A bold prediction for each B1G Week 1 game
While 3 teams jumped the gun in Week 0, the B1G race begins in earnest in Week 1. Which is good news for the Bold Predictions department, because we’ve had a week to sit around and ponder these games. We’ve got a bold prediction for every B1G Week 1 game, and sometimes, we had to dig deep to get bold. Some of these will come to pass, and some of these will age faster than leftover pizza in the fridge. Either way, we’re starting bold for Week 1.
Purdue upsets Penn State
A year ago, the underachieving Penn State offense opened as a mild underdog at Wisconsin and won. This year, they’re a 3.5-point favorite at Purdue. What changes? Well, Penn State had to go +3 in turnovers to pull off the Wisconsin upset a year ago. Veteran QB Aidan O’Connell won’t give the ball away like WIsky did a year ago. Purdue’s defense can be vulnerable on the ground, but unless Penn State fixes the offense that rushed for 3.2 yards per carry a a year ago, they’re not the team to take advantage. O’Connell rallies the Boilermakers with a 2-minute drive for a 24-21 win.
Minnesota: 4th 200-yard game for Ibrahim
Minnesota opens with New Mexico State, which has revamped its coaching staff but still has an FCS level roster. After missing 12 games last year, look for senior back Mohamed Ibrahim to hit the ground running. Ibrahim has 3 200-yard rushing games in his career, and pencil this one in for a 4th as Minnesota wins by 50.
Michigan State: Reed scores 3 TDs
Michigan State gets an in-state game with Western Michigan. The Broncos won 8 games a year ago, but they’re replacing their quarterback and will struggle to keep up with the Spartans. On the other hand, Payton Thorne is back in East Lansing, as is his top target, Jayden Reed. Look for Mel Tucker to make a statement in Week 1, and that statement is that State isn’t falling behind in the B1G arms race, and Reed is a potential difference-maker in that war. We’ve got Reed for 3 scores as State rolls by 27.
Shivers the big difference for IU over Illinois
A year ago, Illinois shocked a small portion of the world by opening with a home win over Nebraska. They looked great in Week 1 this year against Wyoming. … But the pick here is Indiana. Why? Because even against a poor Wyoming team that couldn’t pass (5-for-20 for 30 yards in the game), Illinois allowed 5.9 yards per carry. With Connor Bazelak throwing the rock for Indiana, the Illini will have to respect the pass, which will only open up the run even more. Auburn transfer Shaun Shivers will likely have a big day, and while Illinois will hang in the game on offense, the inability to stop the run — and Shivers’s 125 yards and 2 scores — will be the difference in a 27-21 Indiana win.
Michigan: 50 for Wolverines
Michigan brings back much of their offense, but does figure to have a few defensive growing pains with some new faces and a new coordinator — its 3rd in 3 years. But Jim Harbaugh will want to make a statement in Week 1, and that statement will be that Michigan’s passing game is ready for action. Add in that Colorado State finished last season by allowing 50+ points in its last 2 games, and it’s not hard to imagine the Wolverines doing what they did only twice last year and dropping a 50 spot in the easy win.
Iowa: Hawkeyes struggle, but emerge in the 2nd half
There’s a funny thing with Iowa football. The offense is perennially ho-hum, but the Hawkeyes keep winning anyway. A guess as to why? Turnovers. Iowa’s turnover rate the last 7 years is +11, +6, +7, +9, +9, +9 and +12. The Hawkeyes were actually outgained by opponents last year, which is the third time that’s happened in the 7 years — and Iowa has a winning record each year. This is to say that Iowa is good at making teams beat themselves, but South Dakota State isn’t built like that. They’ve been to the FCS semifinals the last 2 years and are 2-2 against FBS teams in their last 4 matchups. Now, Iowa is too good to lose to the Jackrabbits, but don’t be surprised if this game is competitive, say tied at the half, and Iowa needs a good second half to win by 2 scores.
Maryland: 400 yards for Taulia Tagovailoa
Maryland will get out to a nice start against a Buffalo team that was mildly awful a year ago. Given that the Terps opened a year ago with 4 straight 300-yard passing games, it can’t be too much of a surprise for them to put the ball in the air again. Tagovailoa passed for 400 yards once last year, against Indiana. He’ll do it a second time on Saturday, as the Terps roll by 28.
Rutgers: Struggle bus for Knights
Rutgers and Boston College isn’t exactly the big-time non-conference game of Week 1, and the Knights seem like a team without a direction. Greg Schiano still hasn’t settled on a quarterback, and on an offense that hasn’t topped 4.0 yards per carry since 2015, there’s reason for concern. On the other side, Boston College has to be excited to get back Phil Jurkovec, who showed signs of being a next-level QB in 2020 before injuries slowed his progress. Jurkovec will throw for 300 yards and BC beats a rudderless Rutgers squad by 3 touchdowns.
Nebraska: Two 100-yard targets
The easy joke would have been guessing no onside kicks. But enough about last week. North Dakota is no threat. Look for Scott Frost to continue honing the offense, getting plenty of touches for Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda and Trey Palmer, with each having 100-yard receiving games as Casey Thompson has a big day and departs early to drink Gatorade and hold a clipboard. Nebraska by 50, and the passing game continues to gain some purpose.
Wisconsin: Allen, Mellusi both have 100 yards by halftime
What does WIsconsin do? They run the football. Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi will have big days against an Illinois State team that went 4-7 in FCS play last year. The Badgers will pile up yardage and points, but how about the top two backs each reaching the century mark in yardage before intermission? Watch for it.
Ohio State: They crush Notre Dame
Is it even bold? Despite the fact that this game is No. 2 vs. No. 5, Ohio State is a 17-point favorite. The gap between Alabama, OSU and everybody else is pretty profound. And the Irish are getting a lot of plaudits they haven’t proven they deserve. The expectation here is that, a few players aside, Notre Dame looks like they did against Alabama in the Rose Bowl 2 years ago or Clemson in the Cotton Bowl 4 years ago. Or Miami in 2017. Or Michigan in 2019. Seriously, for a team getting run in the national top 5, it’s interesting that every season features a massive underachievement by the Fighting Irish against a ranked team. Ohio State is this year’s edition. The Notre Dame defense simply can’t keep up, and the Buckeyes roll 42-14.