Week 1 - Big Ten West Game Previews

Week 1 - Big Ten West Game Previews

Columnists

Week 1 - Big Ten West Game Previews

Northwestern’s cross-over game against Purdue highlights the opening week for the Big Ten West.

Contact @crowleysullivan

Despite what some people have suggested, the Big Ten West still plays football games that are recognized by the NCAA as “counting.”

There are massive machine-like programs over there in the Big Ten East that are preparing for season openers that will give everyone heart murmurs and panic attacks – and I’m not only talking about the Rutgers fans.

The teams and the overall play of the Big Ten West might not be as glamorous or trendy or as “good” when compared to the Big Ten East – but the teams will be opening up their seasons nevertheless.

And if we’re wrong about every single one of these predictions, maybe that means that the internet should be turned off immediately.  Feel free to contact your local Congressperson and file a complaint.

Northwestern at Purdue

A unique Big Ten conference game to start the season for these programs – and on a Thursday night, no less.

Jeff Brohm woke up the Boilers a bit last season and some people even think that Purdue football is on the verge of rising like a vampire.

Pat Fitzgerald is looking for his fourth 10-win season in Evanston – and his 3rd in four years.

For Northwestern, so much will depend on Clayton Thorson’s ability to return to his pre-injury capabilities.

The word, at this point, is that Thorson will start this Thursday night.

Purdue has its own issues at quarterback since Elijah Sindelar (torn ACL last season), David Blough (ankle injury last season), and newcomer Jack Plummer (doesn’t know where the cafeteria is yet) all have issues to deal with.

Last season, when Purdue converted on at least 36% of its 3rd down conversions, the Boilers went 6-1.

I’m thinking that the Boilers are going to convert on 38% of their 3rd down conversions against Paddy Fisher and the Northwestern defense and Purdue fans might have yet another reminder that their university has a football team.

Northwestern – 21

Purdue – 30

New Mexico State at Minnesota

The biggest question here is how New Mexico State will bounce back after their Week 0 loss to Wyoming.

In the 29-7 defeat to the Cowboys, New Mexico State managed -9 yards rushing.

Week 0 was tough for New Mexico State.

Week 1 might not be much better and may lead Aggie fans to scratching their heads and maybe even wondering why they had a game in Week 0 since their Week 0 game might have lit a bad karma candle that might be hard to extinguish.

P.J. Fleck talks really fast, runs around all the time, jumps on top of his players, and looks a lot like my lifelong pal, Jeff Bagby.

New Mexico State – 9

Minnesota – 24

Western Kentucky at Wisconsin

Bobby Petrino did his penance at Western Kentucky in 2013.

At one point, Bobby Petrino was unable to scratch his own head.

Wisconsin has an offensive line that can block the sun, the moon, the stars, and my dead Uncle Bert’s gut that was just as stout as UMAA’s defense.

The only thing that will keep Jonathan Taylor from rushing for 200 yards in this game is……..nothing.

One thing that might actually be somewhat meaningful in this Week 1 game is the look of Alex Hornibrook.

Big season ahead for this lefty.

If he can avoid the mistakes – he had 15 interceptions in 2017 – and let his beefeaters and Taylor lead the way with a nifty toss here and there, Wisconsin might just crash the CFP party after all.

Western Kentucky – 14

Wisconsin – 40

Kent State at Illinois

Can Lovie get it going for the Fighting Illini?

There are several people who are anxiously awaiting the answer to this question.

The Illini are 5-19 in the first two years of the Lovie Era but it feels like it’s been longer and it’s feels like the record is actually worse.

Illinois fans have heard about how the youth of the program is strong, how it’s going to take time to get the program back on solid ground, and how the offense will soon be better than the worst offense in the Big Ten.

It might not be fair but Illinois needs to show that it’s progressing and it needs to win the games that are winnable.

This game is one of those games and Illinois must come out on top if Lovie and his gang want there to be any buzz and energy around the team in 2018.

I see three games on the Illinois schedule that fall into the category of “HAVE TO WIN THIS GAME.”

Those three games are at home against Western Illinois (September 8th), at Rutgers (October 6th), and this season opener at home against Kent State.

Kent State has a brand new coach, Sean Lewis (he’s 31 years old).

Kent State finished last season 127th in the nation in total offense.

Kent State did not score more than 23 points against an FBS team last season.

If Illinois cannot defeat Kent State, the University of Illinois might consider using Memorial Stadium strictly for intramurals.

Kent State – 17

Illinois – 28

Northern Illinois at Iowa

If I was an Iowa fan, I’d be fidgety about this game.

Perhaps the message regarding the danger of this game for Iowa is better said this way – Northern Illinois isn’t Illinois.

The Huskies went 8-5 last year, losing in the Quick Lane Bowl to David Cutcliffe’s Duke Blue Devils after finishing second in the MAC West behind 11-3 Toledo.

If you’re Iowa, you need to look at this Northern Illinois team and say to yourself, “This will not be North Dakota State again.  This will not be another Iowa State thing.  This will not be another……..Northern Illinois thing….”

In 2013, Northern Illinois came into Kinnick Stadium and beat Iowa 30-27 and, while the Hawkeyes wound up winning eight games that season, the team never really got its footing after the home loss to Northern Illinois.

In what is Kirk Ferentz’s 20th season opener as the head Hawkeye, Iowa must win this football game if it wants to be taken seriously.

Wisconsin is the undeniable Big Boy in the Big Ten West – and some folks might suggest that being the Big Boy in the Big Ten West is comparable to being the Big Boy in the………..Big Ten West.

Northern Illinois might win the MAC this season – but Iowa wants to be taken seriously.

I think.

Northern Illinois – 24

Iowa – 28

Akron at Nebraska

Contrary to the way everyone (including myself) is saying that Scott Frost is going to lead Nebraska to the Super Bowl any minute now, Nebraska is not going to win the national championship in this opening game of the Scott Frost Era at home against Akron.

Nebraska probably won’t even win the Big Ten West with a win over Akron in this opening game of the Scott Frost Era.

However, Scott Frost is going to see to it that his Huskers don’t open up the Scott Frost Era in a way that leads people to believe that the Scott Frost Era will be like the Mike Riley Era or the Bo Pelini Era or the Bill Callahan Era.

Wow.

There have been a lot of really weak eras in Lincoln, Nebraska ever since the folks decided they didn’t like the way Frank Solich won nine games every season.

The Big Ten – as was the the case when Penn State joined many years ago – hasn’t been the cakewalk that Nebraska people thought it would be.

And while this first game for Scott Frost certainly won’t determine much more beyond whether or not the Huskers are 1-0 or 0-1 in 2018, this game will show that some of the intangibles that have been missing from this football program for far too long now are very much on their way back.

And we’re all very happy that Scott Frost and his family realized that their house was not robbed and that his Nebraska championship rings were not stolen but were, rather, in the drawer where they keep the stamps and the paper clips.

Akron – 14

Nebraska – 34

**Editor’s Note:

SpartansWire reserves the right to change these predictions prior to the completion of the games being played.

Latest

More SpartansWire
Home