Big Ten Football 2012
Big Ten Football Preview - Week 2
New Hampshire at Minnesota
Central Florida at Ohio State
Penn State at Virginia
Purdue at Notre Dame
Indiana at Massachusetts
Air Force at Michigan
Michigan State at Central Michigan
Iowa State at Iowa
Wisconsin at Oregon State
Nebraska at UCLA
Vanderbilt at Northwestern
Illinois at Arizona State
Week two of the Big Ten season doesn't have a single conference game on the docket the way the Southeastern Conference does, but there are plenty of interesting matchups to be found in 12 separate non-conference clashes.
Purdue is a team that's being given a long look in the Leaders Division. Many pundits are cautiously optimistic that the Boilermakers can make their way into the upper part of the division and create a stir in the conference. A bowl victory last season raised hopes that this program can regain the prominence it attained under former coach Joe Tiller, who coached a quarterback you might have heard of: Drew Brees. Current head coach Danny Hope wants to bring Purdue back to that place of primacy, and if he can beat Notre Dame on the road in South Bend, Ind., this weekend, his project will be on schedule if not ahead of it. The Boilermakers will have to deal with Notre Dame's speed on defense. The Fighting Irish looked fast and focused against Navy last week, shutting down the triple option offense and showing no signs of being unprepared for the season. Notre Dame's offense is more of a question mark. The Irish can run the ball well but have not yet proven that they can throw the ball downfield at will. If Purdue's defense can pluck a few interceptions, a Boilermaker upset is within the realm of possibility, but don't expect the Big Ten team to win on Notre Dame's home field.
Iowa barely dug out a one-point win over Northern Illinois in week one. The Hawkeyes now face an Iowa State team that whacked Conference USA contender Tulsa in the season opener. Iowa needs to be able to throw the ball to win; its depth at the running back spot is close to nil at this point. The Cy-Hawk Trophy is up for grabs, and if Iowa can claim it, the Hawkeyes can access a fresh well of confidence following their shaky debut last weekend.
Michigan, following its decisive loss to Alabama, must get back on the beam and host Air Force this weekend. The Wolverines can't allow their humiliation at the hands of the defending national champions to rob them of their will and their focus this week. A victory will restore the sense that Michigan is ready to produce a big year.
Nebraska goes to the West Coast to face UCLA in an attractive national-television showcase. The Bruins, coached by first-year man Jim Mora, Jr., will make their latest attempt to climb the ladder in the Pac-12 Conference, but if Nebraska 's offensive line can perform the way it did in last week's blitzing of Southern Mississippi, the Cornhuskers should not be troubled to any appreciable degree.
Illinois and Northwestern both face significant challenges against Arizona State and Vanderbilt. A loss in either one of those games will make it that much more difficult for the Illini and Wildcats to attain bowl eligibility this season.
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