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The Pants Predicts: 2017 Week 1 Big Ten Conference Games

There are a lot of bad games going on this week. Also some good ones!

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Northwestern vs Pittsburgh William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports


Tonight, there are real live football games. None of that Colorado State vs. Oregon State stuff you were peddled last week. We have a Big Ten football game in primetime and we’re pretty excited for it.

Along with football season’s return is the return of our predictions for Big Ten Football. At season’s end, we’ve decided this year the person who finishes in last place has to watch and document a terrible, awful game. Ideas we have so far? The 2008 Sun Bowl and the 2016 Rose Bowl. Leave your suggestions in the comments to make this as painful an experience as possible.

We have a whopping 13 games this weekend and we do some sort of predictions for all of them. Here are our picks. Some of us didn’t make picks and are many steps closer to documenting one horrible college game.

Iowa v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Wyoming at Iowa - 11 a.m. Sat, BTN

Max Brekke: I’m on the record of saying that I think Iowa is going to win this one about 35-21, but I could see it ending up a lot closer than that. I think the running backs will combine for three TDs and Stanley will throw for one, but I’m hoping Iowa can get a late score to create some breathing room. Final prediction is that the Hawks don’t cover: Iowa 30, Wyoming 21.

BoilerHawk: As much as I want to be the rude guy on the Hawkeye blog, I can't pick against them juuust yet. It's a tight one for 3 quarters but after an Allen TD to bring it to a point at 14-13, Wadley takes a kickoff back to the house. Another late TD makes Kirk sweat an onside kick. Iowa 28 - Wyoming 20

JP Scott: I like Iowa to keep the high-powered Wyoming offense off the field with a successful rushing attack. The end result is a relatively low-scoring shootout as far as college football goes. Hawks win 27-24.

JPinIC: I’m so torn on this one. On the one hand, Josh Allen appears to be the real deal. He’s the kind of player who could really torch the Iowa defense. That doesn’t sound great and given KF’s track record in games like this (double digit favorites at home), I want to say things get real messy, real quick.

But on the other hand, everything I’ve seen about this Wyoming team leads me to believe Josh Allen’s draft stock may take a massive hit this year. They’ve lost a ton from their receiving group and their top RB from last season. Add to that a defense resembling some form of Swiss cheese and I feel like we could see BF pound the rock with Wadley. Then pound it with Butler. Then pound it with Young. Then pound it with Wadley and Butler. Until there is nothing left of that Wyoming defense.

I expect the Hawkeyes to break off some big plays without needing to get too creative. I don’t think Stanley will be asked to do too much. And I think this one starts to feel like it’s slipping away from Wyoming early in the second half. I think the Hawkeyes get out to a big lead, say 31-10, before Wyoming start chucking the rock to make it a little more interesting. But in the end, the Hawkeyes overpower the Cowboys and come away with a 45-20 victory.

Hello Jerry: I am officially on the (audio) record with Iowa winning 35-17 in this week’s The Pants Party (If you haven’t subscribed and downloaded it on your favorite podcast listening app yet, what are you waiting for?) and I’m sticking to it. I think the Iowa offense is going to be able to control the clock and field position battle with Akrum Wadley running full force behind one of the best offensive lines from top to bottom in school history Josh Allen gets a couple dirty touchdowns late to make this closer to people that aren’t paying attention, but Iowa has full control from the opening kick.

Matt: 21-17, Iowa. It’s the first game of the season and I think all three of these Iowa touchdowns will come at the hands of BUTWAD and the handOFFs of Nathan Stanley. Josh Allen will still get some puts on the board, but it won’t be enough, thanks to a late Akrum Wadley TD. A too-close-for-comfort game where we see Nathan Stanley struggle to get into rhythm early, but steadily improve as the game goes on.

Ben: Iowa runs it down their throats. 250 yards of rushing, at least. Iowa 35, Wyoming 17.

Jordan: Hawkeyes get the job done, but it’s closer than it should. “Call me Nate Stanley” throws a pick on the first drive, launching a full-blown QB controversy for the next three weeks. Oh and someone critical gets injured early in the first quarter.

