Friday, October 30, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Nine
Nothing too exciting on tap around the Big Ten this week... which makes me wonder. Are we due for another shocking upset? Is this the right time for Iowa to fall? Will Illinois put it together? Can Northwestern tap the well again? Every week is critical from here on out, even if there is no marquee game on the slate.

Picking with me this week is Phats... our first back-to-back winner on the season.

Indiana at Iowa - It might sound funny, considering the way IU crumbled with a big lead in Evanston last weekend and with the way Iowa has magically pulled out some wins this season, but this might well be the "upset alert" game for the weekend. Indiana has nothing to lose. Iowa has everything to lose. In fact, Iowa already has lost a bit - with another tailback down for the season, not to mention a solid piece of the offensive line (Dace Richardson). Honestly, I don't expect Iowa to lose here, but hey, stranger things have happened (think WMU to end the season a few years back). All that hot air aside, Iowa makes it 13-straight. Barely. Again. Iowa 20 - Indiana 16.

Phats says ... How many bullets can the Hawkeyes dodge? Shouldn't need to against IU. Finally an easy victory will come for the Hawkeyes at home. IOWA 31 indiana 10

Purdue at Wisconsin - The Badgers are well rested. The Boilermakers are finally on a roll. UW still has an outside shot at a Big Ten title in sight. Purdue needs to win out to go bowling. It all sets up for an interesting game in Madison. Weather won't be a factor but turnovers will. As in, Purdue still coughs it up like a cat coughs up hairballs (often) and Wisconsin is great at forcing the rock to come loose. I think the mini-run by the Boilers comes to an end in Mad-town. Wisconsin 27 - Purdue 14.

Phats says ... Anyone want to take a guess here who I will pick in this one? Of course my Boilers for two reasons, they're my team and I would never pick against them, and I truly believe we have a shot at Wisconsin with the way we are playing. The most shocking thing that came out of the ho hum win over Illinois was no turnovers, if that happens again we can play with anyone remaining on our schedule. Carson Wiggs, the best field goal kicker in the country is the difference making the game winner. Boiler Up.. Hammer Down Baby! PURDUE 24 wisconsin 21

New Mexico State at Ohio State - This one is a tune-up game for the Buckeyes who face a stretch run of at Penn State, Iowa, at Michigan. Ohio State 45 - New Mexico State 3.

Phats says ... YAWN this one will be over at halftime. OHIO STATE 41 new mexico state 3

Michigan at Illinois
- At a surface level, this game seems like a no brainer. Illinois has been flat out horrible this season. Michigan is young and mistake prone, but better than most expected. This seems like it should be an easy pick. But you know that the Illini are going to show up at some point, even if it is just one time the rest of the way. I wasn't gutsy enough to call an Indiana win over Iowa, but I'll go out on a limb here - maybe a long limb - and predict that Juice gets it flowing and Illinois rises up for its first D1 win of the season. Illinois 23 - Michigan 21.

Phats says ... Could the Illini get their first big ten win against the wolverines, it's possible, but not probable. While I am not on the Michigan love train like a lot of people, they are still better than Illinois home or away. MICHIGAN 28 illinois 17

Penn State at Northwestern (tiebreaker) - The cardiac cats are going to have to show up earlier for this game than they did against Indiana. Penn State is finally starting to hit its stride. This is a potential trap game with Ohio State coming to State College next weekend, but something tells me JoePa will have his men focused and ready to roll. NU is thinking 1995 with this one (except the Rose Bowl is not in range). Penn State has other ideas. Penn State 34 - Northwestern 17.

Phats says ... How many lives do these cats have?! My Boilers should have beaten them, IU should have beaten them, now they take on a red hot Penn State team. Penn State is playing really well on defense, that's enough to get it done over the Cats. PENN STATE 38 northwestern 10

Michigan State at Minnesota - On paper, we have two 4-4 teams fighting for their bowl lives. In reality, we have a team that is two plays from 6-2 (4-1) and a tie for first in the Big Ten and another that has scored all of seven points in the last two games. Michigan State was stung hard by another heartbreaking loss last week, but has shown great resolve under Mark Dantonio when faced with these situations. Minnesota is without Eric Decker, moving to a two QB rotation and just hasn't had the "it" factor of late. Michigan State 31 - Minnesota 20.

Phats says ... Trust me all of Boiler Nation can relate to the Spartans, we have seen that happen to us many a times, and even some this year. The real question will be can they recover from this heartbreaking loss. Minnesota on the other hand also had what could potentially be a heartbreaking loss if Decker isn't playing Saturday. I think it will be a back and forth game, I think this one comes down to the wire again, but don't worry State fans you'll pull it out. MICHIGAN STATE 28 minnesota 21

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Afternoon Quarterback
On a personal note, I am still struggling with the MSU loss to Iowa. Hat's off to Iowa - the Hawkeyes find a way to win. But I'd like to sucker punch a referee today. Hard.

Now that I have that off my chest... it was more of the same this past weekend. Iowa, Penn State and Ohio State remain at the top. MSU is squarely in the next group, wondering what it has to do to get a win. Two games this year lost on the last play. Four by 15 points. Minnesota is in trouble. Indiana likely saw its bowl hopes swirl down the toilet with an epic collapse. Northwestern's season got new life. Purdue has put two good games together. Illinois is bad - real bad. OSU plays both Penn State and Iowa coming up, hang on tight, it is going to be a wild finish...

Team of the Week: Iowa. The Hawkeyes have sat here a lot this season. They are as plain as vanilla ice cream. But they get it done. In a classic Big Ten battle, the Hawkeyes pulled a victory from the jaws of defeat, moved up to fourth in the latest BCS poll and are squarely in the driver's seat.

Player of the Week: Daryll Clark of Penn State led his team to its first win in Ann Arbor since 1996 (seemed to be a common theme for the road winners this past weekend) with a rock solid performance. 16-27, 230 yards and 4 TD passes.

