Great Underground Empire Strikes Back
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Denard Robinson had the audacity to pose ala Desmond Howard.

Unlike Desmond Howard's staging, Robinson's pose was part of a wicked stiff-arm, fending off an Irish attacker.  It was awfully nice of Notre Dame to provide the opportunity for the comeback win on national television.  Robinson's athleticism and 502 yards of total offense was legendary enough to slightly re-cast the famous statue.  That outdated leather helmet might look good with Michigan "wings", no?

 

The most concise schedule is here:

http://bigten-online.com/2010footballschedule.html

 

Double Secret Probation

I warned you, Goofers.  South Dakota?  How many people live in South Dakota... 4, maybe 6? 

Otter: Uh, I said, "What a shame that a few bad apples have to spoil a good time for everyone by breaking the rules."
Dean Vernon Wormer: Put a sock in it, boy, or else you'll be outta here like **** through a goose.

USC over Minnesota - No shock there but IF Northern Illinois gives Illinois any type of a game, I'm gonna pick 'em to win next week.  I swear I will.

 

The Worthless

You don't dare suffer the Double-Secret Probation status of Minnesota.

  • Illinois over Northern Illinois
  • Northwestern over Rice
  • Penn State over Kent St
  • Purdue  over Ball St
  • Ohio State over Ohio

 

The Uninteresting

Michigan over U Mass - The key to this game is not how much Denard Robinson does, it is how much Denard Robinson does not do.  Rich Rodriguez has clearly found his Michigan version or Pat White but he still has not found his Noel Devine.  For the Michigan offense to churn through the Big Ten Schedule, Robinson needs to get the rest of the offense involved over the next three weeks against UMass, Bowling Green, and Indiana.  The undefeated Wolverines should then peak when they meet Michigan State, Iowa, and Penn State in the scary month of October. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, "Massachusetts nearly beat Kansas State last year, losing 21-17, and the Minutemen have played four of their last five Football Bowl Subdivision/Division I-A opponents within 10 points."  James Madison's win last week and the eternal haunting of Appalachian State will keep the Wolverines focused, but the win will be tougher than expected.  Look for a little more balanced game plan from the Wolverines at the expense of a couple touchdowns.

 

The Intriguing

Indiana over Western Kentucky - I haven't looked closely at Indiana yet this year with an easy layup against Towson and an early-season BYE week. For that reason, I'll move them up from Uninteresting to Intriguing.   The 1-0 Hoosiers face off against the Western Kentucky Hill toppers with two weeks to prepare.  The Sun Belt bottom feeder has lost 22 games in a row and hasn't beaten an FBS team since 2007 (Middle Tennessee).  Even a casual Big Ten fan should check out the Hoosiers' potent skill position players: Darius Willis (14 rushes for 102 yards, 2 TDs), Tandon Doss (didn't play in week 1),  DeMarlo Belcher, and QB Ben Chappell (16-23, 182 yards, 2 TDs).  WKU and Akron are both winnable games before opening the Big Ten with Michigan and Ohio State.

Wisconsin over Arizona State - The Badgers are coming off a solid, but not amazing, wins over UNLV and San Jose State.  They've forgone the smoke and mirrors and just lined up and pounded the football.  The Badgers are 17th in the country in rushing and 76th in passing so WYSIWYG.  Arizona State has yet to face an opponent with a pulse, easily dispatching Portland State and Northern Arizona.  Going back to 2009 is fairly unreliable, but the Sun Devils lost 8 of their last 10 games.  Stanford (2009) is the most comparable team and the Cardinals jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead and finished with 237 yards rushing.  The Sun Devils, even if improved, won't slow down the Wisconsin rushing attack.  ASU keeps it close, but the Badgers get the "W".  Like on the helmet.  Get it?

Notre Dame over Michigan State - The Irish eyes are smiling since they won't have to see Denard Robinson again this year.  Last week's heartbreaker can be erased with a win over a decent Michigan State squad.  The good news from last week is that the offense rolled up 535 of offense despite 3 interceptions.  Armando Allen looks to carry a bigger load this week with 182 yards on 33 carries (5.5 avg) in the first two games.  The key matchup will be Allen against all-world MSU linebacker Greg Jones.  If the Irish have some success rushing the ball, Jones will not be able to help out the vulnerable secondary.  Look for MSU to pressure the youngsters Crist and Montana to throw off the Brian Kelly-timing offense by sending the LBs through the run gaps.  If MSU can get significant pressure with the front 4 and mixing in an occasional LB blitz, the secondary should be able to last long enough to keep it close.  MSU QB Kirk Cousins is capable of pulling off some late game heroics if he gets a chance.  MSU probably knows what it needs to do but will struggle to achieve that objective.  The Irish will hold off a late MSU rally to win.

