Spartans host first top 10 matchup since 1966

Published 12:55 am Friday, September 11, 2015

The Associated Press


Some things to watch in the Big Ten during Week 2 of the season:

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GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 7 Oregon at No. 5 Michigan State. This will be the first matchup of Associated Press top-10 teams at Spartan Stadium since 1966. It could be a watershed game for a Michigan State program that is trying, as coach Mark Dantonio says, to “reach higher.” Oregon is among only three teams that have beaten the Spartans in their last 30 games. Michigan State led the Ducks 24-18 at half in Eugene last year and is still kicking itself for surrendering 28 straight points in what turned out to be a 46-27 loss. Marcus Mariota took over that game in the second half, and the Spartans will be facing another QB in Vernon Adams who can make something out of nothing.

BEST MATCHUP: Minnesota’s defense against Colorado State’s offense. The Gophers put up a good fight against TCU Heisman candidate Trevone Boykin. Now they’ll face a Colorado State attack that piled up 65 points and 598 yards against FCS Savannah State and could have had more if not for five turnovers. The secondary is the strength of Minnesota’s defense, and it figures to stay busy against QB Nick Stevens and the Rams’ no-huddle offense.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Big Ten teams own three of the nation’s nine longest home nonconference win streaks. Ohio State (36) is sixth, Nebraska (35) seventh and Wisconsin (32) ninth. … Northwestern is looking for another big defensive performance against Eastern Illinois after holding Stanford to 85 yards rushing and 240 total. That was the Wildcats’ best defensive showing since holding South Dakota to 240 yards in 2012. … Nebraska (0-1) is a four-touchdown favorite against South Alabama, but just so you know, the Cornhuskers haven’t started 0-2 since 1957.

LONG SHOT: Bowling Green’s “Falcon Fast” spread offense heads to Maryland as a touchdown underdog but with loads of confidence. Matt Johnson passed for a career-high 424 yards and the Falcons finished with 557 total yards in a 59-30 loss at No. 25 Tennessee. Bowling Green got off 85 plays in 26 minutes of possession, so the Terrapins know what’s coming. They’ve designed their practices this week with conditioning in mind.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Iowa has lost two of three against Iowa State, and QB C.J. Beathard will need to be at least as good as he was last week against Illinois State (15 for 24, 211 yards, 1 TD) when the Hawkeyes go to Ames to play for the CyHawk Trophy. With Jake Rudock at QB, Iowa managed only three points in the second half of last year’s embarrassing 20-17 loss at home. Beathard, playing behind an offensive line with three new starters, will be going against an ISU defense that had six sacks against FCS Northern Iowa last week.