Howdy, football fans! It’s been a long, crazy off-season. Conference shuffles mean the Big Ten and Big XII are about to get very confusing. Notre Dame continues to insist that the calendar says 1989. At least they’re not USC, which is facing a two year ban from post-season play. Or BYU who just this week hopped on the independent bandwagon. All-in-all, it’s enough to make you ready for the start of football season. Once again, we’ll be looking at the Big Televen, plus Notre Dame and a selection of top-25 matchups. Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s take a look at this week’s games.
Marshall at Ohio State
Doc Holliday’s Herd thunders into Columbus on Thursday evening, and will try to give their coach an unblemished start to his career. Jim Tressel’s nuts come into the season ranked number two, and they’d hate to give that up so quickly. The Bucs have a big trip to Miami scheduled for the following weekend, but Ol’ Sweatervest will keep them focused. Beonard’s loser? Marshall.
Towson at Indiana
The Tigers stalk into Memorial Stadium in the hopes of catching the home team playing a game of basketball. Bill Lynch needs his boys to defend the rock early and often if he wants to keep his job much longer. Fortunately for him, Indiana’s been fairly good at starting the season with a few wins. Beonard’s loser? Towson.
Minnesota at Middle Tennessee
It’s a color clash on Thursday night when Tim Brewster brings his gilded rodents into Murfreesboro to take on the Blue Raiders. The pedagogues are no slouches, winning their last six games on 2009, including the New Orleans Bowl. The groundhogs, meanwhile, haven’t won six in a row since 2003. It hardly feels right picking a Sun Belt Conference team to win against the Big Ten, but there you have it. Beonard’s Loser? Minnesota.
Youngstown State at Penn State
Have you ever seen a Penguin try to fight a Lion? Let me tell you, friends, it’s not a pretty sight. With Bobby Bowden out of the way, JoePa can run up the lifetime wins total without having to worry about any competition, including from the visiting team. Beonard’s Loser? Youngstown State.
Western Michigan at Michigan State
The Broncos start the season by taking a ride into East Lansing to take on the green and white warriors. Soldiers traditionally get along pretty well with horses, but these spear-toters would much rather fight on foot. With a fairly agreeable conference schedule, Mark Dantonio hopes to sneak his way atop the conference standings at the end of the season, and feasting on horse meat is a good way to start. Beonard’s Loser? Western Michigan
Eastern Illinois at Iowa
Unlike Youngstown and Penn States, this matchup favors the avian team. Iowa worked their way into the national championship discussion last season, and you know Kirk Ferentz will have his flock ready. Kinnick Stadium is just no place for kittens. Beonard’s Loser? Eastern Illinois.
Illinois versus Missouri
With the Arch Rivalry scheduled to go on hiatus for a few years, it could be Ron Zook’s last chance to win this contest. Mizzou has gone 5-0 in games played this century and the Chambana tribe ain’t too thrilled about losing again. Unfortunately for the natives, Zook’s squads have been masters of disappointment, and this hunting trip looks to end in disaster. Beonard’s Loser? Illinois.
Purdue at Notre Dame
With a new coach at the altar, the Papal pigskin squad will try once again to bring glory back to the Indiana Vatican. Adjusting to a new system is never easy, though, and the West Lafayette locomotive has already had a year with Danny Hope in the engine. If the conductor can keep from calling a timeout at the end, the train will roll on through. Beonard’s Loser? In an upset, Notre Dame.
Connecticut at Michigan
It’s not often Connecticut is a “must beat” team, but that’s very much the case for RichRod and his Ann Arbor animals. The winningest program in college football can’t be happy with a third straight losing season, and dropping the season opener at home would not be a good start. The Hartford pups fared pretty well in the Big East last year, but playing in the Big House is a different game all together. Beonard’s Loser? In a close one, Connecticut.
Northwestern at Vanderbilt
Robbie Caldwell had better be an expert deep-sea diver, because Vanderbilt currently sits at the bottom of the ocean. His salvage efforts will be hampered by Pat Fitzgerald and the purple kittens. It’s not too often we see the Big Televen and SEC face off, but the Dixie-dwellers would just as soon this game doesn’t happen. By the end of the day, the Evanston felines will be Nashville cats. Beonard’s Loser? Vanderbilt
Wisconsin at UNLV
For the second time in four seasons, the cheese-eaters head for the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip. In 2007, the Badgers only managed to win by 7 points. This year, the game should be a little more one-sided. Bret Bielma wants to come into the game against The Ohio State 6-0, and his boys will steamroll anyone who tries to get in the way. Beonard’s Loser? UNLV.
Well, friends, that’s about all I’ve got time for this week. Stay tuned for next week when we have a whole ‘nother crop of losers.