Today marks the first Saturday of the Big Ten season and we will once again be posting these little previews, predictions and TV listings for all of the games throughout the day. On the basketball side of things, we're still a couple months from the season starting and the reality is that basically all of us here at BTP are huge football fans as well. So with that being said, let's start the show.
Badgers Highlight Opening Weekend
The top game in Big Ten country this weekend will be this afternoon when Wisconsin faces LSU at Lambeau Field. While we'll unfortunately not be able to see the Lambeau Leap, the Lambeau Field College Classic does field two of the top teams from the Big Ten and SEC and should provide some interesting football. Emphasis is on should, though, as LSU is considered a sizable favorite.
LSU is a weird situation because it looked like the school was set to fire Les Miles until basically everyone else rallied around the embattled coach and helped save his job. Of course were the Tigers really that bad to justify the firing of their coach? At the end of the day they only lost three games, two of which came to Alabama and Ole Miss, so it wasn't exactly a horrible season. On the flip side, things were still underwhelming and the Tigers struggled more often then they probably should have.
Of course LSU is once again hyped heading into 2016 and should be fully capable of delivering this season, with Miles job likely riding on having a better season this fall. It definitely helps that the team brings back Leonard Fournette, with the running back a prime candidate for the Heisman Trophy after running for 1953 yard and 22 touchdowns last season. Mix that with a strong defense and Wisconsin is going to have their hands full throughout the day.
When everything is said and done Wisconsin will likely need to rely on their own running game if they want a chance to win today. Their running game regressed last season for a variety of reasons, but it's still the area the Badgers need to excel at if they want to win. Especially since Bart Houston isn't exactly the most experienced quarterback out there, throwing just 47 passes last season as the backup for Joel Stave. Speaking of the passing game, limiting turnovers and mistakes will also be necessary if they want to pull off the upset. The Badgers have a strong defense, will be near their home and should have a strong running attack, but the lack of a passing offense could prove to be detrimental here.
I know it's opening weekend, but the Big Ten's slate of games is definitely underwhelming today. While a Big Ten program does draw an entertaining Bowling Green team, that Big Ten program is an Ohio State team that has no business losing that game. After a largely lethargic slate of noon games Rutgers does face Washington, but they should be overmatched and it's unlikely many people in Big Ten country even have the Pac-12 Network.
The reality is there could be some potentially good football between Western Michigan and Northwestern and past that the only worthwhile game will likely be the afternoon showdown between Wisconsin and LSU. Of course that game should be pretty good, but the rest of the slate pales compared to the games taking place outside of the conference. That national slate includes Oklahoma and Houston at noon, UCLA and Texas A&M at 3:30, Georgia and North Carolina at 5:30 and then Alabama / USC and Clemson / Auburn in primetime on ABC and ESPN.
Most Likely Upset?
This is probably an easy choice as there's only one major game that screams potential upset and that would be the outing between Northwestern and Western Michigan. That's not particularly a knock on the Wildcats, but they are drawing one of the better MAC teams in Western Michigan and the Broncos have managed to recruit quite well over the last few years. Mix that with the combination of quarterback Zach Terrell and wide receiver Corey Davis and you have a dangerous offense that is prime for the upset. Fortunately for Northwestern, their defense has been pretty solid, the game is at home and head coach Pat Fitzgerald has done a solid job in season openers.
While I think Northwestern should find a way to win, they still are the team most likely to get upset today. Ohio State does play a talented Bowling Green squad, but it's hard to call for a Falcon upset over the Buckeyes in Columbus. Past that the next game that could be on the radar would be Fresno State over Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers should be improved considerably in 2016 and Fresno has fell off recently compared to their past success.
|12:00||BTN||Howard at Maryland||Maryland 31 Howard 7|
|ESPN||Hawaii at Michigan||Michigan 52 Hawaii 10|
|ESPNU||Western Michigan at Northwestern||Northwestern 24 Western Michigan 20|
|BTN||Bowling Green at Ohio State||Ohio State 38 Bowling Green 20|
|ESPN News||Eastern Kentucky at Purdue||Purdue 37 Eastern Kentucky 20|
|02:00||Pac-12 Network||Rutgers at Washington||Washington 31 Rutgers 20|
|03:30||BTN||Kent State at Penn State||Penn State 27 Kent State 10|
|BTN||Murray State at Illinois||Illinois 38 Murray State 14|
|ESPNU||Miami U. at Iowa||Iowa 49 Miami U. 10|
|ABC||LSU at Wisconsin||LSU 24 Wisconsin 17|
|08:00||BTN||Fresno State at Nebraska||Nebraska 31 Fresno State 17|
Last Week's Predictions: n/a
Current Record: 0-0