The Big Ten has a nice mix of warmup scrimmages and early-season definers to kick things off. Who’ll win the Week 1 games? Check out the way-too-early picks for each Big Ten game.
Thursday, September 1
Indiana at Florida International
7:30 PM ESPNU FIU Stadium, Miami, FL
The line has gone up a few points since it was first released, and for good reason. FIU might be getting a Big Ten team in its own house, and it might be loaded with offensive veterans, but the defense is going to get ripped to shreds by a revamped IU attack that should put up points in bunches. The Hoosiers will need a half before they blow it wide open.
Line: Indiana -7
June Prediction: Indiana 45, Florida International 27
Oregon State at Minnesota
9:00 PM BTN TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Just how much has Gary Andersen been able to improve the Beavers over the offseason? Will the spread attack start to work? Will the run defense start to slow someone down? There’s more experience in place after an 0-9 Pac-12 season, but the Gophers will fight their way through in the nighttime home opener. The defense will have issues with the OSU ground game, but Mitch Leidner and the Minnesota offense will come through in the fourth quarter to pull it out.
Line: Minnesota -10
June Prediction: Minnesota 27, Oregon State 24
Friday, September 2
Furman at Michigan State
7:00 PM BTN Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
While most of the top teams from last year are pushing themselves in great opening day showdowns, Michigan State – smartly – is taking a preseason scrimmage before getting two weeks off to prepare for the road trip to Notre Dame and the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin. The Paladins are getting paid to get slaughtered.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: Michigan State 52, Furman 3
Saturday, September 3
Eastern Kentucky at Purdue
TIME/TV COMING Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
Yay! Purdue will get a win! Eastern Kentucky will have enough of an offense to make this a fun shootout, but it’s one that Boilermaker head coach Darrell Hazell must win. If the Boilermakers are going to make this any sort of a promising season, this has to be a dominant performance with Cincinnati coming to West Lafayette the following week.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: Purdue 38, Eastern Kentucky 24
Miami University at Iowa
TIME/TV COMING Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
When we last saw Iowa play college football, Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal were running up and down the Rose Bowl field at will. Welcome to the first game for the rest of Iowa’s life. With the tricky in-state rivalry game against Iowa State to follow, and the interesting date with North Dakota State after that, the Hawkeyes will enjoy a dominant performance on both sides of the ball against the punchless RedHawks.
Line: Iowa -28.5
June Prediction: Iowa 45, Miami University 7
Western Michigan at Northwestern
TIME/TV COMING Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
Shhhhhhh, this could turn out to be one of the most interesting sleeper games of Week 1. Northwestern set the tone for its 2015 season with a terrific winning performance against Stanford. This year the offense still doesn’t have any downfield pop and the defense has a little rebuilding to do. Meanwhile, Western Michigan should be the MAC’s most dangerous team with quarterback Zach Terrell leading a loaded offense that’ll put up points in bunches. It’s June, and I’ll probably wuss out on the pick by the time the season comes around, but Northwestern won’t be able to keep up the pace.
Line: Northwestern -6.5
June Prediction: Western Michigan 26, Northwestern 20
Hawaii at Michigan
12:00 PM ESPN Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
After all the satellite camps, and all the craziness, and all the hype, and all the fun, and all the khakis, and all the jerseys, and all the self-promotion, and all the attention, Michigan will actually get to play a college football game. Nick Rolovich will eventually get the Hawaii offense back to form, but it’s not going to be there quite yet. It’s a big number, but …
Line: Michigan -41
June Prediction: Michigan 45, Hawaii 0
Bowling Green at Ohio State
12:00 BTN Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
There’s way too much of an overhaul being done by the defending MAC champions, but the Falcons will still be dangerous. They should also be a nice first step for Ohio State before doing the Oklahoma two-step with Tulsa and the Sooners to follow. This is where J.T. Barrett puts up gigantic Heisman-race-padding numbers in three quarters as the Fighting Urbans come out roaring.
Line: Ohio State -27
June Prediction: Ohio State 52, Bowling Green 17
Howard at Maryland
12:00 BTN, Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD
Howard won one game last season, beating a Savannah State team that you and 10 friends could hang 45 on. The Bison aren’t going to be a whole bunch better. This is the perfect way to kick off a new coaching era for a Maryland team that needs to work on depth and the rotation. This is where the Terps get to stretch their legs a bit.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: Maryland 65, Howard 0
Rutgers at Washington
2:00 Pac-12, Network Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA
The pressure is all on a Washington team that’s expected to come out roaring. Rutgers has done the Pac-12 thing the last two seasons, hosting Washington State last year and going across the country in a wild shootout in Seattle against the Cougars. This trip to the Pacific Northwest – Chris Ash’s head coaching debut – isn’t going to be much fun.
Line: Washington -22.5
June Prediction: Washington 41, Rutgers 20
Kent State at Penn State
3:30 BTN, Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
Don’t immediately assume that Penn State’s offense has problems just because it struggles a bit against a loaded Kent State team. However, even with 10 starters back from one of the nation’s best defenses, the Golden Flash offense won’t go anywhere. Penn State will have problems in the first half, and then it’ll get it rolling in the third.
Line: Penn State -18.5
June Prediction: Penn State 31, Kent State 10
LSU vs. Wisconsin
3:30 ABC, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
This will be the best atmosphere of the opening weekend with LSU having to make the trip way, way out of its geographical comfort zone. The Tigers should be in just about everyone’s preseason top 10, if not top three, but the Badgers get a chance to make a massive national statement with a defense just good enough to keep Leonard Fournette under wraps. Will Wisconsin have the running game to battle through the veteran LSU defense? It’s Wisconsin in an opener vs. a top SEC team – you know what’s going to happen. Bucky will play well, and it’ll be a tough fight, yet it won’t be quite enough. Considering LSU probably has the best team in college football, coming close will be a badge of honor.
Line: LSU -9.5
June Prediction: LSU 26, Wisconsin 17
Murray State at Illinois
3:30 BTN, Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
The Lovie Smith Show will kick off with a bang against a Murray State team that went 3-8 last year and had no defense whatsoever. This is exactly the kind of warm-up the Illini need, with North Carolina coming up after and a dangerous Western Michigan team to follow.
Line: No Line
June Prediction: Illinois 48, Murray State 16
Fresno State at Nebraska
8:00 BTN, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
The Huskers rolled against the Bulldogs in a 55-19 win in 2014, and came up with a 42-29 blasting in 2011. Unless Fresno State has something new in the bag coming off a lousy 2015, this could be another problem. Nebraska started off last season with the Hail Mary loss to BYU – it’s not going to leave anything to chance this time around.
Line: Nebraska -29
June Prediction: Nebraska 47, Fresno State 20