Awake from your summer slumber and unbury yourselves from your fantasy prep spreadsheets. It’s gameday! Here’s our take on the weekend’s action.
Buffalo @ Minnesota -26
It’s all hands on fleck for the start of the Deck era at Minnesota. It’ll be gorgeous weather for this matchup of snow- and frost-beaten schools to open the season, and the Gophers should be better prepared than the Buffalo Bulls (did they mean Bills and then realize?) to handle conditions that are not grimly tragic. After all this hype, could you really imagine PJ Fleck losing his home opener? We can too! But he won’t. Croft outplays Rhoda, Smith and Brooks play to a stalemate, and Christian music plays at halftime to help people forget when Duke McGhee gets ejected for targeting. Gophers cover.
As if in fulfillment of Jim Delany’s dream to make the Big Ten a Friday night FCS game seen on Hulu, the B1Ggest this weekend is a Thursday conference tilt. There are more storylines in this matchup than in Cloud Atlas. Every savvy football instinct in our bodies wants to say OSU glides to a massive win and puts the rest of the country on notice, what with their fourth-year amazing QB and out-of-this-world defense. But that feels like what they’ll do against Oklahoma…again. What they do against Indiana is return a late fumble for a TD to cover 42-21. Sorry, Hoosiers, the Allen-DeBord era starts off with a rough note before getting in tune fast.
Washington -27.5 @ Rutgers
Umm, duhhhh. Rutgers is gonna CRUSH them!!
Utah State @ Wisconsin -28
Is it just us or does Wisconsin play some bullshit Mountain Time Zone opponent every year for no goddamn reason? Is this the revenge of Gary Andersen’s Mormon God? And will Utah State make good on its attempted upset bid from 2012? We must protest these bizarre games. Wisconsin push.
Wyoming +11.5 @ Iowa
What the hell is wrong with you, Iowa? Stop scheduling Plains or Western state football teams with highly touted QBs. You have nothing to gain from this. Potential first-round draft pick Josh Allen and the Cowboys cover easily, and Ferentz swallows his gum as a late Wyoming field goal sails wide.
Ball State @ Illinois -6.5
As a general rule, you’d expect a Big Ten team or Rutgers to be a preseason week 1 favorite by a touchdown or more against a ditch-alongside-the-road MAC team. You’d expect that. But lo and behold, the hapless, chant-less Illini find themselves 6.5-point home favorites over Ball State. Illinois wins 50% of their season’s total wins this weekend, so savor it, folks.
Akron @ PSU -30.5
The poor, poor Zips. Like lambs to the slaughter, Akron will fail to slate the infinite insecurity of Joe Moorhead. Expect the Nittany Lions to pour it on this week, and every week, in the hopes of winning over Playoff Committee voters should complications arise. Multiple touchdowns each for the fantasy studs in the PSU backfield, and hell, even Tyler Davis may get to double-digit scoring in this one.
BGSU +17 @ MSU
Spartans will…not cover. But they will push. The offense Lewerkes, and the defense does well enough. Scott, Holmes, and London all score. This is not the time to exact our revenge, Spartans. But they’ll see. They’ll all see.
Maryland -18.5 @ Texas
Despite the fireworks surrounding the Michigan-Florida game, this may actually be the most interesting contest on the B1G docket in week one. Texas boasts new head coach Tom Herman, and Maryland is a program trending up. Has Herman purged the program of its old ways, or will the underachievement of the Charlie Strong years bleed into this season a little bit? We think it will. DJ Durkin is an exciting young coach in his own right, and his recruiting is already paying dividends for the Terps. Sophomore QB Tyrrell Pigrome is as dynamic an athlete as any of Texas’s underachieving 5-stars. Maryland hangs, definitely covers, and who knows, maybe steals the biggest win of their season right out of the gate.
Nevada +24.5 @ Northwestern
Pat Fitzgerald would love not to start this season with back-to-back losses, and the Wildcats probably won’t. Northwestern lost their best player to the Patriots. Nevada lost theirs…to Iowa. Reports are Northwestern’s secondary is dirty, and their backfield is as good as it gets in the Big Ten. 24.5 points is an awful lot even with Thorson and JJ back there, so bet on Nevada, but the Wildcats win easy. The road to double-digit wins begins!
Michigan -3.5 vs. Florida
The offseason’s least interesting war of words finally comes to an end when both teams step onto Jerry Jones’s flashy turf cock. Michigan’s pass rush would have been a huge advantage on Florida’s shaky QB situation before their poor-man’s-Brian-Kelly of a coach half the players whose feature a vowel, and now the Gators may be Wolverine food. And the more talent UF has bled, the less Michigan has to win, and the more to lose. Between the hideous alternate jerseys and the suspensions, the collective mood of Michigan is, once again, an enthusiasm well known to mankind.
Louisville -25 vs. Purdue
Maybe Lamar Jackson won’t win the Heisman again this year (he definitely won’t win the Weisman either, FWIW), but he sure could spank the Boilermaker apprentices. Potential first-team All-Big-Ten-Fantasy-Football QB David Blough is supposedly still nursing a tender shoulder, and Purdue would’ve needed him coal-firing on all cylinders to keep this game respectable. We believe Brohm will Pur-duce a winning team soon…just not this week. Louisville runs right over that body tied to the railroad tracks.
Arkansas State @ Nebraska -16
A full three days of B1G football should have you in the appropriate state of Nebbishness for this one. Despite decided advantages in athletes, there are so many unknowns for Riley’s Huskers that it’s hard to say they’d cover the spread, especially with such an emotional Arky State squad coming to town. It’ll be tough not to root for those guys. So what the hell, Arky State covers. Still, Mike Riley remains comfortably above the fray.