Game Day Skull Session: Get Dumped Then, Northwestern

Pat Fitzgerald is one of my favorite coaches in the Big Ten.

But it’s a bad day to be a Wildcat, which means he is Public Enemy No. 1 on Saturday, as is his team. I’ll talk more about that in a second.

Let’s have a good Saturday, shall we?

 LIVING IN REALITY. Ryan Day and Ohio State will win today, and everyone knows it, even Fitzgerald. While the Northwestern head coach did not explicitly say that in his mid-week presser with local media, his comments indicated how he thinks Saturday’s game will go.

“When you pop on the tape and take a deeper dive, it’s a complete team,” Fitzgerald said of Ohio State this week. “Coach Day and his staff have done a phenomenal job in recruiting. They’ve got depth everywhere and explosiveness in all three phases. Coming off a really hard-fought game at Penn State, that was impressive to watch. … We’ll have our hands full.”

Indeed, Northwestern will have its hands full on Saturday, or – perhaps more accurately –there will be too much for the Wildcats’ hands (paws?) to carry. While the weather in Evanston is expected to add some intrigue to this matchup, it won’t stop Ohio State from putting together a dominant performance on the road. Because even with the rain and the wind, what flaws do the Buckeyes have that the Wildcats can exploit?

Fitzgerald doesn’t see any weaknesses his team could take advantage of this afternoon.

“On tape, no, I have not seen anything. But we haven’t cut the grass at Ryan Field since our last home game,” Fitzgerald said with a laugh. “So there will be somewhere between 2-to-4 feet high. Maybe the sprinkling system will come on at 7, again at 10. … I don’t know. They’re a great team, man.” 

Fitzgerald’s comments were refreshingly honest – the main reason he is one of my favorite coaches in the Big Ten. He understands his program better than anyone and is comfortable admitting when his team doesn’t stand a chance against a superior opponent.

Do I expect him to tell his players they will lose in the pregame speech? No. But does he understand that he’s talking to the same players who lost a game to Miami (Ohio) and FCS Southern Illinois? Yes. You don’t lose to teams like that and then magically turn around and beat the No. 2 team in the nation. That doesn’t happen.

The bottom line is that everyone in Ryan Field this afternoon expects this game to end with Ohio State on top. With that said, the Buckeyes’ primary objective should be to get in and get quickly with a win while maintaining the health of the starters and critical depth players at several positions. If they do that, it will be a successful mission in Evanston. Hopefully, that’s what we are talking about on Monday.

Prediction: Ohio State 52, Northwestern 7.

 TODAY’S MENU. There is a juicy slate of games in the college football world this weekend, including two huge matchups in the Southeastern Conference.

Can Tennessee storm into Athens and beat Georgia, justifying its No. 1 ranking in the first College Football Playoff rankings, or will the Bulldogs defend their home turf? Will Alabama overcome (an inexplicably ranked No. 10) LSU in Death Valley, or will the Tigers come away with the upset?

It’s college football! Anything can happen!

Here is the full slate of games, with the day’s marquee games listed in bold:

Matchup Time (ET) TV/Mobile
Air Force vs. Army (in Arlington, TX) 11:30am CBS
19 Tulane at Tulsa 12:00pm ESPNU
Iowa at Purdue 12:00pm FS1
2 Ohio State at Northwestern 12:00pm ABC
WKU at Charlotte 12:00pm CBSSN
17 North Carolina at Virginia 12:00pm ACCN
Minnesota at Nebraska 12:00pm ESPN2
Maryland at Wisconsin 12:00pm BTN
Texas Tech at 7 TCU 12:00pm FOX
Kentucky at Missouri 12:00pm SECN
Florida at Texas A&M 12:00pm ESPN
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech 12:30pm RSN/ESPN3
USF at Temple 2:00pm ESPN+
Marshall at Old Dominion 2:00pm ESPN+
Georgia State at Southern Miss 3:00pm ESPN+
Middle Tennessee at Louisiana Tech 3:00pm ESPN+
Baylor at Oklahoma 3:00pm ESPN+
UTSA at UAB 3:30pm Stadium
25 UCF at Memphis 3:30pm ESPN2
Washington State at Stanford 3:30pm P12N
Michigan State at 16 Illinois 3:30pm BTN
15 Penn State at Indiana 3:30pm ABC
20 Syracuse at Pitt 3:30pm ACCN
New Mexico at Utah State 3:30pm CBSSN
West Virginia at Iowa State 3:30pm ESPN+
18 Oklahoma State at Kansas 3:30pm FS1
1 Tennessee at 3 Georgia 3:30pm CBS
8 Oregon at Colorado 3:30pm ESPN
Liberty at Arkansas 4:00pm SECN
Navy at Cincinnati 4:00pm ESPNU
South Alabama at Georgia Southern 4:00pm ESPN+
FIU at North Texas 4:00pm ESPN+
Texas State at ULM 5:00pm ESPN3
Troy at Louisiana 5:00pm ESPN+
Houston at SMU 7:00pm NFLN
BYU at Boise State 7:00pm FS2
6 Alabama at 10 LSU 7:00pm ESPN
24 Texas at 13 Kansas State 7:00pm FS1
UNLV at San Diego State 7:00pm CBSSN
Arizona at 14 Utah 7:30pm P12N
Auburn at Mississippi State 7:30pm ESPN2
4 Clemson at Notre Dame 7:30pm NBC/Peacock
South Carolina at Vanderbilt 7:30pm SECN
James Madison at Louisville 7:30pm ESPNU
Florida State at Miami (FL) 7:30pm ABC
5 Michigan at Rutgers 7:30pm BTN
21 Wake Forest at 22 NC State 8:00pm ACCN
12 UCLA at Arizona State 10:30pm FS1
Hawaii at Fresno State 10:30pm FS2
Colorado State at San Jose State 10:30pm NBCS Bay Area
California at 9 USC 10:30pm ESPN

 MY PICKS. Folks, I went positive with my picks last week, as North Carolina and TCU covered the spread against the Backyard Brawl teams Pitt and West Virginia, respectively. The only selection that didn’t land was Georgia, who defeated Florida by 22 points with a 23.5-point spread. The pain! I was so close to a 3-for-3 day.

2022 RECORD: 11-12

Here are my picks for this week:

  • Texas Tech at No. 7 TCU (-9.5): Texas Tech is coming off a blowout 45-17 loss to Baylor that sent Red Raiders to 4-4. Now they stare down the barrel at Max Duggan, Kendre Miller and the rest of TCU’s big-play offense. Not good, people, not good. Gus Johnson will have a field day calling TDs for the Horned Frogs all day long as they cruise to a cover.
  • No. 1 Tennessee (+8) at No. 3 Georgia: Tennessee is fun, but Hendon Hooker will be the Heisman frontrunner over C.J. Stroud if the Volunteers beat Georgia in Athens, which is not fun. Both teams are good, and the Bulldogs have a home-field advantage, but I don’t think it’s enough of an edge to beat a talented Tennesee team by more than 8 points. I’ll take Tennessee to cover but hopefully(?) lose. I don’t know, people, tell me how I should feel about this one.
  • No. 4 Clemson at Notre Dame (+4): For how much the Irish have sucked this season, I think Marcus Freeman can and will redeem the poor start to his tenure with an upset win over Clemson on Saturday. Remember: It’s college football! Anything can happen! Why not Notre Dame?! It would be unbelievably fun to see Dabo Swinney’s season crumble at the hands of Freeman while simultaneously making Ohio State’s win over Notre Dame look that much better. Please give me the Irish to cover and win.

 BACK TO THE BUCKEYES. JK Johnson can do it all. In addition to being one of Ohio State’s top cornerbacks, the second-year Buckeye is a pretty talented videographer. This video from the football team’s Twitter proves as much:

 CUT TO THE CHASE. Alcohol death toll is growing, US government reports say… From “Enola Holmes” to “Extraction,” Netflix bets on sequels… Senators are up for sale, the buyer must keep the team in Ottawa… Powerball jackpot hits $1.6 billion — a world record… The richest person who ever lived had unimaginable wealth.

DON’T FORGET: Vote for Ohio State women’s ice hockey defenseman Sophie Jaques to win the AAU James E. Sullivan Award (Click here).

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