Around the Big Ten
Illinois - Ron Zook got a vote of confidence from his boss. That usually is code for, start lookin' for a new gig. Illinois won't win again. The Illini have sent it in. Amazing for a team that is two years removed from a Rose Bowl berth with some real talent in the lineup. Next up: Michigan

Indiana - I feel for the Hoosiers. IU jumped to a 28-3 lead early, got bottled up the rest of the way and lost in the end. What a shame. That loss likely means home for the holidays. How will the cream and crimson respond? We'll find out in a hurry, as the Hoosiers travel to Iowa City for a battle with the nation's number four team. Next Up: at Iowa

Iowa - Unreal. This team has the magic. Nothing pretty, but solid all the way around. Iowa has to be careful not to get complacent because Indiana has come close twice on the road and would love to rain on Iowa's parade. That said, Iowa is in control with just one road game left - a tough trip to C-bus. Next up: Indiana

Michigan - We're seeing the youth exposed in Ann Arbor. Penn State manhandled the Wolverines on Saturday and that leaves the maize and blue 1-3 in the conference with a few tough games remaining. Will Rich Rod get the boys to buckle down and win a few more to get that all important bowl bid? Stay tuned. Next up: at Illinois

Michigan State - The Spartans are two plays from a 6-2 (4-1) record and a share of first place in the Big Ten. State did everything right against Iowa, except win. Dantonio has been great at keeping the Spartans on an even keel, win or lose, and he'll need to dial up a big performance on the road this week to jump start a critical stretch of winnable games. Next up: at Minnesota

Minnesota - The Golden Gophers have scored seven points in the last two games, saw stud wide receiver Eric Decker go down with an injury and have to play another white hot defense this weekend. At 4-4 and with games against MSU and Iowa remaining (plus Illinois and South Dakota State), the Gophers are in must-win now mode. Next up: Michigan State

Northwestern - Northwestern pulled off what has been pulled off on the 'cats in the past. A highly improbably come back win. Down 28-3, NU pecked away at the lead and then held strong at the end to beat Indiana. That was huge, as the Wildcats still have Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin on tap (plus Illinois). Next up: Penn State

Ohio State - Ohio State was very sluggish in the first half against Minnesota, but blew the doors off the game with a big play to start the second half. It gets easy for a week, and then OSU finishes with a trip to Happy Valley, a huge home date with Iowa and a roadie to Michigan. Next Up: New Mexico State

Penn State - The Nittany Lions are starting to fire on all cylinders with an eye on a November 7 matchup with the Buckeyes. Penn State needs help in the conference race, but has BCS on the brain. First up, the Nits have to be careful not to overlook the Wildcats... Next up: at Northwestern

Purdue - Don't look now but Purdue has a two game win streak. However, the Boilers have to travel to Madison to take on a rested and hungry UW squad. Getting at least three wins in the last four games is a tall order, but with new found confidence, maybe Purdue is up to the task. Next up: at Wisconsin

Wisconsin - The Badgers have lost two straight. The week off came at a great time. Now the Badgers are focused on winning out, an outside shot at a piece of the Big Ten title and a New Year's Day bowl berth. It starts with a hot Purdue team coming to town. Next up: Purdue

Get Gamm Winner:
Phats, Andrew and Buckeye Nation all went 5-0 this week - thanks to Iowa's comeback win. Phats was closest on the tiebreaker so he becomes our first back-to-back picker on the season...

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

Friday, October 23, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Eight
Only six more shots to catch the leaders (five regular season weeks plus bowls). Two big games on the slate this weekend. Penn State hasn't won in Ann Arbor in an awfully long time. Iowa and Michigan State know what it means to play tight games as most of theirs over the past three decades have been in that vain.

Gonna be wet, windy and chilly for most around the league. Lace 'em up, strap 'em tight and let's go!

Indiana at Northwestern - This one has huge ramifications as far as bowl eligibility goes. Indiana needs two more wins. Northwestern is in the same boat. Neither of them has much margin for error with some tough games remaining. IU got a confidence boost last week, while Northwestern got bullied a bit in the second half. When most everything is equal, give me the home team. Northwestern 31 - Indiana 24.

Phats says ... I have a problem picking IU in anything because I am a Boiler and can't stand the Hoosiers. That trend won't change here, Northwestern will have little problems with the Hoosiers. NORTHWESTERN 31 indiana 17

Illinois at Purdue - This one should be interesting. Has Illinois quit on Ron Zook? Looked to me like he might of quit on his team at the end of that IU game last week. Purdue got a signature win for Coach Hope and may have finally cleared the hurdle that has been in the way. It's really simple. Purdue has a fantastic offense - but must hold onto the ball. Illinois has arguably more talent, but has been an absolute dud so far. More of the same this weekend. Purdue 33 - Illinois 23.

Phats says ... I am so glad that picking my beloved Boilers each week finally paid off! I can't tell if we're getting the Illini at a good time when they will be discouraged and pretty much throw in the towel, or a bad time where they band together and try to turn what's left of the season around. My guess is the first scenario. Meanwhile, spirits are high in West Lafayette, the Boilers finally closed the deal on a big game, and I see us using the momentum and taking out Illinois early. Boiler Up! PURDUE 41 illinois 14

Minnesota at Ohio State - The Gophers are mired in a stretch of brutal games, and in the middle of a "State" sandwich. OSU has got to be spitting nails after the loss last week. Pryor is taking heat, some of it deserved, all of it to be expected (he is, after all, the QB). Minnesota failed to score last week at Penn State and I think the Buckeyes boast a better defense. Will anything change for the OSU offense? How will Pryor respond? Can Minnesota steal one while the Buckeyes are going all introspective and such? Ohio State 23 - Minnesota 10.

