Joe breaks down all the "BIG" matchups from the Big Ten Conference heading into week 3
Nebraska @ Oklahoma
This matchup is largely considered to be the greatest CFB rivalry of all time, but unfortunately, these two historic programs aren’t exactly on the same level anymore. Coming into this game, the Sooners have clearly looked better on the defensive end, which has made up for Spencer Rattler and the offense’s growing pains which has included some turnover issues. It’s definitely been another slow start for Nebraska, but I believe there have been some positives for Nebraska and Scott Frost so far this season, including that QB Adrian Martinez looks as if he’s improved his game and the Nebraska defense looks significantly better than last season.
Nebraska will most certainly lose this football game, but that doesn’t mean they won’t keep the game close for a large stretch of it, as the Sooners have a tendency to play down to their competition. However, I expect this to be Spencer Rattler’s coming out game as he’s looked better every week he’s played and the Sooners receiving group is top 5 in college football, which it is almost every season.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38 Nebraska 21
Auburn @ Penn State
One of college football’s greatest traditions, the Penn State “White Out” game (with fans) is making it’s first return since the COVID-19 pandemic begun. Auburn are coming into Happy Valley out scoring their opponents 112-10 in their first two games, albeit against very weak competition including Alabama State and Akron. PSU’s defense and specifically their defensive line has looked ELITE to start this season with their dominating performance against Wisconsin on the road, they are also significantly more battle tested than the Auburn Tigers.
I believe this will be a relatively low scoring game, but some offensive players to look out for includes Auburn RB Tank Gisby who is averaging over 12 yards a carry and also the Penn State running back duo of Keyvone Lee and Noah Cain, with both making an immediate impact in the first two games. I expect Beaver Stadium to be rocking and I believe that will be enough for Penn State to roll past the Tigers on Saturday.
Prediction: Penn State 24 Auburn 17
Purdue @ Notre Dame
The start of this season for the Irish has been extremely worrisome, with very narrow wins over Florida State and Toledo, the win against FSU looks even worse considering they were beaten by Jacksonville State. However, new quarterback Jack Coan has started the season brilliantly and is running the Irish’s offense extremely effectively, but the issue with the ND offensive is the offensive line, who as a unit have allowed 10 sacks already this season. Purdue have a real shot to go into South Bend and win this game. Some players who will have an impact for Purdue in this game includes star wide receiver David Bell who has established himself as one of the best receivers in the B1G conference.
Okay, who’s going to win this game you’re asking? Well, as a Iowa Hawkeyes fan I’m very much used to losing to the Boilermakers, whilst ND actually have an extremely good record against them, leading the all time series by a whopping 30 games. However, bad news for Notre Dame fans, that streak will end on Saturday as I believe Notre Dame are well overdue for an upset loss.
Prediction: Purdue 28 Notre Dame 24
Cincinnati @ Indiana
Personally, this is my favourite matchup of this college football Saturday. Cincinnati were a real playoff contender last season and look even better this year, but they have to play a real team this weekend in Indiana. On the other hand, I’m a big believer in this Cincinnati team, this is primarily because the defense looks like potentially the best in the country and their offense has looked sensational so far season. Indiana’s offense has looked woeful to start this season with Michael Penix Jr struggling to begin the season, but a bright spot for Indiana has been their rushing offense.
I think this will be a statement win for the Bearcats and I believe they’ll make a strong case to college football playoff committee by the end of the season. Cincinnati are ready for this test against Indiana and I believe as long as the defense can contain Michael Penix Jr and their rushing attack, the Bearcats will win big in Bloomington against the Hoosiers on Saturday.
Prediction: Cincinnati 31 Indiana 17
Michigan State @ Miami
Up next is the most underrated matchup of the week and talk about an absolutely huge game for Miami with a ton of pressure on them to deliver, the Hurricanes are officially on upset alert against Sparty this weekend. MSU, and second year coach Mel Tucker, have had a dream start to the season with a signature win against Northwestern on the road. I follow recruiting extremely closely and Miami have done incredibly well to get some very high rated classes in recent years, but they have had a particularly rough start to the season with Alabama dominating them in Atlanta and also a close call against App State at home last week.
Michigan State star back Kenneth Walker had his way against Northwestern in week one but didn’t play last week, so he should ready be have a big game against this Miami defense. Miami’s secondary has been very questionable to start the season, so look for the Spartans to exploit that with deep passes down the field throughout the game. The good news for Miami is that the defensive line has been solid in the first two games, expect them to get into the backfield against the Spartans.
Prediction: Miami 27 Michigan State 24
Minnesota - Colorado
This is a very intriguing matchup as these two teams have only ever played three times, with Colorado winning all three games, the most recent game being back in 1992. The start of the season has been heartbreaking for Minnesota with the loss of star running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who is out for the entirety of the season with a serious leg injury. Colorado held it’s own against Texas A&M and nearly caused a huge upset in a narrow 10-7 defeat, but the good news for Colorado is they have a legit defense with their defensive front being particularly strong.
Minnesota will still be able to be effective in the run game, with running back Treyson Potts having an excellent game against Miami University. I expect both defenses to keep the score of this game relatively low, which will result in a very limited amount of big plays in this game.