Thursday night wasn't kind to MC&J. Losing the North Carolina and Michigan spreads by a combined three points, as well as TCU laying a cosmic turd and ending their streak of scoring at least 30 points in 15 straight games was fun.
Year-to-date ATS: (0-3: 0-1 National, 0-2 Big Ten)
B1G Games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
#5 Michigan State (-17.5) v. Western Michigan - 7:00 p.m. Friday - ESPNU
Michigan State is going to Kalamazoo? Didn't Bob Seger sing a song about that? Oh wait, that was Kathmandu. Buckeye fans might want to pay a little extra attention to this game on the light Friday slate, since not only do they host Michigan State in November, but the Broncos come to Columbus in late September.
The last two times these teams met was in East Lansing to start the 2013 season. That was P.J. Fleck's first game as Western Michigan head coach and after a rough first year, he really turned things around in 2014. Don't sleep on Western Michigan's offense with Jarvion Franklin at running back, who ran for 1,551 yards and 24 touchdowns as a freshman, as well as the passing combo of Zach Terrell to Corey Davis.
Sparty will be good this year, but it might take a bit to get going after the losses of Pat Narduzzi, Jeremy Langford, and Tony Lippett. Western Michigan puts up a little fight and keeps it close.
Michigan State 34, Western Michigan 24
Kent State v. Illinois (-14) - 9:00 p.m. Friday - Big Ten Network
I would say only degenerates would watch this game, but I guess that's my core audience. Bill Cubit takes over for the fired Tim Beckman. Kent State's only win ever against a Big Ten team came when Rutgers wasn't even in the Big Ten. I'm trying to find something positive to say about this game, but I'm really blanking. Oh wait, I found it! Former Buckeye assistant Paul Haynes coaches the Golden Flashes. Kent State for the cover!
Illinois 31, Kent State 20
#21 Stanford (-12) v. Northwestern - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN
Here's your brainiac game of the week. Just by watching this game you'll feel smarter since both schools are so smart. That's how it works, right? In all seriousness, this could be a sneaky good early Saturday matchup. The coaching matchup between David Shaw and Pat Fitzgerald is interesting, and Stanford has Kevin Hogan coming back for his senior season.
I don't know how much I can get behind laying all those points with a west coast team coming east for a noon start. Northwestern has Justin Jackson, who ran for 1,187 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman, and also will be getting wide receiver Christian Jones back after he missed all last year due to injury. I'll take Northwestern to at least keep things interesting.
Stanford 27, Northwestern 20
Penn State (-7) v. Temple - 3:30 p.m. - ESPN
Penn State hits the road to open the season, but they don't have to travel all that far, as they head to Philadelphia to take on Temple. The Owls are coached by former Penn State linebacker Matt Rhule, who played for the Nittany Lions from 1994-97. Even though they finished 6-6, last year was a bit of a struggle to watch Temple, who scored 14 points or less in their final seven games. One of those contests was a 30-13 loss to the Nittany Lions.
Temple returns a lot, especially on defense, but I just think Christian Hackenberg is going to have a strong start to the year and leads Penn State to at least a double-digit victory.
Penn State 28, Temple 17
BYU v. Nebraska (-7) - 3:30 p.m. - ABC
I liked Bo Pelini. Sure he had a ceiling on about nine wins, but he liked to swear, and that's ok in my book. Mike Riley seems pretty boring. Seems like a good amount of players in this game are either hurt or suspended. You know who isn't hurt? BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. When BYU has had him in the lineup the last two years he has been fire.
I'm not totally convinced about Nebraska now that they try to have to replace Ameer Abdulllah, Randy Gregory, and more. Add in that De'Mornay Pierson-El is injured and I'll happily take the points in a game I could see Nebraska losing.
BYU 34, Nebraska 31
#20 Wisconsin v. #3 Alabama (-11) - 8:00 p.m. - ABC
It already sounds like there is going to be plenty of empty seats at JERRYDOME for this game, and I'm just fine with that. Neutral site games are stupid. How fun would it be to have this either up in Madison or over in Tuscaloosa? I'd even take a game in Green Bay over this vanilla site.
Then again I don't really think this will be too much of a contest. Alabama is pissed after falling to the Big Ten, so you know that has been eating away at Saban during the offseason. I wouldn't be surprised to see Alabama just straight up kick Wisconsin in the teeth here. The Badgers have Corey Clement, and while he is quite a good running back, he isn't Melvin Gordon. Asking him to be Melvin Gordon in his first game as starter is asking a lot.
Alabama 31, Wisconsin 17
Purdue v. Marshall (-7.5) - 3:00 p.m. Sunday - Fox Sports 1
/Yells "DARRELL HAZELL!!" and jumps into some nearby bushes
Marshall's all-everything QB from last year, Rakeem Cato, is playing in the CFL now so there has to be a little adjustment period. I don't think Purdue will be as bad as most expect them to be. The only Sunday game might be one of the best ones of the weekend.
Marshall 38, Purdue 35
#1 Ohio State (-13) v. Virginia Tech - 8:00 p.m. Monday - ESPN
Save the best for last, right? There can't be anyway last year happens again. I know with last year's game I was expecting Virginia Tech to at least keep it tight, but the Buckeyes to pull out the victory. I certainly wasn't expecting a straight-up loss. NO ONE BEAR SHOULD HAVE ALL THAT POWER.
Is Ohio State gonna come in c/aught off guard two years in a row? I think Urban Meyer is watching Virginia Tech tape from before the Hokies even had a football team. Sure Ohio State has suspensions, but the depth of the Buckeyes is going to shine here to help cover up those suspensions. Don't be surprised if Sam Hubbard has a big game filling in for Joey Bosa. Of course we know the kind of #JUICE Braxton Miller is going to bring to the receiver position. I think J.T. Barrett sees the majority of the snaps at quarterback, but am expecting Urban Meyer to make sure Cardale Jones properly introduces himself to the Hokies.
When this spread was up a few ticks higher I was a little leery on taking a favorite on the road going into Lane Stadium on Labor Day night, but I can't give up my money fast enough when it's under two touchdowns. I have a feeling it's going to be something like a 17-20 point win. Ohio State starts defense of their title by gaining a bit of revenge for last September inside Ohio Stadium
Ohio State 41, Virginia Tech 21