3. The Big Ten has some very, very, very dangerous dates
There’s absolutely no dogging the Big Ten non-conference schedules this year – for the most part.
Illinois, feel free to hang your head in shame with Illinois State, UConn and Bowling Green in your non-conference run. Everyone else has a big problem or two to deal with.
We’ll get the giant Power Five on Power Five showdowns in a moment. How about the battles with the Group of Five?
On the one hand, they’re Group of Five programs. The Big Ten is the Big Ten, and it’s supposed to take out the lesser-conference teams. The problem is that there are a slew of good ones who could royally screw things up.
There’s no real credit given nationally to a Northwestern beating a Central Michigan or Tulane, but those are two teams coming off of solid 2018 seasons.
There are much bigger battles to worry about.
The last thing a team like Nebraska needs is a game early on against a team like Cincinnati. Boom – the loaded Bearcats come to Lincoln on September 26th.
Memphis and Air Force combined to win 23 games last season, and Purdue gets them in back-to-back weeks before going to Boston College.
Minnesota’s game against Fresno State last year was a bear, and this time around they open up against Willie Taggart’s Florida Atlantic team – the 11-win defending Conference USA champion.
Wisconsin has the bigger issue – Appalachian State. New year, new team, but ASU beat South Carolina and North Carolina last season. It’s hardly going to be fazed going to Madison.
Michigan State could absolutely have problems with this year’s Toledo team – especially after Sparty comes back from a date at BYU – and Michigan has to deal with an Arkansas State squad with just enough of an offense to be annoying.
Northern Illinois has played the spoiler role in the past, and it gets to battle both Maryland and Iowa, and Indiana follows up its opener at Wisconsin with a date against a Western Kentucky team coming off a nine-win season.
Ohio State won’t have any problems against Buffalo from the MAC, but it’ll have to worry about …