Monday, November 30, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year ... Basketball Time!

Editor's Note: I started this before the Big Ten / ACC Challenge was done. YEESSS! Finally a hard earned victory in the contest for the good guys. Hat's off to Illinois and Wisconsin who made it possible! Get Gamm Hoops style standings are up. We'll start again in late December. If you missed the first week, jump in, you're not too far behind!

Anyone who knows me or who has followed my former web site and now blog knows where my true sports love lies. College basketball. I love the game. Can't get enough of it. I just wish I had the time to devote to my previews for hoops that I do for football. But alas, it's all about timing and with football just slowing down and work busy, there just isn't the time to go as in-depth as I'd prefer.

That said, I did, as always, take the time to study each team, review their schedules, predict the entire Big Ten season, and for that matter, the entire season for each team in the conference. So, what follows is a snapshot of what I'd love to ramble on and on and on about but don't have the time for.

I expect the Big Ten to be among the best and brightest this season - particularly when it matters most - March. Yes, we're coming off a rough couple of holiday tournament showings, but look at Michigan State as an example. Last out of state, preseason holiday tournament title? 1998. Final fours in that time? Five. You can take the November wins. I'll settle for March/April victories any time...

T1 - Michigan State Spartans
OOC Projection: 11-2
Big Ten Projection: 15-3
Big Ten Tourney: Runner Up
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - National Runner Up
Total Record: 33-7

Comments: Despite the loss of a leader like Travis Walton and an unsung do-it-all big man in Goran Suton, this might wind up being a better Spartans team. Yes, better. How? Savvy guards. A healthy Delvon Roe. Draymond Green is an absolute gem. If Raymar Morgan stays healthy and the big man trio of Nix, Sherman and Herzog can provide ample minutes, look out.

T1 - Purdue Boilermakers
OOC Projection: 12-0
Big Ten Projection: 15-3
Big Ten Tourney: Champs

Postseason: NCAA Tournament - Final Four
Total Record: 34-4

Comments: This team is flat out loaded and healthy after a rough bout with injuries a season ago. Don't discount the "MSU factor" here either. That is, watch for the location of the Final Four (Indy) to play a big role in the motivation for this team. Purdue will come up just short in the conference, but win the conference tournament and give the league two in the Final Four.

3 - Minnesota Golden Gophers
OOC Projection: 8-4
Big Ten Projection: 12-6
Big Ten Tourney: Quarterfinals
Postseason: Sweet 16
Total Record: 22-12

Comments: I like what Tubby is doing in Minny. Some rough patches early in the season will strengthen this team for the time of the year that matters - Big Ten time.

4 - Wisconsin Badgers
OOC Projection: 11-1
Big Ten Projection: 11-7
Big Ten Tourney: Semi-finalist
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - Sweet 16
Total Record: 25-10

Comments: This team just finds a way. The win over Duke was maybe the most impressive in UW history. The Badgers will go as Hughes goes. The front court is big, white and mean as usual!

T5 - Ohio State Buckeyes
OOC Projection: 10-3
Big Ten Projection: 10-8
Big Ten Tourney: Quarterfinals
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - 2nd Round
Total Record: 21-13

Comments: I like what I see out of this team already. Not as much inside height, but good length and Evan Turner is a beast. The question is, when teams bottle him up, does OSU have enough horses to make a strong push for the league title? I like him, but not at the point where OSU seems to become a bit too reliant on him and only him.
This year is a stepping stone to 2010-2011 which could be magical.

T5 - Penn State Nittany Lions
OOC Projection: 8-4
Big Ten Projection: 10-8
Big Ten Tourney: Semifinals
Postseason: NCAA First Round
Total Record: 20-14

Comments: Is this the year that the hard luck Nits finally get it going? PSU will ride last year's NIT title to some big wins and slide in as a "last four in" to the dance.

T7 - Illinois Fighting Illini
OOC Projection: 10-3
Big Ten Projection: 8-10
Big Ten Tourney: Loss in Quarters
Postseason: NIT Champs
Total Record: 24-14

Comments: Illinois will be better than a season ago, but how much better? I already had to adjust my OOC projection by two games given the start to the season. This team has the potential because it plays nasty defense. But it has to learn how to consistently win away from the Orange Krush. I think it is a year away but follows in Penn State's footsteps...

T7- Northwestern Wildcats
OOC Projection: 10-3
Big Ten Projection: 8-10
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round ouster
Postseason: NIT Elite 8
Total Record: 20-15

Comments: Another intriguing team. I had this team left for dead after losing its two best players right before the season started. So did everyone else. This team is playing well and will make a push for the first NCAA berth in school history.

9 - Michigan Wolverines
OOC Projection: 7-5
Big Ten Projection: 7-11
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 15-17

Comments: Maybe last year was a flash in the pan. I am already seeing a lot of "me ball" from Manny Harris. Not good for a team with a ton of promise otherwise.

10 - Indiana Hoosiers
OOC Projection: 6-6
Big Ten Projection: 4-14
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 10-21

Comments: IU will continue to have growing pains but is moving in the right direction. How patient will Hoosiers fans be? That remains to be seen.

11 - Iowa Hawkeyes
OOC Projection: 5-8
Big Ten Projection: 2-16
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 7-25

Comments: Simply a case of not enough horses in the barn. Iowa doesn't really even have enough to warrant a few upset picks, though any win by the Hawkeyes this year might well be an upset. Too much turnover from year to year. Time to find a core group and build around it, in hopes it will stay in tact.

All Big Ten Team:
Kalin Lucas- G, Michigan State
Michael Thompson - G, Northwestern
Raymar Morgan - F, Michigan State
Talor Battle - G, Penn State
Robbie Hummel - F, Purdue

Player of the Year:
Robbie Hummel - F, Purdue

Coach of the Year:
Bill Carmody - Northwestern
Random Rumblings & Predicting the Big Ten - ACC Challenge
Hope everyone had a great, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. I was on the Disney death march with the fam (for the tenth time in the last eight years!) but enjoyed a break from dreary, gray Michigan despite miles of walking and lots of waiting.

I didn't get a chance to see a ton of Big Ten action this weekend, but I saw - and read - enough to bring some thoughts to the table.

Big Ten = BCS x Two
With the Oklahoma State loss to Boomer Sooner, I think the Big Ten nailed the lid shut on another season with two in the BCS. Now the question looms - who is the second team? Penn State with its legendary coach and legions of fans? Or Iowa with its cardiac kids season and a fan base itching to bust out and travel in droves to a big bowl game. In these cases it becomes a business decision, which is a shame. In a tie scenario within a conference, the committees should be forced to look at head to head. Iowa smashed Penn State in Happy Valley. But that was in early October. I'd pick Iowa based on that, but have a feeling that the Fiesta Bowl would love to get a Penn State - Boise State match-up and will go that route.

Tough tournament weekend
Michigan State turned the ball over 23 times and lost to a pretty good Florida team in the Legends Classic. MSU hasn't won a holiday tournament outside of Michigan since 1998. I will ask... who cares? While it would be nice to win these things, five Final Fours over the same span is much more attractive to me as a fan...

