For those of you that don't follow the Twitter feed, I received some bad news yesterday. Recently I had been asked to switch from one job responsibility to another at my 20-hour per week Mental Health America job. I would be taking over for someone who was leaving for another position, and my new responsibility meant a shifted schedule and a lot more duties. For the past two weeks I have been extensively learning these duties and trying to implement some new things, but since I was contracted out by MHA I was at the mercy of the court system I was working for. Yesterday I found out they wanted to go with someone else for what I was doing. Since MHA needed to uphold the contract, the dollars (it's a non-profit) for my position had been switched to it and it meant that my old position had been eliminated. As a result, they no longer had a spot for me, and I was let go even though they were very satisfied with my work for the 15 months that I spent there as an admin.
So, I am back to being partially employed. I have fallen back on substitute teaching, as well as this blog and my freelance writing, but I'd still like to find something more permanent at least part time to replace what I lost. The publishing schedule here shouldn't suffer, and there is a possible opportunity with SBNation I might be able to start from home in a few weeks that could fill in. Unfortunately, things are back up in the air for at least a little while. As a sidebar, any Purdue alums in Indianapolis looking for a part-time admin with badass excel skills hit me up!
Meanwhile, we've got Big Ten football to talk about with five games of hot conference action. We start things off with a noon pillow-fight in West Lafayette.
Minnesota (1-4, 0-1) at Purdue (2-2, 0-0) Noon, ESPN
I feel like I should insert the good old South Park Cripple Fight here because you have a pair of seriously flawed teams "battling" for the right to not be considered the worst in the Big Ten. Oh, why not:
If Purdue wins you're damn right I am going to be trumpeting the "First place in the Leader's Division" fact for the week it will likely last. If we win this week and against a flawed Penn State team next week I am booking reservations for Indianapolis.
In all seriousness, this has to be a game we can win. Minnesota has not proven they can stop anyone. An FCS team (albeit a very good one) rolled all over them, making me think we should invoke the three FCS losses and you're out of the Big Ten rule. Playing at home, against a team that lacks just about everything, means we should win in a walk, right? If the Golden Gophers do win I believe they will be passing out pitchforks and torches for the first 30,000 fans leaving Ross-Ade Stadium Prediction: Purdue 31, Minnesota 21
Illinois (5-0, 1-0) at Indiana (1-4, 0-1) 2:30pm, Big Ten Network
Did you know that it has been almost 20 years since the Fighting Illini have been to consecutive bowl games? Only their opposition this week can boast of a longer streak in the Big Ten (and that is just by one year as the Hoosiers went to bowls in 1990 and 1991). Illinois has struggled the last two weeks against Western Michigan and Northwestern, but they've still won games that previous Zook teams would have lost. Say what you will about the Zooker, but he has built a team that has a stud receiver in A.J. Jenkins, and exciting quarterback in Nathan Scheelhaase, and a decent running game. Jenkins set a school record last week against the Wildcats, and he could top it this week against a poor secondary.
Indiana, meanwhile, has very little to be excited about. They did beat a ranked team for their only win, but South Carolina State's position in the FCS poll doesn't mean a lot. Watching Penn State receiver drop passes and quarterbacks overthrow receivers was painful last week, especially since many of those throws were wide open. The real question this week is will the students take time out of tailgating and building their shrine to St. Cody and preparing the sacrifice to bring Gary Harris to show up? Prediction: Illinois 45, Indiana 14
Iowa (3-1, 0-0) at Penn State (4-1, 1-0) 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN
I've gotten on the Nittany Lions for their lack of a passing game, but they are still riding a good defense to the exact record most predicted them to have at this point. Sure, the wins at Indiana and Temple weren't pretty, but we'd be a very ugly 3-1 right now with good blocking on the field goal at Rice. You can't argue with wins and losses. The same is really true for Iowa. Their defense took the day off against Steele Jantz and for three quarters against Pittsburgh, but they are still 3-1 and rested after the bye week.
Of course, our brothers and sisters at Our Most Hated Rival couldn't resist reminding Penn State that the Hawkeyes ruined their perfect season a few years ago. In reality, these teams are fairly even, meaning this should be a good one. Iowa is still searching for an answer at running back and James Vandenberg won't have many open looks against a good defense. Silas Redd can run the ball a bit, and Penn State receivers have to accidently catch a few passes, right? Prediction: Penn State 17, Iowa 16
Michigan (5-0, 1-0) at Northwestern (2-2, 0-1) 7pm, Big Ten Network
Northwestern couldn't stop Army's option. Now they have to stop Denard Robinson? Good luck! Last week against Minnesota was like a video game as Robinson found the code to put Minnesota on junior varsity. The Wolverines can lock up bowl eligibility, but they have to solve the riddle that is Northwestern at home under the lights. There is no party like an Evanston night party.
Of course, the big news for Northwestern is the health of Dan Persa, who will probably have to play with a leg separated a full 10 feet from his body at some point. Northwestern might have finally taken the burden of our ACL curse too, as they lost Mike Trumpy to a torn ligament against Illinois. I still don't understand why the "Denard runs around and/or throws jump balls into traffic" is so hard to stop, but it works. The Wolverines have quietly put together a bit of a defense too. Prediction: Michgian 38, Northwestern 17
Ohio State (3-3, 0-1) at Nebraska (4-1, 0-1) 8pm ABC/ESPN
Given Ohio State's offensive troubles it seems like everyone in the Big Ten is lining up for a free revenge shot at the Buckeyes. Last week was Michigan State, who did just enough to win. Now they get an embarrassed Nebraska team in its first Big Ten home game. The Cornhuskers got their new conference hazing out of the way last week in Madison. Now they are ready to set about their business of winning the Legends Division.
For Ohio State, at what point do people seriously question if they will make a bowl game? Can their current incarnation beat Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, or Michigan? I don't think so. They still be good enough to beat Indiana and Purdue, but the Penn State game could set the forward pass about five decades. Say they do drop a stinker in Ross-Ade for a second straight time. What happens then? At this point it is a question of getting Good Ohio State or bad Ohio State. Good Ohio State still has a stout defense and a decent enough running game to win. Bad Ohio State doesn't know what offense is. Prediction: Nebraska 24, Ohio State 10.