What a difference two weeks of crapping the bed on the road can make. When I looked at this schedule a few weeks ago I was excited. If Purdue could win just one game at Illinois or Ohio State I was confident we could finally get a non-noon kickoff at home. Instead, we had no offense at all and now we're basically locked into the noon slot for the rest of the season. The Maize N' Brew folks are coming to town for the Michigan next week, but it's another noon kickoff for the proposed Tailgate Summit with them.
Of course, the reason I thought this would be a later kick off was because this is a rather drab week of games. With one win we would ahve been 3-1 and you could play up the whole "first place is on the line" angle. Instead, the 3:30 game is Penn State-Northwestern. Really? Even with Ohio State on the bench this week there are three potential blowouts. The scoreboard watching will also be dull with Mrs. T-Mill's Hurricanes sucking right now.
#16 Iowa (6-2, 3-1) at Indiana (4-4, 0-4) Noon, Big Ten Network
Since the Indiana athletic department is apparently run by retarded squirrels they are the first team with a Senior Day in the Big Ten. They finish at Wisconsin, against Penn State in the sold home game in Washington DC, and at Purdue. This is the best you could do, Fred Glass? Way to blow your bowl chances by selling a winnable home game against Penn State.
Strangely, Indiana always plays Iowa tough, and Black Heart Gold Pants is relying on numerology to back this up. If Ben Chappell had not started throwing interceptions around like Biggie spraying bullets at Tupac they would have won last year in Iowa City. Unfortunately, the once powerful Indiana offense is sputtering, and they still lack a defense. These guys were shut down by Northwestern's defense last week, and even we, with a third string quarterback, scored just enough to beat Northwestern. Indiana could win a close one, but more likely Iowa will win in a blowout. Prediction: Iowa 31, Indiana 13
Minnesota (1-8, 0-5) at #14 Michigan State (8-1, 4-1) Noon, Big Ten Network
The Spartans can start praying for an Iowa loss now, as they no longer control their destiny for Pasadena. While it is unlikely the Hoosiers will give it to them this week, Ohio State has an excellent chance of topping the Hawkeyes. I would say The Only Colors was concerned about facing the Golden Gophers, but they are more concerned about basketball this week. At least hey aren't using it as a distraction from football, like we are.
Minnesota is a team that needs to be put out of its misery. They're very likely going to finish 1-11 with two games left against ranked team and one at Illinois. All three games are against tough defenses. As bad as Minnesota is, will they score again this season? Even the Daily Gopher isn't concerned about scoring. They are more concerned about restoring hope.
That raises the question: Is this the worst Big Ten team in 20 years? Even some of Indiana, Purdue, and Northwestern's awful teams of the past two decades were competitive in a few games. You can make the argument that Minnesota is winless right now if Dwight Dasher had not been suspended. This season is a death march of epic proportions, but it is almost over. Prediction: Michigan State 45, Minnesota 10
Illinois (5-3, 3-2) at Michigan (5-3, 1-3) Noon, ESPN
One team is flying high after beating Purdue soundly. Another will officially be in freefall if Purdue beats them next week. With a horrible defense and a sputtering offense I think there is hope for us to beat Michigan next week, then Indiana in the Bucket game to squeeze out a bowl bid. That's what I am pinning my football hopes on, at least. J.T. Floyd, one of the better players in Michgian's defense, is now out for the season with an ankle injury. The Wolverines have nearly as many injuries on the defensive side of the ball as we have on offense. That means the Cripple Fight video will return next week.
For being 5-3, Michigan fans are officially desperate because their only winnable game, based on their recent play, is next week at Purdue. In essence, that becomes a bowl elimination game barring an upset by either team. Michigan fans are pissed that two weeks of preparation for a mediocre Penn State team resulted in a terrible effort again. My hope is that Illinois completely demoralizes them and they have no fight when they come to West Lafayette. The Fighting Illini impressed me last week. It is time to find out if our defense is worse than Michigan's. As long as Illinois continues to be patient and wait for the opposition to screw up they will be fine. Prediction: Illinois 38, Michigan 28
#9 Wiconsin (7-1, 3-1) at Purdue (4-4, 2-2) Noon, Big Ten Network
Even when I was a kid and Purdue was getting destroyed during the Akers and Colletto years I was more excited to go to games. I base that more on youthful exuberance. I am 31 now. I am well on my way to being a crotchety older man. Barring a miracle, I just can't get excited for Saturday. I am hoping for good weather and that we can at least be competitive for a half.
GBI had an interesting statistic. Purdue has only scored three points total in the first half of its four losses this year, and those came at Notre Dame in the opener. Lately the offense couldn't score in a porno flick if it had a 12 inch member. It's not going to get any easier this week, either. Sean Robinson is going to get his first career start, but I am sure the curse of the quarterbacks that has claimed the last eight players before him to throw a pass will have J.J. Watt crushing him in the third quarter, paving the way for Justin Siller of Skyler Titus. If I were Titus (since Siller has already been a victim) I would hide out in the engineering tunnels under the Engineering Mall.
Go ahead. Surprise me, Purdue. Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Purdue 7
Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) at Penn State (5-3, 2-2) 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2
This should be a fun game. Northwestern has already clinched a third straight bowl game for the first time in school history. JoePa is going for win #400, a mark that will likely stand alone for all time unless a guy like Pat Fitzgerald has a Paterno-like career in terms of length at Northwestern. Naturally, all the tributes for the Nittany Lions this week revolve around JoePa. I firmly believe that this will be his last season if he gets win #400 (which he should). If it isn't, he's just going to fall over dead some day on the sideline.
Penn State has a good pass defense, and Northwestern's offensive strength lies with Dan Persa passing the ball. Matthew McGloin had a solid week last week, but much have been due to the fact that Michigan's defense can't stop the French Army at the moment. Black Shoe Diaries has this game as being fairly even, and it should be. I can't count out the "JoePa's going for 400" factor. Penn State 24, Northwestern 21