Phats says ... I don't think Ohio State will lose this one, I know fans are all over Tressell, and Pryor, but they will have little problems, and get a nice rebound win over the Gophers in the Shoe. OHIO STATE 28 minnesota 10

Penn State at Michigan
- A big game in Ann Arbor. Michigan is coming off the slaughter of am FCS JV team. Penn State came up big at home against Minnesota. The Nits have been snake bitten in Ann Arbor since the mid to late 90s. How will the Wolverines fare against one of the better teams it will face all season? I think Michigan will give Penn State a game, but the Nittany Lions have a lofty goal in front of them and that goal is very attainable. Penn State 26 - Michigan 20.

Phats says ... This could be a really good game, or a blow out. I am not quite sold on how good Michigan actually is, this should let me know more where they are at. I think it's been awhile since the Lions have won in the Big House, but I think that all changes this year, State's defense playing too well at this point. PENN STATE 28 michigan 14

Iowa at Michigan State (tiebreaker) - Be still my heart. MSU is where it was about a year ago. The top team in the Big Ten coming into East Lansing and a chance for the Spartans to make that move to the top. Last year, faced with the same situation, the Spartans bombed - hard. But after a tough start, with two losses by a combined 5 points and three straight overall, State has won three in a row and looks to make a statement. Iowa has plain found a way to get it done, week in and week out. The Hawkeyes know how to win close games, know how to win when playing poorly, know how to win on the road. The atmosphere will be electric in E.L. and we'll be treated to some good, old-fashioned Big Ten football. Iowa wants revenge. MSU is on a mission. Home field and the league's best kicker is the difference. Michigan State 27 - Iowa 23.

Phats says ... Iowa keeps on winning and keeps on getting very little respect from the national media. Michigan State has definitely righted their early season woes, and this in my opinion is the best match up Saturday. I see it coming down to a last second field goal, as Iowa wins it as time expires. IOWA 24 michigan state 21

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback
The title chase got really interesting with this past Saturday's results. Iowa spotted Wisconsin an early lead but once again, found a way to win. Ohio State was a lock to gain a 17th straight road win... until Purdue slammed the door shut. Penn State dominated Minnesota. MSU kept its streak alive. Only Iowa remains unbeaten, with the "three States" right on the Hawkeyes' heels. With tough road games in East Lansing and Columbus still on tap, even the two-loss teams have an outside shot at sharing the title.

Team of the Week: Purdue. Let's give the Boilers (and their faithful followers) a little love. Purdue has been snake bitten all year. Turnovers have crushed their hopes in several games. Old gold and black was ready for a win and a statement win it was. I'm particularly impressed with Carson Wiggs. The best kicker no one knows about in the country.

Player of the Week: I have to give a little love to a Spartan this week. Blair White was money against Northwestern. He made several big catches, caught 12 balls for 186 yards and two scores and was an all around difference maker with a big hit on special teams as well.

Around the Big Ten
Illinois - I saw Ron Zook shake his head and laugh when Juice Williams fumbled the ball as Illinois was closing in on a score that would have given the Illini a 14-13 lead. Then I watched his team fight at the end, to the end, while Zook refused to lengthen the game with his time outs. He has quit on his team. Time for Illinois to start the coaching search. Next up: at Purdue

Indiana - A very nice win for Indiana over Illinois. The Hoosiers are just a couple of wins away from a bowl berth, not bad considering where this team has been in recent weeks. If the offense is clicking, the defense has enough play makers to keep IU in games. Big one coming up this Saturday. Next Up: at Northwestern

Iowa - The Hawkeyes just find a way to get it done, week in and week out. Nothing flashy, fancy or all too impressive. Just win baby. A big road test looms this weekend, at a place where Iowa seeks revenge for a tough loss last season. Next up: at Michigan State

Michigan - Yawn. Michigan set school records on Saturday but in my opinion, they shouldn't count. Delaware State is more like a borderline Division 2 school than FCS. Heck, Delaware State lost TWO games on Saturday. They had to forfeit a conference game to get pounded at Michigan. The good part for State? They got a $550,000 payout to be Michigan's whipping boy. Maize and blue fans - it gets a lot tougher next week. Next up: Penn State

Michigan State - September's swoon has become a distant memory as the Spartans have won three straight to set up a huge home game this coming weekend. It took a half for the offense to wake up, but Cousins to White was firing on all cylinders in the second half, while the freshman duo of Caper and Baker got the ground game going. The real difference has been the MSU defense. Next up: Iowa

Minnesota - The Golden Gophers posted a goose egg in snowy State College and life gets no easier this weekend. A second-straight road trip, to play a team stung by a rare conference loss and hungry to silence the critics... not exactly what a Minnesota team seeking consistency and wins needs right now. Next up: at Ohio State

Northwestern - Northwestern had its chances in East Lansing and needs to turn things around. Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin still loom on the schedule. The offense is moving the ball through the air, but without a ground game, things are grinding to a halt. Big game in Evanston this weekend given the remaining schedule. Next up: Indiana

Ohio State - Oh my. Not a real shock that the Buckeyes lost a conference game, but at 1-5 Purdue? The offense is a mess. Pryor had four turnovers on Saturday. The defense can only do so much. Time to shake things up. Next Up: Minnesota

Penn State - The Nittany Lions are coming together. That cupcake OOC slate did PSU no favors, but now the defense is settling in and the offense is figuring things out as well. The game this weekend is huge because Penn State has had nothing go its way in Ann Arbor over the years. Win to stay in the race, lose and start hoping others can help. Next up: at Michigan

Purdue - See above. Purdue finally got that much needed win and now can focus on putting together a streak. The opponent this weekend is wounded... are they too wounded to play or does that make them extra dangerous? Next up: Illinois

Wisconsin - The Badgers get a breather after getting punched in the mouth the past two weeks. Wisconsin is one of those, good, not great teams, but the way the schedule sets up, 10-2 looks very possible and that includes an outside shot at a Big Ten title. Next up: BYE

Get Gamm Winner:
Three tied at 5-1, and while technically our overall leader - St. Louis Spartan - was closer on the tiebreaker, I've decided to reward Phats for his loyalty to Purdue! Phats also went 5-1 and was one point from Jeff on the tiebreaker. So Phats, pick away!