 

Game of the Week

Iowa over Arizona - Kirk Ferentz knows how to open up with a tough, night game on the road.

We'll treat this like the Penn State trip last year. I know we're going in a different direction, but I did take geography in the fifth grade and got an A in it. Proud of that.

-Kirk Ferentz

I'd be more worried if he had earned a "C".  But since he received the A and the game is at night (negating what little heat advantage may exist), Iowa should be fine with the travel and it will come down to football execution.  Expect some early time zone confusion when they first arrive but that will dissipate before game time. (Is Arizona on Standard or Daylight Savings time?  Spring Forward or Fall Back?   Should I call my family after the game and wake them up?  Will the Iowa fans know the results one hour ahead of us?)

It is really tough to look at this game without remembering Nebraska's domination in the Holiday Bowl.  Iowa lacks a Ndamukong Suh-type player on the defensive line, but they have an extremely solid defensive front.  The shaky non-conference play of 2009 has been replaced with near-perfect late season form in 2010.  The BCS Bowl win over Georgia Tech has given this team a tremendous boost of confidence on the field.  

Keep an eye on the Hawkeye's Adam Robinson who blew up in the first two games of the year and may develop some Heisman hype with big games in Big Games.    Against Iowa State, Robinson carried 14 times for 156 yards (11.1 avg) including a 75 yard TD romp.  If the Arizona defense focuses on the run, the veteran Stanzi (183.59 passer rating in 2010) has a wealth of targets through the air.  SEVEN players on the Hawkeyes average more than 14 yards per reception in 2010.  Look to the Hawkeyes to effectively set up a downfield passing attack with the run against Arizona.  There is no real weakness on the Hawkeyes this year.  They simply will have too much for Arizona to pull off the upset.

 

The Next Best 3

Nebraska over Washington - The Blackshirts are back and all is good with College Football.  I have to take the honorary Big Ten team in this non-conference matchup.  Last weekend NU rolled to a 31 point first half lead over Idaho before taking the foot off the gas.  Some of the key stats from the game: 360 yards rushing at 8.0 ypc, 471 yards of offense on only 18 first downs and 59 plays.  3 Fumbles kept the score out of the 50s and I don't expect the Huskers to make a habit of these early Christmas gifts against Washington.  Jake "Davey Jones" Locker will find the bottom of the ocean has less pressure than the Nebraska Defensive Line.

Auburn over Clemson - Any road SEC win is a good win.  Auburn is coming off a tough test at Mississippi State where Cam Newton willed the Tigers offense to victory and the defense held off a late rally.  The team has 2 extra days to prepare for the Clemson Tigers.  Clemson will have no answer for the 6'-6", 250# monster QB.  The ACC, as a whole, is looking just awful this season.  I'd be nuts to pick a road upset...  Tigers > Tigers.

Texas Tech over Texas - Michael Crabtree is long gone but his ghost still haunts the Texas Tech sidelines.  The Longhorns return the site of the 2008 stunner with exorcists and genuine Bible Belt Holy Water.  Mack Brown is 3-3 in his trips to Lubbock but none of the losses were more painful than the last one.  Who will step up for Texas Tech to be the next Wes Welker (2002) or Michael Crabtree (2008)?  Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert gets his first Big 12 road start and I'm thinking it won't be a happy one.  The Red Raiders on a hunch.

Last week: 12-1, 24-3 overall.

September 16, 2010  12:13 PM ET

Great work Grue.

Wisconsin over Arizona State - The Badgers are coming off a solid, but not amazing, wins over UNLV and San Diego State.
*San Jose State, not really even a typo, the Badgers should be able to win big against either team.
Both California teams on the opposite sides of the state.
I guess you could have the Aztecs face the Spartans and get a decent game.

September 16, 2010  12:14 PM ET

NB3
Miami at Pitt Thursday Night

September 16, 2010  12:19 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Great work Grue.Wisconsin over Arizona State - The Badgers are coming off a solid, but not amazing, wins over UNLV and San Diego State.*San Jose State, not really even a typo, the Badgers should be able to win big against either team.Both California teams on the opposite sides of the state.I guess you could have the Aztecs face the Spartans and get a decent game.

Good catch, Hammered. Thanks for reading that in-depth!

September 16, 2010  12:26 PM ET

No. 25 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State

No. 1 Alabama at No. 12 Arkansas

September 16, 2010  12:27 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Good catch, Hammered. Thanks for reading that in-depth!

Beats the hell out of ESPN News!

