Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Afternoon Quarterback
Big Ten play got underway last weekend for everyone but Purdue. There were some eye openers, including a couple of big road wins for Iowa and Minnesota, a near (and very rare) win in Ann Arbor by Indiana and two dominating performances in C-bus and Madtown. All in all, it was a good start to what looks to be a wide open race for Pasadena...

Team of the Week: Iowa. The Hawkeyes burned Penn State again, this time, at night, in Happy Valley, against a sea of white, in the rain. Impressive. VERY impressive.

Player of the Week: UW quarterback Scott Tolzien became the third signal caller in a row to torch the MSU secondary. UW proved me wrong and might be the sleeper pick in the conference race.

Around the Big Ten
Illinois - Is Ron Zook on the hot seat? Illinois got flat out schooled in Columbus and now is 0-fer in two big, statement making games. With a stung and angry Penn State and wounded Michigan State team up the next two weeks, 1-4 might be right around the corner. Next Up: Penn State

Indiana - Okay, so Indiana is better than I thought. The Hoosiers nearly scored the first program win in Ann Arbor since 1967 on Saturday. I still wonder how the ref could blow the simultaneous possession call. So does Bill Lynch. It gets tougher this week with a red hot OSU squad coming to Bloomington. Next Up: Ohio State

Iowa - So much for that almost loss to Northern Iowa. Iowa has improved every single week and has to be considered a serious title contender. It gets easy this week, so we'll see if the Hawkeyes can keep it up before getting back to the Big Ten grind on the 10th. Next up: Arkansas State

Michigan - Is Michigan getting it done with smoke and mirrors? Maybe, but maybe not. Tate Forcier is the real deal, having led the Wolverines from behind twice in three weeks. He got pretty dinged up in the IU win, can he hold up with an angry, hungry MSU team on the slate? Can the defense slow down anyone the rest of the way? We'll get all of those answers immediately. Next up: at Michigan State

Michigan State - Panic is starting to set in among the so-called MSU faithful. The defense must get off the field on third down, play the pass better and hit the quarterback. The offense is fine but if it turns the ball over, is going to be hard pressed to help lead the team to wins. The biggest game of the season awaits and the timing might be perfect. Next up: Michigan

Minnesota - The Golden Gophers bounced back nicely from the loss to Cal with a good win at Northwestern. The maroon and gold get to go the rivalry route this week as well, with Wisconsin coming to town. The winner of this game has an inside track to a top four finish. Next up: Wisconsin

Northwestern - The Wildcats are reeling a bit now and have to hit the road to play a Purdue team that is much the same boat as the Spartans (two close loses and a defeat at the hands of a MAC foe). This is an important game for Pat Fitzgerald and Co. Next up: at Purdue

Ohio State - The Buckeyes have now posted two straight shutouts for the first time since 1996. Indiana could be victim number three. The offense is still conservative, but the way the defense is playing, so what? Next Up: at Indiana

Penn State - Feel sorry for Illinois. Penn State got pushed around at home and is looking to take it out on someone. Saturday night was the worst game in the Daryl Clark era. Next up: at Illinois

Purdue - The Boilermakers are battling Michigan State for "most snake bitten team" at this point. Three loses by 12 points, including a heart breaker on fourth down to rival Notre Dame. Sometimes the best escape is getting into conference play... Next up: Northwestern

Wisconsin - The win over Michigan State was impressive. Wisconsin's defense is taking the ball away at a tremendous pace and as long as they aren't giving it back, watch out. Next up: at Minnesota

Get Gamm Winner:
Buckeye Nation and St. Louis Sparty both went 5-1, but BN picked the Iowa upset and gets the honors this week. Two rivalry games on the slate, should be a good weekend...

Arkansas State at Iowa
Northwestern at Purdue
Wisconsin at Minnesota (Tiebreaker)

Michigan at Michigan State
Penn State at Illinois
Ohio State at Indiana

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Four
Let the fun begin. The Big Ten finally gets to move away from OOC play and focus efforts on beating the snot out of each other. It will be nice to lay a little low on the radar with the pundits who like to bullwhip the league week in and week out.

