B1G Football Preview and Predictions (Sept. 29-30)

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Nebraska at Illinois

Friday, September 29 (8 p.m., FS1)

This game is a coin flip.  Both teams are bad, but at the end of the day there has to be a winner.  Nebraska got their first win in B1G play last week, and yes it was against a terrible, but it’s still a conference win.  Could that win last week spark a little bit of momentum for the Huskers?  They clearly have more talent than Illinois, but I haven’t seen enough from this Nebraska team to confidently pick them to win, even when they play the bottom of the B1G.

Prediction: Nebraska 30, Illinois 20

Northwestern at #10 Wisconsin

Saturday, September 30 (Noon, ABC) 

Both teams are coming out of bye weeks, so they’ve had plenty of time to prepare for their B1G opener.  Northwestern finally looked like the team many were expecting in their blowout win against Bowling Green two weeks ago.  Yes, it was Bowling Green, but that might have been just what they needed to start feeling good about themselves again.  Granted, now they get a stout Wisconsin team who has certainly lived up to the hype.  Northwestern will need to play nearly flawless to have a chance at Camp Randall Stadium, but I expect Wisconsin to continue doing their thing.  Led by QB Alex Hornibrook, freshman RB Jonathan Taylor, and their whole defensive unit; Wisconsin might just be the best team in the B1G.

Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Northwestern 17

Maryland at Minnesota

Saturday, September 30 (Noon, FS1)

Maryland football appeared to be on their way back after the first two weeks of the season, but they have since lost their top two quarterbacks to season ending ACL injuries.  Minnesota, on the other hand, couldn’t have asked for a better start to their season.  Head coach PJ Fleck has his team off to a 3-0 start heading into B1G play, and the defense has been the team’s biggest strength so far, allowing just 239 yards per game.  I like Minnesota to improve to 4-0.

Prediction: Minnesota 28, Maryland 14

Indiana at #4 Penn State

Saturday, September 30 (3:30 p.m., BTN)

Penn State is coming off one of the most dramatic wins that we will see all season.  Hangover?  Possibly, but Penn State probably won’t overlook Indiana because of the way the Hoosiers’ defense held Saquon Barkley in check last season.  Barkley only ran for 58 yards on 33 carries in that game last season, and the Indiana defense just gave up more than 200 yards on the ground in their win against Georgia Southern.  Look for a big game from Barkley, but if Indiana can somehow corral him again, they might be able to steal an upset in Happy Valley.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Indiana 16

Iowa at Michigan State

Saturday, September 30 (4 p.m., FOX)

What a crushing defeat last week for Iowa.  They were seconds away from an upset win that would have sent Kinnick Stadium into a frenzy, but Penn State managed to escape with a walk-off touchdown as time expired.  Michigan State will also look to bounce back after a loss to Notre Dame.  This game has the potential to be another instant classic.  I give Michigan State the slight edge at home.

Prediction: Michigan State 24, Iowa 20

#11 Ohio State at Rutgers

Saturday, September 23 (7:30 p.m., ABC)

This will be another walk in the park for Ohio State.  Rutgers might be able to hang for a quarter, but at the end of the day, they just aren’t very good.  Expect a big game from the Ohio State offense as they continue to try and get their name back into College Football Playoff contention.

Prediction: Ohio State 49, Rutgers 14

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