Like the Top 25, I missed getting up the weekly Big Ten picks last week. My apologies. Won't happen again. Week 1 saw the Big Ten go 10-1, but it was anything but easy. This week promises to be even tougher, including two marquee prime time games that will make or break the public perception of the conference. I'd have a hard enough time picking these games straight up, but once again this year I'm going to pick against the spread- strictly to be used for non-gambling, just-for-fun purposes. We're using the odds from today's USA Today (my pick in bold):
Eastern Michigan @ Northwestern (-20)
Line opened at: Northwestern -17.5
The Wildcats offense looked just fine last week, and while this line is close, I do think Northwestern is 3 TD's better than Eastern.
Western Michigan (+1.5) @ Indiana
What does it say about IU when the line started the week at even? It's still pretty much a toss up, and I like Western Michigan to win outright in the slightest of upsets.
Central Michigan @ Michigan State (-14.5)
Opened: MSU -14.5
I like Dan LeFevour as a talented and very underrated QB, and I'm STILL not sold on Michigan's State's offense, but after CMU only managed 6 points against Arizona and the Spartans rolled, I've got to take the Spartans here.
Syracuse @ Penn State (-28.5)
Opened: Penn State -28
Syracuse is better than people think, and when we look back on the year, Minnesota's close shave with the Orange won't look so bad. Still, I believe that The Joe Pa's are the best team in the Big Ten, and their offense will roll. Cuse QB Greg Paulus is in for a rude awakening in his second start.
Iowa @ Iowa State (+6.5)
Opened: Iowa -7
This was my hardest pick of the week, but I decided to take the Cyclones and the points when I heard this morning that Iowa starting left tackle Brian Bulaga won't play. Iowa is now missing their starting HB, LT, and CB due to injury, and considering how tough it's been for Iowa in Ames lately, that's enough for me.
Fresno State (-8.5) @ Wisconsin
Opened: UW -9
Bucky Badger has beaten Fresno State their last two meetings by five points- combined! Bucky and the home field advantage of Camp Randall will be just enough to squeak out a win, but Pat Hill and the Bulldogs will once again make it a nailbiter.
Illinois State @ Illinois (-28)
Opened: Illini -28
This game has been pulled off the board by just about everbody, but for the few sites that are putting it up, I'll take a healthy Arrelius Benn and Illinois and spot Illinois State four TD's.
Purdue @ Oregon (-12.5)
Opened: Oregon -9
This is easily my shakiest pick of the week. I'm banking on the Ducks regrouping and rebounding at home to crush a fiesty Purdue squad. Of course, the whole debacle at Boise State last week, plus the loss of top player LaGarrett Blount, could also make the team implode, and Purdue looked VERY plucky last week. Yeah this picky is shaky to say the least.
Noh-tra Dame (-3) @ Meee-shegan
Opened: ND -4.5
Seems America's favoring the Wolverines, as the line has moved a point and a half in the Irish's favor since the line opened. It's basically a toss up, and I think Notre Dame's playmakers at wideout are going to be too much for the Michigan defense. Notre Dame wins by more than a touchdown, but not much more, and there's going to be plenty of points to be had.
USC (-7) @ Ohio State
Opened: USC -6
If I were betting real money, I'd be running to take USC while only giving a touchdown. Will the Trojans be seven points better than Ohio State? Sure they will- every QUARTER!! Last week's near loss to Navy exposed the Buckeye offense being a one-man band of Terrelle Pryor and...well pretty much just Pryor. They weren't grean running the ball and Pryor was so-so passing against Navy. Navy, people, Navy! What do you think USC's defense is going to do to that group? IF they can contain Pryor, which I think they can, it's going to be a long, ugly night for Ohio State. On the other side of the ball, it doesn't matter if Matt Barkley or Charles Barkley is playing quarterback for the Trojans, because the nation's best offensive line (now that All-American center Kris O'Dowd is back) and a group of running backs that goes a ridiculous SIX DEEP (all of whom could start right now for Ohio State. You heard me) will run the ball right down Ohio State's throats. Barkley can complete a few play-action passes to gain confidence and USC rolls.
Air Force @ Minnesota (-3)
Opened: Minny -4.5
Looks like the nation has zero faith in the Gophers, as the line has moved a point and a half towards Air Force. Call me a homer (because I am) but I would have taken Minnesota by 4.5 so I'll definitely take them by 3. Not much more than that, but the Gophs will win the home opener.