By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) We’ve been down this road before.
And this time, I’m guilty for riding shotgun.
But trust me, I’ve already bailed out the passenger door and am looking for a ride home.
Notre Dame entered this season with high expectations (again) and are faltering in ridiculously ridiculous fashion (again).
Most years, I’m the guy telling you not to believe the hype. But this year, I was doing the opposite, championing the Irish as a Top 15 team.
I should have known better.
LISTEN: Adam Hoge on Inside College Football With Gerry DiNardo
Why do we keep following the rainbow hoping there’s a pot of gold at the end? It’s because Notre Dame always has a great talent. How they continue to falter — this time under a coach I really thought couldn’t lose considering he took Cincinnati, yes, Cincinnati, to two straight BCS bowl games — is beyond me.
But it’s time to accept it. Notre Dame is proving once again that even if you have talented players, it doesn’t mean anything if you execute like the Cowboys in Little Giants. Hey, Al Bundy might as well be coaching the Irish right now.
And yet, I can’t believe the amount of experts who are confident in Notre Dame to beat Michigan State Saturday in South Bend, Ind. Admittedly, the Spartans looked average two weeks ago against Youngstown State and they beat up on an awful Florida Atlantic team last week, but they’ve look a hell of a lot better than Notre Dame and they have comparable talent. In fact, there’s little doubt Michigan State has a better offense.
Can Notre Dame beat the Spartans? Sure, they are at home and have the talent to it. But what leads you to believe the turnovers are just going to disappear? The Spartans have an underrated defense and a defensive tackle in Jerel Worthy who might spend the entire day in Notre Dame’s backfield.
Notre Dame is just 5-7 against Big Ten teams since 2007 and I’m on record as saying Michigan State is the best team in the Big Ten Legends Division. I still believe that.
My pick: Michigan State 31, Notre Dame 28
Before we get to my other picks for this week, let’s visit the mailbag:
Adam, Couldn’t help but notice you were wrong about the Hawkeyes last week. Does their loss to Iowa State mean that this is a loss of a season for Iowa? — Shawn, Dubuque, Iowa
Well, technically you can go 0-4 in the non-conference season and still make the Rose Bowl by winning the Big Ten, so no, it doesn’t mean it’s a lost season yet. But it should be noted that the last time the Hawkeyes lost to Iowa State (2007), they didn’t make a bowl game. I had my doubts about the Hawkeyes this season because of their tumultuous offseason and end to last season. No team carried less momentum into this season than Iowa in my opinion and that showed last week against the Cyclones. That loss certainly puts the Hawkeyes in hot water. I already had them pegged for a 4-4 Big Ten record this season, which means if they lose to Pittsburgh Saturday, they’d be just barely bowl eligible at 6-6 if I’m right.
Now onto a question from Twitter:
Well Brad, because Illinois is not Michigan and Penn State. And because they were playing South Dakota State, not Notre Dame or Alabama. But seriously, in this day and age with the economy the way it is, most fans are only going to buy tickets if the team proves it can win. Illinois has only been to two bowl games in the last nine years. That’s just not good enough for fans to buy season tickets.
Onto my Week 3 picks (home teams in ALL CAPS):
IOWA 31, Pittsburgh 28
This is a tough game to call. The Panthers are making a return trip to Iowa after the Hawkeyes traveled to Pitt and lost 21-20 in 2008. Pitt might be the best team in the Big East, but they had an uninspiring 35-29 win over Maine last week. I think Iowa will rebound at home.
TEMPLE 24, Penn State 17
The Owls are 0-35-1 against Penn State, but guess what? They might actually have a better offense than the Nittany Lions this season. This game will be played at Temple and I had it down as a trap game for Penn State before the season even started.
MICHIGAN 45, Eastern Michigan 14
The Eagles aren’t very good and we know how potent the Michigan offense can be. This one is easy.
PURDUE 28, SE Missouri State 10
I still don’t have any faith in the Purdue offense, but SE Missouri State is an FCS school and the Boilermakers should be able to bounce back from their loss at Rice and win this one comfortably.
NEBRASKA 31, Washington 14
This is the third meeting between these teams in the last two seasons. After crushing the Huskies 56-21 in Seattle last season, Washington came back with a 19-7 win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. The difference in those two results was the health of Taylor Martinez who will be a big factor Saturday. Nebraska’s defense had an uninspiring performance last week against Fresno State, but this should be a win for the Cornhuskers at home.
Wisconsin 38, Northern Illinois 24 (Soldier Field)
I’ve been thinking this would be a tough game for the Badgers for a long time now, but Northern Illinois’ loss at Kansas last week has swayed me. The Huskies are giving up 218 rushing yards per game through two weeks and their scoring defense ranks 108th in the country. That doesn’t bode well against one of the best rushing attacks in the country. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s defense played very well last week while shutting out Oregon State 35-0. The Badgers shake some early first-road-game jitters to win by two touchdowns.
Northwestern 28, ARMY 17
Army runs the ball on almost every single play and Northwestern’s run defense ranks 14th in the country through two games. The Wildcats should pick up their second road win of the season.
Miami (Ohio) 20, MINNESOTA 17
Another tough game to pick. Miami’s defense looked pretty good against Missouri and the Redhawks have had two weeks to prepare. Part of me thinks the Gophers will be very motivated and rally behind head coach Jerry Kill who suffered a seizure last week, but my head is telling me Miami is a better team and will win the game.
INDIANA 24, South Carolina State 14
I don’t know anything about South Carolina State. Do you? Indiana showed enough fight against Virginia last week that I assume they can take care of an FCS school at home.
ILLINOIS 28, Arizona State 27
I feel the same way about this game as I did when Arizona State hosted Missouri last week. The road team is the one that is ranked, but the difference in talent is not that great so the home team should win. Plus, Illinois is a one-point favorite. Vegas is always right. Right?
Ohio State 31, MIAMI (FLA.) 24
The line in this game — Miami (-2.5) — doesn’t make any sense. Ohio State is much better on paper, despite their close call against Toledo last week. People need to give Toledo more credit. Sure, I think the Buckeyes will have some struggles in this game, but I think they control this one for most of the game and win in the end.
Hoge’s season record: 19-5
For live analysis during Saturday’s games, be sure to follow Adam on Twitter (@AdamHogeCBS).
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.