Indiana at Northwestern
Illinois at Purdue
Minnesota at Ohio State
Penn State at Michigan
Iowa at Michigan State (tiebreaker)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Seven
Off in the distance, I hear the pounding of basketballs on the hardwood. Could it be that we're already moving past the mid-point of the college football regular season? Wow. Time flies.

We've spread the getting of Gamm wealth among everyone - except Phats - so far, but no one is making up much ground on my old college roomie, St. Louis Spartan. Will anyone make a move this week?

Iowa at Wisconsin - The Game of the Week in the conference. Only two teams remain unschated in league play and both take to the road this weekend. However, Iowa has a tougher task ahead than OSU as the Hawkeyes face a UW team that has lost just three games at home in its last 37. Plus, Bucky was pretty well thrashed in C-bus last weekend and is looking to take it out on someone. In that case, who better than a rival? Iowa has three tough road trips left - UW, MSU and OSU. I think they find a way to get this one done. Iowa 24 - Wisconsin 23.

BruceS says ... What can you say about Iowa? Preseason had everyone talking about how good they were going to be. After the first few games everyone was asking what was wrong with them. Now, they are again the talk of the town. Wisconsin seems to be hot or cold lacking some consistency. I'm picking the Hawkeyes to keep rolling with a solid road win. Iowa 27 Wisc 17

Northwestern at Michigan State - There are a few ways to slice this one. Northwestern has been a major pain in MSU's backside in East Lansing of late. Michigan State is playing solid, inspired football right now. The Wildcats haven't played anyone worth their weight - except maybe Minnesota - and have struggled to beat two MAC teams who are a collective 0-10. The injury bug is biting at State right now, but there is more depth than any time I can recall. I like State to control the clock with a solid rushing attack and for Cousins and crew to dink and dunk the 'cat D to death. NU will get their licks, but in the end, State prevails. Michigan State 31 - Northwestern 20.

BruceS says ... The Spartans are on a mini roll winning their last two. Yet, can they overcome the rash of injuries of late at key positions, most importantly at QB. I, for one, hope to see Keith Nichol keep the job as I think he has more of "it" than Cousins. Coming out of h.s. he wasn't one of the most recruited QB's in the country for nothing. I say he plays and plays well against another somewhat up and down Northwestern team who historically gives the Spartans fits. Michigan State wins again and continues to build momentum, 31 - 24

Delaware State at Michigan - This would be worth my time if it was maize and blue with winged helmets vs. maize and blue with winged helmets (i.e. M vs. Delaware instead of Delaware State). This is perfect timing for a Michigan team on its heels. Michigan 41 - Delaware State 10.

BruceS says ... This should be no contest and a chance for Michigan to play a lot of people, resting those who can benefit from such. I don't know anything about Del. State but I am comfortable giving Michigan an easy win, 42 - 13

Ohio State at Purdue - Ohio State is going for a record in West Lafayette. Ohio State has won 15 straight Big Ten road games, going all the way back to the 17-10 loss at Penn State in 2005. A win this week would tie Michigan's streak of 17 straight road wins from 1988-1992. Meanwhile, Purdue is trying to right the ship. The Boilers have lost five straight, some in excruciating manner, and would love to play spoiler here. I think Purdue will come out and play their best game of the season, but I'm not sold that is enough. Ohio State 27 - Purdue 23.

BruceS says ... Defense wins in the B10 and the Buckeyes have lots of that. Purdue still trying to find themselves post-Tiller and will have some more growing pains before things get better. This game gives Pryor and the offense a chance to improve as they will need to get better in order for them to run the table the balance of the B10 schedule. tOhio State 30 Purdue 14

Minnesota at Penn State - Seems like ABC missed the boat on this one. Sure, the Gophers have shocked Penn State at Beaver Stadium in the past. Yes, Penn State hasn't really beaten anyone worth their weight thus far. But picking this over Iowa at Wisconsin? Questionable. Penn State has something to prove. Minnesota desires a notable victory. Penn State might have Michigan on the brain, but I doubt it. This will be a decent game, but Penn State wins going away. Penn State 37 - Minnesota 24.

BruceS says ... The Gophers seem to be improving weekly even if the record may not reflect it. Penn State is searching for some consistency and needs to play a good game against a quality opponent. Playing at home gives PSU the nod here and they get a good win against a pesky Gopher team. PSU 27 Minn 20

Illinois at Indiana - Why is it that Indiana gets all the night games on Big Ten Network? Night games should be good ones. This one? Doesn't fit the bill. Illinois is a mess. Indiana isn't very good. This might be the best chance at a conference win for either until the pair play the Boilermakers (sorry Phat, Dan and my other Purdue brothas). Time to toss a coin. Heads = home team wins. Tails = visitors win. Flip...bouncing, spinning... and it lands on its side. No, not really! If Juice plays, Illinois wins. Zook wants to keep his job - I think - so Juice starts and Illinois wins. Finally. Illinois 28 - Indiana 21.

BruceS says ... This is the toughest game for me to pick. Illinois is so bad and in disarray right now I don't know how I can pick them to win against anyone. Yet, Indiana was so bad last week at UVA, I don't see how I can pick them to win. Will it be McGee or Juice for the Illini? On paper they would appear to be the better team. I think Juice and company finally play well enough to win one against a faltering Indiana team. Illinois 24 Indiana 20.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mid-season report card
That time of year. Six weeks in, time to grade my preseason prognostications. I had one or two nailed, but am a predictable game or two off here and there. Following is a team by team look at who I had pegged where at this point versus actual and then a look at my preseason prediction versus my new projection with the requisite commentary.