Picking with me this week is Mayo170. Mayo went a rock solid 9-1 last week. It gets tougher to make up ground with each week, so tread lightly...

Michigan State at Wisconsin - The Spartans are 1-2, UW 3-0. But I will tell you this, Michigan State is probably the better team heading into this game. The biggest edge Wisconsin has is the 33-3 run they are on at Camp-Randall. The Badgers are also steady, if not spectacular, in any particular area and have revenge in mind. MSU, on the other hand, knows that the season is now. Two plays from 3-0, State is looking at this like a clean slate. I was this close to calling it last week (I predicted a late Cousins to White TD pass to win by 4) so I'm going with the gut again. Wisconsin is favored by 3. I think the Spartans win by 10. Michigan State 30 - Wisconsin 20.

mayo170 says... No way Dantonio lets this season get out of hand. The Spartans are one penalty and one young QB mistake from being 3-0. Wisconsin, while their pre-conference schedule went as planned, I just don't see them being as prepared for conference play as the Spartans are. Michigan State 31 - Wisconsin 27

Indiana at Michigan - Two 3-0 teams. Six wins combined, but 5 of them against so-so - at best - competition. IU struggled with Eastern Kentucky, held on against Western Michigan and beat up a decent Akron team. Michigan breezes past Western, had a huge comeback win over Notre Dame and pulled away from Eastern Michigan. This is the fourth straight home game for Michigan and the Wolverines have limited mistakes thus far. I see this being closer than one might think because it is not a "get up" game for UM. Michigan 34 - Indiana 24.

mayo170 says... Welcome to the Big Ten, Michigan Freshmen. In all reality, this is probably the best team for Tate Forcier to open the conference against. Though IU has some significant defensive ends, Michigan will be able to run and pass on the Hoosier defense all day. The Hoosiers are going to find the end zone a couple times, but there are far too many ways that the Michigan offense will be able to score. Michigan 31- Indiana 13

Minnesota at Northwestern - You can have Iowa and Penn State as the game of the week. For my money, this is the best game on the slate this weekend. It is therefore the tiebreaker. Both of these teams can score. Minnesota - yes, that's right - Minnesota is more prepared from a schedule standpoint, however. The Gophers beat Syracuse in OT, handled a good Air Force team and played Cal tough. Northwestern beat up on an FCS foe, barely beat Eastern Michigan and then lost to Syracuse on a last second field goal. I like the Gophers to go on the road and score a nice win and cement themselves as a top half finisher in the league. Minnesota 27 - Northwestern 23.

mayo170 says... Two teams coming off losses, one with a pretty solid defense, and neither is running the ball particularly well. I like the Weber to Decker tandem right now and both teams with a lack of a top runner are going to be in dire trouble with the rest of the schedule. Minnesota 31 - Northwestern 20

Illinois at Ohio State - This is not the same Illinois team that stormed into C-bus and stole a victory two seasons ago. The Illini got an extra week to rest and prepare but are really dinged up at key positions. Ohio State got the offense on track last weekend and will look for more of the same here. I can't see OSU exploding on anyone in the league this year, as it is so even, but I do expect an easy win on Saturday at the 'shoe. Ohio State 27 - Illinois 14

mayo170 says... The Illini start the week back with what has to be a very ticked off OSU squad. First they lose to SC after the defense played stellar, drop in the polls as they should. Then use Toledo as their whipping boy and fall again in the polls. Illinois might be lucky to make it to the month of October if Ohio State has their way. Ohio State 42 - Illinois 22.

Notre Dame at Purdue - Easy come, easy go. Notre Dame lost a heart-breaker at Michigan then won a thriller with Michigan State. However, in that game, Jimmy Clausen suffered a nasty injury (turf toe) and lost Michael Floyd for the season (collarbone). Notre Dame should be able to pick the Purdue defense apart. The Boilers lost a tough one at Oregon and fell flat in a home loss to Northern Illinois last week. The atmosphere will be a nice motivator for the gold and black but Purdue is not as good as ND. Notre Dame 34 - Purdue 23.

