Around the Big Ten: Week Three
Bowling Green (2-0) vs. Indiana (1-1)
Despite last week’s 41-35 loss to Navy, Indiana’s offense looked impressive and tallied 481 yards of total offense. Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns as he picked apart the Navy defense. Bowling Green is coming off a strong showing against Kent State, cruising to a 41-22 victory. Will Indiana’s offense be able to stay hot enough to defeat a formidable Falcon team? It will be a tough task.
Akron (1-1) vs. No. 11 Michigan (2-0)
Michigan is coming off a big 41-30 win against rival Notre Dame last week. The win marked Michigan’s 400th win at The Big House. Sporting number ninety-eight, junior quarterback Devin Gardner threw for 294 yards and rushed for 82 more, accounting for five total touchdowns. Look for second and third string players from Michigan to get plenty of action in this one. Will 35.5 point underdog Akron have any success in their first visit to The Big House? Unlikely.
Western Illinois (1-1) vs. Minnesota (2-0)
Minnesota’s 44-21 victory over New Mexico State may look impressive on paper, but Minnesota struggled to dominate the game against an inferior opponent. The Golden Gophers offense, led by quarterback Philip Nelson, struggled to sustain long drives and was bailed out by big plays from there special teams and defensive units. However, they should be able to successfully move the ball against Western Illinois, an FCS school.
No. 16 UCLA (1-0) vs. No. 23 Nebraska (2-0)
In perhaps the most intriguing Big Ten game this week, Bo Pelini’s squad looks to prove just how good they really are. Only two weeks removed from a mediocre showing against Wyoming, Nebraska will try to avenge a 36-30 loss to UCLA is Los Angeles last year. However, expect UCLA to play inspired following the tragic death of wide receiver Nick Pasquale during the Bruin’s bye week. This game surely will be played with a lot of emotion.
Youngstown State (2-0) vs. Michigan State (2-0)
Michigan State once again leaned on their defense last week to defeat USF 21-6. The Spartans defense ranks third in the FBS in total yards allowed, giving up only 179.5 yards per game. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun accounted for two of the Spartans touchdowns against South Florida, returning an interception for one score and a fumble for another. Youngstown State set a school record against Morehead State last week, racking up 718 total yards of offense. How will they fair against arguably the best defense in the Big 10?
No. 19 Washington (1-0) vs. Illinois (2-0)
With a strong start to the season, the Fighting Illini have already matched their win total from a year ago. Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase leads the Illinois offense that is ranked 10th in the nation in passing. On the other side of the ball, the Illini have struggled, surrendering about 400 yards a game. Can Illinois upset the number 19 ranked Huskies in Soldier Field? Tim Beckman will need his squad to play their best game under him to date.
Iowa (1-1) vs. Iowa State (0-1)
Iowa’s 28-14 win over Missouri State last week was a much closer game than most expected. Junior running back Mark Weisman rushed for 180 yards on thirty carries, while sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock managed the game and helped lead the Hawkeye offense to 489 total yards of offense. Iowa will try to win back the Cy Hawk Trophy for the first time since 2010.
UCF (2-0) vs. Penn State (2-0)
Central Florida and Penn State will meet once this year before taking a jump across the pond to face off in Ireland in 2014. Penn State is coming off a 45-7 lashing of Eastern Michigan, as the Nittany Lions rushed for 251 yards and scored five touchdowns on the ground. UCF is coming off a big 38-7 win over Florida International as well. Can Bill O’Brien and his Nittany Lions take down his former mentor George O’Leary and his Knights? This game shapes up to be Penn State’s most difficult matchup thus far.
No. 4 Ohio State (2-0) vs. California (1-1)
The big question mark going into this game is if whether or not Braxton Miller will start for the Buckeyes, after suffering a slight MCL sprain against San Diego State last week. Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton replaced Miller and filled in nicely, throwing for 179 yards and three touchdowns. For the Golden Bears, freshman quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 935 yards in his first two starts, which is the most by any freshmen quarterback in NCAA history. However, California’s only chance in winning is if they are able to stop Urban Meyers’ spread attack.
No. 21 Notre Dame (1-1) vs. Purdue (1-1)
Purdue struggled to beat Indiana State, a FCS school, needing a last second interception to seal their 20-14 victory. The Boilermakers were only able to muster 284 yards of total offense and came away with just one offensive touchdown. Notre Dame is coming off a tough loss at Michigan, so expect them to come out wanting to prove themselves as one of the nation’s top teams. Purdue gave Notre Dame all they could handle a year ago, but has not showed anything this year to make one believe they have the ability to stay with the Fighting Irish.
Western Michigan (0-2) vs. No. 17 Northwestern (2-0)
Pat Fitzgerald has the Wildcats off to another strong start. Northwestern has effectively used the two-quarterback system, as both junior Trevor Siemian and senior Kain Colter, have helped the Wildcat offense average 46 points a game through the first two weeks of the season. Fitzgerald needs to tighten up his defense that has allowed over 450 yards per game, but they should have no trouble handling a rebuilding Western Michigan team.
No. 18 Wisconsin (2-0) vs. Arizona State (1-0)
Week Two was much of the same for the Badgers, who annihilated Tennessee Tech 48-0. They travel to Arizona State this week to take on a Sun Devil team that many are picking to be a sleeper in the Pac-12. Wisconsin will try to pound the ball with running backs Melvin Gordon and James White, like they have in the first two weeks of the season. Can the Badgers travel into Phoenix and take down the Sun Devils? It will be no easy task; Arizona State is 8-0 all time at home against Big 10 Conference opponents.
Andy Madore is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.