Towson at Northwestern - Big Ten Network 12pm - Here is the first of a few games where a FCS team is their opponent. Towson got 10 votes in the FCS top 25 poll, so they are a quality team, but let's be serious here, Northwestern should have this game wrapped up by midway through the 3rd quarter. Pat Fitzgerald will be breaking in a new quarterback in Mike Kafka and for the first time in four years Tyrell Sutton will not be in the backfield. Stephen Simmons will take over duties in the backfield. The Wildcats return a lot of starters on defense and they will make it difficult for Towson to score. The Northewestern blogger Lake The Posts and I agree, the Wildcats in an easy game. Northwestern 31-10.
Montana State at Michigan State - Big Ten Network 12pm - The Spartans jump on the bandwagon to play a FCS team Montana State who got 217 votes in the preseason FCS poll. The Spartans are great in season openers, winning 10 straight by an average of 22 points. This year should be no different. With a defense led by MLB Greg Jones, the Bobcats are looking for a long day in East Lansing. Michigan State 41-7.
Minnesota at Syracuse - ESPN2 12pm - This will be one of the more interesting games this week in the Big Ten, but some how this game is not a sellout. The Gophers offense is led by quarterback Adam Weber and wide receiver Eric Decker, who may be the best in the conference. If you recall last year, the Gophers got off to a hot start winning 7 of their first 8 games before dropping their next 5. Syracuse is breaking in a new coach, and still trying to fill the void of losing a lot of players especially on defense. This will be the first start for QB Greg Paulus, but he will not be winning this one. Minnesota 28-16.
Navy at Ohio State - ESPN 12pm - This game was one of our games of the week on the podcast. For Navy to win, there will have to be some sort of miracle of epic proportions. I give the Midshipmen credit for agreeing to play the Buckeyes in Columbus and hopefully they leave with no one hurt. Expect Ohio State to play it very close to the sweater vest and not show anything on offense, because USC comes to down next week. Ohio State 40-13.
Akron at Penn State - Big Ten Network 12pm - The biggest storyline of this game is that Joe Paterno will be back on the sideline for the Nittany Lions. However, do you recall the last time JD Brookhart and Walt Harris teamed up to play against Penn State? I do...it was a 12-0 victory for the Pitt Panthers in the last game of that series. Penn State is more talented on both sides of the ball even with them breaking in new recievers and offensive linemen. I expect this game to be close early with Penn State and Daryll Clark pulling away in the 3rd quarter. Penn State 37-14.
Toledo at Purdue - 12pm - Purdue fans, I am going to tell you something that you might already know, this will be a long season for the Boilermakers. Danny Hope steps in for the legendary Joe Tiller and takes over a program that will struggle to reach last years win mark of 4. Purdue is 11-1 in openers at home but are 2-2 against Toledo. The Rockets are coming off a 3-9 season where they upset Michigan in Ann Arbor. Hammer and Rails and Let's Go Rockets give their thoughts on the game. I want to pick an upset here, but I just don't think Toledo has it in them to win at Purdue. Close game though. Purdue 21-17.
Northern Iowa at Iowa - 12pm - The Hawkeyes are still in shock after losing their starting running back Jewel Hampton for the year with a knee injury. Lucky for them they have a solid quarterback in Ricky Stanzi coming back. Stanzi became the starter half way through the 2008 season and capped off his year leading the Hawkeyes to a win against Penn State, spoiling the Nittany Lions' hopes for a BCS title. The linebackers and defensive backfield should be solid for the Hawkeyes. Northern Iowa is 0-13 in Iowa City, after Saturday they will be 0-14. Iowa 47-7.
Western Michigan at Michigan - ABC 330pm - There is so much riding on the line for the Wolverines in this opener. After all of the practice allegations that surface, and the fact that they are coming off a 3 win season, this is a MUST WIN game. Michigan has dropped their last two season openers to Utah and...don't forget Appalachian State. The Broncos are coming off a 9 win season and return QB Tim Hiller and RB Brandon West. But their defense is young and could have trouble against Michigan's spread. Word is that true freshman Tate Forcier will start, but Nick Sheridan and Denard Robinson will both get snaps. In my opinion, this will be close, Michigan will be tight. But they have the big edge with their offense against WMU's defense. Michigan 28-17.
Missouri vs Illinois - ESPN 340pm - The Illini have been on the short end of the stick in this game the past two season, but this year might be different. Gone are Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin, as well as their other offensive threat Chase Coffman. Enter Blaine Gabbert as the new quarterback at Missouri with Jared Perry and Danario Alexander being his new weapons. The Illini return Juice Williams at quarterback and Arrelious Benn at wide receiver. Illinois has a new defensive coordinator who held the same position at TCU, and we know that the Horned Frogs have had one of the best defenses in the nation the past few years. I applaud Big Head's optimism, but I think this is the year for the Illini to extract some revenge on the Tigers. Illinois 34-20.
Northern Illlinois at Wisconsin - Big Ten Network 7pm - The 2008 season was an interesting one for Badger fans. They went from losing to the Wolverines, coming close to upsetting Ohio State, and getting blown out by Iowa and Penn State at home; all in a four week span. They still went to a bowl game, but looked horrible against Florida State in another blow out loss. Much of their problem stems at the quarterback position. Junior Scott Tolzien will be the starter tomorrow, and will have John Clay and Zach Brown behind him the backfield. The Badgers have won 11 consecutive openers, and after Saturday night that number will be 12. Wisconsin 38-10