mayo170 says... Arguably the toughest call of the week. I really want Purdue to win this game. Besides my disdain for all that is Rudy and Independent, Jimmy Clausen just gets on my nerves, even more so than his brother Casey did at Tennessee. Both teams can put points up, but I have a feeling that the domers are going to have a breakout against the Boilers and get the running game going. They will miss Floyd's catches, but Tate will start to make some of the catches he's been dropping lately. If I lose this one, I'm okay with that. Notre Dame 26 - Purdue 21

Iowa at Penn State - An early season rematch of the game that killed Penn State's national title hopes last year. Iowa has done nothing but steadily and impressively improve each week. Penn State is tough to read. They've done what was expected against a cupcake schedule. The motivation factor and a night-time crowd that rivals any in college football will power the Nits to a nice win. Penn State 19 - Iowa 13.

mayo170 says... Game of the week potential here as Iowa is playing pretty good ball and Penn State does appear to have some chinks in the armor. The Hawks are a solid team again and Penn State is coming out of hibernation now after their typical non-conference schedule. I like the Hawkeyes to keep this a field position game, but in the end I'll take the home team to win. Penn State 23 - Iowa 16.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Morning Quarterback
It was another tough weekend for the Big Ten. The MAC bit us again (NIU over Purdue). Notre Dame finally beat MSU at home, despite being on its heels all the way to the end. Northwestern coughed up a big lead in a loss to Syracuse - who is now 1-2 in the Big Ten! Minnesota got bullied by Cal. Are we thankful to take to league play this week? I know I am.

Team of the Week: Iowa. The Hawkeyes were the only Big Ten team to beat someone of note and did so with relative ease.

Player of the Week: Mike Kafka had a monster game for Northwestern, but a late pick set the Orangemen up for the game winner and ruined an otherwise outstanding performance (35-42 for 390 yards).

Around the Big Ten
Wisconsin - Wow. Win over Wofford. Yawn. Next up: Michigan State

Purdue - The Huskies nearly got UW in the opener and this time finished the deal. Two wins for the MAC over the Big Ten. Ugh. Next up: Notre Dame

Penn State - Things go from cupcake to serious in a hurry with Iowa coming to town. We can finally see how "real" Penn State will be this year. Next up: Iowa

Ohio State - OSU took out some frustration on a decent Toledo team. Pryor still wasn't exactly an ace, but he's got something to prove and that bodes well for the Bucknuts. Next Up: Illinois

Northwestern - The Wildcats were the first victim in three tries for Syracuse. The offense is up to snuff. The defense? Not so much. Next up: Minnesota

Minnesota - The Golden Gophers were clearly out-classed by the speed and talent of Cal. No worries though, most everyone in the nation would experience the same. Chance for redemption this weekend. Next up: at Northwestern

Michigan State - Another shot to the heart. State was this close to extending the win streak in Notre Dame Stadium but instead is 1-2 and desperate for a win. Next up: at Wisconsin

Michigan - EMU played Michigan closer than the score might indicate and the Wolverines lost their starting center in the process. Indiana won't pose much of a problem, giving the boys in blue a chance to further build their confidence. Next up: Indiana

Iowa - Iowa keeps getting better and better. Now it ratchets up a notch, a big notch. Penn State wants revenge. Next up: at Penn State

Indiana - Holy cow, IU is 3-0. Haven't beaten much, but are unbeaten nonetheless. This week we see if IU is for real or not. Next up: at Michigan

Illinois - Illini needed the rest with all the injuries mounting. This week starts a brutal stretch against the three "States" of the Big Ten. Next up: at Ohio State

Get Gamm Winner:
Mayo170 went an impressive 9-1 and gets the honors this week.

Michigan State at Wisconsin
Indiana at Michigan
Minnesota at Northwestern
Illinois at Ohio State
Notre Dame at Purdue
Iowa at Penn State

Friday, September 18, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Three
As predicted, week two threw more than a few - myself included - for a loop. Week three promises more of the same with an equal amount of head-scratchers. Last week's champ Dan Meyer is here to set us straight this week. Good luck! Picks are due by the first kickoff on Saturday.

