LET’S GET IT STARTED
Finally time to kick it off. The first week of the season is always met with anticipation as we finally get to see this year’s edition of Big Ten teams in action under “game” conditions. The first and subsequent weeks prior to conference play are the most difficult to track as there are more games to keep an eye on. Looks like I’ll get to see most according to the TV schedule I have. Only got time for Saturdays so won’t get to stay tuned to the Minnesota, Indiana, or Michigan St. game. One of the downsides of this portion of the season is the mismatches as many teams like to schedule “cupcake” teams at home in order to “tune up” and pad their overall record. And consequently it looks like my TV season will start with a whimper since I don’t have ESPNU and will be shut out of the Purdue-Cincinnati game. That leaves me with three “yawners”; OSU-Buffalo, Wisconsin-UMass, and Illinois-SIU. Well, I guess the Illinois game might actually be competitive, but for the wrong reasons. The afternoon slate does look better, though.
I can’t find any documentation explaining why, but there are a few variations in this season’s scheduling format. Each team will have two “bye” weeks as opposed to just one. This will increase the number of Big Ten College Football Saturdays from thirteen to fourteen. And, unlike recent seasons, some, but not all teams will start conference play before October.
Personally, I don’t care for the changes. Mostly because it convolutes the weekly conference standings- Wisconsin will have played four conference games to Penn St.’s two going into week nine. I also kinda think thirteen weeks is plenty.
The “Crystal Ball” section will be back as an integral component of this season’s posts. Unlike last season, when only conference game predictions qualified, I will be including all “Crystal Ball” predictions in the ATS portion of this blog. I have 72 games scheduled to preview, which includes all conference games, Notre Dame games, the non-conference portion of Michigan, Ohio St., and Illinois’ schedule, and a few games involving teams on Notre Dame’s schedule. I don’t predict any games involving a team that is playing its first game of the season. Therefore, I have no predictions for this Saturday’s games.