B1G Football Week Three Preview: Taking Shots at Sparty

Gregory Shamus

Week number three will bring us a few games that will tell a lot about individual teams and the B1G as a conference.

12:00 P.M. Eastern

Akron at Michigan (BTN): What more do we need to see, or what more can we say about Devin Gardner's performance on Saturday? There are still a few things to tweak here and there, but Akron should prove to be no match for the Wolverines; the second stringers should get a decent amount of playing time by the end of this game. Look for Akron to score no more than seven points. I'd say zero, but you almost have to try NOT to score; even a field goal can happen by accident.

Bowling Green at Indiana (ESPNU): Indiana needs to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Naval Academy last weekend, but will the IU defense be able to show up and stop a Falcons offense that has scored 75 points in two games? Although we've seen only two games, the Hoosiers have the 109th ranked defense in the country and are allowing 38 points per game. Bowling Green's D is ranked 29th and allowing only 14.5. Perhaps the Hoosiers will have a new spark with Nate Sudfeld as the starting QB. Sudfeld went 31/42 for 363, 4 TDs and one INT against Navy, so maybe a positive performance can get the defense to play along. Although Crimson Quarry thinks that BG could be a handful, I think Indiana will win convincingly.

Western Illinois at Minnesota (BTN): the Gophers are a 1,000,000,000,000,000-point favorite in this game. But, given Minnesota's struggles with FCS schools in recent years this may come down a bit. Philip Nelson will have a career game this weekend, and the Gophers' ground game should also be clicking. The Gophers did suffer a major blow to the defense when it was announed that Briean Boddy-Calhoun tore his ACL and MCL, thus missing the rest of the season.

UCLA at Nebraska (ABC): This is the first of four B1G/PAC-12 match-ups on Saturday, and this one could be a barn burner. UCLA is coming off of a woodshedding of Nevada, while Nebraska may still have some questions to answer on the defensive side of the ball. Sure, they beat Southern Miss pretty convincingly last week, but who hasn't done that in the last year? The Huskers will also look to avenge last year's loss to the Bruins in Pasadena. Since UCLA has played only one game, stats are relatively meaningless, but they did hold the Wolfpack to 171 rushing yards, while Nebraska is averaging 330 per game. Read the opposing teams' previews here and here.

2:00 P.M. Eastern

Youngstown State at Michigan State (BTN): will the offensive woes continue for the Spartans against the Penguins? One can only hope. Expect Michigan State to get their passing yards to a couch-burning 4.

6:00 P.M. Eastern

Central Florida at Penn State (BTN): the Nittany Lions are proving to be a darn good defensive team, allowing only 12 points per game so far in '13. Christian Hackenberg is showing glimpses of why he was so highly regarded out of high school, and what he could be for the Lions in the future. How about another instance of early season stats being relatively meaningless: UCF has the fourth-ranked defense in the country by allowing only 3.5 ppg...against Akron and FIU. Not exactly stiff competition. Penn State should win this one, but UCF will put up a fight with Blake Bortles trying to find ways to take advantage of what is a stout Penn State defense.

Iowa at Iowa State (FOX Sports 1): Check out this plea over at Wide Right and Natty Lite, it's fantastic. I am positively giddy with excitement! It's going to be a wonderful day. Another victory for the Maize and Blue, and a complete implosion by the Hawkeyes. If this was the only game on at this time, I would actually consider watching it. But, instead I'll be checking out...

Washington "at" Illinois (Soldier Field; BTN): I mean, holy cow! After barely getting by Southern Illinois, the Illini came out and completely blasted a damn good Cincinnati team, and ripped their quarterback's leg off in the process. Bill Cubit has Nathan Scheelhaase and the Illini offense ranked 10th in the country at 363.5 yards per game. Washington is coming off holding the Boise State Broncos to only six...SIX!...points, while scoring 38. I won't go so far as to say that Illinois is going to win, but hot damn, this is going to be something to watch! I'm almost rooting for Illinois.

7:00 P.M. Eastern

Ohio State at Cal (FOX): game number three of the B1G/PAC-12 faceoff will be another good one. Golden Bears quarterback, Jared Goff, has thrown for 930 yards in his first two games. He's a true freshman, folks, and he took Northwestern to the brink. In comparison, the Buckeyes' QBs are combining for a 190.5 average over the first two games. That's against two inferior opponents, while Cal played a good Northwestern team. The questions for Cal are definitely on defense.

8:00 P.M. Eastern

Notre Dame at Purdue (ABC): why oh why is this game being televised?! I mean, seriously! Sure, we all hope that the Boilermakers can get their shit together and win this, but we don't want to watch what is going to really happen. But, Purdue still averages more passing yards per game than Michigan State, so there's that.

9:00 P.M. Eastern

Western Michigan at Northwestern (BTN): look for the Wildcats' 7.2 yards per play average to increase against the Broncos, who are allowing 372 yards per game (this number would surely be higher if Michigan State could have fielded an offense). Even the Northwestern defense should have an easy time against Western, who is converting only 29% on third down.

10:30 P.M. Eastern

Wisconsin at Arizona State (ESPN): much like the Nebraska/UCLA game earlier in the day, this has "points" written all over it. With ASU's Taylor Kelly able to throw all over the field, and UW's Melvin Gordon, James White, and Corey Clement all averaging over 125 yards per game, I think this is going to be a shootout into the wee hours. Stay up late if you can, it's going to be worth it. It will be a test for each of these teams, since Wisconsin has faced only UMass and Tennessee Tech; Arizona State blew out Sacramento State.

Weekend Record Prediction: 9-3 with Illinois, Iowa, and Purdue losing. Wisconsin and Nebraska could go either way. Even a split with the PAC-12 will mean a lot for the B1G, but a 3-1 weekend will vault our often-maligned conference to the top of the national conversation. Well, not on ESPN.

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