Pickin' On the Big Ten: Week 2, 2021 Season

By Mark Hasty on September 9, 2021 at 10:51 am
ducks and bucks
© Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

You and I have been waiting for this ever since the Music City Bowl got canceled last season.

It’s been sitting there, circled on the calendar, a chance to see whether one program has finally caught up to the other, or whether it’s the same as it ever was. The end of an age? The beginning of a new era? It can only be settled on the field, and now is the time for that.

But enough about Purdue-UConn. Let’s look at last week’s results!

  • Texas-San Antonio at Illinois: I said Illinois 38, UTSA 7; actual score, UTSA 37, Illinois 30. I don’t know, you guys; I think maybe Nebraska is just not that good at football these days.
  • Indiana at Iowa: I said Iowa 27, Indiana 23; actual score, Iowa 34, Indiana 6. Shout-out to me for saying two touchdowns wouldn’t win this game when one touchdown would have. S-M-R-T.
  • Western Michigan at Michigan: I said Michigan 40, WMU 13; Michigan 47, WMU 14. I thought I was being a little optimistic about Michigan’s offense.
  • Ohio State at Minnesota: I said tOSU 48, Minny 14; actual score, tOSU 45, Minny 31. Just for that I’m going to refer to them as An Ohio State University.
  • Fordham at Nebraska: I said Nebraska 52, Fordham 10; actual score, Nebraska 52, Fordham 7. I think this means the Blackshirts are back, bay-bee!
  • Michigan State at Northwestern: I said jNWU 34, Sparty 24; actual score, Sparty 38, jNWU 21. Sparty is to jNWU as jNWU is to Iowa. Discuss.
  • Oregon State at Purdue: I said PU 38, OSU 17; actual score, PU 30, OSU 21. There is nothing else to say about this game.
  • Penn State at Wisconsin: I said Sconnie 31, Nits 20; actual score, Nits 16, Sconnie 10. This game was like watching two schlubby guys fight over a girl who doesn’t like either of them and anyway really isn’t into guys.

There are too many games this week for a graceful transition into the picks, so let’s just go:


I was today years old when I learned that a game can kick at 11 Eastern and also that there’s an ACC Network. I assume there’s a show on that channel called “Yeah, But We Have Clemson.”

I guess the loss to UTSA wasn’t a complete surprise and I know this wasn’t the first time I took the shiny first-game bait like I did with the Illini. Fool me once, Bert …

Wahoo 34, Whaa ...? Who? 17.


The worst part of picking Week 2 games is that you always have to look up schools like Youngstown State so you can learn a few details about them and their football program. Like, for instance, did you know they’re in Ohio?

It would be peak Sparty to lose this game after ringing Fitz’s bell. I used to do pretty well with Sparty by predicting it would lose every game I thought it would win, and vice versa. Mark Dantonio took that away. It’s too soon to tell if Mel Tucker has brought it back, so I will go both with and against my better judgement by picking MSU.

Looking Ahead 48, That Beats Looking The Other Way 12.


I’d say it doesn’t make any sense to row your boat into a hurricane, but this is Fake Miami, not Real Miami. Truth be told, Chuck Martin has done a decent job of making the RedHawks at least respectable again, and Minnesota is going to be utterly lost without Mo Ibrahim, but I have noticed that P.J. Fleck will do what it takes to prove a point. Goldy gon’ roll, though I have to admit I’m not sure how they’ll score as many points as I think they will.

No More Pyrrhic Victories 40, MACrifice 18.


It’s been tough sledding in Terre Haute for Curt Mallory, to be expected given that ISU is almost an afterthought in the Hoosier State. The Sycamores just sort of quietly exist in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, floating through the fall like a sycamore leaf caught in a warm October updraft, only to fall, inevitably, into the Wabash River, on its way to the mighty Ohio. Roll on, mighty river, highway of the earth, giver and taker of life.

I gave you something pretty because, coming off a loss, Fitz will make sure this game is ugly.

