Hi everyone, I'm back after a long summer hiatus of not really posting a lot. Nothing happened to any IU athletics teams during this time, right?
Okay, fine. Let's proceed.
At last, college football returns tonight. Thus, it's time to spend another season of badly trying to pick Big Ten football games. So without further ado, here are your week 1 picks:
Utah (-5) over Michigan
HARB-aw wait, we're starting an Iowa castoff at QB, aren't we?
I do believe the Harbaugh hype and that he'll have Michigan back to one of the top teams in the country in a few years. But there will be some growing pains, and starting the year in Rice-Eccles Stadium is not an easy task. Utah could be a Pac-12 South dark horse, and they take the victory.
TCU (-16.5) over Minnesota
I labored over this one, but right now Trevone Boykin is my Heisman pick, and either the Horned Frogs or Baylor should make the CFB Playoff out of the Big 12. Were this game being held at Minnesota in late November, maybe I'd consider the Gophers in this one. But the high in the Twin Cities today is 90 degrees. TCU will feel right at home and put up a ton of points, per usual. Minnesota doesn't have the firepower to compete.
Also, is there a chance the Gophers are a tad overrated this season? They lost their two main weapons on offense in Maxxxxxx Williams and David Cobb, they only beat Purdue by 1, they lost to TIM BECKMAN of all people, and got to face Michigan right as the Big House of Cards was crumbling. Still, they're in the B1G West and have a competent and proven head coach, which gives them a good chance to take the division.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Western Michigan (+17.5) vs. Michigan State
Wait. Hold up. This game is being played AT Western? Mark Hollis and Mark Dantonio allowed this to happen? WMU coach P.J. Fleck and his boat-rowing tactics are a favorite around our staff, so I'm going with the Broncos to cover at home. Sparty will only win by 12, prompting yet another year-long PFTCommenter-style debate of whether or not Connor Cook is elite.
Illinois (-14.5) over Kent State
How bad must Kent State be if I'm picking a team that lost its coach a week before opening night to beat them by more than two touchdowns? Welp, the Golden Flashes are pretty dang bad - they only won two games last year. And maybe under interim coach Bill Cubit - whose name literally means "to charge money for a Biblical unit of measure" - Illinois might at least regain some of the professionalism that they lacked under noted lasagna enthusiast Tim Beckman.
SATURDAY PART 1: B1G VS. FCS OPPONENTS
Savor it while you can, everyone, because as Jim Delany announced earlier this summer, there will be no more B1G vs. FCS games once the conference schedule goes to nine games next year. Remember, Vegas doesn't give lines for these games, so they're basically glorified pick ‘ems. Can the B1G win them all? Well...
Indiana over Southern Illinois
Revenge for 2006. Last year, the Hoosiers rolled Indiana State in their opener with almost 500 yards rushing. As long as the Hoosiers don't let the Salukis hang around, they should be all set in this one.
Maryland over Richmond
Terps fans won't need beer for this game, hopefully.
Rutgers over Norfolk State
As the Scarlet Knights win by 30, the Newark Star-Ledger writes a story praising the team's performance. Every Rutgers fan flocks to twitter with the response: "Why's the Star-Ledger gotta be all biased against Rutgers like this? #CHOPNation"
Illinois State over Iowa
Do your thing, Tre Roberson. We miss you.
SATURDAY PART 2: ACTUAL KINDA DECENT GAMES
Northwestern (+12) over Stanford
Stanford is winning this game 20-14 because every game they win is by the score of 20-14.
Penn State (-7) over Temple
This is technically a home game in Philly for Temple but the place will surely be packed with Nittany Lions fans. Christian Hackenberg does just enough to make NFL experts continue to swoon over him.
BYU (+7) over Nebraska
Mike Riley was by far my favorite hire of the offseason by any school. Basically Nebraska told their fans, "We're gonna hire a guy who will give you the same record as before but this time he's gonna be really really nice about it" and Huskers fans ate it up like a plate of Runzas. It was a brilliant strategy. However, this is a tough first game for Riley, and BYU has a fun dual-threat QB in Taysom Hill who could make life miserable for the Blackshirts.
Alabama (-10.5) over Wisconsin
Congrats, Paul Chryst! You took over at your beloved alma mater! Your first task? Face off against Nick Saban in front of 100,000 Bama fans in the Jerrydome. Have fun out there!
SATURDAY PART 3: NON-B1G GAMES OF INTEREST
Notre Dame (-9.5) over Texas
Good news for the reversible jacket fans: The Longhorns don't have an offense.
Louisville (+10.5) over Auburn
I don't know if the Cards will get by Auburn, but they'll at least keep it closer than your average Finebaum caller thinks.
Arizona State (+3.5) over Texas A&M
I include this game just to talk about the rumor that A&M could have been one of many teams to join the B1G in 2010. I'm bummed it never happened, because it would have meant one thing:
JOHNNY FOOTBALL IN THE BIG TEN.
Just think how great would that have been! So much hand-wringing from Michigan fans about how he doesn't play the game the right way! Johnny scampering away from 300-pound Wisconsin defensive linemen! It would have been glorious. Oh well.
Marshall (-7.5) over Purdue
So, Marshall is pretty good, you guys. Purdue has lost two straight to Indiana. This means they are not good. The Thundering Herd win and put Darrell Hazell squarely on the hot seat.
Ohio State (-11.5) over Virginia Tech
I was at the Shoe last year when OSU lost their only game of the season to Virginia Tech. J.T. Barrett looked lost, and the Buckeye defense let an offense later shut out by Wake Forest run all over them. That isn't happening again. I know Lane Stadium is an intimidating environment, and that place goes nuts when Enter Sandman gets played. But Ohio State is now used to these atmospheres, and Urban Meyer will make sure they don't start another season with a loss to the Hokies.
Power Rankings will return on Tuesday. Until then, enjoy the games.