Michigan and Minnesota both went 1-2 in higher profile tournaments. Not what these upstarts had hoped for.

Illinois lost to Bradley. Ouch.

Wisconsin did win two in Maui, including a nice win over a ranked Maryland team.

And how about Northwestern? Wow! Beat a ranked Notre Dame and a decent Iowa State team. Who says the loss of the two top scorers would kill their season?

Two kicked out in East Lansing
As a fellow coach (albeit for kids much younger) and fan, I feel for Mark Dantonio. He took a big chance with Glenn Winston and a lesser chance with Roderick Jenrette and both burned him. Way to go guys. A coach gives you a new lease on life for your transgressions (Jenrette's were not publicized) and you do this? These actions ruin shots at a second chance for the next guys who screw up in the program.

Tiger Woods vs. Elin Noordgren
I have to say something since I was in Orlando when this went down. Did Elin use a lob wedge or a hybrid in the attack and did she take a full divot? Okay, that was in bad taste. Seriously, people need to let this alone. The two get no privacy, how about we give them some in this case.

Big Ten - ACC Challenge
Penn State at Virginia (11/30) - UVA and Penn State are both 4-2. Neither has played anyone of consequence so far. Taylor Battle and PSU get the Big Ten off to a good start. Penn State 67 - Virginia 64

Northwestern at NC State (12/1) - Northwestern might be the hottest team in college basketball right now. Seriously. Despite the preseason loss of their two best players, the Wildcats are 5-1 and have beaten some good teams. NC State hasn't really beaten anyone great thus far, but is 5-0 with a few SEC wins to its credit. It could go either way, but the edge will go to the ACC in this one. NC State 63 - Northwestern 59

Wake Forest at Purdue (12/1) - Purdue has a loaded team that is really getting after it defensively. Big win for the Big Ten in this one. Purdue 68 - Wake Forest 57

Maryland at Indiana (12/1) - The Terps have lost two straight and are coming back from a trip to Maui. Indiana is better but not great. Maryland evens up this year's challenge. Maryland 73 - Indiana 64

Michigan State at North Carolina (12/1) - A rematch of last year's title game. North Carolina is struggling with turnovers, the very thing that cost Michigan State in its only loss so far. UNC had to scrap and claw to beat Nevada at home. The MSU guards are the edge as is the motivation for payback. MSU gets a second win in the Dean Dome. Michigan State 75 - North Carolina 70

Virginia Tech at Iowa (12/1) - Iowa is just not good. VA Tech is decent and certainly good enough to get this road W. Virginia Tech 72 - Iowa 59

Illinois at Clemson (12/2) - Clemson is better than Illinois - at this point in the season. If the game were being played in Champaign, I'd give a certain edge to the Illini. But the Tigers give the ACC a 4-3 edge with a nice win. Clemson 78 - Illinois 71

Minnesota at Miami-FLA (12/2) - Miami has been very impressive thus far. Minnesota lost two tough ones in Anaheim and now travels all the way back across the country. The Hurricanes start to make it look like yet another Challenge win for the ACC. Miami 81 - Minnesota 72

Boston College at Michigan (12/2) - Michigan got bounced twice in Orlando and is hungry for a win over a quality opponent. Boston College is rebuilding. Michigan 73 - Boston College 61

Duke at Wisconsin (12/2) - The Kohl Center will be rocking for this game. And this game is the one that means either another ACC win of the Challenge trophy or a first for the Big Ten. Duke is an impressive 6-0 but Wisconsin is a solid 4-1 with some good competition under the belt. UW rides the home crowd to a shocking upset over Duke. Wisconsin 66 - Duke 65

Florida State at Ohio State (12/2) - This one seems like it should be a bowl game. Florida State won the Old Spice Classic. Ohio State has one loss and a nice win over then ranked Cal. I like the Buckeyes to win a close one and give the Big Ten a 6-5 record and our first win in this Challenge. Ohio State 76 - Florida State 74

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback
It's hard to believe that we are done with the 2009 Big Ten football season. Yes, I know Illinois has two OOC games left and Wisconsin takes its wounded self to Hawaii for a game, but the standings are set and so is, for all intents and purposes, the bowl pecking order.

It was another weekend with some eyebrow raisers, at least one mild upset and some more chest puffing at the top. Ohio State has won six straight over Michigan. Wow. Penn State throttled the Spartans for one quarter on Saturday and that proved to be plenty - which has to make Iowa nervous. Iowa shut out Minnesota for the pig - again. Purdue stomped a rather uninspired Indiana team and Northwestern pulled the upset of the weekend.

It has been a fun season, filled with big plays, shocking upsets, puzzling losses and more. The major awards are to be revealed tonight, the bowl picture settled in about 13 days and who knows, maybe a coach or two will find himself in the unemployment line.

We're not totally done with football here. After today we'll have the last of Get Gamm - Football style and a report card on my preseason picks. Note that the standings are updated through last weekend's games. There are still ten left (including the three you already picked for the last regular season games).

I'll be shifting focus to hoops as we start with the Big Ten - ACC Challenge next week already. I hope to get my preseason picks out ASAP too...

Team of the Week: Northwestern. Congrats to the cats. Northwestern posted a sweet win over Wisconsin and with that, a solid 8-4 (5-3) record. NU better keep hold of Pat Fitzgerald because I think Notre Dame would love to hire a young, up and coming Irish boy to replace Jabba the Coach.

Player of the Week: Call this one a lifetime achievement award... Daryll Clark, Penn State quarterback, has carved up the Spartans for 651 yards and 8 TD passes in the past two seasons. His third quarter explosion gives him the nod over a cast of worthy opponents (Elliott, Kafka, Jones).

Around the Big Ten
The team-by-team capsules include my final bowl (and opponent) projections. Here is where Adam Rittenberg sees the Big Ten falling, as well as the experts at ESPN and CBS.

Illinois - Illinois has two games left and while no bowl game is on tap, the extended season sort of allows for that extra practice, without really getting extra practice. The big question these last two weeks will be "Is Ron Zook's job safe?" I'm not so sure it is. Next up: at Cincinnati (11/27), Fresno State (12/5)

Indiana - Indiana really let me down this past weekend. I thought we'd see more fight out of IU in the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket. Negatory. The Hoosiers got slapped around Memorial Stadium by its rival. I think Bill Lynch is safe, if only because Indiana is young and has the potential to be decent in 2010.
Next Up: Spring Practice

Iowa - It wasn't pretty but Iowa shut out Minnesota again to retain Floyd. Iowa sits at 11 in the latest BCS poll but will have to sweat it out with Penn State to see if an at-large is tossed their way. I think the Big Ten DOES get that second berth, and then it becomes a chess match with the very PSU team Iowa smacked around in State College. I'm a little torn on which way the BCS will lean, but predict that Iowa brings enough cache to squeeze out the Nittany Lions. Next up: versus Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Michigan - Let the speculation build. Will Rich Rod be back for a third season? Can Michigan fans, alums, faculty, etc. tolerate more growing pains? I think Rodriguez will be back UNLESS the NCAA upturns something nasty, in which case he'll be run out on a rail. Sorry to wash, rinse, repeat, but this will be the story line in Ann Arbor now that Michigan is once again home for the holidays.
Next up: Spring Practice