National Funding Holiday Bowl - Minnesota v Washington State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Buffalo at Minnesota - 6 p.m. Thurs, BTN

Max: Minnesota could be pretty good this year and I think will actually be in the 7-5 range with PJ Fleck at the helm. The first game, however, could be a bit of a letdown while they break in their replacement for NFL-caliber QB Mitchell Leidner. Minnesota 21, Buffalo 14.

Boiler: Did you know Ski-U-Mah is Fleckian for Row the Boat? Minnesota 20 - Buffalo 10

JP Scott: Steven Richardson dominates the trenches for the Gophers en route to a 45-10 win in Fleck’s Minnesota debut.

JPinIC: I want to see PJ Fleck fall flat on his face out of the gate sooooooo bad. It would make my month if Minnesota came out flat, lost an oar and dropped the opener to Buffalo. But I just don’t see it happening. 24-10 Minnesota. PJ gets his W, Jerry loses his money. Sigh.

Hello Jerry: After talking with JP Scott this week, I’m convinced that Minnesota is going to be very, very scary in Flecktones first year at the helm. I’m so convinced that I have already shelled out a few sheckles in a teaser on Minnesota covering -15.5. Row the canoe.

Matt: 28-14, Minnesota. Does Minnesota even have a QB? I don’t know how they’ll score this many points! But Buffalo is bad, right?

Ben: Buffalo keeps it close because Minnesota doesn’t have a QB, but the talent disparity is too much to handle. I don’t care what the score is.

Jordan: Minnesota wins by a lot. Someone writes a “after one game, Fleck has already proven what he has what it takes to get the Gophers contending for a Big Ten West Title — and maybe even more” story.

Ohio State v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

#2 Ohio State at Indiana - 7 p.m. Thurs, ESPN

Max: This one is gonna get ugly and it’s gonna get ugly fast. Experienced Ohio State team, meet underachieving Indiana team. Some late scores make this look closer than it was. Ohio State 45, Indiana 20.

Boiler: Kevin Wilson takes vengeance on the school which sent him packing a couple hundred miles east. OSU 63 - Indiana 14

JP Scott: This one is closer than the experts think, sort of like a football version of Mayweather vs. McGregor. Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow has his national coming out party in a losing effort. Buckeyes win 48-37.

JPinIC: Ohio State - really good at football. Indiana - pretty good at offensive football. Thursday night game. Gimme tOSU 49, Indiana 17.

Hello Jerry: I’m with Boiler. I’m not sure I buy into the “Kevin Wilson revenge game” theory, but I think Ohio State will want to come out of the gates and want to make a statement. Ohio State… (pencil in hand and pointing at JP Scott) BIG!

Matt: 48-13, OSU. I would love to see Indiana play Iowa State some year in a battle of who plays less defense. I’ll actually be in Bloomington this weekend visiting a Hawkeye-turned-Hoosier, and will report back on the mood from campus (Hint: they’ll all say ‘We’re just waiting for basketball season).

Ben: OSU a million, Indiana close to nothing.

Jordan: Indiana has 12 wins all-time against Ohio State. Five them happened before 1938.

Rutgers v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

#8 Washington at rutger - 7 p.m. Friday, FS1

Max: rutger is going to be crushed into oblivion, although I don’t think Washington will be as good as last year. Huskies 42, rutger 14.

Boiler: PRIME TIME. Which means Washington’s collective internal clock isn't set to 8:00 AM. Washington 35 - Rutgers 0

JP Scott: Washington isn’t getting enough credit heading into the season. Blowing out Rutgers won’t change that much, but it’ll happen anyway. Huskies win 56-6.

JPinIC: The guys at BTN told me Rutgers is much improved and on the upswing. Everyone at Rutgers said the same thing. They’re all a bunch of liars. Washington 45, Rutgers 10. I don’t know that they get to 10.

Hello Jerry: LOLZ. Are we seriously picking this one?

Matt: 66-7, Washington. It should be illegal to watch Rutgers play football.

Ben: See my score prediction from OSU-Indiana above.

Jordan: Why is Washington playing Rutgers?

