Monday, November 07, 2011

Game On!
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!

The good...
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.

The bad...
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.

The ugly...
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?

The race...
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.

Legends Division:
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%

Leaders Division:
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

Get Gamm...
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


Spartan Ted said...

Anybody who thinks playing Minnesota, Indiana or Northwestern at the end of this season is a gimmie, better think again. These teams are playing very inspired football right now. Interesting how your bowl predictions differ from that guy at You agree on Michigan State, but after that, it is all over the place. With this whacky season, nothing would surprise me though.

Phats said...

I think our Boilers should be in the category below ugly! That was sad :( Thankfully Boiler basketball played yesterday

Penn State 24 nebraska 17

MSU 17 iowa 10

Purdue 28 osu 17(ha! wouldn't surprise me)

NW 38 Rice 7

Wisconsin 31 minnesota 14

Illinois 38 michigan 34

Spartan Ted said...

I would be elated if you were correct on all counts Phats. Those results would be ideal in my book.

Spartan Ted said...

The thing about this two divisions thing is, you have to pull for any team on the dark side that is playing a team in your division, unless it is your own team of course.

mayo170 said...

Nebraska 16 at Penn State 10(Game of the Week)

Michigan State 22 at Iowa 26

Ohio State 41 at Purdue 24

Rice 16 at Northwestern 31

Wisconsin 44 at Minnesota 31

Michigan 27 at Illinois 22

Andy Gamm said...

You don't have to root for Michigan to win - ever. Maybe just that the team they are playing, you hope they lose! :)

Spartan Ted said...

Hail and well said Andy. Yes, Michigan is in our division, so any time they lose it is gratefully appreciated. There may be a couple of situations coming up in the next couple weeks though, where it will be a shame that one of them has to win.

Andy Gamm said...

LOL - agreed Ted, agreed!

Spartan Ted said...

What ever happened to the good, old fashioned tie that screwed up both teams? LOL

Andy Gamm said...

LOL! Amen to that!

Dan Meyer said...

Profoundly saddened by the whole Penn State situation--there seems to be no good solution. Only consolation--makes Purdue's beatdown by Bucky last weekend seem trivial by comparison.

On to next week, which looks like a good week for road teams.

*NEBRASKA 21 at Penn State 14--Think that the Sandusky/Paterno off-field stuff is too big a distraction, especially against a Cornhusker team with something to prove.

MICHIGAN STATE 24 at Iowa 20--Would NOT be shocked by a second straight Kinnick upset, but think that special teams help the Spartans prevail.

OHIO STATE 34 at Purdue 26--Also would not be surprised by a home upset here, but I am not sure that Purdue can stop OSU on the ground and suspect that the Boilers will have too many FGs and not enough TDs.

Rice 10 at NORTHWESTERN 28--Can we have our second game back, please? Rice has shown very little since blocking Carson Wiggs' game-winning FG attempt.

WISCONSIN 48 at Minnesota 17--Congrats to the Gophers on much better play the last two weeks. The Badgers will be a tougher opponennt, however.

Michigan 20 at ILLINOIS 21--Toughest game to pick this week. Key question--how good is Zook at using a week off? Kind of a home-field pick.