Cal at Minnesota - The Golden Gophers are off to a solid start. Week one was a breeze, followed by a great stadium opening win over Air Force. This weekend, however, things get exponentially tougher. True, the Bears have to come two time zones east, but Cal is a machine that will offer the Minnesota defense all it can handle. The experts call this a two touchdown win for Cal. I think it will be closer than that. Cal 33 - Minnesota 23.

Dan Meyer says ... Minnesota deserves to take some pride in beating Air Force of the Mountain West last week, but the top 10 Bears will be significantly tougher. Weber and Decker will give Cal some problems and the Gopher D has been respectable to date, but no upset to celebrate in the new stadium this week. Cal 31 - Minnesota 17

Eastern Michigan at Michigan - I won't go so far as to call this a trap game for the Wolverines, but EMU took Northwestern to the wire last week, Michigan is still a young team and hey, the maize and blue are not immune to shocking MAC led upsets. That said, I don't expect Michigan to lose. I do, however, expect Eastern to more than cover the generous 22.5 points they are getting. Michigan starts slow but puts it away late. Michigan 37 - Eastern Michigan 21.

Dan Meyer says ... Michigan 28 - Eastern Michigan 10

Northern Illinois at Purdue - I have to say, I've been impressed with Purdue so far. A romp over Toledo (who smoked Colorado) and a near miss at one of the toughest places to play in college football (Autzen Stadium). All I really know about NIU is that the Huskies gave UW all it could handle in the opener. The travel and tough loss will play games with the Boilers for a half or so, but Purdue pulls it out in the end. Purdue 30 - Northern Illinois 24.

Dan Meyer says ... The Boilermakers might have a slight letdown after last week's surprisingly strong showing at Oregon and the Huskies are good enough to make the upset possible. This said, I think that Wiggs kicks a late FG and the old gold and black escape to my relief. Purdue 27 - NIU 24

Temple at Penn State - Ho hum, week three in a series of preseason scrimmages. Penn State 37 - Temple 10.

Dan Meyer says ... Penn State 41 - Temple 7

Wofford at Wisconsin - Are you kidding me? This isn't the NCAA tournament, so I am not wasting any more words... Wisconsin 45 - Wofford 6

Dan Meyer says ... Yes, I DO know that the Terriers have beaten the hoops Boilers once more than Bo Ryan has in the Robbie Hummel era--but that's basketball. NO chance that Bielema is in any danger at all. Wisconsin 31 - Wofford 0

Indiana at Akron - The Hoosiers aren't afraid to go on the road against decent to good MAC foes. Akron is pretty good, but not as good as Western, who IU handled last week. Indiana squeaks by to get to - gasp - three and oh. Indiana 28 - Akron 26.

Dan Meyer says ... Indiana 21 - Akron 20.

Michigan State at Notre Dame - Two teams with their proverbial backs against the wall. MSU lost a heart-breaker to a good but very beatable Central Michigan team. Notre Dame clawed back time after time against hated rival Michigan but came up short. The Spartans almost always have the benefit of getting ND the week after Michigan drains them. State goes for win number seven in a row in South Bend. These teams are evenly matched, yet the odds makers have ND a double digit favorite. Wow. MSU comes in more focused and ready to roll and gets Jabba the Coach and the Domers - again. State 27 - ND 23.

Dan Meyer says ... TOUGH game to pick; both teams are desperate for redemption after last week. Basically a home field pick, but easily could be wrong with Sparty's recent record against the Irish. Notre Dame 24 - MSU 21

Toledo vs. Ohio State (in Cleveland) - The Rockets got pummeled by Purdue but pummeled Colorado. You know Toledo wants to get OSU like they got Michigan a year ago. I see this as close and relatively low scoring. Yes, close. Ohio State 23 - Toledo 16.

Dan Meyer says ... Would be more except Tressel rarely runs up the score. OSU 28 - Toledo 7

Arizona at Iowa - This should be a good game. Both teams are a little dinged up. Arizona is rock solid on defense. Iowa woke up in Ames last week. Iowa gets it done with the home field - in OT. Iowa 20 - Arizona 17.

