Predictions: Big Ten Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
9:00
AM ET
It's prediction time again as we attempt to forecast Week 2 in the Big Ten.

Although opening weekend had more big-ticket games, Week 2 features more potential toss-ups around the league. Seven Big Ten teams hit the road Saturday, including three squads -- No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 16 Nebraska and Illinois -- visiting Pac-12 opponents.

Both of us went 10-2 in Week 1, and we'd probably take that record again Saturday.

Let's get to it ...

NEW HAMPSHIRE at MINNESOTA

Brian Bennett: No repeat of last year's North Dakota State debacle for the Gophers, who improve to 2-0 behind a strong running game, led by Donnell Kirkwood. ... Minnesota 31, New Hampshire 20

Adam Rittenberg: The Gophers can't afford to take any team lightly and have dropped their past two games against FCS teams (North Dakota State and South Dakota). Still, I liked what I saw from Minnesota's defensive front in the opener. The Gophers get enough from Ra'Shede Hageman & Co., and MarQueis Gray rebounds with three touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) as the team survives against New Hampshire. ... Minnesota 26, New Hampshire 20

UCF at No. 18 OHIO STATE

Adam Rittenberg: The Knights provide a much tougher test for Ohio State than Miami (Ohio) did, and the Buckeyes' defense has some early struggles before rebounding. I expect another big performance from Braxton Miller, who gets Jake Stoneburner more involved in the passing attack as Ohio State pulls away in the third quarter. ... Ohio State 34, UCF 17

Brian Bennett: The Buckeyes' offense gets off to a stronger start than last week, and Carlos Hyde goes for 100 yards. That and another big special-teams play help Ohio State break this one open. ... Ohio State 38, UCF 21

PENN STATE at VIRGINIA

Brian Bennett: Call me crazy, but I think the Lions will rebound after their Week 1 loss. I see a much better performance by the Penn State defense, and Matt McGloin hits Allen Robinson for two touchdowns as PSU finally gets some good news. ... Penn State 17, Virginia 14

Adam Rittenberg: It wouldn't surprise me if Penn State's offensive line controlled Virginia and the Lions' defense stepped up, but I don't think the Lions have enough firepower to win on the road against an improving Cavaliers program. McGloin has some early success, but Penn State once again fades down the stretch. ... Virginia 21, Penn State 14

PURDUE at No. 22 NOTRE DAME

Adam Rittenberg: I'd pick Purdue if the game were in West Lafayette, and I expect Notre Dame to start slowly after the long trip to Ireland. But the Irish have a more dynamic offense than the Boilers, and Purdue's defense will start to show some cracks in the third quarter against Everett Golson. Both Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve see plenty of snaps in this one for the Boilers. ... Notre Dame 27, Purdue 21

Brian Bennett: Every time Notre Dame does something good, it usually backslides. So I see the Irish faltering after their strong performance in Dublin. Purdue is due, and Kawann Short dominates defensively and blocks a field goal for the win. ... Purdue 28, Notre Dame 24

INDIANA at MASSACHUSETTS

Brian Bennett: Picking Indiana to beat anybody on the road is dicey at this stage. But the Minutemen might not be as good as Indiana State. The Hoosiers fall behind early but rally behind Tre Roberson and knock down a fourth-down pass at the goal line on the final play. ... Indiana 21, UMass 20

Adam Rittenberg: I think Kevin Wilson is starting to trust his team more and should open up the offensive playbook more against the Minutemen. Although Indiana needs a cleaner performance on the road, it gets enough from Roberson, who tosses two touchdown passes, including one to Kofi Hughes in his return from suspension. ... Indiana 27, UMass 21

AIR FORCE at No. 19 MICHIGAN

Adam Rittenberg: Air Force is a team that gets your attention, and that's a good thing for Michigan after the disaster near Dallas. The Wolverines start slowly but block and tackle a lot better in the final three quarters. Denard Robinson plays a clean game with two touchdown passes and no picks, and Fitz Toussaint breaks off a long touchdown run in his return from suspension. ... Michigan 35, Air Force 20

Brian Bennett: Everybody is looking for the upset here, but I don't see it. Brady Hoke has experience coaching against the Falcons, and Michigan simply has too much talent. Robinson bounces back with 350 total yards. ... Michigan 38, Air Force 17

