- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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After the disaster that was Week 2, the Big Ten could use a bunch of home games and chances to pile up some needed victories. That's where Week 3 comes in, as every league team is at home and should be favored.
Here's a sneak preview of what's on tap this Saturday (all times ET):
No. 20 Notre Dame (2-0) at No. 10 Michigan State (2-0), 8 p.m., ABC: This will be the showcase game for the league this week, and the last time these two teams met at night in East Lansing, this happened. Michigan State is the clear leader in the clubhouse right now for the title of the Big Ten's best team, and it needs to come through here.
California (1-1) at No. 12 Ohio State (2-0), Noon, ABC: The Golden Bears have struggled on defense, giving up exactly 31 points to their first two opponents (Nevada and Southern Utah). Not they have to cross three time zones and play at 9 a.m. Pacific time. If the Big Ten can't get a win over the Pac-12 in this scenario, things are worse than we thought.
Boston College (1-1) at Northwestern (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network: If Northwestern can start off 3-0 against Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College, that will be a solid accomplishment. The Wildcats defense played well on Saturday and will need another good effort against an improved BC offense that has put up more than 30 points in each of its first two games.
Navy (0-1) at Penn State (0-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2: The Nittany Lions desperately need a win here no matter how it's done. Navy hasn't played since getting drubbed in Dublin by Notre Dame. The option attack meets a Penn State defense whose main weakness so far has been stopping the pass.
Utah State (2-0) at Wisconsin (1-1), 8 p.m., BTN: I figured one of these teams would be coming off a Pac-12 win. Just didn't think it would be Utah State, which stunned Utah on Saturday. The Aggies have more momentum than the suddenly stalled Badgers, but Camp Randall Stadium should help.
Northern Iowa (1-1) at Iowa (1-1), 3:30 p.m. BTN: The Hawkeyes are a play or two away from being 0-2 or 2-0. They're not good enough to get separation from many teams right now, and Northern Iowa showed in its opening performance against Wisconsin that it is not to be taken lightly.
Western Michigan (1-1) at Minnesota (2-0), Noon, BTN: Can the Gophers get to 3-0? It would make for a great story. Western Michigan tries again for a Big Ten win after falling at Illinois in Week 1.
Arkansas State (1-1) at Nebraska (1-1), Noon, ESPN2: The bruised and battered Cornhuskers defense now must try and stop a Gus Malzahn offense. Arkansas State got bloodied on the road by Oregon but came back to beat Memphis in Week 2. Could be interesting.
Ball State (1-1) at Indiana (2-0), 8 p.m., BTN: Indiana will look to triple its win total from last year and get some real momentum going at home. But this won't be easy, as Ball State beat the Hoosiers last year and have a strong offense, led by a rushing game averaging 290 yards per game.
UMass (0-2) at No. 17 Michigan (1-1), 3:30 p.m., BTN: The Minutemen have been outscored 82-6 in their first two games as a FBS member, losing to UConn and Indiana. Michigan can pretty much name its score here, and if Denard Robinson plays much beyond midway through the third quarter, it will be an upset.
Eastern Michigan (0-2) at Purdue (1-1), Noon, BTN: The Boilermakers can take out some of their frustrations over the Notre Dame loss against this winless MAC squad. Things don't get any easier for former Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English, who has to take his EMU team against Michigan State next week.
Charleston Southern (0-2) at Illinois (1-1), Noon, BTN: Remember when we said the league needed some chances at victories? They don't come better than this. Charleston Southern was 0-11 in the FCS last year and was outscored 80-24 by Jacksonville State and The Citadel in the first two weeks. This isn't quite as bad as the Savannah State situation, but it's awfully close.
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