Michigan State - This was not the way MSU wanted to end its season. After a wonderful first half, State snapped and got handled at home by Penn State for the first time. Most MSU-PSU tilts in East Lansing have been MSU blowout wins or instant classics. Not this time. The good news for the Spartans is that despite the hiccup, a bowl game and all that extra practice awaits. That is critical for a team this young. Next up: versus Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl

Minnesota - Yikes. After the impressive win over Michigan State, Minnesota has been a dud. The Gophers are barely bowl eligible and playing some awful football right now - particularly on the offensive side of the ball. By virtue of a predicted two teams in the BCS, Minnesota avoids the Pizza Pizza bowl and returns to Tempe for New Year's Eve.
Next up: versus Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl

Northwestern - Last week I said I was impressed. This week? I'm really impressed. What Pat Fitzgerald has done here is amazing. Northwestern's win firmly planted the Wildcats in warm, sunny Florida for the holidays. Now NU just has to keep the Irish away from its rising star of a coach. Next up: versus North Carolina in the Champs Sports Bowl

Ohio State - Hard to believe fact of the year? Ohio State finishes first, Michigan last in the Big Ten. OSU is off to Pasadena for the first time in over a decade and will bring throngs of scarlet and gray clad fans with them. I like the potential match up out there with the Ducks. In fact, outside of the title game, this looks to be the best on the table. Next Up: versus Oregon in the Rose Bowl

Penn State - The Nittany Lions obliterated Michigan State for 15 minutes on Saturday and that was all that was needed to seal another ten-win season for JoePa. The ageless one has an amazing 21 seasons with ten or more wins. The performance in East Lansing certainly helped the cause for the Nits, who hope to sneak past Iowa and into the BCS mix. I think that loss in State College to the Hawkeyes sends them to Orlando instead. Next up: versus Ole Miss in the Capital One Bowl.

Purdue - Saturday's resounding win in Bloomington should be a good building block for 2010. Purdue put up some fantastic numbers this season but was a few bounces from a much better record. Look for the Boilers to build on the second half success and go bowling in 2010. Next up: Spring Practice

Wisconsin - The Badgers laid an egg in Evanston and cost themselves a shot at a BCS berth and perhaps moved all the way below the Wildcats in the bowl pecking order. The safer bet is that the well-traveled Badgers get win nine in Hawaii and then roll down to Tampa for New Year's Day. Next up: at Hawaii (12/5), versus LSU in the Outback Bowl.

Get Gamm Football:
With three games left from the regular season and the bowl games to go, Andrew and St. Louis Spartan are deadlocked at the top. Look for the bowl version of Get Gamm to come out the week of December 7.

Meantime, let's Get Gamm - hoops style! We'll pick the Big Ten - ACC Challenge and then get after it in full once conference play tips off...

Penn State at Virginia (11/30)
Northwestern at NC State (12/1)
Wake Forest at Purdue (12/1)
Maryland at Indiana (12/1)
Michigan State at North Carolina (12/1)
Virginia Tech at Iowa (12/1)
Illinois at Clemson (12/2)
Minnesota at Miami-FLA (12/2)
Boston College at Michigan (12/2)
Duke at Wisconsin (12/2)
Florida State at Ohio State (12/2)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Get Gamm - Week 12 Plus
Only two more opportunities to Get Gamm in football. Look for Get Gamm Hoops to start with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and then continuing once conference play tips off.

In the meantime, here we go. A lot of jockeying for bowl position in the next few weeks. Our picture should be pretty clear after Saturday.

St. Louis Spartan won the right to pick with me, but he's in transition with a big move to a new home this week so he just gave me his scores. Guess that means more room for me to pontificate!

Purdue at Indiana - The Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket is a de facto bowl game for these squads. Neither will play a lick of football after Saturday, so for the seniors on both sides, urgency is high. That, the rivalry, and the similarities in these teams makes this a game to watch.

I'm not convinced that a whole lot of defense will be played in Memorial Stadium. Both teams have great weapons at quarterback, wide receiver and tailback. Purdue has the upper hand - or should I say "leg" on special teams, but Indiana has a few more defensive playmakers. When push comes to shove, I'll go back to my preseason projections. I said IU then, I'm sticking to it!

Indiana 40 - Purdue 38

St. Louis Spartan says ... Purdue 35 - Indiana 31

Minnesota at Iowa - In Bloomington, they're playing for a bucket. In Iowa City? A big 'ol bronzed pig. Cool. Floyd of Rosedale is at stake when the Gophers invade Kinnick on Saturday. So are some other things. For Minnesota - dignity after last year's epic beat down. Oh and NOT having to settle for the Pizza Pizza Bowl. For Iowa it is a chance to make a statement to the Fiesta or Orange Bowl committees to "pick me." It is also an opportunity to retain the pig, bounce back from the two-game losing streak and send the seniors off as winners.

It won't be 55-0, but Minnesota doesn't stand a chance.

Iowa 27 - Minnesota 13.

St. Louis Spartans says ... Iowa 28 - Minnesota 17

Ohio State at Michigan - The best rivalry in college football - bar none. No trophy needed. No cute, made up gimmick or name (sorry Red River Rivalry). Nothing driving this but pure hatred. Maybe even some disrespect. Guys from Ohio playing for Michigan. Guys transferring from Michigan to play for Ohio State. Are you a reality TV fan? This is reality TV at its core? Tune in!

Now, this one doesn't have the marquee value of past games. Not even close. Ohio State is already Rose Bowl bound. Michigan isn't going much of anywhere. One has won its fifth straight title. The other is looking at another 1-7 league record. In a way though, this adds intrigue. Ohio State is playing for the pure pride of another win over the arch-enemy. Michigan is playing to get to a bowl. No 1 vs. 2 here but plenty of reasons to watch.

I think Michigan comes out with fire and passion, but cannot keep up when push comes to shove.

Ohio State 20 - Michigan 10.

St. Louis Spartan says ... Ohio State 31 - Michigan 14

Wisconsin at Northwestern - Don't sleep on this game. Wisconsin has BCS dreams - all be they long shot dreams. Northwestern is quietly building to a very solid season. It may be a foregone conclusion that Wisconsin will be in Florida for New Year's Day but we don't know where the 'cats are heading. That hinges on this game. Lose, finish 7-5 (4-4) and maybe the Spartans or Gophers, even Michigan (if bowl eligible) jump you. Win and you'r e8-4 (5-3) and on your way somewhere warm. The Badgers are not likely to pass Iowa or Penn State unless both lose but boy does 10-2 look nice.

I think this will be an instant classic. Wisconsin wins in overtime.

Wisconsin 30 - Northwestern 24.

