The Big Ten has some of the largest and finest facilites in the nation. 100,000 plus cram into places known more by their nicknames than the given names. "The Big House", the "Shoe", and "Happy Valley". Yet WHY does the Big Ten need to CRAM it's product in tiny Wrigley Field, CRAM a pro-Penn State crowd into tiny Fed Ex field (93,000 is tiny to PSU - it's all relative, folks), and CRAM a Championship game into tiny Lucas Oil Field?
Don't get me started on the rant about Big Ten football wussing out by moving it's most meaningful game indoors and in essence giving up 30,000 seats from the larger Big Ten facilities. Moving November Big Ten football inside is like parking a John Deere tractor in a suburban Indianpolis garage. The true Big Ten (teeth) fan from Nebraska, Ohio, or Iowa is going to have nightmares about muddying up the carpet and removing their shitkickers at the door. Echos of "don't track that mud on my nice clean floor" will rattle in the Big Ten brain and fans are going to offer knee-jerk apologies to ticket takers as they scuff thier boots on the mud mats in front of the door. Next thing you know, the Big Tenners are going to start recruiting speed just in case they make it to the Dome. Gene Hackman's is going to have to take his tape measure to the goal posts to calm those farm boys that gawk at the roof like it's the Sistine Chapel.
I told you not to get me started.
I'm more concerned this week about the Big Ten's boneheaded call to wedge a field into that pack of chewing gum. First of all, it takes an Illinois home game and moves it 8.7 miles from Northwestern's campus in lovely downtown Evanston. I don't think it's right the Wildcats get to hop on the Purple line to ride 10 minutes from Central to West Addison to show up for an away game.
But I could forgive all of that, if the field fit.
ESPN reported today that the teams agreed to play backyard style and all offenses run towards the same endzone. I expect that the defenders on a pick 6 will have to stop at midfield, turn around and weave back through the heart of the offense turned defense. It might get awfully confusing. I also hear they're going to implement more driveway basketball rules like "make it take it" and "West Addison is out of bounds". Balls caught in the Ivy are "Do overs" and hitting the adjacent rooftops with a punt causes one player to run across the street and buzz the tenants to let him in. Hit all the buttons, kid. Breaking a window on the adjacent building will cause both teams to scatter like autumn leaves and the two fat lineman left pointing at each other "He did it!".
Screw Wrigley. Move the Game to West Addison and implement all streetball rules. Referees yell "CAR!" and play stops for traffic. Two completions or 4 parking meters for a first down. Lineman must count 5 Mississippi. And parked cars are in play. And yes, it's still tackle on the asphalt.
Actually, the real reason they eliminated scoring in one endzone was they heard Bartman bought tickets.
On to the games.
Congratulations to the Minnesota Golden Gophers for their first Big Ten win of the season!
On Saturday, September 11th, the Gophers were upset by the mighty South Dakota - ummm - the Fighting - hmmmmm - the South Dakota University - ahhh President Heads. Yea, the Fighting President Heads rode roughly and stared down the Golden Gophers without flinching (because they're stone) and the Four-headed mascot did lots of push ups en route to a 41-38 victory.
"As I just told the team, the depth of my disappointment right now, you cannot measure it." - Tim Brewster.
I can measure the disappointment, Tim. I CAN measure it because I felt your pain and then some. You think you have it bad, I stuck my neck out for YOU and picked YOU to win that game! And look at the grief you caused me for weeks and weeks. Eight of them, to be exact. I've had to live with the embarrassment of failing while picking a team to beat President Heads. Can't you run past statues? It's a mountain. It does't MOVE. How can you lose to a team that doesn't move????
"What we cannot do is let this one game define us and define our season. We certainly will not allow that to happen." - Tim Brewster.
How'd that work out for ya?
Anyway, good job beating Illinois. You're off probation again. Oh, btw... I picked Illinois to beat you, Gophers. Thanks for screwing that one up for me as well.
Minnesota????. I finally can pick you to win again and you take the week off. Forget that. You're back on Double Secret Probation for one more week.You win one freaking game and you think you deserve a vacation? With that kind of attitude, I will have serious reservations picking you to win at Iowa next week. SERIOUS reservations.
Penn State over Indiana
Raise your hand if you are an Indiana fan or Indiana alumni making the treck to Washington D.C. to be one of the 93,000 people in Fed Ex Field for your home game against Penn State?
The good news is Penn State won't score 83. This isn't a great Penn State offense or Defense but it should be good enough to win a "road" game.
