Navy at Ohio State #6
The Midshipmen are 21 ½ point underdogs to the highest ranked Big Ten team. For the Buckeyes, Terrelle Pryor is expected to be the focal point of the offense. They won't have Chris Wells to pound the ball anymore, but the tandem of Herron and Saine should provide a good speed/power tandem to make up for the departure of Wells. I can't imagine that Navy will make much of a game with this one.
Ohio State over Navy 48 – 17
Akron at Penn State #9
Penn State enjoys a 27 point advantage in the odds over the Zips. Penn State should enjoy a great season offensively with the return of QB Clark and RB Royster. Not to mention that the front seven on defense looks pretty solid as well. Should be a good tuneup game against a MAC team for the Lions.
Penn State over Akron 38 – 10
Northern Iowa at Iowa #22
Iowa lost star RB Shonne Greene to the draft last year, and just recently lost their projected replacement to the position for the season due to a knee injury. While that will definitely hurt their chances in the Big Ten, they should still be able to put away this game. But, they have to make sure not to take it lightly; Northern Iowa is ranked #4 in the FCS. If Iowa comes out flat, this could be a possible early season upset.
Iowa over Northern Iowa 31 – 24
Eastern Kentucky at Indiana
Indiana is eager to put the troubles of last year's disastrous season behind them. QB Chappell will have to take the reins of the offense to get them on a roll right out of the gates this season. On the other side of the ball the defense absolutely has to stay healthy if they want to avoid a replay of last year. Indiana should be better this year, but expect them to stay in the middle/basement of the Big Ten.
Indiana over Eastern Kentucky 21 – 17
Montana State at Michigan State
This is the one I'm excited about, my alma mater! The Spartans look to feature new stars on the offense at the QB and RB positions. Look for both QB's Cousins and Nichols to see plenty of time in this game as the coaches decide who will be the starter from here on out. Also, look for several players to get a lot of handoffs as the same decision gets made at the RB spot. On the defensive side of the ball, MSU returns star LB Greg Jones, who should be making the opposing antsy as the defensive coordinators have mixed in some packages to get Jones blitzing.
Michigan State over Montana State 38 – 13
Towson at Northwestern
Northwestern hopes to continue some of its recent success from past year as they go against the FCS runner up in their home opener. While NW lost its starting QB to graduation, they return plenty of bodies on both sides of the ball to give them some leadership and stability this season. They should finish in the high middle of the Big Ten this year.
Northwestern over Towson 33 – 24
Toledo at Purdue
Purdue is inexperienced at both the QB and WR positions this year, so unless they start clicking, expect the running game to be utilized early and often. The Boilermakers are also looking pretty thin defensively in several positions this year. Look for Toledo to come out hungry for a win over a Big Ten team as they have revamped their defensive philosophy under coach Tim Beckman.
Toledo over Purdue 24 – 21
Minnesota at Syracuse
Minnesota will look to continue the successful pairing of QB Weber and WR Decker, who have been dynamic in the past years. With no clear #1 RB, the team could spend a few weeks looking for its identity in the running game. That should be no problem this week as they head east to play the woeful Orangemen.
Minnesota over Syracuse 28 – 21
Western Michigan at Michigan
Michigan should be better this year; I can't see how they could possibly get worse. Michigan needs its QBs to be more comfortable in the pocket than they were last year, and they need their defense to hold the game late in the 4th quarter. Honestly, I'd like nothing better than to see Michigan get embarrassed in their home opener by one of the better teams in the MAC this year, but it probably won't happen, Christmas is still too far away.
Michigan over Western Michigan 31 – 28
Missouri at Illinois
This one should be a fairly exciting game to open up the Big Ten season. And who can't love a QB named Juice Williams? Look for the Juice to be loose this game and few hookups with stud receiver Benn. Missouri is looking for someone to fills Chase Daniel's shoes at QB, but it may take several weeks for the replacement to get used to big game situations.
Illinois over Missouri 28 – 24
Northern Illinois at Wisconsin
Wisconsin is going to be fielding a lot of new faces when it comes to starters on both sides of the ball. Despite this, they are looking to improve on a disappointing 7-6 2008 season. Look for the running attack to be featured until the new QB can show some poise in the pocket.
Wisconsin over Northern Illinois 21 – 17