St. Louis Spartan says ... Wisconsin 31 - Northwestern 24

Penn State at Michigan State - The most "forced" of the rivalries by virtue of the short time the two have battled for the Land Grant Trophy but still, a very underrated rivalry. These teams have played some memorable season-enders over the past 16 years and this should be no different.

Penn State is very much in the mix for a big payday and a BCS at-large berth. Michigan State is bowl eligible but seeks its best three year stretch (7+ wins each season) since Duffy roamed the sidelines in the mid 50s.

The Nittany Lions have been slow starters this season. The offensive line has been a problem. That bodes well for the Spartans who have to get pressure on the QB to have any success at all on defense. I think Swenson seals the Groza with a game winner.

Michigan State 24 - Penn State 23.

St. Louis Spartans says ... Penn State 28 - Michigan State 24

Illinois at Cincinnati (Friday, 11/27) - This is a huge opportunity for the Big Ten to save some football face. And it might be the right time. Notre Dame might already be in Brian Kelly's ear. Cincy will be peeking ahead to a battle royal at Pitt. Okay, back to reality. Illinois isn't good. Illinois won't win.

Cincinnati 37 - Illinois 23.

St. Louis Spartans says ... Cincinnati 35 - Illinois 17

Fresno State at Illinois - I'm running out of time. Fresno is good on the road. This is Senior Day and Illinois' bowl game. Juice and Benn have one last hurrah...

Illinois 27 - Fresno State 23.

St. Louis Spartan says ... Illinois 28 - Fresno State 24

Wisconsin at Hawaii - This trip seems all beaches and bikini clad women but ask MSU, Purdue, Wisconsin and others who have been there, done that. This is no picnic. The trip is long. There are distractions galore. I've never seen a ref over there not put the screws on a visiting team at some point during the game. All of that said, Wisconsin has ten wins in sight and enough time to prepare for this trip.

Wisconsin 38 - Hawaii 27.

St. Louis Spartan says ... Wisconsin 31 - Hawaii 17

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Afternoon Quarterback
Ladies and gentlemen, we have our winner. We also have a pretty clear delineation of the tiers in this conference. There is one more full week to be played, followed by a smattering of other games on the slate. Eight teams are still alive in the bowl hunt, seven are eligible.

The weekend was full of (mostly) close games and unfortunately, due to a business trip to southern California (they are NOT pleased with the Trojans out there) all I saw was overtime of the OSU - Iowa tilt. That's right, I haven't even seen the MSU game yet, though thanks to my DVR, I plan to as soon as the kids are in bed tonight...

With the champion crowned, it might seem like we're set up for an anti-climactic finish, but I'd argue otherwise. The jockeying for bowl position is still going to be very, very interesting. With the PAC 10 and Big 12 floundering at the top, the Big Ten is still very alive in the hunt for an at-large berth. It all makes for an interesting final weekend of Big Ten play...

Team of the Week: Iowa. Yes, I am aware that the Hawkeyes lost but no one outside of Iowa City gave the black and gold a prayer going into the game at the 'shoe last weekend. Down 24-10 in the fourth, it looked to be signed, sealed and delivered. But true to form, Iowa clawed back and took the Buckeyes to overtime. Hat's off to the never say die Iowa Hawkeyes.

Player of the Week: A lot of guys had great games over the weekend. Joey Elliott from Purdue. Keith Smith from Purdue. Scott Tolzein of Wisconsin. But I would argue that one player had the biggest impact on his team's victory Saturday. Michigan State's Keshawn Martin had 236 all-purpose yards and an 85-yard kickoff return in the waning moments of a barn burner in West Lafayette to set up the game winner.

Around the Big Ten
The team-by-team capsules will continue to focus on the adjusted bowl possibilities and projections. For those out of the mix, I'll think of something else! Here are's, College Football News', and CBS Sportsline's.

Illinois - The Illini are cooked. They made a valiant effort but the 1-5 hole the Illini dug for itself was hard to overcome. Perhaps a better start this past weekend would have kept it alive. Where do they go from here? The focus has to be on finishing strong and building for next year. The nice thing for Illinois is that there are two games left, which means time to practice longer than most other non-bowl teams in the land. Next up: at Cincinnati (11/27), Fresno State (12/5)

Indiana - I really feel for Indiana. The Hoosiers might be one of the best four win teams in the nation. They battled again on the road but came up short. This team lacks the depth of weapons that everyone else has and therefore needs to pounce when there are opportunities. The Hoosiers didn't get enough out of four first half turnovers by the Nittany Lions on Saturday and after next week get to look back and wonder, what if...
Next Up: Purdue

Iowa - I love the gutsy effort put forth by the under-manned Hawkeyes last weekend. In fact, that performance, if followed up by a win this coming weekend, may bring about the reward of a BCS berth for Iowa. What you see is what you get with this team and folks, they know how to put themselves in position to win.

Best case is 10-2. Worst case is 9-3. Prediction is 10-2 and given what's happened in other conferences, I like Iowa to head to the Fiesta Bowl. Next up: Minnesota

Michigan - Let the speculation begin. Will Rich Rod be back for a third season? Can Michigan fans, alums, faculty, etc. tolerate more growing pains? I think Rodriguez will be back UNLESS the NCAA upturns something nasty, in which case he'll be run out on a rail. Short term, the Wolverines still have a shot at bowl eligibility. And wouldn't it be sweet victory for this program to rise up and beat the hated Buckeyes to get there?

Best case is 6-6. Worst case is 5-7. Prediction is 5-7 and no bowl. Next up: Ohio State

Michigan State - After the big win in West Lafayette - despite a statistical beat down - MSU is 2-0 in November and in search of its first 3-0 final month since 1999. The Spartans finally found a way to win the sort of game that has bit them in the butt all season long and in the process, became bowl eligible for the third straight season. That's the first time since 1995-1997 and only the third such streak in school history.

Best case is 7-5. Worst case is 6-6. Prediction is 7-5 and an Alamo Bowl Berth. Next up: Penn State

Minnesota - Oh my. The Golden Gophers were this close to staring home for the holiday's square in the face. A home win by a field goal over an FCS foe? Ouch. Minnesota's flash fire rise to relevance against the Spartans has been followed by a bunch of smoke spitting and sputtering the past two weeks. Nonetheless, Minnesota gained that extra practice time so coveted by a young team and now is playing for position.

Best case is 7-5. Worst case is 6-6. Prediction is 6-6. Minnesota only avoids snowy, gray Detroit by virtue of losing to Iowa and sending the Hawkeyes to the Fiesta. Off to the Insight - again - for the Gophers. Next up: at Iowa

Northwestern - I'm impressed. Northwestern has really come together under the leadership of Pat Fitzgerald and will go bowling in back to back seasons for just the second time in school history. Now it's a matter of where. The 'cats are rooting for Iowa or Penn State as a second BCS berth upgrades the destination quite a bit.