Dan Meyer says ... Thinking here is that the Hawkeyes are better than vs. Northern Iowa but not as good as vs. Iowa State. Nevertheless, Kinnick is the difference as Hawks go to 3-0. Iowa 17 - Arizona 14

Northwestern at Syracuse - If this isn't a Big Ten tryout by Syracuse (three games in three weeks) I don't know what it is - suicide maybe? Northwestern got complacent last week and nearly blew it at home against Eastern Michigan. Syracuse played Minnesota tough and did better than most expected at Penn State. Is this the breakthrough? I think it might be. Syracuse 24 - Northwestern 20.

Dan Meyer says ... A bit of karma happens to Greg Paulus this football season--all those close Dookie wins at hoops are turned into close gridiron defeats. Northwestern 28 - Syracuse 24

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Night Quarterback
Another week, another beatdow in the national media. Yes, Michigan had a great victory over Notre Dame - albeit a very overrated Fighting Irish squad - but what else can you take away from the weekend? Struggles with the MAC all around, including the stunner in East Lansing. OSU played well enough to win, but again floundered when it mattered, thanks not to the conservative approach by Jim Tressel, but by the obvious lack of leadership and true quarterbacking skills from Tyrelle Pryor. Purdue tried in vain to give the league a shot in the arm but a furious rally came up short.

Oh the trials and tribulations of the Big Ten...

Team of the Week: Pretty obvious that it is Michigan. Talk about put up or shut up. Michigan has responded very, very well the first two weeks of this season. Rumors of the demise of all that is holy and well in Ann Arbor were GREATLY exaggerated.

Player of the Week: Tate Forcier. USC isn't the only team with a true freshman leading his team to big time victories.

Around the Big Ten
Wisconsin - Despite a team full of flu-ridden players, Wisconsin fought, scrapped and clawed to a very nice, underrated, overtime win over Fresno State. Next up: Wofford

Purdue - The Boilers gave a tremendous effort but a two-point conversion to tie with a minute to go was just short. I undersold this team - either that or Oregon was vastly overrated. Next up: Northern Illinois

Penn State - Ho hum, another easy win. Not as easy as most expected, but cut Big Ten wannabe Syracuse some slack, they are better than the past few years - by far. Even with a former Dukie at QB. Next up: Temple

Ohio State - Sorry Buckeyes who are ticked at Tressel, he isn't to blame. His conservativeness kept OSU in that game. Tyrelle Pryor is the problem. He can't pass, he can't lead, his immaturity shows in his visible frustration. Toledo won't be a cupcake at a neutral site. Next Up: Toledo in Cleveland

Northwestern - The Wildcats were almost the victim of one of the directional Michigan schools. A late field goal sealed the win, but left a sour taste in NU's mouth. What about the old adage that the biggest improvement comes between week one and two? Next up: at Syracuse

Minnesota - Who says you can't ride waves of emotion to a win? The Golden Gophers did that against a good MWC team (Air Force) and got the home opener out of the way. Things get exponentially tougher this weekend. Next up: Cal

Michigan State - Ouch. Ugh. Yuck. This loss to Central Michigan wasn't nearly as bad as those in 1991 or 1992, even if this State team is better than those two. CMU deserved to win and got all the bounces. MSU also shot itself with a so-so run game and penalties at all the wrong times. Now Spartans get to see why they love Dantonio so much. Next up: at Notre Dame

Michigan - Not a win for the ages by any stretch, but a much-needed, program-righting win for Rich Rod and crew. Overrated or not, a win over a rival like ND is huge for a team this young. Michigan should be able to run to 4-0 before meeting it's next rival - MSU. Next up: Eastern Michigan

Iowa - The Hawkeyes bounced back in a big way with a statement win at Iowa State. The Hawkeyes showed that game to game improvement we expect and sent a message, NIU was a fluke. Next up: Arizona

Indiana - The Hoosiers nearly got stung by the third of the directional Michigan school trifecta but dodged a major bullet in getting a much-needed win. IU stays in the MAC with a trip to Akron, where they will again get all they want and more from an underdog. Next up: at Akron

Illinois - Big win over FCS foe Illinois State and now a week off. The Illini are still very underwhelming to date and could challenge the Spartans for biggest disappointment if things don't get on track soon.

