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Monday, September 5, 2011
Big Ten Week 2 preview

By Brian Bennett

The Big Ten went 10-2 during opening week, outscoring its opponents 393-154 (Sorry, Minnesota and Indiana fans). What does Week 2 have in store? Here's your handy dandy previews to this Saturday's slate of games and storylines (all times ET):

No. 2 Alabama (1-0) at Penn State (1-0), 3:30 p.m. (ABC): My choice for the biggest nonconference game of the season in the Big Ten. Penn State will be playing not only to get itself back to the elite level, but to represent the league against the hated SEC. The Tide won last year's game 24-3 in Tuscaloosa.

No. 16 Notre Dame (0-1) at Michigan (1-0), 8 p.m. (ESPN): That number next to Notre Dame's name won't last much longer. The Irish's mistake-filled home loss to South Florida took some of the luster off this one. But it's still the first night game in the Big House, the "GameDay" crew will still be on hand in Ann Arbor and this rivalry rarely fails to entertain.

Oregon State (0-1) at No. 11 Wisconsin (1-0), Noon (ESPN3.com): This looked like a potential pitfall game until the Beavers got upset by Sacramento State in their opener. Still, the Badgers can't overlook this game.

Toledo (1-0) at No. 18 Ohio State (1-0), Noon (Big Ten Network): The Buckeyes face their second straight in-state MAC team to open the season. But the Rockets are in a different galaxy than Akron and might be the best team in their league.

Fresno State (0-1) at No. 10 Nebraska (1-0), 7.p.m. (BTN): Fresno's anyone, anywhere, any time scheduling philosophy ensures it won't be intimidated by the Sea of Red. The Bulldogs are always capable of an upset, but they could have a tough time against Nebraska's defense.

Florida Atlantic (0-1) at No. 17 Michigan State (1-0), Noon (ESPN3.com): The Spartans will look to improve after a sloppy opening win against Youngstown State. Howard Schnellenberger's Owls are in the midst of an opening three-game schedule that had them getting blown out Saturday at Florida, traveling to East Lansing this week and then going to defending national champion Auburn.

Iowa (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0): Noon (FSN): Get your last Cy-Hawk Trophy jokes in now. The Hawkeyes have won three straight and six of the past eight in this series. Iowa State needed a touchdown in the final minute to squeak past Northern Iowa on Saturday.

Purdue (1-0) at Rice (0-1): 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports): These are the kinds of games Big Ten teams should only play at home. Regardless, Purdue needs to take care of business on the road. The Owls lost 34-9 to Texas on Saturday but trailed only 20-9 after three quarters.

Virginia (1-0) at Indiana (0-1), 7 p.m. (BTN): The Hoosiers hope to avoid starting 0-2 in Kevin Wilson's home debut. Virginia rolled past both William & Mary in its opener.

New Mexico State (0-1) at Minnesota (0-1), 3:30 p.m. (BTN): The Gophers seek to even their record in Jerry Kill's home debut. This should be a good opportunity for a win, as the Aggies finished 2-10 last season and were blown out at home by Ohio in Week 1.

Eastern Illinois (1-0) at Northwestern (1-0), 3:30 p.m. (BTN): Yet another reason Saturday's win against Boston College was big: the Wildcats shouldn't need to rush Dan Persa back for this one against an in-state FCS team.

South Dakota State (1-0) at Illinois (1-0), Noon (BTN): The Illini should enjoy some more home cookin' against this FCS opponent. The Jackrabbits withstood a furious fourth-quarter rally by Southern Utah in Week 1, knocking away a two-point conversion try in the final seconds to win by a point.