No. 11 MICHIGAN STATE at CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Brian Bennett: It's a good weekend for the Spartans to work on diversifying their offense. But it's the defense that once again carries the day. William Gholston has two sacks and Darqueze Dennard contributes a pick-six. ... Michigan State 28, Central Michigan 7

Adam Rittenberg: In the long run, quarterback Andrew Maxwell's shaky first start will turn out to be beneficial because he made mistakes without costing his team a crucial win. Expect a much more polished Maxwell in Mount Pleasant, and the Spartans junior tosses a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions. Le'Veon Bell eclipses 100 yards, but his workload is more manageable in an easy win. ... Michigan State 38, Central Michigan 10

IOWA STATE at IOWA

Adam Rittenberg: Similar to last week, I'm tempted to pick against the Hawkeyes, but the game isn't in Ames and although Steele Jantz's presence strikes fear in all who love the Black and Gold, Iowa will contain him enough in this game. Micah Hyde records a pick-six against Jantz and James Vandenberg rebounds with two touchdown passes. Iowa fills one of those empty trophy cases. ... Iowa 24, Iowa State 20

Brian Bennett: Another wild shootout, but this one goes the Hawkeyes' way. Vandenberg throws for 300 yards and Damon Bullock puts together another 100-yard game as Iowa hangs on for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. ... Iowa 35, Iowa State 31

No. 13 WISCONSIN at OREGON STATE

Brian Bennett: Montee Ball shook off some rust in the opener and is ready for a big game. He goes for 175 and three scores, and despite some defensive lapses late, the Badgers prevail in Beavers country. ... Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 23

Adam Rittenberg: Corvallis is a tough place to play, and Big Ten teams really struggle on the road against the Pac-12. But Oregon State isn't a very good team, and Wisconsin should learn some lessons from the opener and keep the pedal down. Danny O'Brien makes a few miscues, but the Badgers' ground game takes over in the second half as Wisconsin prevails. ... Wisconsin 30, Oregon State 20

No. 16 NEBRASKA at UCLA

Adam Rittenberg: UCLA looked good in its opener, but so did Nebraska, and the Huskers appear to be a more complete team in 2012. Despite Rex Burkhead's injury, Nebraska has more than enough firepower as Taylor Martinez returns to his home state and racks up four touchdowns (2 pass, 2 rush). The Bruins give the Blackshirts a few issues, but Nebraska prevails after a big fourth quarter. ... Nebraska 33, UCLA 28

Brian Bennett: The Bruins showed some better offensive weaponry in their opener against Rice and will make this game a high-scoring, Pac-12-like affair. But Nebraska has more options on both sides of the ball, even without Burkhead. It's a big day for Ameer Abdullah, who runs for 100 yards and scores on a kickoff return. ... Nebraska 42, UCLA 31

VANDERBILT at NORTHWESTERN

Brian Bennett: The Cardiac Cats are impossible to predict. Why not the same score as last week? The Wildcats' varied offense gives Vandy much more trouble than South Carolina did in Week 1. Looking forward to the postgame Quiz Bowl. ... Northwestern 42, Vanderbilt 41

Adam Rittenberg: Northwestern looks like the same team we've seen the past two seasons, and although a young defense should eventually get better, this is a tough matchup against an explosive Vanderbilt team. It'll be another shootout, but this time, the Wildcats fall short as Jordan Rodgers takes aim on a woeful secondary. ... Vanderbilt 35, Northwestern 31

ILLINOIS at ARIZONA STATE

Adam Rittenberg: As well as Illinois' defense played in Week 1, I just don't think the Illini have enough to win on the road, especially with top quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase hobbled. No one likes Todd Graham, but the man knows offense and his Sun Devils have enough to survive on their home field. ... Arizona State 21, Illinois 20

Brian Bennett: Assuming Graham hasn't left for another job before kickoff, the Sun Devils have a lot of advantages here, including home field in the desert and Scheelhaase's injury. Illinois' defense is game but wears down as the game stretches past midnight Central time, and the Illini offense can't keep up. ... Arizona State 23, Illinois 17

SEASON RECORDS

Bennett: 10-2 (.833)

Rittenberg: 10-2 (.833)

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