Pickin' on the Big Ten: Week 2, 2017 Season

By Mark Hasty on September 7, 2017 at 10:30 am
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley against Akron, September 2, 2017
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
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I'm going to let you in on a little secret: There's no harder week to pick than Week 2. We know during the opening week that we don't really know much about the teams. But after those first games, we think we know it all. In the past I've been catastrophically wrong more often in Week 2 than any other week. The games get a little better (for the most part) but that just makes them even harder to pick. So let's try to figure out how I'm going to be wrong this week, shall we?

Western Kentucky at Illinois

I just said we don't know much after Week 1 but it sure looks like Illinois might be the worst team in the Big Ten. Now the Illini are 7.5 point dogs in their own stadium against a Sun Belt team with a first-year head coach. I ... can't find anything to argue with in that.

(Fun fact: "Western Kentucky at Illinois" would be a fair description of where I live.)

WKU 31, Illinois 21.

Indiana at Virginia

The Hoosiers showed up against Ohio State in the first half of last week's game. Like I said, it's Week 1, and Week 1 doesn't tell you anything.  IU totally fell apart in the second half, though that's what should have happened against Ohio State, which is so much deeper than IU that the Hoosiers look two-dimensional in comparison.

One thing you can be sure of in Week 2 is that teams who last their first games in disheartening fashion usually don't recover well enough to win on the road against equally-matched opponents. That describes IU, and that's why I think they'll lose.

Virginia 30, Indiana 17.

Iowa at Iowa State

I know it's Hate Week and this is a fan site, but if you think this will be an easy win for Iowa you're one of the biggest Hawkeye homers that ever homered. The Clones got better after losing to Iowa last season. It just didn't show in the final record, but it was there for anyone to see. And hey, the Clones beat UNI pretty convincingly last weekend. That's quite an improvement over last season, when ISU lost 25-20 to a Panther squad that wound up being one of Mark Farley's worst (5-6 overall).

We all found that the Wyoming game wasn't nearly as close as we suspected it might be. The Stanley-to-Easley connection was solid, Akrum Wadley hasn't lost a thing, and the secondary was less of a concern than expected. But ISU has far better receivers than Wyoming did, even if the Clones don't have a quarterback as good as Josh Allen appeared to be last season. The Hawks need a fast start and can't give up any early big plays on defense. Iowa's the better and deeper team -- it almost always is -- but a failure to take and keep control has burned Ferentz's biscuits in this game before.

Iowa 27, Iowa State 26.

Know Your Non-Conference Tomato Can: Iowa State University

Located in a distant northern suburb of the capital city of Des Moines, Iowa State University has been playing football for so long that there are centenarians alive today who have not ever been able to describe them as the reigning conference champions. 36,000 "Cyclones" study at a university which we admit is pretty good, since it has produced a number of top-rank scientists and engineers, many teachers and businesspersons, a great number of agricultural geniuses, and a couple mediocre NBA coaches.

However, it lags far behind in NFL players, football victories, and, most importantly, middlebrow novelists. We're not going to say much about it, though, lest we be accused of being unsupportive. We're actually impressed by how much the university has recovered since the tragic day in 1996 when a bioengineered radish escaped from its containment facility on the northwest corner of campus and leveled the Pammel Court housing complex, causing an estimated $53.16 in damages.

Towson at Maryland

Maryland stunned Texas last week. Here comes the hangover. (Not really. Towson is pretty terrible.)

Maryland 48, Towson 10.

Cincinnati at Michigan

There are a whole bunch of Ohio State fans who are somehow convinced that Luke Fickell is going to surprise a complacent Wolverines team that beat a decimated Florida last week. I haven't forgotten Fickell's year as the accidental king in Columbus, and they shouldn't either.

Michigan 33, Cincinnati 20.

Western Michigan at Michigan State

The Broncos gave USC all it could handle out in L.A. last week, but do they have anything left? It won't take a whole lot to run with Sparty, since MSU got off to a rather slow start against Bowling Green. I don't think WMU can pull off the upset, but do you know how many times over the years that Sparty has done the exact opposite of what I expected?

Seriously, do any of you know? I've kinda lost count.

Michigan State 28, Western Michigan 14.

Minnesota at Oregon State

Color me unimpressed by Minny's win over Buffalo last week, even if P.J. Harvey Fleck became the first Gophers coach since Lou Holtz to win his debut game. I mean, you're not talking about a Mount Rushmore of football brilliance there.

Then again, I'm not sure what Gary Andersen is coaching out in Corvallis is anything approaching "football." 

Minnesota 35, The Potato Salad Is More Fun To Watch 13.

Nebraska at Oregon

Call me Fire Marshall Bill, 'cause I got burned last week.

PSYCH!

It was Week 1. Every team starts Week 1 running like one of Al Bundy's cars. 

You think that game says anything about how Nebraska is going to dominate the Big Ten this season?

You so crazy. Huskers are gonna rip the conference like Sub-Zero rips spines.

Still, since last week's game was a little closer than the 273-point margin I predicted, I'm calling this game to be a bit tighter.

Nebraska 77, Oregon 3.

Northwestern at Duke

I'd say "who cares?" but this is the only time all season that neither losing team can break out the "It's alright, it's okay, you're gonna work for us some day" chant.

Duke 24, jNWU 21.

Oklahoma at Ohio State

This is, of course, going to be an incredible game, possibly the nation's best of Week 2. Ohio State started slow against IU last week, then poured it on like an unsupervised third-grader with a dish of ice cream and a full jar of sprinkles. These two teams match up well together with a dearth of weaknesses for either team to exploit. It's a tossup but I'll always take OSU at home regardless of the opponent.

Ohio State 41, Oklahoma 28.

Pitt at Penn State

Penn State looked great last week against Akron. Somehow we're supposed to be impressed that a preseason top-ten team looked good against a MAC squad that was 5-7 last year. Not that I'm saying Penn State is bad, but Penn State should win that game eleven times out of ten, if you catch my drift. 

Of course, we probably shouldn't talk about Pitt needing overtime to beat a Missouri Valley team last week. Never mind, this game will go exactly as you think it will.

Penn State 33, Pitt 20.

Ohio at Purdue

See Maryland above, except Ohio is a lot better than Towson and Louisville is a lot, lot better than Texas. I do think Jeff Brohm picks up his first victory in West Lafayette. There will be others.

Our Most Hated Rival (A Pox Be Upon Their House) 42, THE Ohio University 21.

Eastern Michigan at Rutgers

The dear old Rutgers Knights in scarlet actually impressed me last week. They could actually have a team this season. But EMU (coached by former Drake coach Chris Creighton) was a bowl team last year. Anybody who can get Eastern Michigan to a bowl game should not be ruled out of beating Rutgers. I mean, I don't think it'll happen. But it's possible.

Rutgers 23, Eastern Michigan 16.

Florida Atlantic at Wisconsin

On the one hand, Lane Kiffin is coaching in this game, so who cares?

On the other hand, while the FAU Owls are playing this game, Hurricane Irma might be shredding their campus. There might not be a school to go back to. It might be weeks or months before it reopens. That's sad, even tragic.

On the other other hand, I had to look up what conference FAU is even in.

Wisconsin 59, FAU 10 (but please, let everyone be safe.)

 

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