Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday morning QB ...
We have a handful of "firsts" to talk about this morning. The first is shocking and telling all the same: this is the FIRST time since 1959 that both Michigan and Ohio State enter their "game week" coming off a loss. For the math challenged, that is 48 years. WOW!

How about this one: the Big Ten has TEN bowl eligible teams. I haven't done the ad nausea research, but I have to believe that no other conference this size (11 teams) has done this before. The SEC also has ten, but has 12 teams. 90.9-percent of the conference is eligible for postseason play (83.3% in the SEC). That doesn't mean all ten will go to a bowl, but ten are eligible and that is quite an achievement and proves the overall balance in the league.

Continuing on the theme of firsts... MSU got its first conference road win over a team with a winning record during the month of November since 1998. No, that isn't a miss-print. Illinois won its first game over a top-ranked opponent since 1956 and its first on the road - ever. Penn State Coach Joe Paterno played - and beat - a former player (Temple Head Coach Al Golden) for the first time in his storied career.
  • Ohio State - ouch. The Buckeyes were in the driver's seat as far as the BCS Championship Game was concerned but that got flushed with the loss to Illinois. OSU can still head to Pasadena and win the outright conference title with a win over arch-rival Michigan.
  • Michigan - double ouch. It appears that the Wolverines played at Wisconsin for no reason other than because it was on the slate. Chad Henne played sparingly and Mike Hart not at all. Why? Michigan knew that no matter what, the OSU game was for all the marbles. Shady if you ask me...
  • Illinois - bravo. Coach Ron Zook recalled leaving the scene of the 40-2 beatdown in C-bus a few years ago with the credo that things would be very different on the next return trip. Good call. The Illini were solid all game long and proved that with sweat and hard work, you can turn around a dud given time.
  • Wisconsin - solid. It wasn't always pretty. It was probably closer than it should have been. But Wisconsin got a nice W over nemesis Michigan in Mad-town and is a win over lowly Minnesota from 9-3 and a likely New Year's Day bowl.
  • Penn State - yawn. 31-0 is always nice. But come on folks, this was Temple. Granted a much improved Temple but still, it was Temple. The Nittany Lions can get into the New Year's Day conversation with a win in East Lansing, but are more than likely looking at a mid-tier bid.
  • Purdue - unimpressive. Sorry Boiler fans, but your team doesn't excite me. The offense is potent but who has Purdue beaten this year? Even with a win in the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket, Purdue's best hope is the Alamo Bowl.
  • Iowa - trudging through. Iowa has taken the momentum gained from the comeback win over Michigan State and turned it into bowl eligibility despite myriad injuries and other issues. The only knock on the Hawkeyes, who are as likely to get to seven wins as any of the four stuck on six is that they are bland and mighty beatable. Still, hard to pass up on a team that travels really well...
  • Northwestern - still alive. Just when it looked like Indiana had more or less sealed the fate of the Wildcats, they come through with another great comeback. Wipe out that ugly loss to Duke and this is a team looking to get to eight wins instead of seven. Illinois is a tall task this week and the 'cats are likely the least attractive of the bowl eligibles in the Big Ten.
  • Michigan State - impressive. The Spartans struck first, took everything Purdue could muster and finally closed out a fourth quarter lead. In time, this game could be the one that people point to as the turning point. Meantime, a win over Penn State is paramount if State wants to assure a bowl trip and also lessen the chances that the trip is mere miles down the road (Motor City Bowl).
  • Indiana - devastating. The loss to Northwestern may well be the one that stands between the Hoosiers and a bowl game. You know if it comes down to MSU and Indiana, the Motor City Bowl will take the Spartans. The collapse puts extra emphasis on the rivalry game with Purdue.
  • Minnesota - well... There isn't much to say. The Golden Gophers haven't hung it up as evidenced with the way they fought for the Floyd of Rosedale, but I've been saying it all season long - this just isn't a very good football team.

Players of the Week:
Offense - Juice Williams, QB - Illinois. Hard to argue with the Big Ten's pick this week. Juice beat the Buckeyes with his purported weakness - his arm - tossing four TD passes for the game. He sealed the deal with his strength - his legs - picking up many key first downs in a killer 8+ minute drive to end the game.

Defense - SirDarean Adams, LB - MSU. Adams made two critical interceptions and set up 10 of State's 17 points off of turnovers.

