The Big Ten has released its football schedule, starting in the first week of September. Here’s a quick first look at each game with predictions and possible lines.
Pete Fiutak @PeteFiutak
Let’s have fun and just assume the Big Ten season will go off without a hitch. Done before the lines are released for the early games, here are the first guesses, predictions, and line projections for Week 1 of the Big Ten season.
Ohio State vs Illinois
Thursday, September 3
Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: The Buckeyes will struggle early on as they try to win the Fiesta Bowl as they press a little out of the gate, and then things will get back to normal early in the second quarter.
Illinois might have a slew of transfers coming in for the defensive front, but it won’t be enough as the Ohio State offensive line starts banging away and taking over. The big plays will come as Justin Fields and company start to score quickly, but the time of possession battle will lean the other way in the second half.
It’ll be more of a methodical win for OSU than sensational.
First Thought Prediction: Ohio State 41, Illinois 17
First Thought Line Guess: Ohio State -27.5
Indiana vs Wisconsin
Friday, September 4
Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: These two haven’t played since 2017 with Wisconsin winning the last ten games since dropping a stunner in 2002.
How ugly has the series been? Over the last five games, Wisconsin has won by an average of 60 to 12 with the low mark an 83-20 squeaker back in 2010.
This year’s Hoosier team, though, should be more of a problem for Bucky.
QB Michael Penix and the offensive backfield should give the Badger D fits for about a half, and the lines are just strong enough to hold up. But the reworked UW O line will take over and super-recruit RB Jalen Berger gets into a groove.
First Thought Prediction: Wisconsin 30, Indiana 16
First Thought Line Guess: Wisconsin -10
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Minnesota vs Michigan State
Saturday, September 5
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Knee-Jerk Instant Analysis: It’s the opener of the Mel Tucker era at Michigan State as his Spartans get a Minnesota team looking to prove that 2019 wasn’t any sort of a fluke.
Can the Gopher passing game get hot early on without star receivers Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman around anymore? It’ll be okay, but the running game will struggle against a Spartan defensive front will be a rock right out of the gate.
On the flip side, the Michigan State offense won’t be able to take advantage of a good defensive performance as drive after drive stalls. Minnesota will pull it out on a late field goal in a rough game with points and good offensive plays coming at a premium.
First Thought Prediction: Minnesota 20, Michigan State 19
First Thought Line Guess: Michigan State -3.5