The time is finally here.

No, not the first week of college football. I’m talking about the first week of B1G spring games.

You know you’re excited. After all, it’s not every day that we get to watch scrimmages with limited contact and wacky scoring systems that even the players don’t understand.

Saturday is that day!

Jokes aside, there are plenty of things that are worth watching from Illinois, Michigan State and Purdue during their spring showcases. Here are five things that I want to see:

1. MSU finding some edge-rushers

The Spartans have a ton of experience returning on both sides of the ball. In fact, they only have to find new starters at three different positions. One of them is at defensive end, where breakout star Kenny Willekes returns but Demetrious Cooper is gone. Another is at SAM linebacker, where the valuable Chris Frey needs to be replaced.

MSU’s defense did a lot of things well last year (stop the run, third-down defense, etc.), but one thing it struggled with was blowing up plays in the backfield. The Spartans were 94th in FBS in tackles for loss and ninth in the B1G in sacks per game.

Keep in mind that MSU also lost its top two recruits from the 2016 class, 4-star defensive ends Auston Robertson and Josh King, both of whom were kicked off the team in 2017 after being charged in separate sexual assault cases.

Needless to say, Mark Dantonio wouldn’t mind if some edge-rushers stepped on Saturday. Perhaps it’s an underclassman like sophomore Jacub Panasiuk or converted tight ends Jack Camper and Matt Seybert who shine. Maybe Justice Alexander or linebacker Tyriq Thompson build on their standout springs and close with a solid showing on Saturday.

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2. Illinois’ odd quarterback dynamic

In case you missed it, the Illini quarterback room looks a bit different this spring than it did a few short months ago. Gone is Chayce Crouch, who announced his retirement from football. Also gone is Jeff George Jr., who announced his plans to transfer.

That left Illinois with just one scholarship quarterback in Cam Thomas. And while Thomas showed flashes as a true freshman — he rushed for 233 yards on 52 carries — the Illini certainly didn’t want to put all of its eggs in his basket. That’s why Lovie Smith added Virginia Tech grad transfer and former Nebraska quarterback A.J. Bush. That was after Illinois signed not one, not two but THREE quarterbacks in its 2018 class.

But none of them will be on the field on Saturday. Instead, we’ll see a whole lot of Thomas and Illinois’ walk-on quarterbacks.

So yeah, keeping Thomas healthy on Saturday is of the utmost importance.

3. Lovie Claus

If you aren’t a fan of Lovie Claus, I’m not sure I’m a fan of you.

Credit: Illini Football

Will new-look Lovie equal new results? Illinois fans wouldn’t mind that.

4. Jeff Brohm’s new quarterback projects

We know that Elijah Sindelar and David Blough are going to compete for the starting job again. But with Sindelar out for spring after his torn ACL (the one he played on in the Foster Farms Bowl) and Blough possibly limited coming off that ankle injury, I expect Saturday to be more about the young guns.

That means Nick Sipe and Jack Plummer will get plenty of reps. Plummer enrolled early in hopes of maximizing the opportunity he’d have in the spring. There will be plenty of Purdue fans eager to get a look at the promising 6-5 signal-caller, who was Brohm’s first true QB recruit.

Sipe, as a redshirt freshman, has a chance to turn some heads in what’ll be his first spring game. We could’ve seen Sipe in the Foster Farms Bowl had Sindelar not somehow found a way to play on that torn ACL. Instead, Sipe will get a more favorable setting for his debut.

And if Brohm doesn’t try at least a few gadget plays with these guys, I’ll be stunned.

5. Snow…?

Here are your average expected temperatures for Saturday:

  • Illinois — 33 degrees
  • Purdue — 29 degrees
  • Michigan State — 32 degrees

Are we sure these are actual spring games and not late-November games? Goodness, gracious. There’s a realistic chance that with temperatures that frigid, we could get some snow.

I would love to see a spring game turn into an old-fashion snow bowl. The odds of that happening are slim to none because any sign of precipitation usually forces a venue adjustment.

But from the comfort of my warm and cozy couch, I’ll cross my fingers and hope that we get a spring version of this (via Big Ten Network):

Dress warm, B1G fans.