I’m glad football is back and it’s time to start predicting games again. It feels just like yesterday that the 2014 season came to a close with Ohio State hoisting the College Football Trophy. I went 65-21 with my Big 10 predictions last season, man did I miss on that conference championship game. I’m not very good with introductions, so without further ado here’s my Big Ten Week 1 Picks.
Thursday, September 3
30 Michigan at Utah 27
Jim Harbaugh makes his head coaching debut on Thursday and trust me the whole college football nation will be staying up late to watch this one. Michigan has plenty of talent, but have lacked coaching the past two seasons. The Wolverines should bring a powerful running attack to the table and don’t be surprised if Shane Morris has a big game, remember who his coach is. I’m one of the few people that think Michigan can win eight or more games this season and I think they’ll open up the season on the positive side.
Utah returns 16 starters to a team that went 9-4 last season. They have to replace receivers Kaelin Clay and Dres Anderson and tight end Westlee Tonga. The Utes lost a total of six defensive contributors, with four of those players in the secondary. Overall I think Harbaugh out coaches Kyle Whittingham for the Michigan win.
42 #2 TCU at Minnesota 17
Probably the most underrated game of the week and it should be close in the first half, but Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs offense is just too powerful for the Gophers to overcome.
Friday, September 4
56 #5 Michigan State at Western Michigan 6
13 Kent State at Illinois 34
Saturday, September 5
10 Illinois State at Iowa 45
16 Richmond at Maryland 37
3 Norfolk State at Rutgers 42
27 #21 Stanford at Northwestern 17
34 Penn State at Temple 14
28 BYU at Nebraska 31
This game could go either way, but I have to go with the home team on this one and think Mike Riley takes home his first victory as the Cornhuskers head coach.
3 Southern Illinois at Indiana 45
6 #20 Wisconsin vs #3 Alabama 34
College Gameday will be in Arlington for what most people think will be the game of the week. I’m one of the few that think this game will be a blowout and could get ugly fast. Wisconsin lost key pieces on offense, including running back Melvin Gordon and three offensive lineman. The Badgers are also going up against the best front seven in all of college football. I think Wisconsin can keep the game close early, but will struggle to put points on the board and Alabama’s running game will eventually wear down the Badgers defense.
Sunday, September 6
31 Purdue at Marshall 38
This might be the toughest prediction in the Big 10 this week and let me tell you right now that week one is the hardest week to predict any game. You don’t know how good a team is until they step on the field. Marshall is coming off a great season against weak competition, while Purdue is coming off their second straight last place finish. I think the Boilermakers have improved, but I honestly don’t think they’re good enough to beat Marshall. This game is a must win for the Herd, who will look to prove to the nation that they can beat a team in a power five conference. This is also a must win for Purdue, as they look to prove that they can actually win a game against a Division I opponent. That’s the ingredients for an entertaining Sunday game when nothing else is on TV.
Monday, September 7
24 #1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech 27
I probably sound crazy, but I think Ohio State might be the most overrated team in college football. Every year we hype up the defending champions and they rarely pan out, and I think the Buckeyes are no different. Don’t get me wrong I love the work that Urban Meyer has done in Columbus and think that Ohio State is a top notch team, but there’s no way that they repeat this season and it starts with this game. We all remember what happened last year when the Hokies shocked the world, upsetting Ohio State, 35-21. That game was at Ohio Stadium, so just imagine what the outcome could be at Lane Stadium, home of the Hokies. The crowd will be electric and all of Virginia will be shaking at kickoff.
Virginia Tech returns All-American corner Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson, while Ohio State will be without three of their offensive weapons, who are suspended for the opening game. The Buckeyes will also be without receiver Noah Brown, who’s out for the season with a leg injury. Advantage easily goes the Hokies way in the passing game. Virginia Tech’s whole defensive line also returns and all four of those players have earned All-ACC honors at some time. Dadi Nicolas might be the most disruptive player on the defense and the senior defensive end will put a ton of pressure on the Buckeyes quarterback. The one weak spot on the Virginia Tech defense is at linebacker, which shouldn’t be a major concern, but will definitely be a position to pay attention to as the game progresses.
It will be a long day for Ohio State if Ezekiel Elliott struggles to get past the D-line, since the Buckeyes will rely on Elliott to carry them offensively in this game. In my opinion Ohio State should start J.T. Barrett, as it will give them more options on offense and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see Barrett and Cardale Jones in the game at the same time for a trick play.
Virginia Tech had some key losses on offense, but they should overcome that, with experience at skill positions and quarterback Michael Brewer returning for his senior season. Ohio State losing Joey Bosa for this game will also be tough for the Buckeyes to overcome on defense. Like I said earlier, I probably sound like the craziest person in the world right now, but I think the Ohio State talk will end on September 7th. You never know maybe the Buckeyes overcome the loss and win the National Title again.