Tony's Tip Sheet – Big Ten Edition
By Tony Gerdeman
Division play kicks up a notch in the Big Ten as 10 conference teams are in action this week, and that doesn't even include Rutgers and Maryland, who are also playing on Saturday. The biggest game of the weekend, of course, is Ohio State at Northwestern, but don't sleep on Maryland at Florida State to kick off the afternoon.
There's also Michigan State at Iowa, but I'm not going to tell you not to sleep on it simply because I'm sure it will be impossible to stay awake through.
Thursday October 3
Teams: Western Kentucky (3-2) at Louisiana-Monroe (2-3)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Ohio State
At halftime of this game, five-star center (basketball, not football) Goodluck Okonoboh out of Boston will be announcing his college decision between UNLV, Indiana and Ohio State. Thad Matta has been trying like heck to land a center in the 2014 class, and right now the Buckeyes are trending with Okonoboh. In other news, my selection in this game is the university of... [Grabs paper bag, reaches in for the proper hat, realizes that this grocery bag has actual groceries in it and that the bag with the hat in it is currently on the kitchen counter back home]. Forget it, I'm just taking WKU and running back Antonio Andrews. Western Kentucky 28 – Louisiana-Monroe 24
Saturday October 5
Teams: #25 Maryland (4-0) at #8 Florida State (4-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Maryland
We're all waiting for Florida State's inevitable loss, but I'm not sure quarterback Jameis Winston is capable of playing as terrible as past Noles quarterbacks were. I'm very confused by the whole thing. Still, if a quarterback like Tajh Boyd can't overcome Clemson's losing past, then I wouldn't expect Winston to overcome the same at Florida State just yet. Maryland, meanwhile, comes into this game 4-0 with wins over Florida International, Old Dominion, Connecticut and West Virginia. In other words, they're 0-0 because they have yet to play anybody. This would be a big step for the Terps, and I just don't see it happening this week. Florida State 41 – Maryland 24
Teams: Michigan State (3-1) at Iowa (4-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Iowa
You might expect me to poke fun at these two offenses, but out of respect to the Spartan and Hawkeye fans who read this, I won't do it. Do you think Michigan State fans need me to tell them that I've seen better quarterbacks at a Forcier family reunion? And do Hawkeye fans need to hear that I've seen a more advanced passing offense from Coleco? Of course they don't. Besides, this is a matchup of two very good defenses, so even if their offenses weren't terrible, they'd still look pretty pathetic in this game. I think I'm siding with the Iowa running game in this one, as well as the fact that the Hawkeyes aren't starting a Michigan State quarterback. However, my pick could certainly change if I find out that Iowa has decided on starting a Spartan quarterback, so I just want to make that clear. Iowa 13 – Michigan State 10
Teams: Rutgers (3-1) at SMU (1-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNNews)
Cheer For: Rutgers
I just spent the last 15 minutes trying to think of what to write about this game rather than actually doing research. If I would have just done the research initially, I could have already been done with this preview and moved on to Illinois at Nebraska. Instead I kept trying to figure out how not to research this one and yet still write enough words to justify you reading this. I don't think I have necessarily justified your reading to this point, and yeah, that bothers me. But I think I have a lot of word equity built up over the years, so even if you don't get your brain's worth in this blurb, maybe you'll get it in the next preview. These can't all be winners, you know. And now that I think about it, “These can't all be winners” probably would have been the most fitting sentence to write about this game. Tell you what, just read that sentence. Rutgers 41 – SMU 34
Teams: Illinois (3-1) at Nebraska (3-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Illinois
Nebraska opened up as a 10-point favorite, but now that's down to 8.5 points. I'm very interested to see how Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase performs in this game, because he's been great against every team they've played except for the one that had a defense. In other words, if he can't succeed against this Nebraska defense, then we'll know that the Illini offense is a fraud. Taylor Martinez probably won't play, but I don't know if that even matters. I really have no idea what to make of this game simply because I can't yet put any type of belief into Illinois. You know in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade how Indy took a leap of faith onto an invisible bridge? Well, the Illinois bridge is also invisible, but on the other side of the bridge you have Tim Beckman with a maniacal smile holding invisible lawn clippers pretending to cut an invisible rope bridge. Nebraska 30 – Illinois 23
Teams: Penn State (3-1) at Indiana (2-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Penn State
It's best if you cheer for Penn State, but I understand if you won't. You've always had a problem with stuff out in the middle of nowhere, which describes Penn State perfectly. Though I don't know why that would suddenly make you an Indiana fan, given that Bloomington sticks out about as well as a dune in a desert. I like Indiana in this one, as I'm expecting a shootout, which means that PSU freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg will make too many mistakes. He'll turn the ball over a few times, and the Hoosiers will capitalize. Wait, can Hoosiers capitalize? I mean, I assume they can, I've just never actually seen it. Indiana 34 – Penn State 28
Teams: Minnesota (4-1) at #19 Michigan (4-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN2)
Cheer For: Michigan
The Gophers have a quarterback controversy, which is a lot like trying to decide which linebacker from the '85 Bears you want to punch you in the face. Should you go with the intense pummeling from Mike Singletary, or the grizzled knucklestomp from veteran Otis Wilson? Philip Nelson is more experienced and is the more complete quarterback, but he turns it over more than Devin Gardner during show and tell. Mitch Leidner is a capable runner, and has produced in limited action this season, but he's not much of a passer. The Gophers couldn't run the ball against Iowa last week, and I doubt they'll be able to run it against Michigan. I am expecting the Wolverines to play their best game since the season opener. Michigan 41 – Minnesota 17
Teams: #4 Ohio State (5-0) at #16 Northwestern (4-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Ohio State
The loss of safety Christian Bryant makes this Northwestern game even tougher for the Buckeyes. The Ohio State defense will have to overcome his loss against perhaps the best offense the Buckeyes will face this season. The good thing for the Buckeye defense is that it's a familiar offense, because it's similar to what they see every day in practice. The Ohio State offense won't be able to let up in this game, and because of that, maybe they won't. Pat Fitzgerald is 0-3 against Ohio State, losing by an average score of 52-9. This will be closer than that, however. When it comes to “win the game” mode for Urban Meyer and Tom Herman this weekend, it will require more than running out the clock for two quarters, and maybe that will finally make Buckeye fans happy. Ohio State 45 – Northwestern 31
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