Week three is upon us and we’re that much closer till conference games begin.
Like every week during the College Football season, Rant Sports will have you covered with preview of what you need to know about the Big Ten’s weekly games.
Saturday, Sept. 15
California at #12 Ohio State, 12pm – This will be the Buckeyes first test against a true defense after dismantling Miami (OH) and Central Florida in the first two weeks. Braxton Miller has looked Heisman worthy so far as he’s had little help on the offensive side of the football. Coach Urban Meyer won’t want Miller carrying to ball 20 times every game and needs other players to step up. Cal QB Zac Maynard has a decent arm and mechanics but has a tendency to turn the ball over.
Charleston Southern at Illinois, 12pm – Hopefully the Illini can recover from a terrible loss to Arizona State last week in the desert. QB Nathan Scheelhaase could miss another game due to ankle injury where we’ll see Reilly O’Toole at the helm. Tim Beckman won’t be pleased if his team can’t put up points against an FCS opponent and the defense must return to form. Look for a heavy dose of running backs Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson.
Arkansas State at Nebraska, 12pm – The Blackshirt defense gave up 653 yards to UCLA last weekend in the Rose Bowl, running a total of 94 plays. Arkansas State ranks seventh in the country in yards per game at 574.5 under quarterback Ryan Alpin. If the defense can’t bounce back we may be looking at a shootout in Lincoln. Huskers QB Taylor Martinez needs just 39 rushing yards to become only the second Husker to record 4,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards.
Western Michigan at Minnesota, 12pm – The Gophers look to match their win total from a year ago this week and have a chance to beat a solid opponent. Minnesota’s defense ranks second in the Big Ten (258.0 ypg) and ranks third in tackles. Western Michigan QB Alex Carder has a strong arm and the Gophers defensive front will need to get pressure on him. Minnesota QB MarQueis Gray ranks first in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (171.6) and has been doing it all for Jerry Kill’s squad. He needs to keep up it up this week and not turn the ball over.
Eastern Michigan at Purdue, 12pm – What a tough loss for Purdue last week against Notre Dame. Not only did they lose on a last second field goal but they lost QB Robert Marve for the season with his third ACL injury. It’s Caleb TerBush’s team to be the sole leader, and he’s got plenty of weapons on the outside to throw to. This game should be over by halftime and we’ll likely see No. 2 QB Rob Henry who was the starter in 2010 before suffering a knee injury in camp before the 2011 season. The Boilers defense is dominating this year, only yielding 52 yards to Notre Dame last week.
Boston College at Northwestern, 3:30 – Don’t look now but here come Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats. After two impressive wins in the first two weeks, Northwestern could move to 3-0 after beating the Eagles this weekend. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian both complement each other under the helm for the Wildcats and have been making plays every time their in the game. NU’s running game has exploded thanks to 5-8 Venric Mark. He’s a versatile back with great speed and playmaking ability. He’s coming off a 123-yard game against Vanderbilt and leads the Big Ten with 439 all-purpose yards.
Northern Iowa at Iowa, 3:30 – The Iowa defense has been impressive, but can their 112th ranked offense score enough this Saturday? Northern Iowa looked strong against Wisconsin and could very well give the Hawkeyes a challenge this weekend. Iowa has scored just once in two games when Damon Bullock ran 23 yards for a touchdown against Northern Illinois. QB James Vandenberg has underperformed this season and will try and bounce back from a 9-6 loss to rival Iowa State.
Navy at Penn State, 3:30 – Is this the week Bill O’Brien gets his first win in Happy Valley? He’s going to need more productivity out of his offense and quarterback Matt McGloin if the Lions’ expect to topple Navy. The defense played well last week only giving up 295 yards (32 on the ground) and produced four turnovers. They will need to be ready for Navy’s option attack this week and hope to force some early turnovers.
UMass at #17 Michigan, 3:30 – UMass hasn’t done so hot in its first season as an FBS member. They’ve been outscored 82-6 and have the pleasure of taking a trip to the Big House to play Denard Robinson and Big Blue. This will be a perfect game for Robinson to hone in on his passing ability and back off from running the football so often. RB Fitz Toussaint needs a game like this to get going after his disappointing debut last week. Michigan will win this in a rout.
Ball State at Indiana, 8pm – The Cameron Coffman era begins in Hoosierland as he takes of for the injured Tre Roberson at quarterback. Indiana will look to improve to 3-0 with a win over the Cardinals, who embarrassed them a season ago. Coffman is a junior college transfer and is by no means as athletic as Roberson. Ball State’s running game will be a big step up from what they’ve seen this season and they’ll need to shut down Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks for the Cardinals.
Utah State at Wisconsin, 8pm – Don’t look now but this could be another upset brewing for the Badgers. Utah State is coming off an overtime win against rival Utah and are more than capable of dumping Sconnie. Aggies QB Chuckie Keeton is a dual-threat signal caller that will give the Badger defense fits if they don’t shut him down. Montee Ball needs to return to his normal form and QB Danny O’Brien needs to step up and provide the offense with a spark. Careful here Bielema.
#20 Notre Dame at #10 Michigan State, 8pm – We should know if Michigan State is the best team in the Big Ten after this game. Notre Dame gets RB Cierre Wood back from suspension and will give the Irish a jolt in the backfield. This will be a test for first year QB Andrew Maxwell who is coming off a nice game against Central Michigan where he was 20-31 for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Shutting down MSU RB Le’Veon Bell will be huge for the Irish, Bell is the Spartans workhorse and should see somewhere near 40 carries.
Will Wilson is a writer for Rant Sports covering College Football and the Big Ten Conference.