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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Week 1: Big Ten Predictions

 A slew of easy games highlight the Big Ten's first week of the season. While eyes will focus on Ohio State to see how they react to the loss of Jim Tresel and Terrelle Pryor, others will be watching the newest Big Ten (12?) team in Nebraska. With a feasible chance for the Big Ten to escape the first week of games without a loss, we will delve deeper into each teams match up and give our predictions.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson
Wisconsin vs. UNLV
Prediction: Wisconsin 42, UNLV 14
UNLVmay be a decent MWC team this year. They will win 6 games, and they will have a successful season in their own right. Their first game against Wisconsin will not be one of those 6. I expect UNLV to jump out of the gate and take a small first quarter lead against Wisconsin. It's common on the first week of play to see a weaker team jump out early, but it won't last against a much more physical Wisconsin Badger's team. UNLV will be spirited, but they shouldn't be close after the second quarter.
UPDATE: With Budmayr confirmed out for this game the scoring gap may close in UNLV's favor. The Badgers will score less in their garbage time without Budmayr, keeping the score more reasonable for UNLV.

Michigan State vs. Youngstown State
Prediction: MSU 45, YSU 3
Simply over matched in every area of the game, Youngstown State will be one of the many lower division teams to lose a game against the Big Ten on the first weekend of play.

Ohio State vs. Akron
Prediction: tOSU 49, Akron 7
The most "interesting" game of the week for the Big Ten will be the Ohio State game. With all of the off season issues, losses and suspensions the Buckeyes may come into this game a little unnerved. However, the suspensions shouldn't come near hurting their chances against a weak Akron team. Ohio State's defense is still a quality group and it will wear Akron out quickly. The Ohio State University's offense may start sluggish, but they will get the ball moving against the Akron secondary for a number of first half scores. Akron scores a TD against the second team defense to prevent the shutout.

Northwestern @ Boston College
Prediction: Northwestern 24, BC 31
The most evenly matched game for the Big Ten in the first week. This game will come down to home field advantage for Boston College eventually wearing down a scrappy Northwestern team. Mistakes by either side could sway the result, but don't expect a blowout from either side.

Penn State vs. Indiana StatePrediction: Penn State 49, Indiana State 10
Indiana State won't be able to keep up with Paterno's boys past some early first quarter jitters. Penn State throws an offensive show in the second quarter to pull away for good. Another blowout for the Big Ten to go along with Ohio State and Michigan State.

Iowa vs. Tennessee Tech
Prediction: Iowa 45, TT 0
Iowa is my sleeper team in the Big Ten this year. Unranked to start the season, they are my favorite to upset at least one of Nebraska or Michigan State. Their tune up game against Tennessee Tech will go exactly as planned. Another route for the Big Ten.

Purdue vs. Middle Tennessee
Prediction: Purdue 35, MT 14
Middle Tennessee will be able to keep pace with Purdue in the first half. Like so many others on the first week of college football, however, they will not be able to maintain their play in the second half. Purdue will be tested, and they will survive the early scare.

Nebraska vs. Chattanooga
Prediction: Nebraska 64, Chattanooga 0
Nebraska's defense will come out strong and the offense will do their job against the Chattanooga secondary. Nebraska will be excited in their first game under a new conference banner, and will come out strong and ready to perform. Expect at least 2 turnovers by Chattanooga leading to easy Nebraska scores.

Michigan vs. Western Michigan Prediction: Michigan 42, WM 14
Michigan will be another team caught in a lackluster first quarter, only to see success blossom in the second quarter and beyond. Western Michigan will put up more fight than most Big Ten opponents this week, the Wolverines will take it and then some.

Illinois vs. Arkansas State
Prediction: Illinois 35, Arkansas State 21
Arkansas State is a Division 1 team who can win against Illinois. The Illini win this game off of home field advantage and a couple of Arkansas State missteps. The final score is not representative of how close the game really is on the field.

Indiana vs. Ball State
Prediction: Indiana 42, Ball State 21
Remember when Ball State went undefeated in the regular season a few years ago? Any dreams of a repeat will die in week 1 at Indiana. Ball State will keep the game close for a 3/4 of the game, only to have an Indiana barrage finish them in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota @ USC
Prediction: Minnesota 17, USC 35
The only loss for the Big Ten in it's first week that won't be a toss up game (Northwestern-BC). Minnesota simply doesn't have the talent to stick with a Trojan team looking to make a statement in a year without any possibility of a bowl game. Minnesota gets credit for scheduling the best opponent the Big Ten will face in the first week of competition.

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