1 B1G thought ahead of every Week 1 Big Ten game
Congratulations. We made it.
Buckeye or Wolverine, Badger or Gopher, there is still one thing all of us can agree on: it’s great to have football back.
It’s the best feeling of the year — the only time where all things are equal.
The next 3 months will inevitably unleash a torrent of sorrow for fans of certain teams. But at the moment, there is nothing but potential. Not every team is a championship team, but every team can still exceed expectations and provide fans with a thrilling ride. This is the week you wish you could bottle up and carry with you forever.
It’s also the dawn of college football’s final “normal” season before the CFP field triples and conferences are mangled. This season is one to savor. It’ll never be the same again.
Now let’s get on with 1 B1G thought about every Week 1 Big Ten game.
Nebraska at Minnesota
When: Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX
B1G thought: No need for appetizers. We’re jumping straight into a main course. Matt Rhule looks to get his Nebraska career started on the right foot against a Gophers squad that is expected to unleash a new pass-friendly offensive look behind sophomore quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis. This feels like a game that won’t be decided until late.
But worth noting: Rhule is 0-3 in his first games with Temple, Baylor and the Carolina Panthers.
Central Michigan at Michigan State
When: Friday, 7 p.m. ET, FS1
B1G thought: The Spartans are among the B1G’s biggest mysteries this season, making this a more interesting season opener than it might appear on the surface.
Can Michigan State get the run game going after falling off the table without Kenneth Walker III? Will we see both Noah Kim and Katin Houser play quarterback?
Plus, my obligatory warning for every game against a MAC opponent: MAC teams have beaten a Big Ten team every full season since 2006. This is a matchup that could potentially keep that streak alive.
East Carolina at No. 2 Michigan
When: Saturday, noon ET, Peacock
B1G thought: Welcome to the new world order. You’ll need to subscribe to Peacock in order to watch this game. Though by the fourth quarter, you may be more interested in checking out “Poker Face.”
Utah State at No. 25 Iowa
When: Saturday, noon ET, FS1
B1G thought: Is the “Keep Brian Ferentz around even though everyone knows he should have been fired” experiment going to work out better than Nebraska’s “Keep Scott Frost around even though everyone knows he should have been fired” experiment last year?
We’ll learn a lot about Iowa’s offensive potential in this game. Personally, I have cautiously optimistic expectations.
Fresno State at Purdue
When: Saturday, noon ET, BTN
B1G thought: It’s breakfast ball for the Bulldogs, whose body clocks are kicking off at 9 a.m. This matchup would have been a classic last season with quarterbacks Aidan O’Connell and Jake Haener squaring off. The Boilermakers should run away with this year’s version.
No. 3 Ohio State at Indiana
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
B1G thought: The average price of gas was 90 cents a gallon the last time the Hoosiers beat the Buckeyes.
Buffalo at No. 19 Wisconsin
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1
B1G thought: Wisconsin’s shift to an up-tempo, no-huddle offense under Luke Fickell is among the most fascinating experiments in college football. And that makes this game must-see TV.
The Badgers will roll if they’re actually the dark horse CFP hopefuls I think they will be.
Towson at Maryland
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
B1G thought: The Terps just need to get out of this game healthy. That’s it. That’s the goal.
Maryland is the lone B1G team to play an FCS opponent in Week 1, but spreading some financial love to an in-state school is an appropriate piece of scheduling. Especially when that school is Mike Locksley’s alma mater.
But this game won’t be remotely interesting.
Toledo at Illinois
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, BTN
B1G thought: The underground pick for Week 1 Game of the Week.
The Rockets are favored to win the MAC. Illinois should be even better than last year in Bret Bielema’s third season, but replaces enough key pieces — quarterback, running back, a pair of NFL defensive backs — that the first game is almost guaranteed to be a dog fight.
This will be worth tuning in even though it’s up against a nationally televised primetime game.
West Virginia at No. 7 Penn State
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
B1G thought: Penn State season openers have a habit of being too close for comfort.
The Nittany Lions scratched out wins at Purdue and Wisconsin the past 2 years and lost to Indiana in overtime in 2020. In 2018, Penn State fended off Appalachian State in overtime. (The lone recent exception to this pattern was a 73-7 win over FCS Idaho in 2019.)
Expect the first game against West Virginia since 1992 to be much closer than the line of 20.5 points is indicating.
Northwestern at Rutgers
When: Sunday, noon ET, CBS
B1G thought: What did America do to deserve this as a nationally televised matchup? Whatever it is, we must repent.
Think I’m exaggerating? The Scarlet Knights and Wildcats used 6 quarterbacks who combined for 21 touchdowns and 31 interceptions in 2022.
This matchup is explicit content and should be aired at midnight.