Get Gamm Winner:
Dan Meyer beat three others with the tiebreaker and picks with me this week. Tiebreaker is MSU at Notre Dame. Comment on the games in BOLD.

Cal at Minnesota
Eastern Michigan at Michigan
Northern Illinois at Purdue
Temple at Penn State
Wofford at Wisconsin
Indiana at Akron
Michigan State at Notre Dame
Toledo vs. Ohio State
Arizona at Iowa
Northwestern at Syracuse

Friday, September 11, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Two
The cupcakes have been removed from the pantry. After a week one slate in which virtually everyone played no one (except Illinois), the competition steps up a notch for week two. If the old adage that the greatest improvement comes between the first and second games holds true, the Big Ten should have a great week. But my gut tells me there are too many tough games for that to lead to a perfect weekend.

St. Louis Sparty will join me as winner of week one. We might actually see a little separation already after this slate:

Central Michigan @ Michigan State
I give you two years as evidence that Central can come into East Lansing and win: 1991 & 1992. Granted, neither of those MSU teams - even the one that was preseason top 25 in 1991 - could hold a candle to the 2009 squad in terms of depth and talent, but at the same time this is a much better CMU team as well. The Chips held their own in Arizona last weekend while MSU smashed Montana State. This will be a game for a half or so, but then State pulls away. Michigan State 31 - Central 13.

St. Louis Sparty says... I don’t see MSU having a problem with this one. CMU was pretty bad in their loss at Arizona a week ago. I know they have LeFevour, but MSU and their dual QB threat, multiple RB’s, Blaire White and the defense led by Greg Jones will be way too much for them in this game. I see the Spartans taking an easy one. MSU 35- CMU 14

Eastern Michigan @ Northwestern
A slight step up for the 'cats this weekend. EMU is a perpetual rebuilder that has never taken the step forward that rivals Western and Central have. Northwestern is a pretty good team but we'll have no idea how good until they play someone of note. Northwestern 40 - Eastern 10.

St. Louis Sparty says... NU 31 - EMU 10

Fresno State @ Wisconsin
The first of many good games on tap this weekend. Fresno State seems to find a way to rise to the occasion against big opponents, particularly on the road. Wisconsin had to dig in to hang on against Northern Illinois in the opener. A platoon at quarterback is working so far, but the Bulldogs bring a lot more to the table than NIU. The Badgers' ground game holds serve and leads to victory. Wisconsin 24 - Fresno State 18.

St. Louis Sparty says... Wisconsin 33 - Fresno 20

Syracuse @ Penn State
Greg Paulus has immediately (and surprisingly in my mind) raised the Orangemen to a level of respectability. He made a big mistake in last week's overtime loss but showed that Syracuse will be tougher than in the past few seasons. Penn State got little more than a scrimmage out of Akron last week and while 'cuse provides more for them to prepare for, I expect a runaway in State College. Penn State 38 - Syracuse 10.

St. Louis Sparty says... Penn State 38 - Syracuse 17

Western Michigan @ Indiana
Sorry Hoosiers' fans, but if your team has to sweat out a win versus Eastern Kentucky, you won't like what you see this weekend. Western laid an egg in Ann Arbor last week, but don't be fooled, this is a good team with a great quarterback. Indiana will struggle to get on track and Western will score another for the MAC over the Big Ten. Western Michigan 27 - Indiana 23.

St. Louis Sparty says... Indiana 24 - Western 23

Iowa @ Iowa State
So, do I let Iowa's lackluster opening week performance against a good and highly motivated FCS foe sway me with this pick? How about the fact that the Hawkeyes have lost four of the past five meetings in Ames? Iowa State isn't very good. But how good is Iowa with the loss of Jewell Hampton for the season and the departure of King and Kroul? Not as good as I thought. Still, Iowa rises up and gets it done, barely. Iowa 17 - Iowa State 14.

St. Louis Sparty says... Iowa 24 - Iowa State 14

Notre Dame @ Michigan
This game is garnering a lot of national hype because of how the teams fared last weekend. It deserves hype from the standpoint that these are the two winningest programs in D1 history, but I am not totally sold on either team yet. Both are better than a year ago, Michigan most markedly improved, but the Wolverines are young. ND has the edge on experience and that will override the home field advantage. It will be a good game that goes to the wire. Notre Dame 23 - Michigan 21.