Before that though, check out the 2010-2014 Bowl Pecking Order for the Big Ten. I like picking up the Gator in place of the Champs. More New Year's Day coverge. And we trade one Texas bowl for two. I hope the Insight is planning a move off of NFL Network and onto a major network or that isn't worthy of the 4/5 slot. More here...

Team - actual v. predicted at six weeks / preseason vs. adjusted finish

Illinois - 1-4 (0-3) vs. 3-2 (1-2) / 8-4 (5-3) vs. 3-9 (2-6)
Yuck. I bought the flaming bag of you know what that Zook and Co. were selling over the summer. Off by just two games right now, but Illinois is a program in major disarray.

Indiana - 3-3 (0-2) vs. 2-4 (0-2) / 3-9 (1-7) vs. 4-8 (1-7)
Hoosiers are a game ahead of pace. Thought WMU would bite them. Everything else has been predictable and will remain that way.

Iowa - 6-0 (2-0) vs. 5-1 (1-1) / 9-3 (5-3) vs. 10-2 (6-2)
Iowa is a bona fide contender. The game in Ohio State might be for all the marbles.

Michigan - 4-2 (1-2) vs. 3-3 (1-2) / 6-6 (3-5) vs. 7-5 (3-5)
Not far from my prediction. The win over Notre Dame is the difference. A young team that is improving but the schedule doesn't get much easier down the stretch.

Michigan State - 3-3 (2-1) vs. 5-1 (2-1) / 10-2 (6-2) vs. 8-4 (6-2)
Tough losses to CMU and ND are the difference so far. State has a chance to do some nice things the rest of the way but needs to stay healthy.

Minnesota - 4-2 (2-1) vs. 4-2 (2-1) / 7-5 (4-4) vs. 7-5 (4-4)
Bingo! I nailed one. The Gophers are pretty much who I thought they'd be. Decent, but not great.

Northwestern - 4-2 (1-1) vs. 6-0 (2-0) / 7-5 (3-5) vs. 6-6 (3-5)

I had NU pegged to be better than this so far with a slide late. I still expect a slide and that tough loss to Syracuse might be the difference between bowling and home for the holidays.

Ohio State - 5-1 (3-0) vs. 5-1 (3-0) / 10-2 (7-1) vs. 10-2 (7-1)
Another Bingo. Nailed the Buckeyes, even the "close home loss to a young USC team." OSU will win the conference - again. YAWN.

Penn State - 5-1 (1-1) vs. 6-0 (2-0) / 11-1 (7-1) vs. 10-2 (6-2)
That loss to Iowa is the only thing in the way of a bingo trifecta. But that loss to Iowa will mean that despite a win over OSU in November, PSU will finish one game out of the title.

Purdue - 1-5 (0-2) vs. 2-4 (0-2) / 2-10 (0-8) vs. 1-11 (0-8)
Purdue is about as bad as I thought record-wise, but actually better so far on the field. One win may totally change things, but I'm not sure where that win will come from.

Wisconsin - 5-1 (2-1) vs. 3-3 (0-3) / 7-5 (3-5) vs. 10-2 (6-2)
The team I most vastly under-rated. UW has one more road block (Iowa) otherwise should cruise to a nice bowl berth in sunny central Florida.
Monday Afternoon Quarterback
Ah yes, as predicted things are starting to get interesting in the Big Ten. It is still early, but only two teams remain unscathed (Iowa and Ohio State) and there is a pile with one loss (Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern). All of that should make for a must-see rest of October with November looming large as the Big Ten aims to stay in the national picture.

This past weekend brought much of the same, with a few brow raisers here and there. Iowa is 6-0 for the first time since 1985. Ohio State is doing it every which way but offensively. Michigan State seems to have found the defense that was lost at the onset, but is losing key players to serious injury at an alarming rate. Penn State needs to play someone, anyone decent to show me they belong in any title talk. Purdue needs to swap schedules with the Nits to gain some confidence.

Team of the Week: Iowa. Sound familiar? Well, the Hawkeyes haven't started off this hot since 1985 and are the lone, overall unbeaten remaining. Week two of the gauntlet brings a trip to Wisconsin, followed by dates with Michigan State and Ohio State as well. If Iowa wins the conference, it deserves every bit of the accolades that will come their way...

Player of the Week: A pile of players had impressive performances last weekend, from Iowa TE Tony Moeaki, to MSU RB Larry Caper, OSU LB Ross Homan, Michigan DE Brandon Graham and Penn State QB Daryl Clark. But honestly? No one stood out as the difference maker in a game this past weekend.

Around the Big Ten
Illinois - Wow. The Illini are bad. Really bad. Hey Coach, great call on inserting Eddie McGee into the lineup. 2-8 for 31 yards? Woeful, at best. The next and maybe only best chance to get a win? This weekend. Another loss and Illinois might as well start that coaching search. Next Up: at Indiana.

