Bold predictions for Week 1 in the B1G
Congratulations, everyone. You made it to Week 1 of the college football season.
Yes, technically the year started last weekend with Nebraska and Illinois opening the year, but that was really the appetizer to the season. Now, we’re diving head-first into the main course. It’s a pretty good slate in the B1G, too.
Ten games will be on the television from Thursday through Saturday. There will be four B1G games in those three days and two additional games that feature Power 5 opponents (West Virginia-Maryland; Oregon State-Purdue). What an incredible way to get the season going.
Before we feast on all the college football this weekend, I’ve got a few bold predictions for the first week of the B1G season:
Mohamed Ibrahim’s 100-yard streak continues vs. Ohio State
Ibrahim has hit the century mark in 8 straight games, included all 7 during the 2020 campaign. That was behind a depleted Minnesota offensive line and with a suspect passing attack. This year, the Gophers have 140 starts returning up front and Ohio State is welcoming a brand new group of starting linebackers to the field. Minnesota may not win, but Ibrahim will get to 100 yards for a ninth straight contest.
A Group of 5/FCS team upsets a B1G team
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Expect the unexpected. Upsets happen in college football, which is what makes the sport so great. Maybe Illinois enters the UTSA contest with a little too much confidence. Perhaps Nebraska hasn’t fully recovered from the disappointing performance against Illinois and drops a game to Fordham. Temple is 3-2 against the B1G since 2015, could they spoil Year 2 early for Greg Schiano? On paper, the B1G should escape this weekend unscathed in these three games. But are we ever really certain about anything?
Hunter Johnson finishes the MSU game with a completion rate of 60% or higher
Can you guess how many times Johnson has finished a game at Northwestern with a completion percentage better than 60%? The answer is zero. With a Michigan State secondary going through some changes and a full year working with offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, Johnson should look much improved from 2019. It won’t be perfect but he’ll be a lot more consistent than he was two years ago.
Iowa’s streak of holding opponents to 25 points or less ends vs. Indiana
Phil Parker has had an incredible run, as his defenses have held the last 22 opponents to 25 points or less. But that streak will end on Saturday. Iowa’s defense will still be near the top of the B1G, but the combination of Indiana’s explosive offense and potential to win the battle of field position by creating turnovers is the perfect recipe for this streak to be snapped. The Hoosiers will still be held under 30 points, but they’ll exceed 25.
James Franklin’s first trip to Madison is a successful one
Both Penn State and Wisconsin are really good. In all reality, this game could be decided by the flip of a coin. But I think the addition of Mike Yurcich as the offensive coordinator at PSU is the biggest difference in the game. This will be a close contest but the Nittany Lions will escape the hostile Camp Randall Stadium scene with a win.
David Bell ends his night with a double-digit reception total
This might be the most mild of the bold predictions this week. Bell recorded 8 catches or more in 5 of Purdue’s 6 games last season and has totaled 5 games in which he’s reached double-digit reception totals in his career. With no Rondale Moore in the fold, Jeff Brohm is going to target his top receiver a lot. Bell might end the day with 15 receptions against Oregon State.
Someone not named Adrian Martinez leads Nebraska in rushing
Four times in the last 9 games, Martinez has ended as Nebraska’s leading rusher. That’s not ideal for an offense looking to establish a ground presence. The Huskers should be able to have plenty of success on the ground against a weaker Fordham defense. Someone other than the starting quarterback — maybe Gabe Ervin, Markese Stepp or anyone else in that room — will lead Nebraska’s rushing attack on Saturday.
Michigan is ranked after a blowout win over Western Michigan
Despite a 2-4 record last year, Michigan still received votes in the Associated Press Poll. Assuming Michigan takes care of business the way it should against Western Michigan this week, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines will be back in the rankings. It will also set up a Top 25 showdown in Ann Arbor in Week 2 against Washington.