|ESPN.com: Big Ten||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Missouri fans, take your shots. I deserve it. I bought into what coach Ron Zook and others were saying about the Illinois defense and overlooked the offensive playmakers on your team. The Illini defensive line should get better and linebacker Martez Wilson still looks legit, but the secondary is a major question mark after Saturday's 52-42 loss.
Despite my misguided pick of Illinois, I'll take a 9-1 record most weeks. Several teams proved they're capable of blowouts, so expect some wider margins in the Week 2 predictions.
It's time to look back.
My pick: Illinois 31, Missouri 30
Game result: Missouri 52, Illinois 42
20-20 hindsight: Juice Williams came through as expected, setting new career passing records and showing his growth in the pocket. But Illinois became one-dimensional after breakdowns on defense and special teams spotted Missouri a 45-20 lead. The defensive line forced the key takeaway I thought it would -- Derek Walker's interception return for a touchdown -- but it didn't do much else.
My pick: Utah 24, Michigan 21
Game result: Utah 25, Michigan 23
20-20 hindsight: I don't expect too many more Nostradamus-like moments, but this one went just as forecasted. Michigan's quarterbacks struggled, Utah's Brian Johnson dominated the game for a stretch and the Wolverines' improved defense kept things close. The Wolverines' early defensive struggles were a bit of a surprise, as were Utah's special-teams breakdowns.
My pick: California 33, Michigan State 28
Game result: California 38, Michigan State 31
20-20 hindsight: As indicated, quarterback Kevin Riley and running back Jahvid Best spelled trouble for a Michigan State defense that still has some questions. The Spartans aren't a clutch team until they prove otherwise, but they had some encouraging signs with wide receiver Mark Dell and running back/return man Javon Ringer.
My pick: Northwestern 34, Syracuse 21
Game result: Northwestern 30, Syracuse 10
20-20 hindsight: Wildcats running back Tyrell Sutton backed up my pick of a strong start, racking up 144 rushing yards in the win. I didn't envision such strong play from Northwestern's defense, which accounted for nine points (interception return for touchdown, safety), but a questionable offensive line stood tall at home.
My pick: Minnesota 30, Northern Illinois 24
Game result: Minnesota 31, Northern Illinois 27
20-20 hindsight: Vegas is calling me. Seriously, though, it didn't take much to see Minnesota would struggle a bit in the opener, and Northern Illinois will be good very soon with Jerry Kill as its coach. Gophers quarterback Adam Weber and wide receiver Eric Decker looked solid, though they hooked up for one fewer touchdown pass than forecasted. A new-look secondary allowed several big pass plays.
OHIO STATE-YOUNGSTOWN STATE
My pick: Ohio State 41, Youngstown State 10
Game result: Ohio State 43, Youngstown State 0
20-20 hindsight: I didn't give the Buckeyes' defense enough credit. They didn't let Youngstown State cross midfield until the game's final play. Ohio State's scoring production went about as expected with plenty of personnel involved in the rout, including freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
My pick: Wisconsin 31, Akron 17
Game result: Wisconsin 38, Akron 17
20-20 hindsight: Not surprisingly, Badgers running back P.J. Hill came through, racking up 210 rushing yards in the win. Some red-zone breakdowns and injuries on defense are causes for concern going forward, but Wisconsin should be able to overpower several of its opponents this season.
My pick: Iowa 24, Maine 13
Game result: Iowa 46, Maine 3
20-20 hindsight: Fears about the Iowa offense prompted a conservative pick, but those quickly vanished as Shonn Greene, freshman Jewel Hampton and others sparked an impressive rushing attack. The quarterback situation is unsettled in Iowa City, but the team has playmakers on both sides of the ball.
PENN STATE-COASTAL CAROLINA
My pick: Penn State 33, Coastal Carolina 14
Game result: Penn State 66, Coastal Carolina 10
20-20 hindsight: Swing and a miss here. I thought Daryll Clark and the Spread HD offense would take some time to get going, but there are a ton of playmakers on that side of the ball and all showed up against a very weak opponent. Things will get tougher for the Lions this week against Oregon State, but an impressive start.
My pick: Indiana 31, Western Kentucky 17
Game result: Indiana 31, Western Kentucky 13
20-20 hindsight: Kellen Lewis came through as expected, breaking off two long touchdown runs and throwing for two more scores in the win. The defense didn't miss star pass rusher Greg Middleton, as fellow defensive end Jammie Kirlew collected two sacks.
Season record: 9-1