Indiana - For as good as Indiana looked at Michigan, it has looked as bad - if not worse - the past two weeks. UVA whipped the Hoosiers on Saturday. IU will be hard pressed to get the three more wins required to go bowling, but this week offers up one decent shot. Next Up: Illinois

Iowa - Iowa is 6-0. Only unbeaten (overall) remaining in the Big Ten. The schedule is really tough down the stretch, but Iowa has "that" look right now. Keeping it balanced on offense, tough on defense. Is a magical season in store? They're halfway there. Next up: at Wisconsin

Michigan - The Wolverines remain a work in progress but gave Iowa all it could handle, even while coughing the ball up five times in raucous Kinnick. Tate Forcier got a little more dinged up in Iowa City, but M gets a breather before a date with Penn State. Next up: Delaware State

Michigan State - For all those waiting on MSU's post Michigan game collapse, here's some news for you - the Spartans are 3-0 under Mark Dantonio the week after the Michigan game. State dominated at Illinois but lost another player for the season and saw QB Keith Nichol hurt his left elbow. MSU is back to even with four of the last six at home. Next up: Northwestern

Minnesota - The Golden Gophers got a nice home win over Purdue to stay in the title race and inch closer to bowl eligibility. Things get much tougher this week with a trip to State College. Next up: at Penn State

Northwestern - The Wildcats have struggled with two (very) inferior MAC foes this year. That said, the 'cats are 4-2 (1-1) and hungry to take the next step. Can they ruin MSU's homecoming as they have so often of late? They better play better than last week if they hope to continue said trend. Next up: at Michigan State

Ohio State - The Buckeyes have the defense rolling and now, apparently, the special teams units as well. The offense was a dud against Wisconsin but didn't need to be world-beaters. The Buckeyes seek history on the road at Purdue this weekend. That and a 4-0 conference start. Next Up: at Purdue

Penn State - The Nittany Lions finally smacked an inferior opponent in the face - hard - and kept swinging all game. Minnesota comes calling this weekend, a nice tune-up for the trip to Ann Arbor the following week. Next up: Minnesota

Purdue - Purdue finally just plain got smacked last weekend. There is talent here, but not enough to win games without near perfection. That's what it will take this weekend. Next up: Ohio State

Wisconsin - The Badgers finally looked rather mediocre on offense. The defense is strong but two long drives produced NO points, a recipe for a big, fat L when playing the cream of the crop. Rival Iowa comes knocking this weekend. Will UW step up or was the 5-0 start a flash in the pan? Next up: Iowa

Get Gamm Winner:
BruceS was the only one aside from yours truly to go unbeaten and becomes the sixth different winner this season. Phats, get on it, you're the only one left not to beat me! Time to stop picking the Boilers! :)

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

Friday, October 09, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Six...
Full slate this week, with every team in action, including three OOC games and two key in-conference battles. This is where we start to see a little separation - if not by record - in terms of the haves and the have nots.

Miami-OH at Northwestern - The Miami-Northwestern connections run deep. Deep enough that I wonder why this isn't an automatic game every year? Maybe one reasons is where the programs are right now. Miami is giving up points and yards by the truck load. Northwestern has no problems gaining yards and racking up points. First one to 40 wins? Maybe. Miami holds a shocking 6-2 series edge but isn't in the same ballpark this year... unless Northwestern keeps forgetting how to tackle. Northwestern 41 - Miami 31.

AndrewJ1313 says ... To date, Northwestern hasn’t beaten anyone impressive nor have they lost to anyone impressive. This week they get a break from Big Ten play and welcome the bottom of the MAC barrel Miami Redhawks. Miami is terrible and Northwestern should turn in their Big Ten resignation if they lose this one. Northwestern 38, Miami-OH 17

Michigan State at Illinois - This is a really big game for both teams. Once thought to be two of the sleepers to contend for the title, Illinois is a really bad 1-3, with three blowout losses to its credit. Michigan State is arguably two plays from 4-1, but still sits at 2-3 with something to prove. Will last week's win over Michigan be the springboard the Spartans needed? Dantonio coached teams have fared better than past MSU coach's squads post Michigan week. Illinois starts Eddie McGee at QB. That will either inject life or speed the spiral. Michigan State 31 - Illinois 23.

AndrewJ1313 says ... Both of these teams need this win. Illinois is floundering and has a new QB running the offense. Michigan State will carry the momentum from last weeks impressive OT win over Michigan to salvage this season. I still think MSU will make it to bowl eligibility and Ron Zook may make it to the unemployment line. MSU 28, Illinois 24

Purdue at Minnesota - This one is really critical for Minnesota. Purdue is about where I expected them to be, albeit they've lost three games they very easily could have won, maybe should have. But the Gophers have lost two in a row at home, including a rivalry game last weekend. Purdue is racking up the offensive stats, while the Golden Gophers are bringing up the rear. The key will come down to turnovers. Purdue turns it over - a lot. It bites them again. Minnesota 27 - Purdue 24.

AndrewJ1313 says ... What can you say about Purdue? I was always told if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. With that in mind… Minnesota 32, Purdue 21

Eastern Illinois at Penn State - The only reason I will burn a few words is because former Iowa signal caller Jake Christensen leads the Panthers. EIU is actually a nice 4-1 but they've not faced the likes of Penn State. The Nittany Lions have still not fired on all cylinders this season, but use this as a tune up for a tough stretch forthcoming. Penn State 38 - Eastern Illinois 13.

AndrewJ1313 says ... How did Penn St. manage a FCS school in the middle of the season?! This one doesn’t even deserve commentary let alone TV air time.PSU 54, Eastern Illinois 13

Indiana at Virginia - I don't know much about UVA except that they lost to a FCS foe William & Mary but beat a decent North Carolina team last week. Indiana hasn't beaten anyone of consequence but proved that it can on the road and perform (at Michigan). These teams appear to be pretty evenly matched. I'll be rooting for the Big Ten, but UVA is tough to beat at home on homecoming. Virginia 20 - Indiana 17.

AndrewJ1313 says ... Yawn of the week in college football. The Cavaliers are a bigger disappointment than Illinois and I think Indiana is better then predicted going into the season. The loss in Ann Arbor was a heart breaker and last week they were just out classed by a very good OSU squad. Indiana rebounds this week against a terrible, terrible, terrible ACC foe. Indiana 30 - UVA 24

Wisconsin at Ohio State (Tiebreaker) - The game of the week in the Big Ten. We get to see if the Badgers are all they're cracked up to be at a perfect 5-0. We also get to see how far OSU has come as this is the first real test since the USC loss. I foresee a good old fashioned slug fest, with three yards and a cloud of chewed up tire rubber the rule of the day. The OSU defense and the crowd at the 'shoe make all the difference. Ohio State 17 - Wisconsin 9.

