Now that opening weekend has come and gone, it’s time for college football to get down to the nitty-gritty. Last Saturday, Michigan’s defense struggled against a savvy Northern Illinois running game while the Iowa Hawkeyes acted as the birds of prey — striking down the lesser foul in a 56-0 romp of the Ball State Cardinals. The Big Ten as a whole began with an auspicious 10-0 weekend but some nonconference rivalries this coming game day could bring a few teams back down to earth and back to a .500 record.
No. 11 Iowa (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0) — 3:30 p.m., ABC
Iowa State came out looking flat last week, barely salvaging a victory against a weaker Illinois State team. This week, they’ll be in for a rude awakening if their mediocre play continues because now they stand toe-to-toe with cross-state rival Iowa. The Hawkeyes have high hopes for this season, and some foresee them atop the Big Ten when the season closes. Riding a wave of emotion after embarrassing Ball State, expect Iowa’s stellar offense to continue. Led by standout quarterback Drew Tate, the Hawkeyes should have no problem putting points on the board and extending their home winning streak to an even 20 games. But the Iowa defense is young and may have a few more issues with Iowa State’s more complete offensive package.
Iowa 31, Iowa State 13
Hawaii (0-1) at Michigan State
(1-0) — 3:30 p.m., ESPN Plus
The first football game of the season is an exciting and invigorating time for most college teams. Not for Hawaii — the only bigger buzz-kill for a team than having to face Southern Cal in week one is succumbing to predictions and getting clobbered. This week, the Warriors roll into East Lansing looking to make amends. In what appears to be a fairly evenly matched battle, the Spartans will welcome the chance for revenge for the season-ending loss they suffered at the hands of Hawaii less than a year ago. Keep an eye out for Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton to have a good game. He had almost 300 yards in the air and 60 yards on the ground in just three quarters last week. Stanton can also put together some impressive late game drives. Expect one of those to seal the deal.
Michigan State 24, Hawaii 20
Northern Illinois (0-1) at Northwestern (1-0) — 4 p.m., ESPN Classic
Northern Illinois certainly proved it could hang with a Big Ten team last week, making things moderately interesting with the Wolverines. Huskies miniature running back Garret Wolfe packs a lot of punch for a guy who looks like a misplaced 12-year-old in the huddle. Wolfe’s 148 yards — including a 76-yard touchdown run — gave the Michigan defense a run for its money. But Northern Illinois has some turnover issues to resolve after it gave the ball up five times last week — uncharacteristic for a team who turned the ball over only once last season. The Huskies undoubtedly have to protect the ball much more effectively this Saturday against a lesser but still decent Northwestern team. The Wildcats will push the ball down field with an effective passing game propelled by wide receivers Kim Thompson and Shaun Herbert. The Huskies will travel to nearby Evanston to meet the Wildcats in what should be an offensive showdown.
Northern Illinois 41, Northwestern 31
No. 2 Texas (1-0) at No. 6 Ohio State (1-0) — 8 p.m., ABC
Testicular fortitude. That’s the technical term for what it takes to schedule an early season game against No. 2 Texas. The Longhorns — who furthered the Big 12’s dominance over the Big Ten with their win in last year’s Rose Bowl — look to take the wind out of the Buckeyes’ sails before conference play even begins. Ohio State features arguably one of the most talented players in the country, wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr., who started the season off with 86 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in the Buckeyes’ 34-14 win over Miami (Ohio). Texas answered skeptics last week when it found a healthy replacement for Cedric Benson in running back Jamaal Charles. The freshman had 135 yards (a Longhorns freshman opening day record) in last week’s 60-3 trouncing of Lousiana-Lafayette. This promises to be the game of the week, not just for the Big Ten, but also for all of college football. Look for a tight one throughout and possibly even for Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to pull off an unexpected upset thanks to the home field advantage.
Ohio State 24, Texas 17