81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Western Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Utah State at #9 Wisconsin - 7 p.m. Friday, ESPN

Max: I don’t think Wisconsin is good enough to be the #9 team in the country, but I also don’t think Utah State is going to be any good. Hornibrook throws four touchdowns. Wisco 38, Utah State 9.

Boiler: Friday games can kick rocks. Wisconsin 42 - Utah State 21

JP Scott: I’m not buying the Badgers just yet. They struggle in this one, winning 27-21.

JPinIC: I have some doubts about Wisconsin this season. But despite my allegiance to Utah State from my NCAA ‘09 days, I don’t see a team coming off a 3-9 season putting a huge scare into the Badgers. Hope I’m wrong. Wisconsin 31, Utah State 6.

Matt: 31-24 Wisconsin - Little known fact: Wisconsin students don’t show up to games until the third quarter. They suck.

Hello Jerry: To me, this season for Wisconsin is all about what Alex Hornibrook (shouts to Malvern Prep) is able to do in third and manageable situations and in the redzone. He had nine touchdowns and seven interceptions and a 58% completion percentage last season with a major tendency to let the ball float (THEY ALL FLOAT). Wisconsin is going to be able to run behind a massive offensive line and their defense is going to be stout. Can Hornibrook take the next step? I’m excited to see. Bucky 31-Utah State 17

Ben: Eh.

Jordan: Wisco by a lot.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Akron at #6 Penn State - 11 a.m. Sat, ABC

Max: Penn State is going to win by a hundred, probably, but I’ll give Akron the benefit of the doubt. Penn State 70, Akron 3.

Boiler: Does the Joe Moorhead magic wear off? Not yet and he continues to be their “Angel.”. Penn State 42 - Iowa State Victors 21

JP Scott: Akron is just a speed bump on the road to the College Football Playoff for Penn State. Saquon Barkley tops 250 yards on the ground. Nittany Lions win 48-6.

JPinIC: Saquan Barkley is amazing. Akron is not. Gimme PSU 52, Barkley 21, Akron 10.

Matt: 52-10, Penn State - Have you seen Saquon Barkley?

Hello Jerry: I always read “Akron” as “Akon” every time I see it for the first time every season. It’s one of the many signs that football is back. That’s the extent of my Akron knowledge. Penn State 52-13

Ben: Nah.

Jordan: Penn State might actually score 3 million points in this game.

Texas v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Maryland at #23 Texas - 11 a.m. Sat, FS1

Max: I’m not sold on Maryland yet this year, but I do think they’ll be pretty good. Texas struggles with Tyrone Pigrone’s ability to run, but his inability to pass dooms Maryland. Texas 31, Maryland 24.

Boiler: Texas is 23, why? Maryland 24 - Texas … 23

JP Scott: Look for a huge game from Ty Johnson on the ground, thanks to the Terp defense giving him and the rest of Maryland’s offense plenty of opportunities. Maryland wins 34-24

JPinIC: Texas may be OK this year. I don’t know. What I do know is they sure as hell aren’t the 23rd bes tteam in the country at this moment in time. Maryland isn’t either, but they’ll be there to show the world Texas is closer to 53 than 23. Maryland 27, Texas 24

Matt: 14-10, Texas. I have a feeling this game is going to be like midseason Big Ten football: awful. Maryland is bad and Tom Herman would prefer the Longhorns to play good ball in November, not September, so I think they’ll struggle, but take care of business, against Maryland.

Hello Jerry: I love Texas. I love Tom Herman. I love the changes he’s made to the program. I think Maryland’s uniforms are trash. Hook ‘em, 24-21

Ben: Hey, this is kind of a real game. I’m taking Maryland! Score, again, is irrelevant.

Jordan: Why is Texas ranked?

Illinois v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ball State at Illinois - 11 a.m. Sat, BTN

Max: Lovie Smith is never going to do anything at Illinois. Ball State 7, Illinois 0.

Boiler: It already feels like Lovie Smith has been coaching in Champaign-Urbana for my whole life and yet it's just year two. Ball State 21 - Illinois 17

JP Scott: I think Lovie surprises some people this year. I like the Illinois to win this one soundly, 27-13.

