College Football is Finally Here: B1G Preview for the Weekend Ahead

After many long months of waiting college football season has finally arrived! As much as I love baseball, college football holds a special place in my heart. I especially enjoy watching B1G football.

Every year the B1G is expected to step it up and produce some impressive results on the field, with this year being no different from the rest. Last year the conference was hurt by two of its most illustrious programs, Penn State and Ohio State, being punished with bowl bans. Now that the Buckeyes have served their penalty, high expectations return to Columbus. Ohio State is the consensus favorite to not only win the conference, but run the table and play for it all in Pasadena. As far as the next best team in the B1G? That’s anybody’s guess.

In the Leaders Division Wisconsin lost Montee Ball, but have 10 other Wisconsin-like running backs waiting in the wings (namely James White and Melvin Gordon). Penn State is in year two of their bowl ban and break in two new quarterbacks. Indiana has a lot of starters returning to the team and the pressure is on head coach Kevin Wilson to get the team to a bowl game. Illinois head coach Tim Beckham is already on the hot seat in Champaign, despite the fact that its only his second season with the program. Purdue breaks in new head coach Darrell Hazel (former Buckeye coach) and look to begin rebuilding their program.

In the Legends Division Nebraska has Taylor Martinez return for what feels like his 10th year in the program, but their defense is a huge question mark. Michigan State is the exact opposite of Nebraska. They have a great defense, but four different players competed for the QB position. Northwestern is receiving the most preseason hype in decades, but many are unsure if they can handle the high expectations. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has been getting bashed by the media and fans all offseason and looks to silence the doubters. Minnesota looks to continue to build off their 6-6 season last year and move up the ladder in the conference. And the team up north finally has an actual quarterback again, but do they have enough to be considered an elite team?

Enough chatter, let’s get to the opening week games:

Thursday, August 29

Indiana State @ Indiana – If this was a basketball game taking place in the 70’s, with Larry Bird lacing it up for the Sycamores, I would be pretty psyched about this game. But instead it’s a football game in 2013. Even though I’m not thrilled about this match-up, these two actually played a tight game last season in the opener. Indiana only won 24-17 and only led by a touchdown at halftime also. I expect Indiana to learn from last season and dispatch Indiana State with ease.

UNLV @ Minnesota – This is another non-conference rematch from last season. And it was even closer. Minnesota needed triple overtime to defeat the Rebels, 30-27. Close games like this are what make the B1G look bad. B1G teams aren’t supposed to have close games with teams like UNLV. I hope the Golden Gophers win this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is another close game.

Friday, August 30

Western Michigan @ Michigan State – These two teams last met in 2010, with the Spartans winning 38-14. The game was never really close and I expect it to be no different with this year’s match-up. On Tuesday, head coach Mark Dantonio named Andrew Maxwell his starting QB. Maxwell started last season for the Spartans and had a rocky season, but many expect him to improve in his second season at the helm. If the offense can do anything, Michigan State could prove to be a pretty good team this season.

Saturday, August 31

Southern Illinois @ Illinois – Ugh, another FCS opponent? As I’ve said before, I hate seeing B1G teams play FCS opponents. It gives me absolutely no motivation to watch the game. But I maybe I’m wrong and you all want to see Nathan Scheelhaase play? Illini should win big.

Purdue @ Cincinnati – This is actually an intriguing match-up. Cincinnati is a nearly three touchdown favorite, but I give Purdue a solid chance in this game. I give the Boilermakers a chance because of coach Darrel Hazel. Hazel turned around one of the most downtrodden MAC programs (Kent State) and made them into a great team. I expect him to do great things for Purdue and I would be excited if I were a Boilermaker fan. With fifth year senior Rob Henry at quarterback and playmaker Akeem Hunt at running back, don’t be surprised if this game is close.

Massachusetts @ Wisconsin – Wisconsin will name the score in this game. What intrigues me most about this game is the Badgers’ running game. James White will now take over the starting position after playing second fiddle to Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon will be his backup. As a Buckeye fan, their running game is disconcerting to me. But then I’m reminded about this.

Syracuse vs Penn State – Both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks. Syrcause lost dynamic senior passer Ryan Nassib, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. In addition to a new QB, Syracuse also has a new coach. Scott Shafer takes over the program after Doug Marrone bolted for the Buffalo Bills. On the other side of the field, Penn State list two starting quarterbacks, the highly anticipated freshman Christian Hackenberg and transfer Tyler Ferguson. On paper this seems like a pretty even match-up. But the key difference maker is Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, who I consider one of the top 10 coaches in the country. I expect the Nittany Lions to win by two scores.

Northern Illinois @ Iowa – I smell an upset in this game. I’m just not convinced Iowa has turned the corner and returned to it’s days of old. Ferentz brought in new offensive and defensive coordinators, but I’m skeptical it will make a difference. I’m in a wait and see mode with the Hawkeyes. On the other side Northern Illinois is coming off it’s most successful year in program history, culminating in the MAC title and a Orange Bowl appearance. Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch returns for his senior campaign and seems poised to light the scoreboard up again. The Huskies should be coming into this game with a chip on their shoulders after a heartbreaking one-point loss to Iowa last season. I suggest keeping an eye on this game because it should be pretty good.

Central Michigan @ The Team Up North – Sadly there probably won’t be another Appalachian State moment in this game. It’s probably going to be a blowout. I’m disappointed! Nevertheless, this game will mark the beginning of the Devin Gardner era (congrats on getting an actual QB). We also get to see some of the shiny new recruits their fans like to brag about constantly. Don’t get me started on Hoke’s recruiting vs Urban’s recruiting because I could go on all day about why Urban is better. Anyways you’re better off watching another game.

Wyoming @ Nebraska – The only exciting thing about this game is when Bo Pelini has a meltdown over a spot call in the third quarter of a 38-3 Husker blowout.

Northwestern @ California – I saved the best game for last. I find there to be a lot of intrigue surrounding both of these teams and this match-up. California has a lot of new things about them, but the two notables are quarterback and head coach. True freshman Jared Goff takes over the QB spot and seems to have the poise of a senior based on this recent interview. Sonny Dykes is the new head coach of the Golden Bears and I’ve talked about before how underrated he is and the kind of potent offenses he has crafted in the past. Northwestern is coming off a successful 10 win season and their first bowl victory in decades. Their offense is led by the one-two punch of dual threat QB Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark, who I’ve raved about. Despite the late start time, I highly suggest watching this game and I consider it the B1G Game of the Week.

College football starts tonight! It’s going to be a fun season and I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

Comments

  1. I am most interested in watching the NW vs Cal game… since both teams are on our schedule that will give us a lot of info on both teams.

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