Well, life continues to be busy, but I've finally found a gap to get back to what I love... talking Big Ten football and hoops.
In the few weeks since I last posted, the Big Ten gave its best run ever at the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. If only Iowa could make a free throw, or Illinois a late stop, the Big Ten would finally, finally, be able to shake that ACC twow-on guerrilla off its back. We also saw the mighty - Purdue and Michigan State - get soundly thumped by the leaders of the ACC. Hey, the way I look at it is simple - November and December games are fun and all, but talk to me in March, when it matters.
Other than the Challenge there have been some nice games so far. Ohio State has a few solid wins to its credit. So does Michigan. Might the basketball team help ease the pain for all the Michigan football fans still licking their 3-9 wounds? The top tier teams will still make this a two or three horse race, but the middle of the pack will provide some defining moments come January and February...
Over the same time frame, the Big Ten football awards were released. The bowl selections made. Some national hardware passed out. So much to weigh in on...
No real qualms with any of what the coaches or media selected in terms of the Big Ten awards, with one exception: Mark Dantonio and/or Pat Fitzgerald deserved the Coach of the Year honors over Joe Paterno. If it were "Staff of the Year", then give it to Penn State, but you won't convince me that JoePa had as much impact on that team as Dantonio or Fitzgerald who made decent teams look very, very good. Paterno's team was loaded from the get-go.
The bowl games shook out as expected. Despite being the underdog in six of the seven match-ups, I like the Big Ten to fare just fine this postseason. More on that next week when I post my picks (Buckeye Nation, get me yours by THIS Thursday please).
Congrats to those who grabbed some national award coverage as well. Shonn Greene deserved the Doak Walker. Javon Ringer deserved All America honors. The Big Ten gets the shaft from the national media but watch a handful of NFL games each weekend and count the Big Ten starters on each roster. You can have your conferences, I love the Big Ten.
As for the national picture - Texas got screwed, even if Oklahoma is playing better right now. And the Heisman gets no complaints here. Could have been any of the three. I question, is it "best player", "MVP", or "best player on the best team"? All three give you a different winner in my book...
For those who want to weigh in now, here is the bowl slate. Picks are due before kickoff of the first game. Good luck. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Champs Sports Bowl - Orlando, FL
December 27, 4:30pm
Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Alamo Bowl - San Antonio, TX
December 29, 8pm
Northwestern vs. Missouri
Insight Bowl - Tempe, AZ
December 31, 6pm
Minnesota vs. Kansas
Outback Bowl - Tampa, FL
January 1, 11am
Iowa vs. South Carolina
Capital One Bowl - Orlando, FL
January 1, 1pm
Michigan State vs. Georgia
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA
January 1, 5pm
Penn State vs. USC
Fiesta Bowl - Glendale, AZ
January 5, 8pm
Ohio State vs. Texas