Is anyone else as excited as I am that we have 12 teams and two divisions in the B1G? We have seven of 12 teams in contention for the Big Ten title game. No way that happens in the old world. While the parity that seems to exist means no national title contender, the race for Indy and the Roses alone is great theater.
And while the debate rages on over whether 'Bama and LSU was the greatest game of this century and should meet again in New Orleans this coming January, let's remember that the Big Ten has produced two or three of the very best games this season and has more depth than the SEC.
Speaking of "the big game" - as a college football fan, I thought it was great. It was edge of your seat, cringe before the big hits, as hyped and advertised exciting. I personally don't mind if the teams meet again, but do think that opens up way too many what if scenarios. Plus, sequels are rarely ever as good as the first release.
Back to the Big Ten, in a weekend short on great match-ups, we had several thrilling games. Indiana and Minnesota gave it their all, Northwestern stung Nebraska, and Iowa held off a late charge. The better news? We have three more weeks of this remaining. Game on!
Iowa. A week after the biggest head scratcher since, well, Iowa State, the Hawkeyes got a huge win against Michigan and find themselves in control - yes, that's right - in control of their Legends destiny. Minnesota and Indiana. Both were big time double digit dogs and scared the pants off of their home team opponents. Moral victories for both. Northwestern. Wow. The Wildcats made moving the ball on the black shirts look a lot easier than MSU did a week prior. Hangover for the 'huskers? Apparently. Wisconsin. Back in style. In a BIG way.
Michigan State and Ohio State. Proof positive that you can't take anyone for granted, ever. While the home field edge in this league is crazy big, you can't sleep on teams that have nothing to lose. Michigan. Way too many dropped passes and mistakes to win on the road. The Wolverines need a lot of help now to win the division.
Someone has to be here. Purdue. A few weeks ago, people were high on a defense that was making noise. Uh, maybe it was the lackluster offenses that D was facing. Nebraska. It was a close game, but to lose at home a week after gaining firm control of the Legends race? U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi... Speaking of which, I am not sure I've ever read something so haneous and disgusting and troubling as the accounts and allegations against former PSU staffer Jerry Sandusky. Could this be the most unfortunate way to end what should otherwise be a most celebrated coaching era in college football?
Ohhh things got interesting with that Northwestern upset in Lincoln. Four teams are in play in the Legends Division, two control their own destiny, including an Iowa team left for dead after the disaster in Minny. The Leaders Division race stayed the same but gets very interesting the last three weeks as well. No sense in me setting the table for who's who and what's what, since ESPN did a great job, but I will offer my views on what I think will play out, followed by my bowl projections.
Already noted that MSU and Iowa control their destiny. But how about this for one possible, crazy, wild scenario?
Iowa beats Michigan State. Michigan beats Nebraska. Nebraska beats Iowa. The four win the rest of their games not including these head to heads. Who goes? Michigan State in a tiebreaker with Michigan. And this is just one of many scenarios. Hang on tight!
Michigan State. Chances of winning the division? 60%
Iowa. Chances of winning the division? 20%
Nebraska. Chances of winning the division? 10%
Michigan. Chances of winning the division? 10%
Penn State is obviously in control here but the road games scare me a lot. I think the week off helps with Nebraska coming in, but the Nebraska must win factor swings this game a bit too. The scenarios aren't quite as crazy here, but with PSU playing OSU and UW to close the season, it gets interesting in a hurry.
Penn State. Chances of winning the division? 60%
Ohio State. Chances of winning the division? 25%
Wisconsin. Chances of winning the division? 15%
Weekly Bowl Projections...I'm sticking with Michigan State over Penn State for the Big Ten Championship and MSU in the Rose Bowl. The rest could get very interesting with bowls having tough choices to make.
Rose Bowl - Michigan State @ 11-2
At Large BCS - Wisconsin (Badgers win out to claim this spot) @ 10-2
Capital One Bowl - Penn State @ 10-3
Outback Bowl - Nebraska @ 9-3
Gator Bowl - Michigan @ 9-3
Insight Bowl - Ohio State @ 8-4
Meineke Car Care Bowl - Iowa @ 7-5
Ticket City Bowl - Illinois @ 7-5
Little Caesars Bowl - Northwestern @ 6-6
Only Dan was able to keep up with me this week, also going 4-1. But I edged him on the tiebreaker so I pick solo again.
Nebraska at Penn State (Game of the Week)
Michigan State at Iowa
Ohio State at Purdue
Rice at Northwestern
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Michigan at Illinois