September 16, 2010  01:01 PM ET

Wow! This goes beyond blogging to actual journalism, Grue. Excellent read, solid analysis.

Much as I would like to argue with your three Ls for the Pac10 this week, I cannot. ASU is not near Wisconsin's caliber on eihter side of the ball, Washington has no answer for the Husker's new found offensive potency, and Arizona's performance in last year's Holiday bowl against a highly ranked D makes me cringe.

At least in terms of entertainment value, I see ND vs. Spartacus as the game of the week. These teams look fairly evenly matched and I think it will go down to the last possession.

September 16, 2010  01:04 PM ET

Next week's NB3 + 1
Bama @ Arkansas
Oregon State @ Boise
Stanford @ ND

TCU @ SMU

September 16, 2010  01:12 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

Wow! This goes beyond blogging to actual journalism, Grue. Excellent read, solid analysis. Much as I would like to argue with your three Ls for the Pac10 this week, I cannot. ASU is not near Wisconsin's caliber on eihter side of the ball, Washington has no answer for the Husker's new found offensive potency, and Arizona's performance in last year's Holiday bowl against a highly ranked D makes me cringe.At least in terms of entertainment value, I see ND vs. Spartacus as the game of the week. These teams look fairly evenly matched and I think it will go down to the last possession.

I really appreciate that. Thanks.

September 16, 2010  01:32 PM ET

Thanks for another successful blog effort.

I like Mich. St in a close one and Texas.

September 16, 2010  01:53 PM ET

Close Grue

It's Darius WILLIS

But add in Tandon Doss (didn't play in week 1) and DeMarlo Belcher (7 receptions, 92 yards, 1 TD) to the tandem

Honestly, I would contend that IU has one of the best offenses in the Big Ten. Their defense is the problem.

I didn't take anything they did against Towson too serious. While they looked impressive, I will take what they do against Western Kentucky a little more serious, but still not much

September 16, 2010  01:59 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Close GrueIt's Darius WILLISBut add in Tandon Doss (didn't play in week 1) and DeMarlo Belcher (7 receptions, 92 yards, 1 TD) to the tandemHonestly, I would contend that IU has one of the best offenses in the Big Ten. Their defense is the problem.I didn't take anything they did against Towson too serious. While they looked impressive, I will take what they do against Western Kentucky a little more serious, but still not much

Good catch again. The brain read and the fingers didn't listen. However, i listened... updates incorporated.

September 16, 2010  02:53 PM ET

I enjoyed the work, as usual.

If Iowa owns Zona in anyway like they did ISU, I'm starting to wonder just how far the Hawkeyes can go.

Defensive lines like that are historically the backbone of, dare I say, National Champs?

September 16, 2010  03:07 PM ET
QUOTE(#11):

Good catch again. The brain read and the fingers didn't listen. However, i listened... updates incorporated.

No problem. Great read as always

September 16, 2010  04:14 PM ET

Great read as always Grue!

September 16, 2010  06:24 PM ET

I-O-W-A!!!

YAY BABY!

September 16, 2010  07:19 PM ET
QUOTE(#12):

I'm starting to wonder just how far the Hawkeyes can go.Defensive lines like that are historically the backbone of, dare I say, National Champs?

It could happen. tOSU is currently the front runner in the polls, but Iowa and Wisconsin are both legitimate threats to play in--and win--the NCG.

With PSU, Sparty and (apparently) a resurgent Michigan in the next tranche, the Big10 is deeeeeep this year.

September 16, 2010  07:38 PM ET
QUOTE(#17):

It could happen. tOSU is currently the front runner in the polls, but Iowa and Wisconsin are both legitimate threats to play in--and win--the NCG.With PSU, Sparty and (apparently) a resurgent Michigan in the next tranche, the Big10 is deeeeeep this year.

Agreed. It is shaping up as a potentially big year for the Big 10.

September 16, 2010  07:50 PM ET
QUOTE(#17):

It could happen. tOSU is currently the front runner in the polls, but Iowa and Wisconsin are both legitimate threats to play in--and win--the NCG.With PSU, Sparty and (apparently) a resurgent Michigan in the next tranche, the Big10 is deeeeeep this year.

Annnnnd Nebraska. Yikes.

September 16, 2010  07:53 PM ET

I meant next year. With Pryor back (he says he's coming back), Bolden and Robinson with another year of experience... Nebraska joining. Iowa might take a small step back with Stanzi graduating but they're solid. Clay is a Junior at Wiscy. Next year, the Big Ten will be awesome, I think.

 
September 16, 2010  09:31 PM ET

Big Ten is going to be so grody.

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