Clarke’s Big Five: Opening Week Edition


Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Welcome to the Big Five! This will be my weekly column discussing and take-ing on the top five headlines, news items, storylines, etc. of the week. Feel free to comment on my thoughts either below, on Twitter, on Facebook, or…shoot us an email – – We’ll make sure to bring your comments up on the next podcast! 

Big Ten football is here. Here are some of the things I’m looking for in the first week:

1. Michigan’s youth vs. Florida

As I wrote in a column earlier this month, Michigan football is in better shape for the 2018 season than this upcoming one. Ohio State and Penn State have a wealth of talent returning and the Wolverines lost the majority of their playmakers on both sides of the ball. The inexperience on the field makes it tough for the Wolverines to win in week one.

Well, that was until Florida suspended a handful of players prior to its opener against UM. Michigan’s young defense avoids Antonio Callaway for that reason, which makes the contest all the more winnable for the Wolverines.

This is definitely the best of any Big Ten game this week, so I’ll be keeping my eyes on Arlington.

2. Wisconsin loses another linebacker

Wisconsin lost star linebackers T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel to the NFL this offseason. Then they lost top linebacker Jack Cichy for the season to an ACL tear. Just last week they lost linebacker Zack Baun for the season as well.

Wisconsin, which boasts impressive defensive depth, is a bit shallow at linebacker. This makes for an interesting week one matchup, where the Badgers will face Utah State’s senior quarterback Kent Myers. Myers threw for 2,389 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2017.

I don’t expect Myers to torch Wisconsin, but his experience provides a test to a battered Badgers linebacking core, and I’ll be interested to see how they fare against the Aggies.

Photo: Marquise McKine/The Diamondback

3. Maryland has a chance to make a big statement

Of all the impressive leaps and bounds Maryland’s football program has made under D.J. Durkin, a week one victory in Austin against Texas would be the biggest. Nearly everything would have to go right for the Terps, but a victory is possible.

Maryland boasts the Ty Johnson/Lorenzo Harrison duo in the backfield, but Texas’ front seven returns nearly everyone from last season. Maryland’s run defense was brutal last season, so Texas’ new crew at the runningback position could have a fun start.

There isn’t much of a talent gap in this game, but Texas has the advantage of playing at home. Tom Herman’s first game probably won’t go to the Terps, but Maryland could make quite the statement in week one.

4. Iowa’s Nathan Stanley takes QB gig

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Nathan Stanley was announced Iowa’s starter for Saturday’s contest against Wyoming. In short, Stanley is a tall gunslinger who hasn’t seen much action. Wyoming’s defense was pretty bad last season so Stanley will have an opportunity to impress. Plus, the Cowboys will have to focus on the potent Iowa backfield.

5. College football is back

There’s not much to this one. Full Saturdays until December makes me happy and it should make you happy too.


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