This is the weakest week of college football games I can remember in a long time — only one game matching ranked opponents (Arizona State vs. Stanford) — and the Big Ten is a big contributor to the lackluster slate.
Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State play FCS opponents. The Buckeyes are favored by a mere 60 points over Florida A&M.
Iowa hosts winless Western Michigan, which is making a futile bid for Big Ten membership by playing a league school for the third time in four weeks. We'll give Indiana credit for at least scheduling a fellow BCS conference foe (Missouri).
Michigan State earns its spot on ABC by going to Notre Dame. But Michigan makes ABC's prime-time regional lineup on its name only. The opponent — 0-2 Connecticut — isn't a contributor.
Also, the Big Ten begins conference play with Purdue at Wisconsin, which is where I'll be.
Someday, this league must figure out how to sprinkle conference games throughout September and avoid the ghastly gap in good matchups the first month.
At Nebraska, any game is welcome after a week of drama over coach Bo Pelini's tit for tat with Husker quarterback legend Tommie Frazier and the release of a damning audio bashing NU fans.
As much as folks might like to think this is over, it's not. Far from it.
Read the words issued Wednesday and they come across more as a ceasefire than an end to hostilities. Nowhere in those stilted statements did it say “we're very happy Bo is our coach'' or “we look forward to him coaching here for a long time.''
Pelini's fate, as with all coaches at this level, will come down to winning and losing and how you play the game.
The how-you-play-the-game part is what has Husker fans as exercised as anything.
The code around here for a long time has been that the majority of the fan base will support any Husker program that “looks like it is coached'' and “acts like it cares.'' The football team has fallen short in both categories too often the past couple of seasons.
Effort shouldn't be a problem Saturday. If the Huskers don't hustle for their coaches in this game, when will they?
My pick: Nebraska 35, South Dakota State 7.
Other Big Ten games
Purdue (1-2) at No. 24 Wisconsin (2-1), 2:30 p.m., ABC: Purdue got some momentum last week by taking Notre Dame deep into the fourth quarter. Wisconsin got royally ripped off by the refereeing in a 32-30 loss at Arizona State. The outcome here will hinge on the Badgers either pouting or taking out their anger on the Boilermakers. Wisconsin 34, Purdue 13
Western Michigan (0-3) at Iowa (2-1), 11 a.m., BTN: Iowa has found some offensive rhythm by riding tailback Mark Weisman like a rented mule. That's not criticism. It's nice to see the Hawkeyes stick with something that works. Iowa 24, Western Michigan 13
No. 15 Michigan (3-0) at Connecticut (0-2), 7 p.m., ABC (not in Omaha): This looks like an easy night for the Wolverines. But after last week's near disaster against Akron, UM had better be on task for every game. Michigan 28, UConn 9
Michigan State (3-0) at No. 22 Notre Dame (2-1), 2:30 p.m., ABC: The offensive wave taking over college football won't be evident here. I see seven field goals and a safety. Notre Dame 12, Michigan State 11
Maine (3-0) at No. 18 Northwestern (3-0), 2:30 p.m., BTN: The Wildcats have scored 44, 48 and 38 points in their first three games. Another 30-pointer is expected here. Northwestern 35, Maine 14
Florida A&M (1-2) at No. 4 Ohio State (3-0), 11 a.m., BTN: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is threatening to play QB Braxton Miller (sprained MCL). Why? Ohio State 70, Florida A&M 7
Kent State (1-2) at Penn State (2-1), 2:30 p.m., BTN: The Nittany Lions fell at home last week when their defense couldn't control a hot quarterback. This game should go much smoother. Penn State 27, Kent State 10
Missouri (2-0) at Indiana (2-1), 7 p.m., BTN: This could last all night with these two offenses. Indiana 49, Missouri 42
San Jose State (1-1) at Minnesota (3-0), 11 a.m., ESPN2: Minnesota starting QB Philip Nelson is slowed by a bad hamstring. San Jose has a probable NFL draft pick in QB David Fales. I smell an upset. San Jose State 27, Minnesota 21