Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, June 2, 2015
The second weekend is highlighted by Oregon?s trip to Michigan State. And Minnesota?s junket to Colorado State drips with intrigue. We also have a rivalry, with Iowa going to Iowa State in a battle for the Cy-Hawk trophy.
The visit to Ames, Iowa, to play Iowa State never is easy for the Hawkeyes. In fact, the Cyclones have been a burr under Kirk Ferentz?s saddle since he got the job in 1999. How bad has it been? Ferentz is just 7-9 vs. Iowa State.
Maryland needs to be careful with Bowling Green visiting. And Rutgers knows Washington State will be thinking revenge when it treks east after the Scarlet Knights won a close one in Seattle vs. the Cougs last season, 41-38.
Oregon State will arrive in Ann Arbor led by former Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen. This will be the second tough game in a row for the Wolverines, who open at Utah.
Three schools play FCS foes: Illinois (Western Illinois); Northwestern (Eastern Illinois); Purdue (Indiana State). And three MAC teams are on the docket Miami of Ohio (at Wisconsin); BGSU (at Maryland); Buffalo (at Penn State).
Game of the week: All eyes will be on East Lansing when Oregon visits. The Ducks took a 46-27 decision vs. the Spartans last year in Eugene in a game MSU led 27-18 with 10:55 left in the third quarter. From there, Oregon scored four unanswered touchdowns to run away with the game en route to playing for the national championship. MSU was left wondering ?what if? after closing 10-1 with a win vs. Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. The fact the Ducks are replacing QB Marcus Mariota is a big plus for Michigan State. Last year vs. the Spartans, the Heisman winner hit 17-of-28 passes for 318 yards with three touchdowns and no picks and also ran for 42 yards.
Best quarterback matchup: This is a bit off the radar, but the clash between Buffalo?s Joe Licata and Penn State?s Christian Hackenberg will be good. Licata is entering his fourth season as a starter and holds school standards for touchdown tosses with 60. And he is third in completions (543) and fourth in passing yards (6,516). Hackenberg is coming off a rocky sophomore season in which he was sacked a league-high 44 times. He also has just 12 touchdown passes with 15 picks. Still, he teems with talent and will play behind a better line with some skilled wideouts.
Best head coach matchup: Have to go with Oregon?s Mark Helfrich vs. Michigan State?s Mark Dantonio. The Ducks have not skipped a beat since Helfrich assumed command from Chip Kelly, going 24-4 the last two seasons and playing for the national championship last season. Dantonio has the Spartans among the nation?s elite since taking over in 2007. And this could be one of his best teams yet, which is saying a lot for a coach who has won at least 11 games in four of the last five seasons. Michigan State?s only two losses last year were to the teams that played for the national championship: The Ducks and Buckeyes.
Best coordinator matchup: Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino vs. Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker. Mangino is the former coach at Kansas who took the Jayhawks to the Orange Bowl after the 2007 season. Few are as smart and hard-working as Mangino. Parker annually has one of the best-coached units in the Big Ten, a bend-but-don?t break unit that picks its spots to be aggressive.
Upset alert: Going to Colorado State for the second game of the season will be tough for Minnesota. The Rams have one of the better non-Power Five programs in the nation. CSU will be breaking in a new coach, as Jim McElwain left for the Florida job and was replaced by Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Complicating matters for Minnesota is the fact it will be coming off what figures to be a tough, physical opener vs. TCU.
Ranking Week 2 Games
1. Oregon at Michigan State
2. Minnesota at Colorado State
3. Iowa at Iowa State
4. Oregon State at Michigan
5. Bowling Green at Maryland
6. Washington State at Rutgers
7. South Alabama at Nebraska
8. Eastern Illinois at Northwestern
9. Buffalo at Penn State
10. Miami (Ohio) at Wisconsin
11. Hawaii at Ohio State
12. Florida International at Indiana
13. Western Illinois at Illinois
14. Indiana State at Purdue
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.