Take That! 44, For What??!? 7.


woss (wɒs) n. A victory so underwhelming it functions almost like a defeat. Both Oregon and Ohio State experienced wosses in Week 1.

Minnesota exposed the Buckeyes as, well, not average, certainly, but mortal. Oregon also failed to sparkle in its victory over Fresno State, a team it ought to defeat by more than a touchdown.

I really have no idea how to pick this game. A glance at the spread shows that the Buckeyes are, as of this writing, 14.5 point favorites. That seems about right since Oregon is traveling three time zones east and kicking off at 9 am body time -- but it’s maybe a little much.

Bucks 31, Ducks 21.


I’m really looking forward to the results of UConn’s “First Person At The Stadium Gets To Coach The Huskies” promotion, you guys.

Midwestern Basketball School 38, New England Basketball School 13.


I’m amazed Scott Frost didn’t want to play Oklahoma but is perfectly fine with playing an NFL team. To each their own, I guess.

(This game probably had more sparkle before Lance Leipold took the KU job.)

Pantsed 27, Lanced 10.


Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed …

Yes We Can! 52, Yes, We Can 17.


I mean, Week 2 is the pits, man. Wisconsin lost a sloppy, ugly game last week. The Badgers probably aren’t terrible. But I can’t be sure. Eastern Michigan beat St. Francis last week, which is not surprising since he was a pacifist.

How do you predict a game when you only think you know something about the teams? You go chalk, that’s how.

Salve Our Egos 55, Halve Our Win Percentage 20.


In case you are not up to date on Idaho Vandals football -- and why would you be? -- they dropped down a division to FCS a few years ago. That freed them from some of the rules FBS schools are forced to follow. No, they’re not allowed to pay the players; don’t be ridiculous! What they are allowed to do now is play Division II schools. Last week the Vandals beat Simon Fraser 68-0. Simon Fraser is the only NCAA school located in Canada, in case you were wondering. That means that beatdown is not as bad as it sounds, as the score is only 20-0 in metric points.

Back here in ‘Merica, IU is going to vent some steam.

Handled 63, Vandals 14.


Well, the bloom went off this rose last weekend when the Huskies couldn’t get over Montana, which is an FCS school. Michigan losing Ronnie Bell for the season also makes this game slightly less compelling than it was a week ago. It just seems like these two teams are not in the same place right now, nor headed in the same direction. Michigan getting better is a very good thing for the league, though. Wolfies by a touchdown.

Fighting Khakis 24, Gack! 17.

And now, of course ..

#10 IOWA AT #9 IOWA STATE (3:30 pm, ABC)

This is the biggest Cy-Hawk game ever, which is a heck of a thing to say about any game in Week 2, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t feel like Cyrus is on the verge of usurping Iowa as The Only Program That Matters in the state, but it’s at least possible that the Clones have leveled up permanently. As with Michigan above, that’s actually a good thing.

I told you back in Week Zero that I thought ISU was going to win this game, because it had the better team. Believe it or not, nothing I saw last Saturday changed my mind. The Iowa defense was lights-out against Indiana, but I think Brock Purdy will probably play a much better game than Michael Penix Jr. did. I’m not troubled by ISU’s sluggish performance against UNI. The Clones have never looked good in their first game, and they’ve seemingly never played well against the Panthers. Thus anyone who was expecting a blowout just wasn’t paying attention.

Likewise I’m not reading too much into Iowa’s dominance of Indiana, good or bad. Iowa’s system is set up so that it doesn’t (usually) take QB heroics to win a game, so I’m not tearing what’s left of my hair out that Spencer Petras didn’t turn into Aaron Rodgers during the offseason. And I’m guessing three-INT games are not going to happen every week all season, no matter how awesome it would be if they did. Iowa State has the better offensive playmakers. They won’t convert every opportunity but they won’t need to because you know Kirk is going to play this one a little safer to avoid losing on TOs and special teams. It’s going to be a tight game. And Iowa is going to come up just a bit short.

Go Soup! 17, Oh Poop! 13.

Last week: 4-4 (.500)
Season: 5-4 (.556)

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