Get Gamm - Rivalry Week
Can you believe that we are already to the last week of regular season play in the Big Ten? Amazing how time flies. At least when you have a team you are rooting for that is doing well (sorry Michigan, Indiana and Purdue fans)...
This week, Buckeye Nation and AndrewJ1313 will pick with me. Fitting since between the three of us, we're all vying for a piece of the Big Ten crown. Oh and for the record, I will NOT be rooting for Michigan this weekend. Yep, it helps State, but in my book, if we tie with the Bucks, so be it. They beat us soundly and would deserve the Rose Bowl berth. That said, if M pulls off the shocker of the year and State beats PSU, I'm not going to turn down Pasadena!
For those who want to try to get to Pasadena regardless of who is playing, Comcast sent me this link to promote a sweepstakes...
Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket
Indiana at Purdue - This is the end of the road for the Hoosiers and Boilermakers, no matter the outcome. It is also the end of a long road for Boiler boss Joe Tiller. Both teams have been disappointing this season, but Purdue has been the bigger bust. This is just the second time a Tiller team won't go bowling and given the talent PU had coming back, this is a bitter pill to swallow. Indiana failed this season due to a rash of injuries. So, toss all of it out the window for this game. It will be a fierce battle in what should be cold, maybe snowy conditions. Not much has gone right for the old gold and black, until now. Purdue 31 - Indiana 17.
Buckeye Nation says - The annual clash for the Old Oaken Bucket has one of the coaches making his swan song at home. The season wasn't what Joe Tiller or Boiler fans were expecting by any stretch of the imagination. The Hoosiers showed a little spark early on, but the loss to Ball State began a string of losses that left Indiana spiraling out of bowl contention once again.
Look for the Boilers to end on a winning note, sending Joe Tiller out with a smile on his face. INDIANA 23 - PURDUE 31
AndrewJ1313 says - IU-PU, that pretty much sums up this game. Tiller's last hurrah was a forgettable one for everyone involved. True the Purdue program saw major improvement during Tiller's tenure, but has really gone stagnant since Brees left. Indiana, the feel good story of a year ago, was brought back to reality this year and it's a shame. This year’s version of the Indiana/Purdue game is for last place in the Big Ten. Both teams are win-less on the road and I think that continues this week...at least Tiller can say he went 4-3 at home in his last season and leave Ross-Ade on a high note.Purdue 32, Indiana 26
The "Big" Game
Michigan at Ohio State - For the first time in a very long time, this game has very little say in any race - conference or national. Yes, OSU is in line to smell the Roses with a win and a Penn State loss but Michigan, well they're in line for nothing having already clinched the worst season in school history. Ohio State is favored by what has to be one of the largest margins in the history of the rivalry. Michigan is dinged up with nothing to play for but pride. One thing on Rich Rodriguez's side? First year Wolverines coaches are 10-1-1 all time versus OSU including nine wins in a row. That won't be enough for Michigan this time. It could be ugly. Ohio State 24 - Michigan 6.
Buckeye Nation says - THE GAME has never seen this before: an 8 loss, no bowl eligible Wolverine squad heading to the Horseshoe for the 105th meeting in what many call the Greatest Rivalry in sports. The Buckeyes' dream season of going back-to-back-to-back to the BCS National Championship game was shattered in the Coliseum in September, and sealed when they lost to Penn State in the rare night game in Columbus in late October. The Buckeyes have been generally solid on defense this season, and are beginning to put it together on offense with freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor and the smash-mouth, leaping runs of Beanie Wells. Michigan, on the other hand, is hurting at QB and is enduring their worst season ever under controversial coach Rich Rodriguez. Usually, this one is where you throw out all the record books. Not this year. This will be senior day in Columbus, and a frenzied scarlet & grey crowd will have no problem getting fired up for this one, with memories of John Cooper Michigan game foibles still fresh in most Buckeye fans' heads. This one may be close early, but look for the Buckeyes to wear the Wolverines down and then cruise to a big victory, which would be Jim Tressel's 7th over UM in 8 tries. MICHIGAN 10 - OHIO STATE 42
AndrewJ1313 says - I think everyone has heard by now that Michigan is not that good. I know everyone says to “throw out the records, its Michigan vs. Ohio State” but I’m not sure that holds true this year. This is officially the worst Michigan football team in HISTORY. 129 years of playing the sport and this year, RichRod’s first, is Michigan’s worst. The point spread is 20.5 points, but if I were a betting man, I’d take Michigan to cover. If you look at the history of this game, anytime Ohio State has given Michigan a beating the following year, Michigan returns the favor in either destroying Ohio State or upsetting them – Tressel is very much aware of this I’m sure, so beating Michigan by 20.5 points isn’t likely, it’s very possible, but not likely. The question will be, will Ohio State not score at will. I think Pryor is hungry to play in this game, Beanie wants the ball 30 times and the seniors on Defense don’t want to give up anything, so Michigan has to play out of their minds and OSU has to suck something awful for Michigan to win. I heard an interesting stat on the radio today: current Michigan Freshmen now have more losses in their college football career then the 4th year seniors at Ohio State. After Saturday, RichRod’s first year will have nine losses.OSU 32, Michigan 17