AndrewJ1313 says ... This will be the first big test for OSU since the USC game – a game in which the Bucks very easily could have won. This Wisconsin team is very interesting, the defense isn’t the same-old, same-old and they have a bruising running back in Clay (what is he like 6-3, 250). OSU’s front four will have to play very well, get pressure on Tolzien and shut down the running game early. Wisconsin on the other hand will have to contain Pryor and force him into mistakes, which he is susceptible to. In the end though, I still think OSU is the class of the Big Ten and the defense if fantastic – Coleman will be hungry to get back onto the field. OSU 31, Wisconsin 17

Michigan at Iowa - Can you believe as solid as Iowa has been at times over the years, that this is their first shot at a 6-0 start since 1985? Michigan finally lost last week, despite another near heroic effort by Tate Forcier. Iowa is stingy against the run and this a week after the Wolverines managed just 28 yards on the ground in East Lansing. Iowa gets to 6-0 and despite a tough remaining schedule, the fans in Iowa City start thinking about Pasadena... Iowa 23 - Michigan 14.

AndrewJ1313 says ... Every time I think Michigan is going to get clobbered going to Iowa, they prove me wrong and some how, dominate the game. I’m going to stick with Iowa in this one though. This Michigan team is starting to look like a typical RichRod led team – all flash, no defense. Iowa can control the flash and expose the lack of defense. I am not looking forward to facing Forcier in the next few years though, the kid can play!Iowa 21, Michigan 20

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Tuesday Night Quarterback
Bet you're wondering where I've been given the results of last weekend? Still on cloud nine, thank you. Yes, while I try to be unbiased, one thing is clear - I am a Michigan State Spartan so I am happy as pigs in the proverbial that MSU won last week. That said, I am gutted by the Tigers and their collapse and several blown opportunities tonight. Now, onto my Big Ten views...

It was a fairly telling weekend around the conference. Penn State got right. Illinois got more wrong. Michigan State showed some life. Michigan nearly pulled off ANOTHER amazing, freshman quarterback led QB. Ohio State is rolling. Indiana's near miss in Ann Arbor looks more and more like it was a bit lucky. Speaking of luck, Northwestern was the lucky recipient of WAY too many turnover gifts from Purdue. And Bucky still owns Goldie. Lastly? Iowa needs to stay away from these small schools...

Team of the Week: Michigan State. The Spartans finally showed some defensive life - despite that stupid prevent the win stuff teams do. It was much needed. Now the question is, springboard or pinnacle?

Player of the Week: Michigan QB Tate Forcier. He wasn't gaudy or perfect but he was gutsy. And Michigan fans should be thrilled that he's only a freshman. He needs some meat on his bones to survive the pounding long term, but my hat's off to him.

Around the Big Ten
Illinois - Is Illinois the best worst team? QB change is in the air. Ron Zook senses the orange clad crazies are getting restless. Must win time. Next Up: Michigan State

Indiana - Okay, so Indiana isn't better than I thought. OSU smashed them and made them look very lower tier Big Ten. A decent OOC trip looms, win that and gain back some respect. Next Up: at Virginia

Iowa - Did Iowa get caught looking ahead or do they just like to let the little guy hang? Come on Hawkeyes. I was ready to anoint you "team to beat." Next up: Michigan

Michigan - Michigan was owned for three and a half quarters in East Lansing, but what's new? The only difference this time is that the Wolverines didn't stun the Spartan faithful with a comeback win. Still, they caught my attention. Some work remains, but Forcier is the real deal. Next up: at Iowa

Michigan State - The Michigan game was just what the doctor ordered. If the Spartans can bottle up that intensity - perhaps with a few less 15-yard penalties - it could be onward and upward. We'll learn a lot this week. State traditionally flounders a bit post Michigan week. Next up: at Illinois

Minnesota - The Golden Gophers tried to get the Axe back but just weren't up to the task. There are a few missing pieces, most notably on defense. This can still be a solid season and that starts with stopping the bleeding this weekend. Next up: Purdue

Northwestern - The Wildcats were gifted by a Purdue team in the giving mood. NU is still not defending or tackling nearly as well as they need to be in order to see seven wins. But last week was a nice rebound from the previous two losses. Next up: Miami-OH

Ohio State - The Buckeyes have the defense rolling. The offense is coming together. After a few easy weeks in a row, the slate heats up. Next Up: Wisconsin

Penn State - The Nits started slow in Champaign but finished strong. A visit from Eastern Illinois provides a nice tuneup for a schedule that starts to ratchet up the following week. Next up: Eastern Illinois

Purdue - Purdue just can't get out of it's own way. Four losses by a total of a couple of scores. It doesn't get any easier this weekend. Next up: at Minnesota

Wisconsin - Wisconsin, like Iowa, is a bona fide contender. We'll see if that lasts past a trip to C-bus. Next up: at Ohio State

Get Gamm Winner:
AndrewJ1313 went a perfect 6-0 and gets to pick this week. He closed the gap by a game on St. Louis who was a strong 5-1 with his late switch to MSU. Smart man!

Miami-OH at Northwestern
Michigan State at Illinois
Purdue at Minnesota

Eastern Illinois at Penn State
Indiana at Virginia
Wisconsin at Ohio State
Michigan at Iowa

Friday, October 02, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Five
Can you believe it is October? Wow, time flies. Basketball practice starts in less than two weeks. For some of us (maybe me) that is really important!

I'm not giving up on football just yet. We're but one game into Big Ten play in a conference that appears wide open. In fact, as I re-evaluate the situation, we may have a 1990-like four way tie at the top this year. Time will tell. In the meantime, Buckeye Nation is here to pick with me this week. A week which boasts some good - and critical I might add - rivalry match-ups.

