This week's national game predictions that went up on Thursday can be found here.
Air Force v. #4 Michigan State (-27) - 12:00 p.m. - ABC
Air Force was dealt a blow when their quarterback Nate Romine was lost for the season due to a knee injury. The Falcons have piled up 411 yards per game but Michigan State's rush defense is a whole different animal from who they've played so far. After such a big win last week against Oregon, Michigan State could be in for a bit of a hangover. Connor Cook will put up his stats, but Air Force's running game keeps the clock moving and helps them stay inside the number.
Michigan State 41 Air Force 20
UNLV v. Michigan (-33.5) - 12:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network
I watched some of UNLV/UCLA last week and it felt like I didn't see the Rebels gain a yard. Their quarterback, Blake Decker, got injured early and their backup was atrocious. Michigan rebounded from a tough early start against Oregon State to cruise to a 35-7 victory. Not a huge fan of laying this many points in Harbaugh's third game, but I do like the early start against a team from the west. I sorta think the Wolverines and De'Veon Smith run all over UNLV.
Michigan 48 UNLV 10
Kent State v. Minnesota (-25) - 12:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network
The Golden Gophers have really had to work the first two weeks, playing TCU tough in the opener before traveling to Fort Collins to edge Colorado State in overtime. Minnesota gets a layup this week when they host a Kent State team that already lost to Illinois 52-3 this year. If the Golden Flashes will have a hard time scoring while Minnesota gets a rare chance to shine a little bit.
Minnesota 37 Kent State 7
Illinois v. North Carolina (-7.5) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN2
This could turn into one of those games that is so stupid it's entertaining. We still don't really know what we have with Illinois since they've played nobody in their first two games, but they might be able to move the football with Wes Lunt and Josh Ferguson. Marquise Williams was so bad against South Carolina, but he does have three receivers who can make plays if he works out his brain cramps. I'm probably going to regret taking Illinois here but I have a feeling this game comes down to the wire.
North Carolina 33 Illinois 30
South Florida v. Maryland (-6.5) - 12:00 p.m. - ESPNU
Hopefully your noon viewing lands you somewhere else besides this game. Maryland just got throttled by Bowling Green by 21 points at home and has decided to make a change at quarterback, with Caleb Rowe replacing Perry Hills. South Florida hung with Florida State for a bit and will be boosted by the return of a couple linebackers from suspension. Unless Will Likely returns every kick he gets for a touchdown, South Florida's defense will help them keep it tight against an offense struggling to find their identity.
Maryland 24 South Florida 20
Northwestern v. Duke (-3) - 12:30 p.m. - ESPN3
After Northwestern defeated Stanford in their season opener, they moved on to the next round of the Brain Bowl Playoff. Next up for the Wildcats is a trip down to Durham to take on Duke. These two teams have given up a combined 13 points so far this season, but I wouldn't bet on this being a low-scoring affair. Both teams are averaging over 245 yards per game on the ground, while Duke has mixed in 345 passing yards per game. I think the Wildcats are headed in the right direction, but I'm not completely sold on them yet. David Cutcliffe's team is a little too much for them.
Duke 31 Northwestern 21
Virginia Tech (-6.5) v. Purdue - 3:30 p.m. - ESPNU
Virginia Tech is playing a Big Ten team for the second time in three weeks, but they shouldn't have nearly as rough of a go at it in their first trip to the state of Indiana. Had it not been for a late collapse against Marshall, Purdue would be 2-0 right now. Austin Appleby has been inconsistent at quarterback, and that's something you can't be against this Virginia Tech defense. I could see the Hokies cashing in on some Purdue turnovers, helping the confidence of quarterback Brenden Motley to go. This feels like a Virginia Tech win by two touchdowns.
Virginia Tech 27 Purdue 13
Nebraska v. Miami (FL) (-3) - 3:30 p.m. - ABC/ESPN2
When the Miami and Nebraska met last year in Lincoln it marked their first meeting since 2002, but these days are a far cry from some of their memorable games in the past. Not much has changed this year, with Mike Riley in his first year and Nebraska and Al Golden possibly on the hot seat. Hopefully for this game Nebraska fans fill up Miami's stadium since Hurricane fans don't. I wouldn't mind seeing Nebraska get a little luck in this game after they lost the BYU game on a hail mary.
Nebraska 31 Miami (FL) 27
Troy v. #24 Wisconsin (-35) - 3:30 p.m. - Big Ten Network
Just repeat everything I said last week about Wisconsin pretty much for this one. Corey Clement isn't going to play in this game, but it won't matter. Troy is allowing 257 yards per game on the ground, so the Badgers are probably going to run for like 500. The Badgers haven't been terrible at passing the football so far this year either! Troy will score this week but not often.
Wisconsin 54 Troy 14
Western Kentucky v. Indiana (-1) - 4:00 p.m. - ESPNNews
This game might finish with a billion points. Western Kentucky lost a good portion of their offense when running back Leon Allen injured his knee, but the Hilltoppers still have Brandon Doughty at quarterback. Nate Sudfeld has held his own so far this year as this Hoosiers quarterback in his 14th year on the roster it feels like. Both defenses are terrible so there'll be plenty of points in this one. Indiana has a little more of balance with their offense and I think they pull away a bit late in the game.
Indiana 48 Western Kentucky 38
Rutgers v. Penn State (-10) - 8:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network
I'm really frightened to see how this game actually plays out. Rutgers has had themselves a week so far. Star wide receiver Leonte Carroo has been suspended, as well as head coach Kyle Flood. The Scarlet Knights don't have much left. Paul James is there at running back, but I'm not seeing him run on Penn State. The Nittany Lions didn't give up a sack last week! Sure, it was against Buffalo, but baby steps. I hate putting so much faith in Penn State, but I'm hoping the night game atmosphere propels them to a comfortable win.
Penn State 34 Rutgers 17
Pittsburgh v. Iowa (-5.5) - 8:00 p.m. - Big Ten Network
I'm expecting punts and stupid shenanigans in this contest. The matchup has lost a bit of its luster with the injury to Pitt running back James Conner. It would have been fun to see him try to solve this Iowa rush defense. Iowa looks like they made the right decision making C.J. Beathard their quarterback, especially after his performance against Iowa State. Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi knows Iowa well though, so things won't be easy for the Hawkeyes. If Conner didn't get injured I probably would've gone with the Panthers here, but I just can't see Iowa losing by less than a touchdown under the lights.
Iowa 27 Pittsburgh 20
Northern Illinois v. #1 Ohio State (-35) - 3:30 p.m - ABC/ESPN2
Last week I didn't take into account the short week when picking the Hawaii/Ohio State game. I figured it wouldn't be as big of a deal as it turned out to be. Even with that, the Buckeyes almost ended up covering anyway, falling just a few points short. Northern Illinois is a better team than Hawaii, but I don't think that means they keep it closer than the Rainbow Warriors did. The Huskies may have more to offer on offense than Hawaii with Drew Hare at quarterback and Kenny Golladay at wide receiver but I'm not all that impressed by their defense, which allowed 30 points to UNLV and 26 to Murray State.
With the Buckeyes back to their regular preparation schedule I think we see them turn back into the well-oiled machine we saw last year. Hopefully Ohio State finds a way to get Ezekiel Elliott a little more involved in the offense, because aside from his 80-yard TD run on his first carry of the year he hasn't done all that much on the ground. At least the defense picked up the slack for the struggling offense last week. They won't get a shutout against the Huskies, but Northern Illinois also won't see anywhere close to the offensive success that they are used to. I feel like Jalin Marshall adds a couple scores in this game for some reason.
Ohio State 56 Northern Illinois 17