggest challenge thus far for Penn State, as Josey Jewel and the Hawkeye defense will rely on their hard-hitting run defense to keep Saquon Barkley in check. The Hawkeyes have kept opposing offenses to fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground. Trace McSorley and Penn State will look to take advantage of Iowa’s weaker pass defense that has given up an average of 238 yards a game. That shouldn’t be too big of a problem for the Nittany Lions, as they’ve averaged 282 passing yards per game between McSorley and backup Tommy Stevens.
-Tommy Butler, Penn State Writer
Best of the Rest
Maryland vs. Central Florida
Saturday 9/23, 3:30 ET, FS1
The Terps got off to a rip-roaring start this season, upsetting No. 23 Texas in Austin then crushing Towson. After a bye week, they look to keep up their rapid pace against a decent Central Florida squad. True freshman quarterback Kasim Hill had two weeks to prepare for the Knights and, with weapons like Ty Johnson and D.J. Moore, the latter of which is quietly becoming one of the best receivers in the country, he should be feeling good. D.J. Durkin’s defense did give up 41 points to Texas, so that should be an area to look out for as a potential weakness.
No. 10 Ohio State vs. UNLV
Saturday 9/23, 12 ET, BTN
The UNLV Rebels will come into Columbus as huge underdogs this weekend. After losing their first game in what is being called one of the biggest upsets of the year to FCS team Howard, the Rebels managed to win against the Idaho Vandals. Ohio State should have a field day on the ground Saturday as UNLV allowed over 300 yards rushing to Howard. On offense UNLV Devonte Boyd will look to give the shaky Ohio State secondary some problems, expect a decent game from the three time preseason All-Mountain West team wide receiver. Regardless UNLV would have a better shot at hitting the jackpot at the Hollywood Casino in Columbus than beating the Buckeyes at home this week.
-Dan Smyth, Ohio State Writer
Saturday 9/23, 3:30 ET, BTN
The Huskers are reeling after a loss to Northern Illinois. Rutgers is beaming after crushing Morgan State following a loss to Eastern Michigan. Still, your money has to be on Nebraska in this one. They’ve been putting up decent numbers on offense but Tanner Lee has yet to really show any true polished product. Meanwhile, their defense is atrocious. Rutgers has no true stability on either side of the ball yet, but to be truthful, this one could be a winnable game for them. In Lincoln, though, it’ll be tough.
Indiana vs. Georgia Southern
Saturday 9/23, 3:30 ET, BTN
This one shouldn’t be a contest. Indiana has looked solid if not unspectacular, and even kept close with Ohio State in Week 1. Georgia Southern, unless they’re ready to pull off a big-time upset in Bloomington, really have no advantages in this one. Richard Lagow and Simmie Cobbs Jr. should be able to handle the visitors, and there’s not much else to say about this one.