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The worst non-conference season in recent memory has the Big Ten as the mockery of college football.
We have some great blogs representing the Big Ten here at SB Nation. Even before the majority of us came over we were linked in our own mini-network that was spearheaded by the grandfathers of the SB Nation Big Ten blogs: Maize N' Brew, Black Shoe Diaries, Black Heart Gold Pants, and The Daily Gopher. We all get along well and I have met many of these guys in real life at Big Ten events.
So, in a way we are all hurting when the national media comes cascading down on our beloved conference. Some of it is deserved with the play on the field this year, but no one has really answered the question, "What the hell is wrong with the Big Ten?"
Off Tackle Empire was the first to tackle the question when it graded the non-conference so far. Fortunately, Purdue earned a passing grade, which was one of few:
Technically this is an incomplete grade, but Purdue's about lived up to expectations. That loss to Notre Dame keeps looking better and better, but moral victories are for Northwestern; right, Jesse? This team did what they should have: blown out Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan (take note, Spartans). The 5 picks thrown by the three-headed monster of TerMarvEnry are concerning, as are the team's 4 fumbles (a -1 in the turnover ratio through three games is not good). B
Second, we go to Black Heart Gold Pants, where the latest MACrifice in the conference is looking up and wondering what went wrong:
Seven years and 20 one-possession losses later, the Iowa Hawkeyes hit rock bottom Saturday when Central Michigan did almost the exact same thing that Northwestern had done in 2005. Up eight with two minutes to play, Iowa allowed Central Michigan to score a touchdown with 45 seconds left on the clock, then failed to recover an onside kick despite the ball bouncing past two able-bodied Hawkeyes. One penalty, one completion, and one scramble later, Chippewa kicker David Harman hammered a 47-yard field goal through the uprights for the win. The loss was the 20th one-possession defeat by Ferentz since that Northwestern game (compared with just 14 one-possession wins) and the ninth one-possession defeat since the 2009 season ended at the Orange Bowl.
Finally, Maize N' Brew and the Michigan Wolverines are another team that is wondering what went wrong this week. The answer is once again the inconsistency that is Denard Robinson at the quarterback position:
It all emanates from the very heart of his brilliance. Robinson is, and forever will be, the living embodiment of football unpredictability. From his first snap as a college freshman -- a broken play turned touchdown against Western Michigan -- through the spectacular individual heights of 2010 and the maddening inconsistency of 2011, Robinson has at no point given anyone a good idea of what is coming next."
So that is your Linked Up for this week. It may not be the best football on the planet, but the conference season should at least be entertaining as hell.