With the college football season less than two weeks away, football fans everywhere are looking forward to the start of the season. There won’t be any conference games for a few weeks, but some interesting match-ups can be found in Week One. Let’s take a look at all the games the Big 10 has scheduled for then.
UNLV @ Wisconsin, Thursday 9/1/11 8 PM ET
Wisconsin is the first team in the Big 10 to kickoff and they face an interesting opponent in UNLV. Typically a solid football team, UNLV could give Wisky fits in the early going. However, I think the talent of Wisconsin is too good to struggle for long.
Pick: Wisconsin 35, UNLV 17
Youngstown State @ Michigan State, Friday 9/2/11 7:30 ET
Michigan State is the next team to play and they start off with the Penguins. If MSU struggles in this game at all, it’s not a good sign. Look for Sparty to roll YSU as they begin their pursuit of a Big 10 title.
Pick: MSU 38, YSU 13
Akron @ Ohio State, Saturday 9/3/11 12 ET
Ohio State fans can breathe a sigh of relief as they return to actual football. How will new head coach Luke Fickell’s squad look? It’s hard to say. There are still questions at the quarterback position, but I don’t believe Akron should give them much trouble. OSU should be able to figure out some of their issues as they cruise to victory.
Pick: OSU 31, Akron 10
Middle Tennessee @ Purdue 9/3/11 12 ET
The Purdue fan in me hates to say it, but this game could be the first to not go the Big 10′s way. Middle Tennessee is always a sneaky good time capable of pulling an upset. If Purdue is going to return to a bowl, they need to start off right. If not, look for Danny Hope’s coaching tenure to get a lot shorter. I think they pull the win off, but in a game a little too close for comfort.
Indiana State @ Penn State 9/3/11 12 ET
Sorry to all the Penn State fans out there, as I misread the schedule. I skipped over them while doing this, which is a big mistake. Anyways, after an interesting off-season the Nittany Lions take the field. The quarterback situation is settled for now, but who knows who long that will last? This game shouldn’t be a problem for PSU as they roll the Sycamores to start the season.
Pick: Penn State 31, Indiana State 7
Pick: Purdue 24, MTSU 20
Northwestern @ Boston College 9/3/11 12 ET
Northwestern has the toughest opponent on the Big 10 slate as they travel to ACC territory. Boston College will provide the Wildcats with plenty of problems. If Dan Persa struggles to return from his knee injury, the Wildcats won’t win this in. This is my first pick for a Big 10 loss.
Pick: BC 24, Northwestern 17
Tennessee Tech @ Iowa 9/3/11 12 ET
The James Vandenburg era starts for the Hawkeyes on Saturday. Tennessee Tech is a perfect opponent to get questions on the defensive and offensive line answered before playing the always tricky rivalry game with Iowa State. Look for Marcus Coker to run wild at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
Pick: Iowa 31, Tennessee Tech 6
Arkansas State @ Illinois 9/3/11 3:30 ET
Did you know Ron Zook is currently the third-longest tenured coach in the Big 10? Kind of shocking when you think about it. The Zooker and his squad look to build on last year with quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase back to lead the Illini. This game should merely be a speed bump for Illinois as they look to return to a bowl game once again.
Pick: Illinois 28, Arkansas State 14
Chattanooga @ Nebraska 9/3/11 3:30 ET
The Huskers make their Big 10 debut, taking on Chattanooga. This shouldn’t be a difficult one for the Huskers. Look for Taylor “T-Magic” Martinez to have a big game as the Huskers begin their quest to win a Big 10 title.
Pick: Nebraska 34, Chattanooga 7
Minnesota @ USC 9/3/11 3:30 ET
The Jerry Kill era starts off with a bang as the Gophers travel to LA to play the Trojans. I really don’t see the Gophers having a chance against USC. There may be bright spots for the Gophers this year, but I don’t think the first game will be one of them.
Pick: USC 31, Minnesota 13
Western Michigan @ Michigan 9/3/11 3:30 ET
Brady Hoke and the Wolverines look to return to the thick of the Big 10 race this year. With Hoke’s new style coming to Michigan, look for a much better defensive effort this year. Denard Robinson will still be electric and the Wolverines will have a good start to the first year of the Hoke era.
Pick: Michigan 35, Western Michigan 10
Indiana @ Ball State 9/3/11 7 ET
The Hoosiers look to return to a bowl game this year under first year coach Kevin Wilson. Wilson, a former assistant at Oklahoma, will look to bring a new attitude to the normally lowly Hoosiers. A win against in-state Ball State will be the first step to the Hoosiers turning things around.
Pick: Indiana 24, Ball State 13
There you have it. A look at the first game of the year for each Big 10 team. Check back after the games are played for a slight recap of each team and a preview for the following. The Big 10 will have exciting games week in and week out and I am personally extremely excited to watch.