Special Teams - James Bailey, KR - Indiana. The wideout averaged over 40 yards per kick return, including one for a score in Indiana's heartbreaking loss at Northwestern.

Get Gamm:
No one got me this week as there were piles of .500 records for the week. St. Louis Jeff laid an egg that tightened up the race at the top with one regular season week and bowl game picking to go.

Ohio State at Michigan (Tiebreaker)
Northwestern at Illinois
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Purdue at Indiana
Penn State at Michigan State
Western Michigan at Iowa


Andy Gamm said...

St. Louis Jeff says:

Northwestern at Illinois Illinois 38-24

Purdue at Indiana Purdue 37-21

Western Michigan at Iowa Iowa 28-7

Ohio State at Michigan (Tiebreaker) Ohio State 24-21

Penn State at Michigan State MSU 27-24

Wisconsin at Minnesota Wisconsin 35-10

Gotta go with the Green & White this weekend.

Phatsdawg said...

OHIO STATE 31 michigan 28

NORTHWESTERN 33 illinois 28(have to go upsets)

WISCONSIN 31 minnesota 7

PURDUE 66 indiana 0(I hate IU)

PENN STATE 28 michigan state 25

IOWA 28 western michigan 17

Andy Gamm said...

Bruce S:
It's now or never so I'm going to take a few chances to see if I can make a last ditch move up the standings.

Ohio State 31 Michigan 20 Ohio State too strong and balanced. Michigan too inconsistent and simply not as good as in years past. Ohio State will play with a big chip on its shoulder.

Northwestern 34 Illinois 28 I'm picking the 'Cats with their spread offense to outscore an Illini team a bit over confident after their huge win last week. Can you say "let down"?

Wisconsin 31 Minnesota 14 Simply a big mismatch in this one.

Purdue 30 Indiana 20 Purdue is able to slow down IU's offense. Plus, an IU loss helps MSU in possible bowl games.

Penn State 24 Michigan State 38 The Spartans will be sky high after a good road win last week. The offense is clicking on all 8 while the defense will play good enough to slow down an inconsistent PSU squad.

Western Michigan 17 Iowa 35 Good final tune up with a bowl game to follow for the Hawkeyes.


Buckeye Nation said...

Ohio State 31 at Michigan 24(Tiebreaker)
Northwestern 20 at Illinois 38
Wisconsin 28 at Minnesota 21
Purdue 35 at Indiana 28
Penn State 23 at Michigan State 26
Western Michigan 13 at Iowa 26

Dan Meyer said...

My picks the last several weeks could give Jean Van de Velde (British Open) choking lessons.

*OHIO STATE 24 at Michigan 21--You know that you are a national power when a BCS bowl is a consolation prize.

Northwestern 14 at ILLINOIS 28--Congrats to the Illini on a great season. Wildcats somewhat undeservedly sit out bowls.

WISCONSIN 35 at Minnesota 17--Congrats to Badgers on finishing strong after a mid-season slump.

PURDUE 23 at Indiana 21--Biased pick, loser (especially if IU) may have trouble getting to a bowl.

PENN STATE 21 at Michigan State 17--Spartans may need an at-large bid to get to a bowl if they lose.

Western Michigan 10 at IOWA 27--Congrats to the Hawkeyes, they complete their second half revival.

mayo170 said...

Ohio State 26 at Michigan 29(Tiebreaker)
Northwestern 34 at Illinois 38
Wisconsin 27 at Minnesota 17
Purdue 24 at Indiana 34
Penn State 17 at Michigan State 20
Western Michigan 10 at Iowa 31

AndrewJ1313 said...

at Illinois 38, Northwestern 20; Illinois completes it’s season with a nice bowl invite.

Wisconsin 31, at Minnesota 17; I don’t think there is anything else to say about Minnesota. Maybe Brewster hopes he can do what Zook did…but I doubt it.

at Indiana 38, Purdue 34; Pick one, so I did. This might go into OT.

at Michigan State 23, Penn State 21; I think these two teams match up well and this will be a fun one to watch.

at Iowa 34, Western Michigan 13; WOW, tough game to end your season with…sorry, that was a little TOO Big Ten Sports Fan.

Ohio State 28, at Michigan 17; I hope Mike Hart plays, I’d hate to think he would miss out of loosing four times to OSU.

GO BUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!