Big Ten football score predictions for week 1 of the 2023 season

The logo of the Big Ten Conference is seen on a yard marker during Iowa Hawkeyes football Kids Day at Kinnick open practice, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.210814 Ia Fb Kids Day 109 Jpg
The logo of the Big Ten Conference is seen on a yard marker during Iowa Hawkeyes football Kids Day at Kinnick open practice, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.210814 Ia Fb Kids Day 109 Jpg /

Week one is upon us, so I wanted to lay out some predictions for the Big Ten football conference.

The Big Ten has a lot of good teams sandwiched between a couple of great teams and a couple of awful programs.

It will be interesting to see which teams start gelling early and which teams struggle to get a footing in week one. With the transfer portal so hot, there are plenty of new faces who need to get acclimated to a new team.

Here are the Big Ten football score predictions for week 1 of the 2023 season

  • Nebraska Cornhuskers at Minnesota Golden Gophers – Thursday, August 31 – 7:00 p.m. CT

The first game of the Big Ten season is Nebraska at Minnesota. This is the first game for the new Cornhuskers’ head coach, Matt Rhule as well.

Nebraska has a new head coach, a new quarterback, and a roster that is below average. I don’t think incoming transfer Jeff Sims will be the answer for the Cornhuskers either. Look for him to struggle against a tough Golden Gophers Defense.

Minnesota isn’t going to blow people out of the water either. I think their offense will be lackluster with a below-average quarterback in Athan Kaliakmanis and a running game that lost its best ball carrier in Mo Ibrahim.

Look for this to be a low-scoring affair with Minnesota coming out on top in ugly fashion.

Prediction – Minnesota 13, Nebraska 3

  • Central Michigan Chippewas at Michigan State Spartans – Friday, September 1 – 6:00 p.m. CT

Michigan State is getting a cupcake game in week one of the season. Central Michigan was a bad program in 2022, and they got even worse this year.

The Chippewas lost 2022 starting quarterback, Daniel Richardson, to Florida Atlantic. The next option would be Jase Bauer, who started a game last season. Bauer would throw for 435 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions. Beyond Bauer, there are three freshmen waiting in the wings.

Michigan State by no means has a good program, but they are playing a bad MAC team. This will be a good chance for the Spartans to figure out the quarterback situation after Payton Throne bolted for Auburn. I see Michigan State winning this game.

Prediction – Michigan State 28, Central Michigan 7

  • No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers – Saturday, September 2 – 2:30 p.m. CT

I don’t think Ohio State is going to be as good as their No. 3 ranked billing. While they have a good program, new quarterback Kyle McCord could struggle at times this season.

The Buckeyes do have some nice weapons back on offense. A great three-headed monster of Miyan Williams, Treveyon Henderson, and Dallan Hayden will be great in the backfield. Look for Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Julian Fleming to be the best three-headed monster at wide receiver as well.

Ohio State will also sport a great defense in 2023. All of what I mentioned will be bad for Indiana. I think the Hoosiers have a train wreck of a program this season. They are coming off four wins in 2022, and that number will drop this season.

Indiana lost their starting quarterback from last season, and now they will have to rely on freshman transfer, Tayven Jackson, to lead the way. This game is going to get ugly quickly.

Prediction – Ohio State 63, Indiana 7

  • Buffalo Bulls at No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers – Saturday, September 2 – 2:30 p.m. CT

Don’t underestimate the Buffalo Bulls. They were able to make and win a bowl game in 2022. Cole Snyder led the way for the program last season, and he returns to the depth chart.

Snyder would throw for 3,030 yards, 18 touchdowns, and eight interceptions last season. Mike Washington and Ron Cook Jr. return in the backfield as well.

I could see Buffalo struggling against Wisconsin, though. Snyder can throw picks, so Wisconsin will feed on that. Both returning running backs only averaged 4.2 and 4.3 yards per carry too. Those aren’t good numbers.

The Badgers will see a much-improved offense in 2023. They shipped out Graham Mertz and now SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai is starting at quarterback. I think he is poised for a big year. I also like Braden Allen in the backfield.

Wisconsin boasts a solid defense, like always. Look for the Badgers to open the season in a big way on Saturday. This shouldn’t be a close game.

Prediction – Wisconsin 38, Buffalo 10

  • West Virginia Mountaineers at No. 7 Penn State – Saturday, September 2 – 6:30 p.m. CT

2022 wasn’t a great year for West Virginia. They would only win five games and miss the bowl festivities. Starting quarterback JT Daniels transferred out and is now with the Rice Owls. The running game was below average, and top wide receiver Sam Jones graduated.

The starter for 2023 might be Garrett Greene. He threw for 493 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions last season. Those aren’t great numbers. West Virginia’s defense is also weak, as they gave up 155.8 yards per game on the ground in 2022.

I think Penn State takes advantage of a bad Mountaineers defense. Returning running back Nicholas Singleton should have a big night. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry last season en route to a 1,000-yard campaign.

Look for this game to get out of hand early and often. It wouldn’t shock me to see Singleton over 250 yards on the ground. Penn State’s defense is also one of the best in the nation.

Prediction – Penn State 42, West Virginia 6

  • Toledo Rockets at Illinois Fighting Illini – Saturday, September 2 – 6:30 p.m. CT

No one should overlook the Toledo Rockets. They got four votes to be in the AP Top 25, and I think they are going to be tough.

