Week 2 in the Big Ten brings about a few intriguing matchups and one conference “battle,” if you call Rutgers going into Columbus on Saturday and getting whacked a battle.
Ohio State is favored by five touchdowns in that game, and one has to wonder if/when Rutgers is ever going to decide to compete with the big boys. But that’s a concern for another day.
Penn State and Michigan disappointed last week – the Nittany Lions barely surviving Appalachian State and Michigan faltering at a very impressive Notre Dame after a slow start. Will they both bounce back?
Michigan State wasn’t terribly impressive against Utah State, pulling ahead in the final two minutes. and now travels to the desert for a late-night affair with Herm Edwards and his 1-0 Arizona State Sun Devils. Will the NFL on ESPN’s Twitter feed declare victory ahead of the game like it did last week?
Soooooooooo......... pic.twitter.com/drgaUNUWLG— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) September 2, 2018
Without further ado, here are the best of the best for this week in the Big Ten:
Ok, let’s give Penn State a little bit of a break. First, Appalachian State isn’t a bad team. Second, the Nittany Lions were trying to replace Saquon Barkley. Week 1 was rough. Expect better in Week 2, especially if Penn State’s young defenders can step up.
But it’s a big ask at Pitt, at night, in a huge rivalry game.
“I’m picking Pitt to win because I think they’re a better team today,” former Pitt and ex-NFL coach Dave Wannstedt told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I like Pitt to win because of what they have upfront on the offensive and defensive lines.”
We’re reluctant to agree with Wanny, but we think he’s on to something.
This game is huge for the city of Pittsburgh, huge for recruiting, huge for bragging rights. And, darn it, Pat Narduzzi’s a pretty good coach, too.
Penn State is favored by 8.5 points, but we don’t see this as more than a touchdown game at best – and if Pitt wins the battle of the trenches, the home dogs could even prevail.
Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke is a Phoenix native and sure to have a vocal cheering section at the game. He put up good numbers in Week 1 against Utah State, if you can look past his pick-6 and fumble.
We’re choosing to not look past it.
The Sun Devils (+6) have beaten the last three ranked opponents they’ve faced at home and took down now No. 5 Washington last season as well. We think Arizona State’s dynamic offense, keyed by senior quarterback Manny Wilkins, is going to score and keep this game close.
Michigan State might still squeak out the victory, but we really like the home dogs and the over.
Michigan’s vaunted defense struggled in the first half against Notre Dame, allowing 21 points and 233 total yards on offense. It wasn’t pretty.
Western Michigan also spit the bit in the first half against Syracuse, falling behind 34-7 at the break. Yes, the Broncos score 28 points in the third quarter of a 55-42 loss. And no, they won’t do that in Ann Arbor.
Michigan is giving 28 points, and given the glimpses of promise we saw from quarterback Shea Patterson and the resolve we anticipate from a stout defense, we expect that to be no problem.
Last season, Northwestern travelled to Duke and got obliterated, 41-17, to fall to 1-1. Those Wildcats regrouped after slipping to 2-3 on the season to win their final eight games of the season, including the Music City Bowl.
Northwestern picked up a tough conference road win at Purdue in its opener as an underdog, and is stunningly good against the spread since 2015 (65 percent). That’s a nine-game winning streak for the Cats, the longest among Power Five teams.
Last week, Northwestern put up 31 points in the first half. Look for another quick start for the revenge-minded hosts. Duke (1-0) beat the triple-option of Army last week and will mount a rally, relying on pressuring NU quarterback Clayton Thorson, much like it did last season.
We’re betting on Northwestern’s rushing attack to be able to grind out the clock in the fourth quarter.