Cal Poly at Wisconsin - Think the Badgers are already looking at airline reservations to Tempe, San Antonio or Orlando? Think again. Cal Poly might be from the FCS (formerly 1-AA) side of the tracks, but the Mustangs rank third in the nation among FCS squads and have already picked off one FBS school (San Diego State). Also, does Appalachian State over Michigan ring a bell? The Badgers bounced back with a HUGE comeback win last weekend and need this victory to assure a bowl berth. It won't be easy but in the cold and snow, I expect the Badgers to push a good team from Cal Poly out of the picture by the 4th quarter... Wisconsin 30 - Cal Poly 20.
Buckeye Nation says - The Badgers have been the enigma in the Big 10 this season. Once you think you have them figured out, they do something crazy, like win when they shouldn't, and lose when they had a victory seemingly tucked away. After the big comeback against the Gophers and winning the Paul Bunyan Axe, the Badgers get a test from a Mustang squad that is better than most people realize. However, Cal Poly has never seen Big 10 football, and the weather and Badger fans in Madison will have them longing for the trip back home to California. CAL POLY 10 - WISCONSIN 38
AndrewJ1313 says - Starting your season against Cal Poly as a tune up game is one thing, but to end your season against Cal Poly? This would be about as boring as watching OSU finish their season against YSU (although this year Michigan is the equivalent). Wisconsin does nothing to boost their bowl game with a win but may find itself not selected for a bowl if it loses. In a season where Wisconsin was suppose to be the team to challenge OSU for the conference title, Wisconsin gets to 7-5.Wisconsin 48, Cal Poly 17
Battle for The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy
Illinois at Northwestern - My how the tables can turn from one season to the next. Last year, the Wildcats were on the road and the ropes, needing a win to secure a bowl berth. Illinois was 8-3 and seeking to get to 9-3 with the scent of Roses lingering in the air. This year? Illinois is 5-6 and needs a win and some help to go bowling. Northwestern is 8-3 with its sights on 9-3 and a shot at a New Year's Day bowl berth. Illinois has been more up and down than the Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios this season. Northwestern has yet to beat a "better" team in conference play. Will the Illini throw caution to the wind and fight out a win? Or will NU shut the door early and start dreaming of a sun New Year's Day? This is the Wildcats' year... Northwestern 33 - Illinois 27 in OT.
Buckeye Nation says - The Wilcats are in a bowl regardless, but the Illini must win on Saturday in order to become bowl eligible. Northwestern is coming off a huge program win at Ann Arbor, whereas Illinois suffered another loss, this time at home on senior day, one year after their Rose Bowl season. The Illini are in a bit of disarray and "the Journey" has been nothing but hype and dashed hopes; Juice has been turning the ball over, and was benched in the 4th quarter against OSU until his backup got injured. Look for the Wildcats to pull off the win in Evanston that will be satisfying to them, especially in denying the hated Illini a bowl bid. ILLINOIS 24 - NORTHWESTERN 28
AndrewJ1313 says - This should be a great game as Northwestern is playing for its 9th win and a New Year’s Day Bowl, while Illinois is trying to get to bowl eligibility. The question for Zook and the Illini this week will be, is there a controversy at QB? Last week against OSU Juice was pulled for a few series before returning to the game to lead Illinois to a late score – does that mean anything? Time will tell. Northwestern appears to be the more complete team but Illinois has played well on the road this year, although their road record doesn’t reflect it (@ Missouri to start the season, @ Penn St and @ Wisconsin all very tough places to win on the road). Logic says take the team that is 4-2 at home and not the team that is 1-4 on the road, but I think Illinois has faced tougher competition on the road this year then Northwestern has beaten at home. Illinois 38, Northwestern 33
The Battle for the Land Grant Trophy
Michigan State at Penn State - Okay, so the rivalry was contrived when Penn State joined the Big Ten back in the early 90s, but it has provided some memorable moments along the way. This is, however, the first time that the game upstages Michigan-Ohio State in terms of importance and worthiness of viewership. Penn State might have killed Indiana last week, but is led by a QB who is second-guessing himself right now. Michigan State comes off what could be a momentum-killing BYE week or the best thing to happen to a program that was really stung by injuries. This game is for the Big Ten title. Penn State wins and they go to Pasadena. Michigan State needs some help from bitter rival Michigan if it wins but would gladly take the accolades that go with winning or sharing their first title in 18 years. Penn State leads or is close to the top in every statistical category that matters. No team in the league has shown as much heart as the Spartans. Which one prevails? It will be better than Vegas thinks... Penn State 31 - Michigan State 27.