JPinIC: Gross. Just gross. This will be absolutely terrible to watch. So don’t. Illinois 17, Ball State 13.

Matt: I refuse to predict a winner of this game.

Hello Jerry: Lovie Smith, the guy Bears fans couldn’t wait to get out of town turned the guy they would’ve done anything to get back into blue and orange after Marc Trestman. I suppose some of those fans got their wish? As a Lovie believer, I trust him to turn this ship around (especially on the defensive side of the ball). You can’t turn around a ship if you lose to Ball State at home on opening weekend. Illinois 24-10

Ben: #ImWithMatt

Jordan: The True Lovie Smith Era Begins With This Game.

Michigan State v Penn State Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Bowling Green at Michigan State - 11 a.m. Sat, ESPNU

Max: Michigan State might not be better this year. They still won’t lose to Bowling Green. MSU 24, Bowling Green 10.

Boiler: I think Michigan State is going through a crisis of character a la Iowa in 2005-2007. Ferentz overcorrected but it's still yielded a fruitful 10 years. Will Dantonio follow a similar path? Michigan State 21 - Bowling Green 7

JP Scott: I honestly think there’s an outside shot that this is the only game the Spartans win. 31-13 Michigan State.

JPinIC: I think MSU is in a really bad place right now. This could be another long season for Dantonio, but I still think they out-physical Bowling Green here. MSU 35, Bowling Green 17.

Matt: I have no clue how good or bad Michigan State will be this season (I’m thinking good, though) so I sold my prediction to my friend John, an MSU lifer, who had this to say:

“24-14, MSU. MSU plays bully ball at the line of scrimmage on defense and does a decent job setting up the play action. Front seven wins it for Sparty and it’s never really close.”

Thanks John!

Hello Jerry (via Kirk Ferentz probably): What can you say about Dantonio that hasn’t been said before? He’s a strong coach. Great leader of men. Has turned a lot of NFL talent and had some successful seasons. He’s got a plan and that plan will be executed… by everyone in the NCAA. Snort The Spartans. Bowling Green 17-14

Ben: Max you picked a bunch of shitty games.

Jordan: I hope Michigan State loses. They won’t.

Outback Bowl - South Carolina v Michigan Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

#11 Michigan vs #17 Florida (Arlington, TX) - 2:30 p.m. Sat, ABC

Max: Florida has a lot of players suspended during week one, in case you didn’t hear. Michigan probably won’t be as good as they were in 2016. Michigan still wins and the experts predict that Jabrill Peppers has four interceptions in this one. Michigan 31, Florida 17.

Boiler: I think I embrace Michigan so much because I know Kinnick Stadium occupies the six inches between Harbaugh’s ears better than Harbaugh occupies Jim McElwain’s brain with the most petty game of chicken since Harbaugh did this last year. The quest to 12-0 begins in JerryWorld. Michigan 28 - Florida 21

JP Scott: Even with the Florida suspensions, I feel like the Gators are the more mature team coming into this one. A young Michigan squad will play tough and keep it close, but the Gators win 30-27.

JPinIC: I think Michigan could have some slips this year and I’m not on the Harbaugh bandwagon, but I think they get this one early and for the sake of the conference’s perception vs. the “vaunted” SEC I hope they do. Michigan 38, Florida 27.

Matt: 27-17, Michigan. Did you guys know that Florida has a 27-year opening game win streak? Jim Harbaugh sure does. He probably puts a little sticky note with that fact on the bottom of his milk jug every day as a reminder, and motivation to beat Florida. Add on the suspensions and you have a Wolverine victory.

Ben: Oh my God, Michigan is going to destroy Florida.

Hello Jerry: I live in Orlando. I am surrounded by insufferable Gator and Seminole fans. One of those teams is amped up and ready for the season to start. They have high hopes despite the team they have to play. The other one’s been clinching their assholes so tight that Gainesville might turn out to be the diamond capital of the entire country. And it has been that way since June. The Fighting Harbaugh’s 45-24.