Illinois over Northwestern
As much as I've ranted about the field, the game looks extremely even. Illinois is coming off consecutive losses to Michigan and Minnesota. Northwestern is coming off a big upset of Iowa but must do so without the All-Big Ten QB candidate Dan Persa. I'm really torn here beause neither team has been consistent.
The novelty of Wrigley will gather more attention form the ESPN Gameday crowd and the atmosphere will be quaint and sentimental. It's closer to the Wildcats, but the passionate purple are known for thier "intimidating" demeanor. I'm going to go with an Illini rebound over the QB-less Wildcats.
No. 7 Wisconsin over Michigan
Michigan and Indiana have mirrored each other this season. Dynamic offenses and inconsistent defenses and they battled each other earlier this season in an exciting shootout. Now Wisconsin is facing the two twins in consecutive weeks with a potential Rose Bowl berth against the best the Pac 10 ...errrr. Non-BCS conferences has to offer.
Wisconsin will not falter. Not even Denard Robinson can outrun the entire stable of backs and the massive offensive line. When it comes to a track meet of offenses, like power hitters at Wimbledon, bet on the one less likely to suffer a service break. Wisconsin will simply stuff Michigan more often, may not much more - but enough.
Michigan State over Purdue
The Boilermakers have lost four straight by 49, 34, 21, and 11. At least they are trending the correct direction. Shall we implement a little bit of linear projectionism and predict the upset in East Lansing? Nah, that makes no sense. Michigan State's senior class closes out a storybook season at home, and leaves with only a road-win to go for a share of the BIg Ten title and a possible Rose Bowl berth (Go Hawkeyes, right Sparty?)
Iowa over Ohio State
The Hawkeyes slim hopes at a Big Ten conference Championship were crushed last week by the upset against Northwestern. In the pre-season, the Black & Gold had hoped to win a conference title on this day but three losses have taken them out of contention. Did the Hawkeyes underachive in failing to battle Ohio State for the Rose Bowl or did the Hawkeyes over achieve with a BCS victory the previous year?
I'm leaning to the latter and thinking that the expectations placed on this year's Iowa squad were a bit high. The goal was admirable but the challenges too strong. So Iowa enters their senior day with hopes of sending the team out with a huge victory. The emotional edge certainly favors the Hawkeyes as this game becomes their BCS game.
On the other sideline, the Ohio State Buckeyes have rolled though a very light schedule, except for the one beat-down at the hands (and feet) of the Badgers. Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, and Penn State cannot match the experience of the Buckeyes. Now Ohio State faces its second true test of the season with an Iowa squad that nearly pulled off the upset last year in the Shoe. Could pre-season favorite Ohio State be eliminated and are they looking at the scoreboard to see what Michigan State and Wisconsin are doing?
Ohio State is probably more talented but come in with everything to lose and Iowa has nothing to lose. I'm taking the Hawkeyes to ride this one out on pure emotion and pull down the goal posts.
Miami (FL) over Virginia Tech
It's odd that a game between two lower top 25 clubs has an incredibly strong impact on the BCS standings and potentially the National Championship game. But that's what we have here. With the sudden nosedive by the Utes, a strong Virginia Tech finish will propel the Boise State Broncos up a notch in the BCS. A Miami win, on the other hand, benefits both TCU and Ohio State. In the even to f a three-way tie in the Big Ten, the highest ranked team in the BCS standings goes to the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten teams sit at 7-8-9 so Strength of Schedule will separate the 1-loss contenders.
I don't have a clue who will win, but I'll take Miami at home.
Nebraska over Texas A&M
At first glance, this looked like a no-brainer. The upstart Aggies over the grinding power game of the Huskers and Blackshirts? No way!
Red flag on the field and upon further review, no team has improved as much as Texas A&M over the last few weeks. Four straight wins over Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Baylor make an extremely impressive resume. But these four teams are speed & finesse. They spread the field and make you run in space.
The Huskers won't show many 4-wide sets and they won't try to out maneuver in the open field. The nation's best ground attack (and I'm STILL looking at you Air Force, though some may have doubted me) will prove too much for the Aggies.
Stanford over California
The Big Game is one of the oldest rivalries in College Football. The Cardinal leads the series 55-46 in 101 meetings. . The Good News-Bad News Bears continue the roller-coaster ride wondering which team is going to show up from week to week. Win 2. Lose 2. Win. Lose. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.
The Bears' defensive line proved that slowing the Ducks for 4 quarters was not an impossible dream. Now they face the aerial attack of Andrew Luck and Stanford who need a late statement win to impress the Orange Bowl Committee. It is no guarantee that the Orange Bowl will take an undefeated TCU/Boise State squad if Stanford looks impressive.