Despite Michigan’s loss at Notre Dame last weekend, the
Big Ten is shaping up to be one of the top conferences in the
nation this year. Six teams are currently ranked in the top 25, but
most of them will have to deal with tough road games this Saturday
that could truly indicate the overall strength of the
conference.

 

No. 7 Ohio State (2-0) at N.C. State (1-0) – 3:30 p.m.,
ABC

This is a rematch of one of last year’s best games, with
the venue shifting to Raleigh this weekend. The Buckeyes narrowly
escaped with a victory against the Wolfpack in three overtimes in
2003. Both teams feature a new starting quarterback and are
searching for a new identity. The Wolfpack will certainly use last
year as a motivational tool, and Ohio State has had problems in
nonconference road games under coach Jim Tressel. But the Buckeyes
always seem to find a way to win, which is exactly what will happen
this week.

Ohio State 20, N.C. State 17

 

No. 12 Iowa (2-0) at Arizona State (2-0) – 10 p.m.,
ESPN Plus

Coming off a 17-10 home win against in-state rival Iowa State
Saturday, Iowa looks to carry its momentum into the desert. In a
matchup of two 2-0 teams, the Sun Devils will look to avenge last
year’s 21-2 thumping at the hands of the Hawkeyes. Arizona
State needs to improve its running attack against the Hawkeyes, as
it managed a meager 24 yards on 21 carries in last season’s
game. Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walter also needs just four
touchdowns to tie Jake Plummer’s all-time school record. Iowa
senior running back Jermelle Lewis looks to build on a solid game
against Iowa State, when he rushed for a career-high 102 yards on
32 carries.

Iowa 17, Arizona State 13

 

No. 21 Wisconsin (2-0) at Arizona (1-1) – 4
p.m.

Wisconsin looks to avoid a recent trend that has seen Big Ten
teams lose on the road to Pac-10 teams. New coach Mike Stoops, who
gained a reputation as a defensive genius under his brother Bob at
Oklahoma, leads Arizona into its first true test of the year. It
will take time, however, for the new coach to get his bearings,
proven last week by an embarrassing 23-6 loss at Utah. The Wildcats
will need to get more production out of sophomore quarterback Kris
Heavner. The Badgers counter with a sophomore quarterback of their
own in John Stocco. However, Wisconsin could struggle on the ground
as senior Anthony Davis will not play due to an eye injury. In
order to win, coach Barry Alvarez must come up with a scheme that
will exploit Mike Stoops aggressive defense. Expect this one to be
nip and tuck all the way with a crucial turnover or penalty
deciding the outcome.

Arizona 24, Wisconsin 20

 

Notre Dame (1-1) at Michigan State (1-1) – 7:00 p.m.,
ESPN

In a game of much interest to all in Ann Arbor, Notre Dame looks
to build on a huge upset of the Wolverines and sweep the Great
Lakes State. Michigan State managed an unimpressive victory over
Central Michigan, winning with quarterback-by-committee (freshmen
Stephen Reaves and junior Drew Stanton). The Spartans survived
despite allowing 236 rushing yards to Central Michigan. Michigan
State will need to make some drastic changes to contain breakout
Notre Dame running back Darius Walker. The freshman tore into the
Michigan defense on Saturday, scoring two touchdowns and amassing
115 yards on 31 carries. If quarterback Brady Quinn does a better
job of managing the game, Notre Dame will not need to over achieve
as much as it did against the Wolverines for a victory. The
sophomore is well on his way to matching his 15 interceptions last
year after throwing three picks against Michigan in South Bend.
Look for Tyrone Willingham to show some more uncharacteristic
jubilation as Notre Dame should stomp all over the Spartans.

Notre Dame 30, Michigan State 10

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