Best case is 8-4. Worst case 7-5. Prediction is 7-5. The Wildcats benefit from a second BCS berth for the conference and head to Orlando for the Champs Bowl. Next up: Wisconsin

Ohio State - Congrats to the five-time champ Ohio State Buckeyes. Saturday was more of a battle than expected but that win means the first trip to Pasadena for the Bucknuts, since, can you believe it - after the 1996 season! The last time Ohio State went to the Rose Bowl, they beat Jake Plummer and the Arizona State Sun Devils. The clinched BCS berth is OSU's record 8th since the series began.

Best Case is 10-2. Worst case is 9-3. Prediction is 10-2 and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Next Up: at Michigan

Penn State - The Nittany Lions came out flatter than a slashed tired against Indiana last weekend but still has its sights set on a big bowl payout. This season has been more of a struggle than expected but the Nits might well benefit from the down year being had by the Big 12 and PAC 10. This weekend is all about position. Win and move up the pecking order. Lose and settle in for New Year's in Florida.

Best case is 10-2. Worst case is 9-3. Prediction is 9-3 and a berth in the Outback Bowl. Next up: at Michigan State

Purdue - Saturday's result was a microcosm of the Boilermakers' season. Another close but no cigar finish. Another great game on paper with the wrong results to show for it. That leaves a young team home for the holiday's and missing out on critical extra practice time. The bowl game becomes the Old Oaken Bucket Bowl in Bloomington.

Wisconsin - The Badgers laid the hammer to Michigan and exacted a measure of revenge for last season. It also left UW still in the mix for a BCS berth, though it will be tough for the Badgers to pass up two teams it lost to head to head (OSU and Iowa). Now it comes down to Orlando or Tampa?

Best case is 10-2. Worst case is 8-4. Prediction is 10-2 and a trip back to Orlando, this time for the Capital One Bowl. Next up: at Northwestern, at Hawaii (12/5)

Get Gamm Winner:
Andrew maintained his lead but gave a game back to our only perfect picker on the week - St. Louis Spartan. With three "strays" on tap after this weekend, we'll pick the rest all at once. That means two more chances to Get Gamm - this one and bowl style...

Minnesota at Iowa
Ohio State at Michigan
Wisconsin at Northwestern
Penn State at Michigan State
Purdue at Indiana (Tiebreaker)
Illinois at Cincinnati (11/27)
Fresno State at Illinois (12/5)
Wisconsin at Hawaii (12/5)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Eleven
Here we are entering our 11th week of Big Ten football and each and every team can still make a bowl. Not everyone will of course, but it speaks to the parity of the league. Check that, it speaks VOLUMES to the parity in this league.

Aside from some must-win battles on the slate, we also have the BCS decider. The winner of Iowa and Ohio State will represent the Big Ten in the Granddaddy of 'em all. It's too bad that Iowa isn't full strength. This would have been similar to the MSU-Iowa game in terms of defense, goal line stands, bloodied and battered players...

AndrewJ1313 shot into first place with around 20-25 games left to pick and appears here again this week.

Michigan at Wisconsin - Do you think the Badgers might have a little payback in mind? A season ago, Michigan won a lone Big Ten conference game. It was at UW's expense and due to a blown lead at that. Fast forward a year and Michigan has one, close Big Ten win to its credit, is .500 overall and needs one win in two games to avoid a second-straight "home for the holidays" bowl season. Wisconsin still has at-large BCS dreams in mind. The Badgers are quietly racking up a very solid season, should win this one with relative ease and get that measure of satisfaction that comes from payback... Wisconsin 34 - Michigan 24

AndrewJ1313 says ... I think I said it when I picked with Gamm in week six, that Michigan looks like a typical RichRod team – all flash, no defense. I love it when I’m right. After the “Michigan’s back” 4-0 start, this team has hit the basement floor hard going 1-5 in their last six games. Wisconsin has a real chance of getting to 10 wins and that will be good enough for an Outback Bowl bid. Michigan on the other hand could be a real trap game for OSU next week if the Scarlet and Grey can handle Iowa this week. Michigan will have everything on the line to either go bowling or go home (actually, Michigan will probably be home regardless, as bowl eligibility will only take them to Detroit). Wisconsin 32, Michigan 20

Northwestern at Illinois - This one went from tricky pick, to no brainer, back to tricky pick all in the manner of a few weeks. At the onset of the season, I saw Illinois as a top tier team and Northwestern as a sleeper. Then Illinois sleep-walked through the first seven weeks of the season. Northwestern was playing well and it became clear that this was going to be a nice win in the pocket for the Wildcats. Then Illinois awoke - in a major way and followed that up with a good road win. Meanwhile, Northwestern faded against Penn State after losing Mike Kafka to injury, but followed that up with a big, road upset win over Iowa. Northwestern is bowl eligible already. Illinois needs to win out. The latter won't happen, but the Illini get it done in this rivalry game. Illinois 27 - Northwestern 24

AndrewJ1313 says ... Who would have thought that this game would feature two teams coming off nice wins? Did Illinois put it together for the remainder of the season or did their competition just pack it in? Can Northwestern carry the momentum from last week’s shocker into this week? I think so. Northwestern would like to position themselves for a better bowl and needs to do that either this week or next and their best chance is this week against an up and down Illini squad. I think Zook is looking for work next season, but we’ll see. Northwestern 28, Illinois 24

South Dakota State at Minnesota - Two unlikely mascots go toe-to-toe this weekend in the Land of 10,000 lakes. The Jackrabbits v. Golden Gophers. Neither strikes much fear unless of course you are the assistant greens keeper at Bushwood. But I digress... This is a critical game for Minnesota. Everything gained in the Halloween win over MSU was tossed out the window against Illinois. With a trip to Iowa City left, this is the best remaining change for the Gophers to get to six wins. The Jackrabbits are 7-2 and an impressive FCS foe. I'm really tempted to go with a big upset here, but Minnesota prevails... if barely. Minnesota 31 - SDSU 30

AndrewJ1313 says ... Just what the doctor ordered for Minnesota to get to bowl eligibility - South Dakota State. If the Gophers can’t get by an FCS foe, then they don’t deserve to go bowling anyway. Minnesota 42, Jackrabbits 13

Indiana at Penn State - This one is all about the future. Well, the immediate future (December/January) anyway. Indiana has to win out. No small task considering the impending trip to State College. Penn State still has a fair shot at a BCS at-large but needs to win out. The Nittany Lions have had no trouble with the teams it should be but have struggled in the big one. I think Doss and the Hoosiers come to play and make a great effort, but leave with a loss after Penn State wakes up late and staves off the upset. Penn State 37 - Indiana 28

AndrewJ1313 says ... Does anyone know how good Penn St. is? Their two toughest match-ups of the season were both losses in which Penn St. was dominated in the second half. Take away some major screw jobs from the officiating crews and Indiana could already be bowl eligible at 6-4. The week after the loss to Iowa, PSU followed it up by taking out their frustrations on Illinois. I think they do it again against a decent Indiana team. PSU 38, IU 20.