The Rockets return most of their offensive talent, including a great offensive line. Look for quarterback Dequan Finn to run the ball well. He is Toledo’s most dangerous weapon.

Toledo’s secondary is also pretty good. I think they could make Illinois quarterback Luke Altmyer struggle at times.

Illinois should be able to force their way into a victory with a great running attack. This is a chance for Reggie Love III to break out. He has been waiting in the wings at running back and it is finally his opportunity.

I expect the Illini defense to do a good job as well. The secondary lost a lot of talent, but Finn doesn’t throw the ball at the highest level. We should be able to force a few turnovers. Illinois’ defensive line should be able to stop any running between the tackles too.

Toledo might keep this close for a while, but Illinois will eventually run away with this game.

Prediction – Illinois 42, Toledo 7

  • East Carolina Pirates at No. 2 Michigan Wolverines – Saturday, September 2 – 11:00 a.m. CT

In 2022, East Carolina managed to get to a bowl game and beat Coastal Carolina to get to seven wins. This was a great campaign.

This program lost some talent, though. Quarterback Holton Ahlers is now in the NFL. He threw for 3,708 yards, 28 touchdowns, and five interceptions last season. Replacing him is going to be tough.

The Pirates also lost Keaton Mitchell at running back. Mitchell ran for 1,452 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2023. Needless to say, this team is going to take a step back.

Michigan is a really good team too. The Wolverines boast one of the best defenses in the country. I think JJ McCarthy is poised for a big year too. He is going to be in the Heisman discussion. I haven’t even mentioned Black Corum. He is one of the best running backs in the country.

This game is going to get really ugly. Michigan is going to be one of the best teams in the country this year.

Prediction – Michigan 58, East Carolina 13

  • Utah State Aggies at #25 Iowa Hawkeyes – Saturday, September 2 – 11:00 a.m. CT

Utah State was able to make a bowl game in 2022, but they would end up falling short. Their quarterback situation is below average, with Cooper Legas leading the way. He is back after throwing for 1,499 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.

None of the offensive weapons for Utah State worries me either. They also gave up 30.8 points per game on defense in 2022, which ranked No. 99 in the nation.

I think Iowa is going to hammer Utah State. The Hawkeyes’ defense speaks for itself. They have a ton of firepower coming back, and I expect multiple forced turnovers.

Cade McNamara is a nice change for Iowa at quarterback. He should be able to get that offense moving a lot better than last season. Look for the Hawkeyes to be able to actually score points in 2023.

Prediction – Iowa 38, Utah State 3

  • Fresno State Bulldogs at Purdue Boilermakers – Saturday, September 2 – 11:00 a.m. CT

I was impressed with Fresno State last season, as they would go 10-4 and beat Washington State in a bowl game. But this isn’t the same Bulldogs team.

Fresno State lost quarterback Jake Haener to the NFL. Logan Fife is next in line, and he threw for 892 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions in 2022. The Bulldogs also lost their top running back in Jordan Mims, who rushed for over 1,300 yards last season.

The one caveat is the fact Fresno State had a good defense in 2022. They gave up 20.4 points per game, which ranked No. 13 in the nation.

Purdue could struggle at times on offense. With a new coaching staff and a new quarterback in Hudson Card behind center, there could be a learning curve. I think Card gets in a groove in the second half, though.

Look for the Boilermakers defense to really cause chaos in this game. I could see them creating at least three turnovers and maybe even taking one to the house.

Prediction – Purdue 27, Fresno State 10

  • Townson Tigers at Maryland Terrapins – Saturday, September 2 – 2:30 p.m. CT

Townson was an average program in a bad conference in 2022. This team isn’t anything to be scared about, especially with what they have returning.

The Tigers lost their starting quarterback, who was also their leading rusher from last season. Behind him isn’t much experience. Maryland will have a chance to destroy the Townson offense on Saturday.

I think Taulia Tagovailoa is going to have a big game at quarterback. This will be the start of a good season for him and the Terrapins. Maryland’s defense will probably cause a couple of turnovers as well. This game will get ugly in a hurry.

Prediction – Maryland 63, Townson 13

  • Northwestern Wildcats at Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Sunday, September 3 – 11:00 a.m. CT

You are looking at two bad programs in the Big Ten this season. Northwestern might be the worst of the bunch, though.

The Wildcats had a mess of a quarterback situation in 2022, but they tried to fix that by adding Cincinnati transfer Ben Bryant. He has a chance to help that program, but the roster is pretty bad. Northwestern also lost starting running back Evan Hull to the NFL.

A once-vaunted Wildcats defense is not very good anymore either. They gave up 28.1 points per game last season, which ranked No. 68 in the nation.

Rutgers didn’t have a good defense either. They gave up 31.3 points per game in 2022, which ranked No. 103 in the country. Offensively, this team is just about the same level of train wreck too.

The Scarlet Knights quarterbacks combined for 1,847 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions last season. Their leading rusher averaged 4.1 yards per carry. It is a mess. This game will be ugly, but it could be a close one.

Prediction – Rutgers 17, Northwestern 10

Next. Big Ten football standings predictions for the 2023 season. dark