Saturday, September 15, 2012
Previewing the Big Ten afternoon games
By Brian Bennett
Four more Big Ten games are set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET. Here's a quick preview:
Boston College (1-1) at Northwestern (2-0): The Wildcats seek a 3-0 start, all against BCS AQ opponents. Their defense took a step up last week against Vanderbilt, though head coach Pat Fitzgerald said he wants to see a much more physical effort overall this week. Venric Mark is blossoming into one of the most dangerous all-around weapons in the Big Ten, and Northwestern has successfully managed to rotate quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian to match their respective strengths. Boston College lost 41-32 to Miami in the opener but has shown much better offensive ability than last year's team.
Navy (0-1) at Penn State (0-2): Maybe no team in the country is as hungry for a victory as the Nittany Lions, who lost to Ohio in the opener and dropped a heartbreaker at Virginia last week following a torturous offseason. Penn State's defense will be on the spot here against the Navy option attack, but the passing game is what has caused the Lions trouble so far this year. Kicker Sam Ficken looks to rebound after going just 1-for-5 last week and missing the potential game-winner. Navy has had two weeks to prepare after getting shellacked by Notre Dame in Ireland in Week 1. These two teams haven't played since 1974.
Northern Iowa (1-1) at Iowa (1-1): The Hawkeyes need a win and a good offensive performance after scoring just one touchdown in their first two games. It won't be easy against Northern Iowa, a good FCS team that took Wisconsin to the wire in Week 1. The last time these two met was 2009, when Iowa had to block field-goal attempts on the final two plays of the game to hold on for a one-point victory. It could be just as close this year unless James Vandenberg, Damon Bullock and the Hawkeyes offense find more ways to move the ball and score in the red zone.
UMass (0-2) at No. 17 Michigan (1-1): The Wolverines have opened the season with two difficult tests, against Alabama and Air Force. Here lies the reward. UMass, playing its first full season in the FBS, might well be the worst team in the country at this level, having scored only six points total in blowout losses to UConn and Indiana. Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense should have their way with the Minutemen, and this might be a good time to get Fitz Toussaint untracked.