Michigan State at Purdue - The sleeper game of the week in the Big Ten. Heck, if we were talking hoops, this would be THE game! Purdue is at the peak after hitting rock bottom at Wisconsin two weeks ago. The Spartans are one win from their first back-to-back-to-back bowl berths since 1995-97. State thumped Western Michigan last weekend and is firing on all cylinders offensively. Purdue finally won at Michigan last weekend and is potent on offense as well. Both have lost close games this season. Both have visions of warmth and sun for the holidays. Michigan State has the edge in overall talent and wins this game by forcing turnovers. Michigan State 30 - Purdue 24

AndrewJ1313 says ... Purdue has been up and down almost as much as Illinois this year, perfect example, the past two weeks. A 37-0 loss followed by a come-from-behind 38-36 thriller in Ann Arbor. The Boilers have the ability to beat MSU. Both teams need this win, but Purdue needs it more, add that motivation to the fact that it is senior day, I think the Boilers get it done in a nail-bitter. Purdue 24, MSU 23

Iowa at Ohio State (Tiebreaker) - The Game of the Week. Two of the best defenses in the conference. An offense that has started to rise up. An offense that has lost its leader. And that is the difference. I wish Stanzi were playing because I think this would be a vintage Big Ten game. But he's not and Iowa's run for the Roses will hit the wall. The Hawkeyes will keep this a game with defense, but the injuries have come to a point where they have become insurmountable. Iowa hangs tough against a conservative game plan, but OSU prevails and wins its fifth straight title. Ohio State 23 - Iowa 14

AndrewJ1313 says ... The clock may have struck midnight on Iowa. A freshman QB making his first start on the road at the Shoe against a rolling and confident OSU team. Iowa is a team that knows how to win, that’s why they were 9-0. Even without Stanzi, Iowa is playing for the Roses and that should be motivation enough to make this a closer and better game than most people are thinking. The win against Penn St. felt good for Buckeye fans, trust me, but just because they Buckeyes went on the road to one of the toughest places to play in the country, dominated the trenches and won big, doesn’t mean they are out of the woods just yet. Getting by Iowa would be big for the Buckeyes, but they must stay focused or Michigan will catch them. In the end, no Stanzi, the Big Ten’s most dominating defense, Ohio State should be heading to Pasadena. OSU 20, Iowa 16.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback
Another weekend, another rash of wild and unpredictable outcomes. Been waiting for Iowa to finally lose a close one? Check. Wondering when Purdue might finally win again in Ann Arbor? Check. Prepared for the road team to win again in the hotly contested Penn State - Ohio State series? Check.

And that wasn't all. Illinois got it done, again. Indiana nearly stormed back to beat Wisconsin. Michigan State finally pounded someone while finding another capable tailback in the process. Every single team in the Big Ten still has at least a shot at bowl eligibility.

It all sets up for a great run to the finish, even if the top of the conference was likely signed, sealed and delivered on November 7...

Team of the Week: Purdue. The Boilermakers came off a 37-0 pasting at Wisconsin, spotted Michigan a 24-10 lead, came back and won in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1966. That's 43 years. When a guy the youngsters know as a recently suspended college football color commentator quarterbacked the gold and black (Bob Griese). Hat's off to Purdue...

Player of the Week: Kirk Cousins, Michigan State. Yep, gonna give one of my guys the love. He was nearly perfect, going 22-25 for 353 yards and two touchdowns. Others stepped up big too, but Cousins had no turnovers - while Joey Elliott had a couple. Honorable mention to OSU defensive lineman Cameron Hayward who had a HUGE game at Penn State.

Around the Big Ten
From here on out, I'll focus the team-by-team capsules on the adjusted bowl possibilities and projections. Here are's, ESPN Big Ten Blogger Adam Rittenberg's, and CBS Sportsline's.

A few things to keep in mind: a 6-6 team can be selected ahead of a 7-5 team as long as the 7-5 team is guaranteed a Big Ten bowl tie-in. All bowls except the Insight and Little Caesar's Pizza cannot select a team with two fewer wins than the team above it in the standings. Note that the picking order is as follows: Rose, Capital One, Outback, Champs, Alamo, Insight, Little Caesar's.

Illinois - Don't look now, but Illinois has strung together two straight, and this time with a (formerly) third string signal caller. It won't be easy to get to six, but momentum is key in college football.

Best case is 6-6. Worst case is 3-9. Prediction is 4-8. Next up: Northwestern

Indiana - Another week, another tough loss for the Hoosiers. This time, instead of giving up a lead, Indiana nearly came back to pull off a big upset. Time is not on the Hoosiers' side, needing two wins with a trip to Penn State looming.

Best case is 6-6. Worst case is 4-8. Prediction is 5-7 and no bowl. Next Up: at Penn State

Iowa - Easy come, easy go. Iowa had lived on the edge for most of its nine wins and it finally bit them over the weekend. Losing Stanzi was the nail in that coffin. Now the Hawkeyes MUST beat Ohio State or the Rose Bowl that seemed almost a given goes down the drain.

Best case is 11-1. Worst case is 9-3. Prediction is 10-2 and a Capital One Bowl berth. Next up: at Ohio State.

Michigan - The heat on RichRod was just cranked up to max temp. Michigan blew another first half lead with laughable defense. With a road game and a game against Tressel still on tap, it looks like another season of home for the holiday's for the boys in blue.

Best case is 7-5. Worst case is 5-7. Prediction is 5-7 and no bowl. Next up: at Wisconsin

Michigan State - That was just what the doctor ordered. The Spartans jumped on Western Michigan early and often and pulled within a game of bowl eligibility with two left. This week sets up to be a great game, with two snake bitten teams going toe-to-toe to try and get to a bowl.

Best case is 7-5. Worst case is 5-7. Prediction is 7-5 and an Alamo Bowl Berth. Next up: at Purdue

Minnesota - So much for turning any corners. Minnesota fell back to earth - hard - against Illinois and set itself back in the quest for a good bowl berth. This weekend appears to offer up the sixth win gimmie, but the loss to Illinois punts Minnesota all the way to the bottom.

Best case is 7-5. Worst case is 5-7. Prediction is 6-6. Minnesota goes from Disney to Detroit with that one loss. Little Caesar's Pizza anyone? Next up: South Dakota State

Northwestern - The Wildcats hung one on Iowa and probably gain the most of anyone in the conference other than Ohio State. The 'cats are bowl eligible and now it is a matter of improving positioning.

Best case is 8-4. Worst case 6-6. Prediction is 7-5. The Wildcats head to Phoenix for the Insight Bowl. Next up: at Illinois

Ohio State - Guess who sits in the driver's seat in the Big Ten - again? Ohio State put forth a dominating defensive effort at State College and put itself in great position to make a run for the Roses. That win was a huge money maker for the scarlet and gray.

Best Case is 10-2. Worst case is 8-4. Prediction is 10-2, a fifth straight title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Next Up: Iowa

Penn State - The Nittany Lions are 0-fer against upper tier competition so far this year. The shocking part is that both losses happened at home. With the title all but out of the question, and with it, a BCS berth, it is all about where in FLA the Nittany Lions want to spend the holidays.

