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Eyes on the Nation: Maize and Blue eyes point to two primetime matchups for MSU and PSU

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Penn State and Michigan State survived upset bids last week. This week, the competition is better, on the road and at night.

UTSA v Arizona State Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Much of the nation’s best struggled during opening weekend.

Heisman favorite Bryce Love of Stanford mustered only 29 yards on 18 carries against San Diego State. Southern California found itself in a fourth quarter fistfight with lowly UNLV.

Tom Herman and Texas were stripped of a chance for revenge against Maryland.

If you read Conference Corner last week, or infused your butt cheeks to the sofa Saturday, you know Michigan State and Penn State survived one-score games against also-rans.

Mark Dantonio’s Spartans travel to the desert to face Herm Edwards and the Arizona State Sun Devils, while the Nittany Lions drive down I-76 West to face rival Pittsburgh.

Both of Michigan’s Big Ten East rivals need to put last week behind them, since these Power Five schools are on the road and at night. ASU thrived in its debut under Edwards — the longtime NFL coach and ESPN analyst — by dominating Texas-San Antonio 49-7. Pitt handled overmatched Albany 33-7.

Michigan State and Penn State possess two of the best quarterbacks in the conference, yet both scuffled with lesser competition last Saturday. Brian Lewerke threw a pick-six to ignite Utah State’s late surge, while Trace McSorley was out-dueled by Appalachian State’s Zac Thomas.

The former gets to reestablish himself at 10:45 p.m. on ESPN, while the latter plays in the primetime ABC matchup at 8 p.m.

OPPONENT STOCK WATCH

While Michigan fans should place the Notre Dame loss in the rearview mirror, maize and blue eyes will surely be looking at the Fighting Irish as a point of comparison all season long.

Fellow Indiana natives Ball State visit South Bend Saturday (3:30 p.m. on NBC), bringing a 1-0 record and boasting David Letterman as an alumnus. Also, some other guy...

...that went 2-2 against Notre Dame. While coaching Michigan. ‘Memba?

As predicted last week, Scott Frost’s debut with Nebraska arrived with a dull thud, as the Zips and Huskers cancelled the game due to thunderstorms. While Nebraska offered accommodations, Akron declined.

Now, Frost’s first game in Memorial Stadium since his college days is against bitter rival Colorado (3:30 p.m. on ABC). The Buffaloes last met the Cornhuskers in 2010 as a member of the Big 12, with Bo Pelini leading Big Red to a 45-17 victory in Lincoln.

Back then, Colorado was perpetually lost with Mr. Intramurals Dan Hawkins. As Wolverine faithful witnessed two years ago, current head coach Mike MacIntyre has mined more success out of the once-proud program. Anyone familiar with the rivalry knows that former Michigan defensive coordinator Bill McCartney treated the rivalry a la Dantonio with the Wolverines.

In the 2000s, the Buffs stole two wins out of five games in Lincoln. One of them signaled the beginning of the end of the Blackshirt dynasty.

Michigan’s next ranked opponent will probably be Wisconsin Oct. 13. Everyone knows how good they are, as the Badgers likely won’t face a challenge until visiting Iowa City later this month.

That leaves Michigan eyes on Southern Methodist, the aforementioned Cornhuskers, Northwestern and Maryland.

SMU dropped its opener to North Texas. While the Wolverines tripped against the Catholics, the Methodists shouldn’t be an issue. They play Texas Christian on Friday night on ESPN2.

Northwestern looked polished against Purdue with quarterback Clayton Thorson returning from an ACL tear. They host Duke at noon on ESPNU, looking to avenge a 41-17 drubbing in Durham in 2017.

Also mentioned previously, Maryland played inspired football for their fallen teammate Jordan McNair, topping Texas for the second straight year. With a healthy Kasim Hill at quarterback, and a veteran offensive line, the Terrapin offense becomes a little scarier.

They visit Bowling Green Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN Plus.

MICHIGAN ROOTING INTEREST, WEEK 2

  • Kansas State over No. 18 Mississippi State. No. 21 Michigan trails the Bulldogs at the moment, and who doesn’t love everyone’s favorite geriatric Bill Snyder? #elderlyshaming
  • UCLA over No. 6 Oklahoma. It won’t happen. The Bruins lost transfer Wilton Speight to another back injury, crippling their chances to even beat Cincinnati in Chip Kelly’s debut. (UPDATE: Speight is “day to day.” This clearly changes everything.)
  • No. 3 Georgia over No. 24 South Carolina. Two things. One, a Gamecock win vaults them over Michigan. Two, talk to Georgia fans, folks. The fanbases are remarkably similar, from attitudes to temperament to close-but-no-cigar results in their biggest games.
  • Rutgers over No. 5 Ohi...Nope. Not even going there.