Arkansas State at Iowa - Don't look now but the Iowa team we all questioned heavily after the week one scare is 4-0, improving and poised to do great things this season. The only possible glitch comes if the Hawkeyes get caught looking ahead to next week's battle with Michigan. I doubt that happens. Iowa rolls. Iowa 38 - Arkansas State 10.

Buckeye Nation says ... The Hawkeyes get a home breather after the huge upset win they pulled off in happy Valley last Saturday. If this were a Big 10 game, the Hawks could have been ripe for a trap game. Instead, after an initial lethargy, the Hawks will be feeling their oats amongst the home folks in Iowa City in a laugher. Iowa 36 - Arkansas State 13

Northwestern at Purdue - This one is very intriguing to me. Purdue starts fresh (0-0) if only because the 1-3 OOC slate is behind them. It was very MSU-like with two tough losses at Oregon and to Notre Dame and three losses by a total of 12 points. Northwestern has lost two in a row and suddenly can't tackle. The 'cats hammered Purdue last year and the Boilers are hungry for payback, to win on Homecoming, and heck, to win in general. An overtime, instant classic. Purdue 38 - Northwestern 37.

Buckeye Nation says ... The Boilers now have two coulda, shoulda, wouldas firmly in the loss column. No doubt they shoulda beat Notre Dame, but they didn't, as the result of a questionable TO call by their bench. Moving on, which they better do, lest they be prime for a home upset, the Boilers begin the Big 10 slate with a home game they should win over a struggling/disappointing Wildcat squad. Purdue 32 - Northwestern 23

Wisconsin at Minnesota - The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe takes place outside in the elements in Minnesota for the first time in over two decades. Wisconsin is a rock solid 4-0 (1-0). Minnesota has just one OOC blemish (Cal). I witnessed the Badgers first hand and love their balance and defense's ability to turn people over in droves. Minnesota keeps getting better, but I think Wisconsin gets it done in another instant classic. Wisconsin 27 - Minnesota 24.

Buckeye Nation says ... A rivalry game right out of the chute for the Gophers in their new TCF "the Bank" Stadium. Ordinarily, Badger fans would fill the rafters of the Metrodome as the Wisconsin faithful travel well to the Twin Cities. However, this year, with the new stadium, interest in Minnesota GOPHER football has exploded, thanks largely to the new OUTDOOR facility. That means most of the seats will be occupied by Maroon & Gold loyalists, and not No Stinkin' Badgers fans. This one is for the Paul Bunyan Axe, and I see the Gophs prevailing in this hard-hitting rock 'em, sock 'em contest. Minnesota 31 - Wisconsin 28

Michigan at Michigan State - Folks, this is THE season for Michigan State. And I'm bummed as it is the first home game in the series that I have to miss in my 19 years as a season ticket holder. My son's football game comes first, but he and I will be willing the Spartans to a much-needed, season turning win from afar. Neither team can stop the pass. Michigan can run. Michigan State can throw. The team that has won the ground game has won 36 of the last 39 - which bodes well for Michigan. But I think Tate Forcier is more hurt than we're hearing and MSU needs this more. Michigan State wins in game not as close as the final indicates and makes it two straight over Michigan for the first time since the 1960s! Michigan State 42 - Michigan 34.

Buckeye Nation says ... Another rivalry game sees the worse-than-expected Spartans host the better-than-expected Wolverines. MSU could be undefeated right now, but instead are 1-3. The Wolvie have not played a game outside of Ann Arbor, and a first road game down the road in East Lansing before a hostile Spartan crowd will change the calculus for who wins this contest. I see the green and white finally righting the ship and eventually driving a stake through the heart of RichRod and his maize and blue contingent. Michigan State 32 - Michigan 28

Penn State at Illinois - Two teams that were stung in different ways last week. Illinois has flat out looked bad, and I don't think they can recover. Anyone seen a yet? Penn State was exposed up front on offense and had it proven that playing all cupcakes in September does you no good. Penn State has more to play for than Illinois. Penn State is better than Illinois. Penn State crushes Illinois. Penn State 31 - Illinois 10.

Buckeye Nation says ... Both teams are coming off huge losses. Illinois was thought to be much better this year with a seasoned Juice Williams running and throwing to Aurelious Benn, arguably the best WR in the conference. Penn State was thought to be merely reloading from last year's Rose Bowl Big 10 co-champs squad. Both thoughts were wrong; neither squad is as good as they were in previous seasons. Without protection up front, Darryl Clark is just an average QB as Iowa proved last Saturday. Although the Illini are at home, they have many more problems to address than Penn State. Unless PSU turns the ball over, I see the Nittany Lions getting back on the winning track in Champaign-Urbana, while the "" contingent gains steam among the Illini faithful. Penn State 27 - Illinois 24

Ohio State at Indiana - So, either last week showed Indiana was for real or Michigan is still a long way from where some think they might be. The last two weeks showed me that Ohio State is not dead. While the offense would still scare me if I was Buckeye Nation, the defense is nails right now. Indiana is better than I had them pegged to be, but I think as for my lead in, it was a little bit of both. I expect a valiant effort by IU at home, under the lights but Ohio State is flat out better and wins going away late. Ohio State 33 - Indiana 14.

Buckeye Nation says ... The Hoosiers were oh-so-close to almost knocking off Michigan in Ann Arbor for the first time since Harry Gonso and Jade Butcher donned the crimson and cream way back in 1967. But a controversial officials call in the waning moments gave the game to Michigan. The Hoosiers think they should have won, but they lost, and that bad after-taste will linger into this contest. The Buckeyes are coming off a second consecutive shutout win over Illinois, with a defense that some believe is the best OSU has had in some time. Buckeye fans always travel well in large numbers for the 4-hour trip to Bloomington, and this year will be no exception. The game will be under the lights, and look for OSU to prevail over Indiana once again.Ohio State 35 - Indiana 10