Buckeye Nation says - Mark Dantonio is in good shape to be named Big 10 coach-of-the-year given the way he has turned things around in East Lansing. This time, the Spartans won games late in the season instead of fizzling out as has been the case in recent years. The Lions were on an even bigger roll, and Joe Pa was looking at a possible last hurrah and a BCS Championship game berth until they began reading their press clippings, and thought all was clear after barely winning in Columbus. The Hawkeyes knocked over the lofty dreams of the Nittany Lions, but there is a Rose Bowl at stake this Saturday as well as the Land Grant trophy. The Spartans will likely not go to the Rose Bowl (unless the unthinkable happens in Columbus), and even then, they would have to pull off a HUGE upset in Happy Valley. Both teams have had revival seasons, but the big edge here goes to the home team. MSU 17 - PSU 38
AndrewJ1313 says - Someone should tell Dantonio that MSU is suppose to be the “Little Sister” in Michigan. I liked the hire of Dantonio the day I heard about it and this is why – he has done what JLS never could; win games late in the season. MSU is 9-2, and has looked impressive doing it. The question is, did MSU’s loss to OSU tell how large the gap is from the upper tier teams in the Big Ten or did MSU have an off week? If the answer is the former, this will not be as good of a game as it looks to be – I don’t think this will be the case. I think Dantonio and MSU are ready for the spot light and will be ready to take it to Penn St. The problem is Penn St. is a great football team that plays its best in Happy Valley. The Lions can smell the Roses (unfortunately for them, they may be facing a team they already humiliated once this year – Oregon St.) and just need to stay focused for 60 minutes. Just like against OSU and Iowa, this game will go down to the wire for Penn St., but I think they get it done, although I will not be surprised if MSU pulls the upset. Penn St. 20, MSU 13
The Battle for the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy
Iowa at Minnesota - This game is about more than just a rivalry, it is all about bowl positioning. Minnesota blew a big opportunity with the second half collapse at Wisconsin last weekend. Iowa is very much in line to battle Northwestern for a New Year's Day bowl berth - if the Big Ten gets two teams in the BCS picture. The Golden Gophers will have Eric Decker back, but Iowa has Shonn Greene, who, combined with Beanie Wells and Javon Ringer forms the best tailback trio in the land. Minnesota will throw everything it has at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes are too strong in the trenches. Iowa 27 - Minnesota 18
Buckeye Nation says - This year's battle for Floyd of Rosedale has both participants heading to bowl games after the season. However, as of late, the two are heading in different directions, Iowa is on the rise, and the Gophers are on the decline, and now the Gophers' leading receiver is doubtful for Saturday. This also marks the final home game for the Gophers in the Metrodome, a Lou Holtz-inspired idea that Minnesota alums have regretted ever since. Nevertheless, I see the Hawkeyes continuing their winning ways in a tough hitting contest, as they keep the pig in Iowa City. IOWA 26 - MINNESOTA 23
AndrewJ1313 says - Which one gets the better bowl game? That is what this game will resolve and it seems like Minnesota may have peaked weeks ago – the Gophers just haven’t been able to get their mojo back since the heart-breaker to Northwestern. They played very inspired ball last week at Wisconsin, but failed to play a full 60 minutes and just let Wisconsin have their way with them in the 4th quarter. Iowa on the other hand has been playing with some swagger, winning four of their last five including the knocking off then unbeaten Penn State. Iowa’s four losses are by a combined 12 points and I think this team is much better than their road record and are headed to the Outback Bowl. Iowa 20, Minnesota 16