Half of the Big Ten will be staying at home getting some rest this weekend, so there's not a whole lot of action. However, the Big Ten season is finally here! Of the four games, the Minnesota/Iowa and Wisconsin/Ohio State games are the pick of the crop (yes, I classify a Minnesota game as pick of the crop). Purdue may be an intriguing match-up with Northern Illinois, while Illinois will have no problems handling Miami (OH)--I mean, who has problems handling an over matched opponent? D'oh!
12:00 p.m. Eastern
Miami (OH) at Illinois: the Redhawks are ranking near the bottom in just about everything, and are 0-3 on the season. Illinois, on the other hand, has actually been a pleasant surprise in 2013. Nathan Scheelhaase and the passing game are ranked 21st in the country, but their running game needs to step it up and start gaining momentum heading into their game at Nebraska on 10/5. The Illini's leading rusher, Donovonn Young, has only 138 yards in three games, for a 43 ypg average, which should improve by leaps and bounds against Miami. The big question for Illinois, though, is their defense. They allowed 615 yards against Washington; that's less than good defense. On the season, they're allowing 6.5 yards per play. All of that being said, there's no reason to think that they won't get by Miami and reach the half-way point to bowl eligibility.
Northern Illinois at Purdue: the Huskies have already beaten one Big Ten team, and they are 3.5 point favorites in this game. That has got to hurt all of the Purdue fans right in the groinal region. Purdue played Notre Dame tough, but are still trying to get Wisconsin's footprints off of their bodies, and now they'll have Jordan Lynch running on ‘em. The Boilermakers are averaging just over 15 points per game, while allowing 32. Northern Illinois is scoring 39 ppg, but allowing 34 ppg and 491 yards of offense. If Rob Henry can turn it on, this could be a shootout. It's no stretch to say that Purdue needs to win this, and it's sad to think that a B1G team needs to beat a MAC team for any other reason than it's just embarrassing to lose to a MAC team. This win needs to happen for the Boilermakers because the season isn't getting any easier for them after this. I think Purdue will win, but in a squeaker.
3:30 p.m. Eastern
Iowa at Minnesota: HATE WEEK! Iowa's three wins have come against teams that are winless in 2013. Minnesota's opponents are a combined 5-10, so not great...but five is more than zero. I'm good with numbers. Regardless of records the battle for Floyd of Rosedale is always a big deal. Iowa has dominated the series since 2000, but the Gophers were able to keep Floyd in the Cities during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The Gophers will probably start the hot hand, Mitch Leidner, rather than Philip Nelson who is nursing an injury. Leidner isn't a bad option to have at the QB position, either, as he had 151 rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs against San Jose State. Minnesota has only one passing touchdown this year, though...ONE!...but they have sixteen rushing TDs. Their D/ST have scored five times in the first four games, which is pretty darn good. What do we need to see from Iowa? A loss, that's what! Aside from Mark Weisman's 43 yards against Western Michigan, he's actually had a decent rushing season, posting totals of 100, 180, and 145 (again, though, look at their competition). In order for Iowa to win, they'll have to avoid that Minnesota defense that has really come to play this year, and Jake Rudock will need to have the game of his young career to pull this one out. I just wonder if Iowa will have their heads in the game; their mascot has a serious health issue, so let's see if the players will play this one for Herky. On a serious note, check out the good work that BHGP is doing to help raise funds for a children's hospital. Raising money to help kids is the best thing that can ever be done, so hats off to those guys for doing what they're doing. Prediction: Minnesota 28, Iowa 27.
8:00 p.m. Eastern
Wisconsin at Ohio State: I know that Wisconsin hasn't really played anyone other than Arizona State, but how 'bout that running game? The passing game needs a little help (six touchdowns, half of which have gone to Jared Abbrederis), but if you have something that is working, why try anything else? Joel Stave has his issues and has been more of a game manager, and I'll give you a million dollars if you can name a Wisconsin quarterback not named Russell Wilson who has been more than just a game manager. Stave isn't getting a whole lot of help from his receivers, though. Jared Abbrederis is pretty much the only guy out there, and it sounds as though TE Jacob Pedersen is questionable for Saturday's game. That pretty much leaves Stave with Abbrederis and throwing to his backs. On the Ohio State side of things, Braxton Miller will probably make his return, but as a co-starter. We can't say too much about his season so far since he's been out most of it, but he's a good player, there's no doubt about it. Buckeye running back Jordan Hall has been having a good season, too, and the OSU defense has played alright, but they aren't unbeatable. Look at what happened against Buffalo and Cal. If Wisconsin can come out and punch Ohio State in the face, they may actually stand a chance. Although the Badgers will have the solid running game, look for them to maybe air it out a little bit against a secondary that has been torched. Prediction: Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 31.