Big Ten Week 3 Predictions

Predictions for every Big Ten game.

The Big Ten took the spotlight last Saturday, as Michigan State-Oregon was the must-see matchup from Week 2. This weekend’s slate doesn’t have a marquee top-10 contest, but there’s plenty of intriguing games around the conference. Nebraska-Miami features two programs with plenty of history, but neither enters this matchup ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Rutgers-Penn State, Northwestern-Duke and North Carolina-Illinois are some of the top games to watch in Week 3.

 

Athlon Sports offers its Big Ten Week 3 predictions from three editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

Big Ten Week 3 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Nebraska at Miami

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2

 

David Fox:

The Huskers are trying to find consistency on offense, but the emergence of Terrell Newby, who rushed for 198 yards and accounted for three touchdowns against South Alabama last week, is encouraging. Miami is also trying to figure out how to consistently move the ball. The team that avoids stalled drives will have the upper hand.

Nebraska 28–21

 

Braden Gall:

I have no good feel about this game but like the other Big Ten-ACC tilts this weekend, I like the home team. Joe Yearby and Brad Kaaya are forming a nice 1-2 offensive punch and Nebraska is still trying to find itself.

Miami 40-30

 

Steven Lassan:

Not sure what to expect in this game, as these two teams seem relatively even. Miami’s defense was shaky in the first half against FAU, but the Hurricanes allowed only three points in the final two quarters. Quarterback Brad Kaaya and running back Joseph Yearby is an explosive combination for Miami’s offense. Nebraska’s secondary has allowed 300 yards passing in back-to-back games and will be tested once again on Saturday. The Cornhuskers are going to score their share of points behind quarterback Tommy Armstrong and running back Terrell Newby (198 yards last week). This one is a toss-up.

Miami 38-34

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



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Related: 10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2

 

2. Pittsburgh at Iowa

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

Defensive end Drew Ott (arm) and running back LeShun Daniels Jr. (ankle) are iffy with “fairly significant injuries.” Iowa hopes both will be back Saturday. Pitt has its own injury concerns, with running back James Conner out for the season. Pitt plans on rotating its quarterbacks without the security of Conner running the ball.

Iowa 24–14

 

Braden Gall:

Iowa clearly made the right choice at quarterback with C.J. Beathard. This team has looked good in two easy wins — one on the road against an archrival. Pitt has two wins but isn't at full strength and is on the road.

Iowa 31-24

 

Steven Lassan:

Iowa has quietly impressed through the first two weeks of the season, but there’s two potential injury concerns – defensive end Drew Ott and running back LeShun Daniels – for this game. Even though Pittsburgh lost James Conner due to injury, the rushing attack remains strong with Qadree Ollison, Darrin Hall and Chris James. The bigger question for the Panthers – will it be Chad Voytik or Nathan Peterman under center?

Iowa 24-21

 

3. Northwestern at Duke

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

 

David Fox:

Duke’s Thomas Sirk has been a true dual threat, completing 67.7 percent of his passes while leading the Blue Devils in rushing. Northwestern’s pass defense has been stifling, but the Wildcats haven’t faced a team willing to open up its offense.

Northwestern 31–28

 

Braden Gall:

Love this game. Northwestern's defense is really good and Duke is extremely well coached. I'll take the home team.

Duke 30-24

 

Steven Lassan:

Not only is this a quality under-the-radar matchup of the week between two academic powers, it’s also one of the toughest games to predict. Northwestern has a good win over Stanford, while Duke has dominated two overmatched opponents. The Wildcats have the edge on defense, but I think quarterback Thomas Sirk is a rising star for the Blue Devils, and his play in the second half will be the difference in a tight game.

Duke 27-24

 

4. Illinois at North Carolina

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

 

David Fox:

Illinois has defeated two overmatched opponents by a combined score of 96–3. Time to find out if the Illini are legit. Illinois has played standout defense early this season. That unit will be tested on the road against North Carolina’s spread attack.

