Week 1 of Big Ten football is finally here and there are several really good matchups on the schedule. As the 125th season of Big Ten football officially launches tonight, here are my picks for each game this week (aside from Ohio State, that is coming shortly).
Big Ten Week 1 Pigskin Pick'Em
Friday, October 23 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time: Illinois at No. 14 Wisconsin
This is a great matchup to kick off the Big Ten season because of last year's massive upset in Champaign. Illinois finally went to a bowl game last year for the first time under Lovie Smith, largely thanks to their incredible second half performance against No. 6 Wisconsin.
The Badgers don't have Jonathon Taylor this year, but I think Jack Coan will lead them to another solid season (once he gets back on the field) and I don't think Illinois will pull a rabbit out of a hat for the second straight year.
Prediction: Wisconsin 34, Illinois 12
Saturday, October 24 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time: Rutgers at Michigan State
Mel Tucker is starting a new challenge at Michigan State, Greg Schaino is resuming an old challenge at Rutgers. This is an interesting season-opening game for Rutgers because it's really hard to know what to expect from Michigan State this year.
The biggest question for them going into the season is who will play quarterback. Tucker still hasn't committed to who his starter will be. Safe to say both of these programs could use a little boost and I think Michigan State will get it.
Prediction: Michigan State 27, Rutgers 7
Saturday, October 24 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Iowa at Purdue
The biggest news coming into this game is that Purdue coach Jeff Brohm will miss the contest after a second consecutive positive CoVID-19 test this week. Every team has contingency plans in place to handle the uncertainty of the year, but Purdue is the only team in the league (as of now) that will have to deal with this in Week 1.
I like Iowa's offense this year - they have lots of good skill players returning - but it will be the first college start from sophomore quarterback Spencer Petras. On the other side of the ball, Iowa seems to have caught a break. Rondale Moore is not playing Saturday, but they still have to contend with David Bell. I think the Hawkeyes get off on the right foot.
Prediction: Iowa 26, Purdue 20
Saturday, October 24 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time: No. 8 Penn State at Indiana
Indiana took major steps forward in rebranding its program last year, finishing 8-5. This could be a sneaky good game and I think Indiana just might pull off an upset. The Hoosiers have lost 22 of 23 in this series and six straight, but the last two were very competitive, one-possession games.
Penn State doesn't have the best defensive player in the conference (Micah Parsons) and they just lost running back Journey Brown this week potentially for the entire season. I'm picking Tom Allen's team to pull off the first big upset of the year.
Prediction: Indiana 35, Penn State 31
Saturday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Maryland at Northwestern
After a pretty disappointing season from Northwestern last year, this feels like the kind of game that can help them rebound nicely. Maryland lost its last seven in a row to close last year and only two of those were competitive games. The 'Terps have failed to have a quarterback start every game in 14 of the last 16 years. Mike Locksley's program has a long way to go and even though I don't think Northwestern has a great team, I think the 'Cats start the season with a win.
Prediction: Northwestern 25, Maryland 10
Saturday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time: No. 18 Michigan at No. 21 Minnesota
This is probably the best game in the conference on paper in Week 1 - it's certainly the most consequential. Both Michigan and Minnesota are desperate to start the season with a win. If Michigan loses this game, a 4-win season is very possible. A win for Minnesota could get them started on the right foot as they try to make a push for the Big Ten title game. They're coming off a great season that had an awfully disappointing ending.
Prediction: Minnesota 28, Michigan 27