Best case is 10-2. Worst case is 8-4. Prediction is 9-3 and a berth in the Outback Bowl. Next up: Indiana

Purdue - That was a huge win for Purdue. The only spoiler factor was the Danny Hope / RichRod incident with the suspended lineman. That was a rookie move by an emotional coach. Nonetheless, the Boilers can go bowling with two more wins. The question is, which Purdue will show up on Saturday?
Best case is 6-6. Worst case is 4-8. Prediction is 5-7. Next up: Michigan State

Wisconsin - The Badgers tried to give one away in Bloomington over the weekend, but instead put a stranglehold on a Florida bowl berth. Two winnable games remain and that means the Badgers do have a chance - albeit a very outside shot - to hit a BCS bowl.

Best case is 10-2. Worst case is 7-5. Prediction is 10-2 and a trip back to Orlando for the Champs Bowl. Next up: Michigan

Get Gamm Winner:
For the first time in forever, we have a new leader at the top. Andrew won with a 5-1 record and pushed St. Louis into second place.

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

Friday, November 06, 2009

Get Gamm - Week Ten
For the first time since the opening week, I am picking solo. That means I finally beat all comers! We have a very important weekend on tap with one "elimination" game and several other critical match-ups for those hoping to get to, or improve bowl position.

Haste makes waste, so without further ado...

Illinois at Minnesota - The Fighting Illini finally showed some fight last weekend with an unexpected pasting of the Wolverines. Minnesota woke up from offensive hibernation to put up silly passing numbers against a previously strong MSU secondary - all without the Big Ten's best wide receiver. All of that adds up to some intrigue for this weekend's tilt in Minneapolis.

The Illini need to win out to go bowling. That's a tall task but at this point, it is a rallying cry. Minnesota is one win away, with a sure win on the slate next week (South Dakota State) so the Gophers are all about notching their belt with wins to enhance the final holiday destination.

Will either team have a hangover after last weekend? My guess is if either do, it will be Minnesota. This game should have plenty of offense, but Illinois has a great shot to win if it can control the game with the same running prowess it showed last weekend. I need to make a move up the standings, so I will pick away from the field on this one. Illinois surprises again.

Illinois 33 - Minnesota 31

Northwestern at Iowa - Is this the weekend where Iowa finally shows up from the onset and buries a team from the first play? That's the million dollar question. The game of the year looms next weekend for the Hawkeyes, so there has to be some major guarding against a peek ahead. For Northwestern, meanwhile, the mission is simple - get another win and get to bowl eligibility. No look ahead exists. Nothing to focus on but the here and now.

Northwestern has beaten Iowa three of the past four seasons, including last year in Iowa City. However, the health of quarterback Mike Kafka is a major question mark, especially against this defense. The Hawkeyes played as poorly as possible in a runaway win last weekend. I'm willing to bet that Stanzi doesn't throw five picks this weekend.

The Wildcats and their spread attack will make this a game, especially if Kafka can go at full tilt. Iowa will work to control the clock and grind out another win. If Northwestern was healthier, I'd be more willing to call this out at my upset alert. But I'm not sold on the health factor. Iowa lives to set up a huge showdown in Columbus next weekend.

Iowa 27 - Northwestern 16

Purdue at Michigan - There is a critical game being played in Ann Arbor this weekend. The thing is, it is between one team that is 3-6 (2-3) and coming off an ugly, shut out loss and a team that is 5-4 (1-4) and desperately seeking that sixth win given a couple of tall tasks yet to be tended to this November.

Purdue has been oh-so-close numerous times this season. For Michigan, it has been feast or famine with little in between. Prior to getting pasted in Madison, the Boilers had lost games by 2, 7, 3 and 6 in successive weeks at the onset of the season. The trouble is, the trend is worsening, as the past two losses have been by 15 and 37.

The gold and black need to win out to go bowling. Michigan needs one more and maybe more to avoid the Pizza Pizza Bowl. I hate how both teams are playing right now but I sense more turmoil in Ann Arbor. Fans are pretty miffed over the egg laid in Champaign last weekend. Most will pick Michigan here and while that seems like the safer bet, I'm not so sure.

Purdue 24 - Michigan 23.

Western Michigan at Michigan State - The Michigan State Spartans are two plays from 6-3, and a bad decision and a bad call from 8-1. Easy come, easy go. Western Michigan also sits at 4-5 and has been a bit of a disappointment this year. The Broncos were expected to contend for the MAC West title but have been inconsistent all season long.

This game comes at a good time for the Spartans. A win puts MSU at 5-5 with two to play. Bowl games are critical these days - for the extra practice time, the perception of recruits, etc. But this isn't a gimme. WMU will come to play. The Broncos beat Illinois at this time last year and are hungry to follow up what the Chippewas did back in September.

State is dinged up but I think a season of what ifs, and shoulda-coulda-woulda explodes on Western. That momentum may be just what this team needs to get a sixth and perhaps seventh win...

Michigan State 38 - Western Michigan 14.

Wisconsin at Indiana - Another game that has meaning to both teams involved. Wisconsin still has a very outside shot at a share of the league title. Indiana is two games from bowling and still stinging after another tough road loss in a game it was controlling.

The Badgers aren't fancy, but beat you by smashing you in the mouth on both sides of the ball. Indiana has some playmakers but hasn't beaten UW since 2001. The Hoosiers are a year from getting back to a bowl game. Wisconsin is a few games from a sunny trip south on New Year's Day.

Wisconsin 31 - Indiana 13

Ohio State at Penn State (Tiebreaker) - They saved the best for last this weekend. The game of the week in the conference if not in college football. An elimination game. A statement game. The BCS will be watching. The nation will check in to see if the Big Ten is "still playing bad football." All eyes will be on a PA quarterback leading Ohio State and an OH quarterback leading Penn State. This one has - at least in the past few years - pushed aside OSU-Michigan as the tone setter for the Big Ten conference...

The series is all tied up at 12 apiece. Penn State won 13-6 last season, marking two straight wins for the visitor in the series. 12 of the 16 games since 1993 have been won by the home team, however, and I'm not sure - having been to most of the Big Ten stadiums - if there is a better home field advantage than the one in State College.

Both defenses are rock solid. Each team is decent to good with special teams. That puts the onus on the offense. Penn State's is more efficient, more dangerous and more apt to get the job done. Both teams already have a conference loss so a loss here likely means no Big Ten title. For Ohio State that would mark a first non-title since 2004.

I like Penn State's offense more and that is the difference in this one. Well, that and a loud, rambunctious Nittany Nation clad in white.

Penn State 17 - Ohio State 13.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback
I'll say something that I know Bill Lynch and Mark Dantonio want to say (as well as most of the rest of the coaches who have been hosed by absolutely horrible calls, no-calls or reversals this season): it is time for the Big Ten to publicly reprimand the hack jobs its officials are producing this season. Not a writer, broadcaster, coach or non game official has been able to explain how Indiana's TD got reversed, or how one could overturn a catch, football move, two steps and fumble at a critical juncture in the MSU - Minnesota tilt.

