WARR writer Kevin Luchansky normally writes about baseball for WARR.com., this college football season he expands his reach by writing on another passion of his — college football, in particular the Big Ten.
While I don’t care much for either program, I’m really sad to this Michigan-Notre Dame series ending tomorrow. And it should be said, based on how well these teams match up — and a point spread indicating we are in for tight game — I don’t know if the series could potentially end on a higher note.
Michigan should roll into South Bend feeling pretty confident after trouncing Appalachian State in Week 1, 52-14. It wasn’t your typical quality Appalachian State team last week, but the Wolverine offense, led by the heroics of wide receiver Devin Funchess, looked like well-oiled machine in the Big House. Funchess, the 6’5 junior out of Farmington Mills, Michigan, looked like a man among boys, hauling in seven catches for 95 yards and three touchdowns in his first game wearing the hallowed #1 jersey.
They face a Notre Dame team that had no problem putting away a weaker Rice team in its opener, beating the Owls 48-17 at home in South Bend. Fresh off his year-long suspension, the Irish were lead by quarterback Everett Golson, who looked poised and more physically mature than when I last saw him against Alabama in the 2013 National Championship game.
It’s tough to make a prediction on this one, both offenses have a handful of weapons and match up fairly evenly, so I believe the deciding factor in this game should be the defense, with turnover margin possibly playing a huge factor to that end — Michigan 24, Notre Dame 20.
The weekend’s best matchup is one many have been eyeing on the calendar all summer as defending Big Ten champion Michigan State heads to Autzen Stadium to take on Oregon Saturday night. The expected temperature could exceed 95 degrees, if it is anywhere in that vicinity, no doubt the endurance and conditioning of each team will come into play.
Pitting one of the nation’s most talked about defenses in MSU against one of the most versatile, high-speed offenses in Oregon, the Spartans are built to stop whatever style of offense is thrown at them, but how will they handle quick, package-set plays and the overall speed of the Ducks? Last season, the Spartans just faced one team with this style of play, my beloved Indiana Hoosiers. The Spartans grabbed a victory in that contest, but IU showed they could move the ball and score, putting up 28 against that vaunted Sparty D.
I know it’s early, but this game could have major implications in the Pac-12, the Big Ten and the National Championship hunt. You could say it’s pretty big for a September 6th showdown. In the end, I think Oregon’s speed is too much in this one — Oregon 35, MSU 24.
Ohio State-Virginia Tech
The third marquee game (using the term a bit lightly here) featuring a Big Ten team this weekend pits the Buckeyes against the visiting Virginia Tech Hokies in primetime. Tech knocked off William & Mary last weekend by a score of 34-9, which really tells us little about a squad that returns 12 of 22 starters from both sides of the ball.
One thing is for sure, though — a Hokie squad like the one who consistently competed with Miami for ACC Championships from 2000-2010 is not what we’re going to see this week, though they’ve fallen off the elite pedestal, they’re still a talented squad.
We do know that last week Ohio State and its touted defensive line were pushed to the brink before eventually sealing the deal in the fourth quarter against Navy, winning 34-17 thanks to 14 unanswered fourth quarter points. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, in place of Braxton Miller, who was lost for the season, held his own, completing 12 of 15 passes for 226 yards, two scores and one red zone interception. I dont know enough about Barrett to know if he can put the team on his back and win games, but I think he’s certainly talented enough to not lose games.
I think the Buckeyes take care of business in their home opener, with their defensive front seven being too much for the Hokies to handle in a hostile environment — OSU 31, VT 14.
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