The Big Ten escaped week one without any real embarrassments: although Purdue, Illinois, and Iowa sure made it close. Wisconsin came really, really close to making a big statement by beating LSU. The game will torment fans for quite some time. On a positive note Rutgers went to the west coast and beat Washington State in Seattle. As a newcomer to the Big Ten, it was a helpful win and impressive upset.
Look at week one like this: the Big Ten only lost one game they were picked to win (Northwestern), and won two games they were picked to lose (Rutgers, Penn State). The rest went pretty according to plan.
The Big Ten gets to be a part of the most appealing non-conference game of the entire college football season this year. Nothing would make the conference more relevant and make Michigan State a bona fide contender, than if they can beat Oregon on Saturday. The problem is the game is in Eugene, Oregon. Spartan fans should happily remind everyone - two of their last three wins were against Ohio State and Stanford, neither at home.
The odds are against Michigan State, but head coach Mark Dantonio has made them into a program not intimidated by anyone, anywhere. The Spartans will need a bigger effort in the run game than they got last week against Jacksonville State, but still look for quarterback Connor Cook to throw often and have success doing it.
While much of the focus will be on the two team’s offenses, Dantonio is quick to point out a complete efforts on both sides of the ball will be needed.
“This a football game, it's not just against our offense, defense, it's against how our offense is going to play and how we're going to handle special teams. It's all the components of a football game,” said Dantonio. “I think that's what makes it such a great game.”
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota
Ending of a Rivalry:
After a strong week one, Michigan is headed to South Bend to end their rivalry with Notre Dame on a high note. The Wolverines opened their season with a 52-14 victory over Appalachian State last week.
“I think they also understand that they need to play a lot better than we did a week ago,” said head coach Brady Hoke. “Notre Dame is a good football team and they have good players.”
Michigan has a lot of reasons for optimism after last week’s showing. Two things to watch in this game for Michigan: can the offensive line play well enough to let the offense run efficiently and can the experienced defense play aggressively poised on the road.
Maryland and Rutgers both got off to a great start in week one. It helps the Big Ten if these two can have strong starts to the season, at least going undefeated through their non-conference schedule.
Wisconsin has had a tumultuous week. After blowing the 24-7 lead to LSU, head coach Gary Anderson has had the worst PR week of any coach this season. The only good thing for them this week is that they get to recover against Western Illinois. Winning this game won’t require Tanner McEvoy to throw a forward pass and Joel Stave has more time to recover from the yips.
Nebraska gets an easy win with McNeese State coming to town, but Ohio State has a tough matchup against Virginia Tech. The Hokies have an experienced secondary and offensive line. They are well coached and will come in prepared. Ohio State is going to have a real fight on their hands.
It is important for these two teams to keep winning. Michigan State and Michigan have really difficult matchups this week and it is important for the Big Ten to have as many contenders going down the stretch as possible.
The worst thing that could happen for the Big Ten is something that isn’t out of the realm of possibility; Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State could all lose the second week of the season.
*** Posted by Josh Harvey ***