Since my team has been burned by it in particular the last two weeks, I say it is more than past time to suspend, fire or hang the culprits that are ruining the game in effigy.

Now that I have that off my chest... we have a clear separation of the top four, middle four and bottom three these days in the Big Ten. That didn't stop one of the bottom feeders from finally getting it done, or another from coming very close - again - to another upset win but in the end, there is a clear delineation in the league right now.

Team of the Week: Illinois. The Fighting Illini finally got up off the mat and put together an impressive win. It all started with a critical four down stand at the one and catapulted the beleaguered Illini to a much-needed victory.

Player of the Week: Adam Weber, Minnesota QB. No Decker? No problem. Adam Weber threaded the needle all night against what had been an air tight MSU pass defense to the tune of 416 yards and 5 TD passes.

Around the Big Ten
This week, I'll focus the team-by-team capsules on bowl possibilities and projections. Note that the picking order is as follows: Rose, Capital One, Outback, Champs, Alamo, Insight, Little Caesar's. There are also a handful of bowls that will be looking to fill slots, so even if the Big Ten doesn't get two in the BCS, there will be room for anyone 6-6 or better.

Illinois - Saturday was sweet for the Illini. A hustle play and subsequent goal line stand turned the tide and gave Illinois its second straight win over the Wolverines. The Illini are 2-6 and while not officially eliminated from bowl eligibility, it will take a minor miracle for that to happen. Illinois may spring up and take another couple of wins, but no bowling for the Zookers this season. At least the Illini play their last game December 5, so it will feel like a bowl game.

Best case is 6-6. Worst case is 2-10. Prediction is 3-9. Next up: at Minnesota

Indiana - Nuts and bolts, nuts and bolts, they got screwed. Indiana was on its way to extending the lead against what felt like a lifeless Iowa team until an inexplicable reversal of a clear touchdown. That gave Iowa life and that was all the Hawkeyes needed. IU is 4-5 (1-4) and needs two more to go bowling. That's a daunting task with Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue left.

Best case is 7-5. Worst case is 4-8. My prediction? 5-7 (2-6) and no bowl. Next Up: Wisconsin

Iowa - Apparently, Iowa does have major magic. It can throw five picks, get booth reversals that make about as much sense as wiping before you poop and pop you with big plays as quick as lightning strikes. Amazing. Iowa is 4th in the BCS standings and has one more major hurdle to a perfect record. That said, Northwestern and Minnesota could sting the Hawkeyes at home if they don't arrive a little earlier. I can't see the magic carrying this team all the way to 12-0, at least not with the level of mistakes made against IU.

Best case is 12-0. Worst case is 9-3. Prediction is 11-1 (7-1), a share of the title and a Rose Bowl berth. Next up: Northwestern

Michigan - Ouch. The spiral continues. Was it smoke and mirrors in September? Maybe so. The Wolverines turtled up in a major way in Champaign and the rest of the slate isn't exactly loaded with Delaware State's. In fact, this weekend's game is probably the best shot to get something done.

Best case is 8-4. Worst case is 5-7. Prediction is 6-6 (2-6) with the Champs, Alamo, Insight and Little Caesar's Bowls in the mix. That 2-6 record and head-to-head loss to another 6-6 team (MSU) means Michigan slides to the Insight Bowl. Next up: Purdue

Michigan State - Another week, another bad call by the officials (replay in this case) another 8-point or less loss for Dantonio and crew. For those keeping score, that's 12 of 15 losses in Dantonio's tenure by 8 points or less. Spotting a seemingly down and out Gopher squad 14 points before running a play hurt - BAD. The schedule eases up a tad the next few weeks, but there isn't an automatic path to six wins.

Best case is 7-5. Worst case is 4-8. Prediction is 6-6 (4-4). Based on the wins over Michigan and Northwestern (fellow 6-6 teams) and MSU being well-traveled, San Antonio and the Alamo Bowl call. Next up: Western Michigan

Minnesota - It seems like teams who lose the big offensive star always step up. Maybe because others get a look. Perhaps it is because the players rally for the downed teammate. In this case, I think it was both. The Golden Gophers came alive in a major way against MSU, and more or less sealed bowl eligibility with a couple of easy home games left.

Best case is 8-4. Worst case is 5-7. Prediction is 7-5 (4-4). The Champs Bowl might think about MSU despite the head-to-head result because MSU has traveled well to Orlando the last two years, but I think newness prevails and Minny invades Disney. Next up: Illinois

Northwestern - The Wildcats hung tight with Penn State for three quarters, but the loss of Kafka put a lid on any upset hopes. Northwestern sits in a precarious position. It still has two road games left, including a rivalry game and closes with Wisconsin at home. One more win is needed, is it there?

Best case is 8-4. Worst case 5-7. Prediction is 6-6 (3-5). Northwestern will get hosed by the Michigan factor a bit, moving down to the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl despite a better conference record than Michigan. No head to head hurts as well as that even easier than Michigan's OOC slate. Next up: at Iowa

Ohio State - Ohio State got it's third shutout of the season and a chance to work more kinks out of the offense. The Buckeyes have a grueling stretch run remaining, but live for these moments. We'll see what Pryor and the offense is made of in the next few weeks.

Best Case is 10-2. Worst case is 7-5. Prediction is 9-3 (6-2) and a trip to the Capital One Bowl. Can you believe it has been since 1996 that the Buckeyes have been in Orlando for New Year's Day? Next Up: at Penn State

Penn State - The Nittany Lions had a battle on their hands for a little more than a half last weekend, but have set themselves up nicely for a run to the finish. Ohio State comes calling, followed by Indiana and then a potential trap in East Lansing. It's simple, win out and the BCS will likely come calling. Slip once or twice and it'll be warm and sunshine for New Year's but not with the payout desired.

Best case is 11-1. Worst case is 8-4. Prediction is 11-1 (7-1), Co-Champs and a likely berth in the Fiesta Bowl. Next up: Ohio State

Purdue - Just when I thought Purdue was over the hump, the Boilers got "Badger-slapped" in Madison. That goose egg performance leaves no margin for error in the quest for bowl eligibility. The next three are winnable games, but the Boilermakers have been way too up and down this year for that to happen.

Best case is 6-6. Worst case is 3-9. Prediction is 3-9. Tough losses at Michigan and to Michigan State followed by a loss of the Old Oaken Bucket to rival IU. Next up: at Michigan

Wisconsin - The Badgers are back. Wisconsin bullied and battered the Boilers on Saturday en route to a 37-0 shutout win. UW has four games left and none of them should create much fear. It all sets up for the Badgers to enjoy some warmth and sun for the holiday's.

Best case is 10-2. Worst case is 6-6. Prediction is 10-2 (6-2). The head to head loss to OSU coupled with the fact that UW travels to Hawaii in December knocks the Badgers back to the Outback Bowl. Next up: at Indiana

Get Gamm Winner:
Seems that going out on the limb for the Illinois-Michigan game paid off. I was the only one to go 5-1 meaning no one "Got Gamm" for the week.

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