Pickin' on the Big Ten: Week 4, 2017 Season

By Mark Hasty on September 21, 2017 at 8:30 am
Central Florida head football coach Scott Frost
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There's a huge game this week, of course, and you're probably wondering if I'm going to pick the way you think I am. Well, of course: I think Ohio State probably will beat UNLV.

Whaddaya mean "spoiler alert?"

Let's just get on with the games; your internet lingo frightens and confuses me.

Georgia Southern at Indiana

Team Chaos versus the Triple Option, a/k/a Power 5 pseudo-Kryptonite. I really can't draw a bead on this game, but I'll remind you that Indiana "defensive coordinator" (we all know it's still Tom Allen's show) Bill Inge is one of many Sons of Hayden and can probably prepare a team for Football Scabies.

Indiana 28, Georgia Southern 17.

Know Your Nonconference Tomato Can: Georgia Southern University

Located just off Interstate 16 about 40 miles northwest of the quintessentially Southern town of Savannah, Georgia Southern may be one of the most ambitious universities you've never heard of. 20,000 students study at this former teachers' college that is now classified as a doctoral research university. (For any SEC fans reading this, that's kind of a big deal.) The GSU Eagles and their triple option attack (this is where Paul Johnson learned his craft) dominated at the FCS level for many years before reclassifying to the FBS four seasons ago. GSU alumni are prominent in many fields, but the school's best-known graduate is Luke Bryan. If you don't know who he is, ask any middle-aged white woman in the Midwest. Trust me, she'll tell you.

Penn State at Iowa

Okay, here's the deal: I want, with every fiber of my being, to point out the very true fact that Penn State hasn't played anybody yet. They looked great destroying Georgia State last week. This is Georgia State's eighth season playing football. Despite this the Nits are a top five team, and I'm not at all sure that's where they belong. Plus it's a night game at Kinnick, and we all know how weird those are.

Thing is, this isn't a typical Iowa team. Its defense is pedestrian and hasn't really distinguished itself against competition best described as "lesser." There are many young Hawks stepping up, but North Texas essentially made Josey Jewell, Iowa's best playmaker on either side of the ball, a nonfactor last week by throwing early, deep, and to the outside. I might not be in love with Penn State as a top five team, but there's no arguing with its offense, and sadly there's not much arguing for Iowa's defense. I do think the Hawks can score enough to keep this one interesting, but you are not going to watch very many Penn State possessions, and this Iowa team is not going to grind out ten-minute 14-play drives all night against its first quality opponent of the season. I hope I'm wrong, but I think this game doesn't go our way.

Penn State 34, Iowa 23.

Central Florida at Maryland

This game is going to be watched very, very closely in Lincoln, I assure you. UCF is, of course, coached by Scott Frost, largely assumed to be the only person on the list to replace Mike Riley when he "retires" is promoted to the UNL administration. UCF hasn't played a game in over three weeks, however, thanks to Irma. Still, Maryland will have its hands full against a fast and feisty bunch of Knights. This game has serious entertainment potential. I don't always like going out on limbs, but I like UCF's chances here.

Central Florida 44, Maryland 38.

Notre Dame at Michigan State

It's still statistically possible for both teams to replicate last year's records, in case you've got unused "Notre Dame finished 4-8" memes on your desktop. But do take note: No one has scored more than 20 points on the Fighting Irish this season, and I wouldn't count on Sparty to be the one to break that streak. I am not yet an MSU rebeliever.

Notre Dame 30, Michigan State 17.

Rutgers at Nebraska

Things are starting to get tight for Tim Miles, who hasn't taken the Huskers the Big Dance -- or even had a winning season -- since 2014. Another lackluster recruiting year in a state where for some reason the best prep athletes don't have their hearts in hoops might leave Nebraska watching the tournament on TV again. In fact this season could be shortly after the killing frost brings an end t--ARRRRGH I CAN'T STAND IT COME BACK FRANK ALL IS FORGIVEN MY NAME IS LEGION FOR WE ARE MANY WHY DID WE HAVE TO LEAVE RIGHT BEFORE TEXAS TURNED INTO A PUMPKIN

Nebraska 48, Rutgers 10.

UNLV at Ohio State

"'Forward, the Light Brigade!' 
Was there a man dismayed? 
Not though the soldier knew 
   Someone had blundered. 
   Theirs not to make reply, 
   Theirs not to reason why, 
   Theirs but to do and die. 
   Into the valley of Death 
   Rode the six hundred." 
 -- Tennyson

"What he said." -- UNLV

Ohio State 53, UNLV 13.

Michigan at Our Most Hated Rival Purdue (A Pox Be Upon Their House)

This is the point at which we discover if Purdue has actually rebounded to Tillerian levels under Jeff Brohm, or if the Boilermakers have simply learned not to get blown out in big games and not to lose the little games. Knocking off Coach Cool Dad Wannabe would make a huge statement and wouldn't even be seen as that big an upset. But I think OMHRP(APBUTH) is still at least a year away from winning a game like this ... assuming they can keep Jeff Brohm around that long when Arkansas, Texas A&M, or, um, both come to West Lafayette in a convoy of Brinks trucks this January Thanksgiving weekend.

Michigan 31, Purdue 28.

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