North Carolina 35–24

 

Braden Gall:

Illinois has been sneaky good behind the play of quarterback Wes Lunt (although, the ground game hasn't been great). North Carolina rebounded with an easy win over N.C. A&T. This is a great offensive matchup and I'll take the home team in a close one.

North Carolina 41-38

 

Steven Lassan:

Expect plenty of fireworks in this game. Both teams are averaging over 30 points per game and are led by solid quarterbacks in Wes Lunt (Illinois) and Marquise Williams (North Carolina). The Tar Heels have improved on defense under new coordinator Gene Chizik, and I think that’s the difference in this game. Lots of points, but North Carolina makes a critical stop or two in the second half.

North Carolina 38-31

 

5. Rutgers at Penn State

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

After giving up 10 sacks to Temple, Penn State allowed none in Week 2. Never mind the game was against Buffalo; that’s reason to celebrate. Meanwhile, Rutgers was minus-3 in turnover margin in a loss at home to a Washington State.

Penn State 21–14

 

Braden Gall:

This is a conference game? Penn State was better in Week 2 and Rutgers laid a big egg against Washington State. I'll take the home team.

Penn State, 24-20

 

Steven Lassan:

Another week and more bad news for Rutgers. Standout receiver Leonte Carroo is suspended after an off-field incident last Saturday, which means the Scarlet Knights will have to rely more on Janarion Grant and a rushing attack averaging 244.5 yards per game. Additionally, coach Kyle Flood is suspended the next three games after an academic investigation. Penn State’s offensive line played better against Buffalo, and the rushing attack showed some signs of life. The Nittany Lions win this one with their defense.

Penn State 27-10

 

6. WKU at Indiana

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPNEWS

 

David Fox:

Indiana’s defense keeps opponents in every game. WKU has a prolific offense, one that might be more pass-heavy with running back Leon Allen out. Get ready for a track meet.

Indiana 52–44

 

Braden Gall:

The over-under on total passing yards in this game might be 1,000 yards. Brandon Doughty and Nate Sudfeld is a fantastic matchup and an upset would give Western Kentucky wins over the SEC, Louisiana Tech and the Big Ten.

Western Kentucky, 45-40

 

Steven Lassan:

If you like offense, this is definitely the game to watch on Saturday. The good folks in Vegas have this projected right around the 70 over/under mark, and both offenses scored over 35 points in Week 2. WKU is one of the top Group of 5 teams this season, but the Hilltoppers lost starting running back Leon Allen to a serious knee injury against Louisiana Tech. While Allen will be missed, quarterback Brandon Doughty is capable of winning this game against a young Indiana secondary. Last team with the ball wins?

Indiana 38-34

 

7. Northern Illinois at Ohio State

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2

 

David Fox:

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was unhappy with his offensive line against Hawaii. The lackluster performance led to a 20-of-34, 181-yard line by the quarterbacks. The defense proved it could carry the day, which is good news against NIU’s offense.

Ohio State 49–20

 

Braden Gall:

NIU is a good team but isn't good enough hang with the mighty Buckeyes.

Ohio State, 45-10

 

Steven Lassan:

After a short turnaround from the Labor Day victory over Virginia Tech, it was no surprise Ohio State was sluggish in its win over Hawaii. Expect a different Buckeyes’ team in Week 3. But Northern Illinois isn’t a pushover, as the Huskies are one of the favorites in the MAC and is 25-6 over the last three years. Northern Illinois hangs around, but Ohio State just has too much talent.

Ohio State 45-17

 

8. Air Force at Michigan State

Kickoff: Noon ET
TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

A week after planning for Oregon, Michigan State’s defensive staff needs to begin work on Air Force. The Falcons don’t run a pure triple option like Georgia Tech or Navy. Instead, they’ll give the Spartans a more complex scheme to consider.

Michigan State 28–13

 

Braden Gall:

Sparty keeps it rolling.