St. Louis Sparty says... Probably the second biggest game in the country. Most people are talking about this one due to resurgence in Notre Dame, and the good first game for Michigan. However, I still think Notre Dame will have the upper hand in this game on the road. I see it fairly close throughout, with ND coming out on top in the end. ND 28 - Michigan 20.

Air Force @ Minnesota
I've seen the new stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota and if looks, style and locker room won the game, Minnesota might go unbeaten for the next decade. No doubt, the Gophers will be hyped for this one. The overtime win over Syracuse was closer than it should have been, but it was a road win nonetheless. Air Force annihilated its opening opponent with a 72-0 drubbing. Adrenaline and excitement, a strong aerial attack and the legs of Duane Bennett will carry Minny to victory. Minnesota 30 - Air Force 28.

St. Louis Sparty says... People up in Minneapolis are pumped for this game. Not only is it their home opener, but they are opening up a new facility (outdoors finally-November games @ Minnesota will never be the same!). I was just in Minny and it looks nice, and as mentioned, people and the school are ready to christen the stadium with its first win. Minnesota takes this one from Air Force. Minnesota 37 - Air Force 21.

Illinois State @ Illinois
The easiest game of the week for anyone in the conference, and just what Illinois needs after the pasting it took last weekend. Illinois 45 - Illinois State 6.

St. Louis Sparty says... Illinois 38 - ISU 3.

USC @ Ohio State
This game means a ton - not just to Ohio State but for the national perception of the entire conference. In my preseason prognostications, I pegged this one as a loss for OSU. Based on the struggles the Buckeyes had with Navy last week, that seems about right. But, USC is starting a true freshman quarterback, making his first ever road start. He has never played in an environment close to that of the 'shoe. Add in a few key injuries to skill positions for USC and any upper hand the Trojans had is erased. I look for Pryor to have his best game to date and for Ohio State to shut up the pundits... at least for a week. Ohio State 26 - USC 24.

St. Louis Sparty says... No question that this is the game of the week across the country. People have circled this one for a while. Ohio State may be the cream of the crop in terms of the Big 10, but I just don’t think they can win this game…even in the horseshoe. I think USC comes in with their touted freshman QB and takes a close one. USC 28 - OSU 24

Purdue @ Oregon
This one got interesting with the way Purdue came out of the gates last week and Oregon's loss and turmoil at Boise State. Autzen is one of the toughest places to play in college football and west coast trips can be brutal. Purdue might hang for a half, but not much after that. Oregon 34 - Purdue 17.

St. Louis Sparty says... Rebuilding is one thing…but rebuilding with a night game in Eugene isn’t going to help things in West Lafayette. 52 against Toledo was a good start, but Oregon will be too tough at home even without Blount at RB. I see Oregon taking a relatively easy one at home Saturday night. Oregon 35 - Purdue 21.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday Afternoon Quarterback
What a great first weekend of college football. We had two of the little guys beat BCS powers (Boise State over Oregon and BYU over Oklahoma). There were great prime time games like the Alabama win over Va Tech and the Miami-FLA upset over Florida State. Punches were thrown. The Big Ten even got into the fray.

Was Ohio State looking ahead to USC? If Navy wasn't aiming for the scarlet and gray on the 2-point conversion try, we might have our biggest Big Ten upset since App State over UM. Then again, had Northern Iowa simply converted one of two tries from 40 yards out - in the final seven seconds mind you - we'd have an even bigger story on our hands.

Get Gamm was rather predictable, and since I added Minnesota-Syracuse to the list late (thank you for omitting the game to begin with), I gave that as a freebie to people who missed the pick. Executive decision on BruceS as well - I gave him the benefit if having been a poster here for as long as I can remember! St. Louis Sparty did get his picks on line in full, so he gets to pick with me this week. Jeff, look for the games in bold.

Before we get into Get Gamm for this week, here is a team by team look after one week of play...

Illinois - Okay, so that wasn't what most of us expected. Ouch. So much for a vaunted offensive attack. It was the fifth straight loss for Illinois to border rival Missouri and the pasting at the hands of the Big 12 was all the talk among the national pundits who think the Big Ten is about as good as the Big Sky these days...

