Big Game Hunting: Purdue-Notre Dame, Alabama-Florida, Northwestern-Duke; more

The Boilermakers and Irish played 69 seasons in a row — and then it stopped after 2014. College football keeps trending toward the unromantic like that. It’s a shame.

SHARE Big Game Hunting: Purdue-Notre Dame, Alabama-Florida, Northwestern-Duke; more
Jack Coan is QB of the Irish, but will he share the job on Saturday?

Jack Coan is QB of the Irish, but will he share the job on Saturday?

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Give it up to emailer Greg, everybody. He gave me the business for picking against Purdue — and being wrong — in Weeks 1 and 2.

‘‘Hope you bet your picks big!’’ he wrote.

I don’t bet. I prefer to move other people’s money around, namely yours. And preferably Greg’s.

But Purdue (+7½) at No. 12 Notre Dame (1:30 p.m., Ch. 5, 780-AM) sure is interesting, isn’t it? The Boilermakers have been promising, beating Pac-12 doormat Oregon State 30-21 and unspeakably bad Connecticut 49-0. OK, so we’re using ‘‘promising’’ loosely here.

Really, though, the Boilermakers and Irish played 69 seasons in a row — then it stopped after 2014. College football keeps trending toward the unromantic like that. It’s a shame.

It’s a big — no, huge — game for both teams. Purdue gets to show if it has a pulse we must continue to monitor as it moves into Big Ten play. And Notre Dame looks to disprove the evidence that its down-to-the-wire victories against Florida State and Toledo are revealing of a 12th-ranked pretender.

The Irish don’t have a quarterback they’re ready to count on for 60 minutes. Jack Coan is the passer, and Tyler Buchner is the runner. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn’t ready to change that dynamic.

The Boilers’ passing combo of Jack Plummer to David Bell could be a game-changer. Greg is pretty sure it will be.

‘‘My heart says 31-24 Boilers,’’ he wrote.

Mine, too. But my mind says 34-24, Irish. Greg can pound on me if I’m wrong again.


No. 8 Cincinnati (-3½) at Indiana (11 a.m., ESPN): Getting frozen in place in the opener against Iowa put the Hoosiers on a slippery slope. Can their defense keep them in this game long enough for QB Michael Penix Jr. and the offense to come around? Brace for a whole lot of slug in this fest. Bearcats, 27-20.

Michigan State (+6½) at No. 24 Miami (11 a.m., Ch. 7): Sparty looks like a throwback version of itself, with renewed vigor up front on both sides of the ball — and an influx of offensive skill — but this is a different sort of test because of the Hurricanes’ speed and the expected heat. The U, 24-21.

Nebraska (+22½) at No. 3 Oklahoma (11 a.m., Fox-32): It has been 50 years since the ‘‘Game of the Century’’ and 11 — far too long — since the last meeting in this formerly gigantic rivalry. Goodness, have these football schools taken divergent paths. Sooners in an all-out rout.

Northern Illinois (+27½) at No. 25 Michigan (11 a.m., BTN, 560-AM): If Rocky Lombardi doesn’t get picked off three times against Wyoming, the Huskies are 2-0. If it’s seven or eight years ago, maybe the Huskies get to 3-0. If? If only. Maize and Blue by 30.

No. 1 Alabama (-15) at No. 11 Florida (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2): Tide QB Bryce Young never has experienced anything like this Swamp scene in his life. He’ll have to run around — a few times for his life — and he’ll get hit. This is more about the Alabama defense, which might be one of the great ones of the Nick Saban era, and whether it can dominate a fast, physical foe. Take the Gators, who lose by single digits.

Northwestern (-3) at Duke (3 p.m., ACC, 720-AM): The Wildcats lost to Duke the last two times these schools played, in 2017 and 2018, but a QB named Daniel Jones had a whole lot to do with it. Neither offense scares — not in a good way, anyway. Field position? The kicking game? Turnovers? Yep, yep and yep. Blue Devils, 19-17.

No. 22 Auburn (+5½) at No. 10 Penn State (6:30 p.m., Ch. 7): Auburn has an impressive Jimmys-and-Joes hand to play defensively and a QB who has been around forever in Bo Nix. That atmosphere, however — the word ‘‘insanity’’ comes to mind. Nits, 24-16.

No. 19 Arizona State (-3½) at No. 23 BYU (9:15 p.m., ESPN): BYU has knocked off Arizona and Utah already. Why not make it 3-for-3 against the Pac-12 South? Talk about wild, Zach Wilson being gone and everything. Ah, but that potential Utah ‘‘Holy War’’ hangover. Do BYU players have hangovers? Sun Devils, 31-24.

My favorite favorite: Colorado (-2½) vs. Minnesota (noon, Pac-12): Without injured Mohamed Ibrahim, their NFL-caliber running back, the Gophers are supposed to beat a team that held Texas A&M to 10 points? Buffs get well.

My favorite underdog: Kansas State (+2) vs. Nevada (1 p.m., ESPN+): Nevada has a potential NFL stud QB in Carson Strong, but this is the same K-State ‘‘D’’ that held Stanford to seven points. It’s a mismatch up front.

Last week: 7-3 straight-up, 6-4 against the spread.

Season to date: 12-8 straight-up, 12-8 against the spread.

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