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Prove It

Poll Results - Most important 2008 Week 1 game for the Big 10 team involved

Ok, I am taking a night off from the numbers and clearing the poll for someone else to put up another.

Illinois-Missouri 58% was by far, the most popular answer.  I threw it up because it was the obvious.

Many are tagging this as a benchmark game for both teams.  Does Missouri's NC hopes die in week 1?  Is Illinois really back or did Zook just capitalize on the woes of Michigan and Wisconsin to post a top 3 finish earlier than expected?

Coming off a 2 win campaign in 2006, the Illini would have to be listed as among the biggest surprises in 2007.  their win over OSU gave renewed hope of making a title game appearance to Missouri, WVU, and a list of others before it turned out it didn't matter.

Then the roof fell in against USC (who would have been my vote to play in the title game).  All I can say is better them than me (I said before and still maintain I would rather play any team in any bowl than USC in Pasadena).

...but this didn't get my vote.  Perhaps the biggest pessimists for the Illini's 2008 season are their own fans.  Win or loose, I don't see this as a huge game to their fans.  I don't see it impacting their ranking at the end of the season or which bowl they attend.  It certainly won't impact the Big 10 standings.

Michigan-Utah 17% was a surprise to me to have the 2nd largest number of votes.  The reasons are obvious - new coach, new system, a lot of new players, and a lot of questions.  Getting out of the gates in the RR era with a win certainly could build some momentum.  With some predicting tSUN finishing 8th (and a few even lower) this could go a long ways towards earning some respect.

Still, this wasn't my vote either.  If the Wolverines win, Ithink their fans will feel the same as outside parties - it is just another warm up game they were supposed to win.  If they loose, the fans will likely feel RR just needs time to install his system.

MSU-California 11% is the game I want to see.  Perhaps no team earned more public respect from their 2007 bowl appearance than MSU.  Certainly no other team earned more respect while loosing.  A win here and the fans will feel well founded in their optimism, perhaps even envisioning a top 3 finish in the Big 10.

This nearly got my vote, but there was another I felt was more important.

Minnesota-Northern Illinois 5% would certainly be a quick start towards easing memories of the 5 or 6 "Close but not quite" Minnesota losses in 2007, and would give some well deserved relief that they are again competitive.

Yet this didn't get my vote.  I really don't see the fans caring a lot.  When they get back to bowl elgible, .500, or even just get the win to elevate them out of last place in the conference the fans will celebrate some, but I don't see a lot of celebration.

OSU-Youngstown State (just kidding) 0% didn't get my vote or anyone else's.  (I thought it would get at least Buck-I-Girl's vote since it is the tickets she got in the lottery, though I suspect she would gladly give up 20 OSU-Youngstown seats on the 50 for 1 OSU-Michigan viewed thru binoculars in the nose bleed section.)

This leaves...

Northwestern-Syracuse 5% which I salvaged from the same fate as OSU-Youngstown State with my sole vote.  Why would I vote for this obscure game which I suspect the fans view with all the enthusiasm as OSU-Youngstown?

NW has the dubious distinction of being the only Big 10 team to not make a bowl appearance either of the last 2 years.  To add insult to injury, like Iowa 3 teams that finished below them appeared in bowls while they saw their season end early because of several upsets in non-conference games they could have won.

The NCAA says a 7-5 team gets the nod over a 6-6 team regardless of conference finish.  Way to encourage great non-conference games, eh?.  *sigh*   This year they play OSU, Illinois, Michigan State, and Iowa.  They have Michigan late in the year at Ann Arbor.

If they post 4 or 5 losses to the teams listed above, their margin of error to make a bowl is razor thin.  They need wins against teams like Syracuse to reach 7 wins.  I don't think a bowl appearance - any bowl - would mean more to any Big 10 team's fans than Northwestern (with the exception of Minnesota).

Late Note Since posting this poll the NCAA announced the addition of a couple more bowls, in which case the likelihood that 6-6 will suffice for an invite greatly improves.  For these bowls, NW might very well be the biggest name available for host cities desperate to find teams from the major 6 conferences to play.


Friendly Reminder

This is a Prove It blog, not a bastion of free speech.  As a courtesy to my 6 readers, leave an idiot comment and I will zap it or trash you with facts as the mood hits - either way, at best you're wasting your time, at worse you are stepping on an uneven field.

Thanks for reading.

Good luck to all teams (it is non conference play).  Go Big 10, 2008.


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