Michigan State, 38-13

 

Steven Lassan:

This is not the ideal matchup for Michigan State a week after playing Oregon. However, the Falcons lost starting quarterback Nate Romine to injury last Saturday, but new starter Karson Roberts is capable of keeping the offense on track. The Spartans might have some trouble early in adjusting to the option offense. However, the talent on Michigan State’s defense eventually takes over, and the one-two punch of LJ Scott and Madre London at running back wears down the Air Force defense.

Michigan State 40-17

 

9. Virginia Tech at Purdue

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Purdue’s Austin Appleby returned from his collapse against Marshall to go 20-of-34 for 289 yards with four TDs against Indiana State. Now, the hope is that facing the Hokies won’t set him back.

Virginia Tech 28–10

 

Braden Gall:

Purdue is better this year but still not good enough to win games like this. Even at home.

Virginia Tech 31-24

 

Steven Lassan:

I was surprised to see this spread at only six points. Purdue is improving, but I don’t think it has the necessary pieces to upset Virginia Tech on Saturday. New starter Brenden Motley played well (16 of 24, 233 yards) against Furman for the Hokies last week, and faces a Purdue defense giving up 161.5 rushing yards per game. Virginia Tech’s defense will be too much for the Boilermakers.

Virginia Tech 31-13

 

10. South Florida at Maryland

Kickoff: Noon ET
TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Losing at home to a MAC team is not a good look for Maryland and coach Randy Edsall. The Bulls won’t challenge the Maryland secondary like Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson did.

Maryland 28–14

 

Braden Gall:

Maryland and Randy Edsall desperately need a win and a home loss to USF might doom him.

Maryland, 34-14

 

Steven Lassan:

Maryland coach Randy Edsall is looking for a spark on offense after last week’s loss to Bowling Green. Caleb Rowe has replaced Perry Hills as the starting quarterback, but the key to the Terrapins’ victory hopes resides with the ground attack. After rushing for 341 yards in the opener, Maryland posted only 156 in Week 2. That has to change this Saturday, especially after USF gave up 278 rushing yards to Florida State. The Bulls are a work in progress on offense, but the defense is good enough to steal this one if Maryland struggles to move the ball.

Maryland 27-20

 

11. UNLV at Michigan

Kickoff: Noon ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

The Wolverines are starting to look like a Jim Harbaugh-coached team, with solid defense and a productive running game. This is a chance for Michigan to further refine that identity.

Michigan 42–7

 

Braden Gall:

Michigan got Jim Harbaugh's first win in impressive defensive fashion last weekend. More defense and more De'Veon Smith.

Michigan, 38-3

 

Steven Lassan:

Michigan’s offense showed some signs of life last week, and the defense dominated Oregon State after giving up a touchdown on the Beavers’ opening drive. The Wolverines should have an easier time this week, as UNLV was crushed by UCLA last Saturday and may be without quarterback Blake Decker.

Michigan 44-7

 

12. Troy at Wisconsin

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

Corey Clement (groin) can’t return fast enough. Wisconsin has rushed for 80 yards in the first half — total, in two games.

Wisconsin 42–7

 

Braden Gall:

Wisconsin rolled big last weekend and will continue to roll.

Wisconsin, 45-17

 

Steven Lassan:

Running back Corey Clement was sidelined due to injury last Saturday, yet Wisconsin easily defeated Miami (Ohio). Expect much of the same for the Badgers in Week 2. Another positive for Wisconsin: Quarterback Joel Stave is off to a good start.

Wisconsin 48-14

 

13. Kent State at Minnesota

Kickoff: Noon ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

If Minnesota is going to have another standout season, the Gophers need Mitch Leidner to build upon his performance late on the road against Colorado State.

Minnesota 35–10

 

Braden Gall:

The Gophers needed some big plays late to leave Fort Collins with a win and should finally be able to roll to an easy win.

Minnesota, 34-10

 

Steven Lassan:

This was probably overlooked by most last week, but Kent State allowed -33 yards in a win over Delaware State. Yes, that’s correct. Minnesota survived Colorado State’s upset bid last Saturday, and the Golden Gophers should have a much easier time against Kent State. Quarterback Mitch Leidner has not thrown an interception in his last five starts for Minnesota.

Minnesota 38-7

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