With all the nonconference games out of the way, it’s time for the Big Ten to spring to action. Ten teams will see their first Big Ten opponent this weekend, with Indiana receiving a bye. Here’s the roundup of all the four non-Michigan games.
No. 21 Iowa (2-1) at No. 8 Ohio State (2-1) – Noon – ABC
This game is extremely important for both the Hawkeyes and the Buckeyes. Both teams lost in week two, and the loser of this week’s premiere matchup will have to dig themselves out of a big hole. Iowa struggled offensively against Iowa State a few weeks ago, but part of that had to do with the gap left by injured quarterback Drew Tate. Even with Tate playing his best, the Hawkeyes will have their hands full on the road. Led by A. J. Hawk on defense, the Buckeyes were awfully close to beating Texas in week two. Had that happened, Ohio State would be trying to steal first-place votes from Southern Cal. instead of trying to climb back into the top-five.
Ohio State 24, Iowa 10
No. 17 Michigan State (3-0) at Illinois (2-1) – Noon – ESPN Plus
Ron Zook has already made an impact on the Illini. A year ago, they wouldn’t have even had a shot against Cal. Last week they were beating the Golden Bears into the fourth quarter. And how about them Spartans? Who would have guessed they would score 44 at Notre Dame? With Michigan State coming off a huge overtime victory in South Bend, this would be a perfect spot for Illinois to play spoiler. But that seems unlikely. Also, Illinois’s defense isn’t quite set up to stop a mobile quarterback like Drew Stanton. Look for the Spartans to ruin Zook’s Big Ten opener and remain unbeaten.
Michigan State 38, Illinois 17
No. 11 Purdue (2-0) at Minnesota (3-0) – Noon – ESPN
Coming off a closer-then-expected 31-24 victory over Arizona, Purdue travels to Minnesota. The Boilermakers have high hopes for the Big Ten campaign since both Michigan and Ohio State are off the schedule. Minnesota is flying a little under the radar at 3-0, but it’s understandable considering the Gophers have yet to play a decent team this season. Purdue and its 11 returning defensive starters have been solid against the run so far, but Laurence Maroney is the best running back in the Big Ten and will pose the stiffest test yet for the Boilermaker D. The Gophers will ride Maroney to a victory over the Purdue and expose the Boilermakers as overrated.
Minnesota 24, Purdue 13
Penn State (3-0) at Northwestern (2-1) – Noon
Northwestern host Penn State in the Big Ten opener. The Wildcats have a record of 2-1 so far this season but they struggled with Northern Illinois and are coming off a game where they allowed 773 yards to Arizona State. Penn State might not have the greatest offense in the world, but even they will be able to find holes in the Northwestern defense. Penn State has opened the season with three easy victories, and Saturday’s game should be no different. Penn State will roll over the Wildcats.
Penn State 34, Northwestern 10