Football Around the Big Ten: Week Two
Zach Seyko, Matt Freiler, David Hadar, and Tyler Olson discuss this week's football matchups around the Big Ten conference.
The Big Ten is making an early case for the best conference in college football. Now with four teams populating the top 10 of the AP rankings and week one victories against ranked teams by Maryland over then No. 23 Texas and Michigan over then No. 17 Florida, the conference is flexing its muscle in what promises to be an exciting season, especially for the teams at the top.
No. 5 Oklahoma (1-0) at No. 2 Ohio State (1-0, 1-0 B1G) Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
For the second straight week, the college football gods are gifting fans with a top five matchup. But unlike last week, when No. 1 Alabama’s defense held then No. 3 Florida State to just 40 rushing yards, 210 passing yards and seven points, this one will be a shootout. Ohio State’s passing defense showed some holes last week, surrendering 420 yards through the air to Indiana, and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield led attack likely took note. The Buckeyes, though slightly outgunned passing, can tip the scales in their favor at home by making the game physical. Look for big hits from the Ohio State defense and lots of handoffs to true freshman running back J.K. Dobbins, who rushed for 181 yards last week, and sophomore back Mike Weber, who did not play week 1 due to a hamstring injury.
Pittsburgh (1-0) at No. 4 Penn State (1-0) Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Pitt squeaked out a narrow victory in the revival of this in-state grudge match last year, but that won’t be the case this week. Penn State was a much better team by the end of last season than it was in week two and the Nittany Lions showed they may have improved even more after their 52-0 domination of Akron. Pitt, on the other hand, blew a 3-touchdown lead last week before edging Youngstown State in overtime. Heisman contender Saquon Barkley amassed five total touchdowns in the 2016 edition of the Keystone Classic, so look for some more fireworks Saturday from Penn State’s feature tailback.
Nebraska (1-0) at Oregon (1-0) Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
The real story of this game is that it might not even happen. The Ducks needed to move their practice this week due to wildfires causing “hazardous” air quality in Eugene. Pac-12 and school officials say they may change the kickoff time or reschedule the game to another day depending on air quality reports. If the game does happen, the Nebraska Cornhuskers will need to improve on their modest 43-36 home victory over Arkansas State that nearly went to overtime. That was likely just first-game jitters, however, as the Cornhuskers were breaking in new starting quarterback Tanner Lee and a new defensive coordinator in Bob Diaco. They’ll need to play a tighter game this week if they hope to take down the Ducks.
Florida Atlantic (0-1) at No. 9 Wisconsin (1-0) Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
With Hurricane Irma bearing down on the state of Florida, the FAU Owls may be stuck in Madison for days after the game on Saturday, according to Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez. Depending on the aftermath back in Florida, the Badgers have offered to pay for extra nights of hotel rooms and open up their practice, sports medicine, and meal facilities to Lane Kiffin and company. On the field, the only thing appealing about this game is Kiffin himself because, well, he’s Lane Kiffin. The 42-year old offensive guru has held jobs at top NCAA schools like USC, Tennessee, and Alabama, and in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. But he often leaves his employers less than amicably, and is at a crossroads in his career with the Owls. Facing a far superior Wisconsin team one week after Florida Atlantic fell 42-19 to Navy, Kiffin’s journey at this crossroads will start 0-2.
Northwestern (1-0) at Duke (1-0), Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
One of Northwestern’s seven wins last year came against the Blue Devils, whose 4-8 season was the first in four years that they did not make a bowl game. Duke should play tougher this year, though, with Daniel Jones in his second year as the team’s quarterback and following a 60-7 rout of NC Central in week one. Don’t be surprised if this game goes to overtime.
Ohio State over Oklahoma
Penn State over Pitt
Oregon over Nebraska
Wisconsin over Florida Atlantic
Northwestern over Duke
Tyler Olson is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. You can contact him at email@example.com.