Indiana - A six point home win over a FCS foe? Not a great start for Indiana in Bill Lynch's second season. The Hoosiers are going to need a much stronger showing if they expect to pick off a Western Michigan team that fell flat at The Big House in its opener.

Iowa - How in the world does a common sleeper pick in the Big Ten come that close to losing to a FCS opponent, at home? It took not one, but two blocked field goals to seal the win against in-state Northern Iowa and not once did the Hawkeyes look good in the win. Will this be another up and down year in Iowa City? Iowa fans simply have to hope for that common and expected big jump forward between weeks one and two or it could be a rough go...

Michigan - While I am not ready to christen this team a Big Ten contender like so many of the national pundits were after the solid 31-7 opening win, I will tell you that Michigan is a lot better than they were a year ago. The Wolverines are young but have more of the pieces needed to make Rich Rod's offense go and the defense was impressive in the opener. The training wheels come off Saturday when Notre Dame comes calling.

Michigan State - It was what it was. A good, solid, large margin victory over a FCS school. No glaring mistakes, no major issues. Both QBs played well and showed us why the decision isn't all that easy. Seven, count 'em SEVEN scholarship tailbacks saw action. It gets a level tougher this week and then really steps up in week three.

Minnesota - The Golden Gophers probably should have hammered Syracuse - the team with a former point guard at QB - but hey, a win is a win, and road wins are nice no matter who they come against. Minnesota wasn't as sharp offensively as expected and has some things to shore up before the stadium opener this weekend...

Northwestern - Not much to say when a team takes Towson to the woodshed. At least some of these other 1-AA teams are good for their level. But Towson? Still, it was a big win for a NU team hungry to take it to the next level.

Ohio State - The Buckeyes very nearly were knocked out by a game Navy team but withstood a hearty, Blount-like sock to the jaw to hold on and set up a battle with USC. The concern is, did OSU just get caught looking ahead or are they in for a very un-Buckeye like season?

Penn State - 31-0 at the half, 31-7 at the end but without the fanfare Michigan got. Joe Pa was back prowling the sidelines and everyone got to play. Mission accomplished.

Purdue - Purdue might have surprised me more than any other team this weekend. The offense exploded on Toledo and served notice (to me) that my last place prediction might be off target. Time will tell, but it was a very solid start to the Danny Hope era.

Wisconsin - The Badgers cruised early and then had to hold on, showing themselves (and the rest of us) that this is not an ultra talented UW squad. Northern Illinois is decent, but the Badgers needed to put this away when given the chance. The very fact that they didn't will probably bite them at some point this season.

Get Gamm - Week Two:
Here are the games to pick this week. Jeff, those in bold require commentary. Tiebreaker is UM - ND.

C. Michigan @ Michigan State
Eastern Michigan @ Northwestern
Fresno State @ Wisconsin
Syracuse @ Penn State
Western Michigan @ Indiana
Iowa @ Iowa State
Notre Dame @ Michigan
Air Force @ Minnesota
Illinois State @ Illinois
USC @ Ohio State
Purdue @ Oregon

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Get Gamm - Week One
It's baack! Get Gamm, your favorite beat the host pick 'em game is back for what has to be about the sixth rendition. I don't have a ton of time to spell it all out this week, but you know the drill. Beat me, pick in the Get Gamm blog the next week. Be the overall winner for the season, shop in the TFS Online store. I am the reigning champ, can anyone dethrone me?

Picks are due in by kickoff of the IU game THURSDAY. Tiebreaker is spread and then total points on OSU-Navy (pick the score). My picks are noted in bold.

Note - adding Minnesota game, which was NOT on the site!

Eastern Kentucky @ Indiana

Akron @ Penn State
Montana State @ Michigan State
Navy @ Ohio State (OSU 41 - Navy 10)
Toledo @ Purdue
Towson @ Northwestern
Northern Iowa @ Iowa
Western Michigan @ Michigan
Missouri @ Illinois
Northern Illinois @ Wisconsin
Minnesota @ Syracuse