Jordan: Florida is missing 10 players. finally got Michigan’s roster. Journalism is the real winner here.

NCAA Football: Nevada at UNLV Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada at Northwestern - 2:30 p.m. Sat, BTN

Max: Northwestern is probably going to get three rushing touchdowns for the ‘Cats. James Butler will have none for Nevada. Sad face. Northwestern 26, Nevada 10.

Boiler: I’d like Nevada’s chances better if they still had James Butler even though I only know of him because he transferred from Reno. Northwestern 30 - Nevada 21

JP Scott: A lot of people are sleeping on Northwestern. Their secondary might be elite. They stifle a weaker Nevada squad 38-10.

JPinIC: Listen, I know there is some hype for this Northwestern team potentially winning the Big Ten West, but NEvada has a REALLY talented RB most of you have probably never heard of. Look for James Butler to make his presence felt and potentially keep the Wolfpack in this one late. Oh wait, nevermind, he’s a Hawkeye now. jNW 35, Nevada 13.

Matt: 21-14, Northwestern. There are too many people who contribute to this site that think Northwestern will be good and I think that's stupid.

Hello Jerry: #NEVERjNW

Ben: The ghost of James Butler haunts jNW.

Jordan: The Northwestern hype dies down with an embarrassing loss to Nevada. Some Northwestern journo grad writes a “Is Pat Fitzgerald ACTUALLY worth keeping around?” 10,000 word thinkpiece.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Louisiana State vs Louisville Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

#16 Louisville vs Purdue (Indianapolis, IN) - 6:30 p.m. Sat, FOX

Max: Purdue will probably be as bad as they were last year, but not worse. Lamar Jackson is going to run circles around the Boilermakers. Louisville 61, Purdue 34.

Boiler: As much as I'd love to select the Bounce Back Boilers, it's tough for me to pull the trigger against the reigning Heisman champion. I could go on about how Lamar Jackson’s stats were inflated against vastly inferior competition, but at this point, that's what Purdue is. Louisville 49 - Purdue 31

JP Scott: I don’t know that Purdue is ready for this track meet. I like Lousiville 45-20.

JPinIC: Purdue has a new coach who apparently likes to score points. Lots and lots of points. Can he stop other teams from doing that? We’ll see. Just not this week. Louisville 52, Purdue 42.

Matt: 34-10, Louisville. Lamar Jackson.

An aside: I went to West Lafayette once while covering Iowa football and ate pizza from a place called The Mad Mushroom. Do not make the same mistake I did.

Hello Jerry: BAHAHAHAHA. Why is Lamar Jackson having to start his Heisman Trophy defense AT Purdue? That’s like Andy Dufresne having to live his life out of prison in Indiana and not in Acapulco. Hope everyone in West Lafayette enjoys the one game they’ll go to this season!

Ben: Louisville.

Jordan: This is the only time Purdue will ever see the inside of Lucas Oil.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas State at Nebraska - 7 p.m. Sat, BTN

Max: Nebraska and it won’t even be close. Huskers 42, Arksansas State 13.

Boiler: It's September so the weather will be just fine for West Coast Riley’s offense. They'll need every point as Diaco’s defense won't have found its footing. Nebraska 42 - Arkansas State 35

JP Scott: Arkansas State is not a team you want to overlook. I know Riley and his players know that, but it will be interesting to watch the Husker fans react to a game that will be closer than they thought it should have been. Nebraska wins 31-21.

JPinIC: Like the Flecktones, I would love to see Ned Flanders and Co. fall flat on their face in game one here, if for no other reason than to see the pandemonium in that fanbase. But alas, I don’t see it happening. Nebraska 35, Arkansas State 24.

Hello Jerry: WOW! JPinIC, my FFF partner in crime just coming in hot and stealing my jokes like Nebraska tries to steal recruits from Iowa with “NFL” pipeline pitches. Unreal.

Matt: 31, 20 Nebraska. The matchup we’ve all been waiting for!

Ben: I’m out.

Jordan: I have a 2009 Iowa poster in my room. Did you know Iowa only beat the Red Wolves by three points that year? Weird. Go Red Wolves though.