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Week 12 review (And that, my friends, is that!)

My apologies for the late wrap up of the past week. We were traveling yesterday and being crammed into a coach seat from Indianapolis, to Detroit, to Seattle, to Honolulu is not very conducive to using a laptop, especially since I like to search the internet for random tidbits of goodness to extol. It's very hard to get a wireless signal and concentrate on writing when you've been up for 22 straight hours and you're somewhere over the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We're here in Honolulu though, coming to you live from my laptop in the heart of Pearl Harbor. For fans back Indiana that are staying up late on Saturday night to watch the broadcast on WHMB TV, just look for two Purdue fans smack in the middle of the Hawaii student section. My wife happens to have a really good friend that is a grad student out here, and he scored us some sweet tickets! That's just the kind of journalist I am. I am willing to spend approximately 22 hours traveling in order to write for a blog that 12 people read. Of course, getting a 10 day vacation in Hawaii is a nice consolation prize.

But this is not about the Rainbow Warriors, or the state of Hawaii yet, it is about the past week in the Big Ten as we have wrapped up yet another season. First off, I want to congratulate our Boilermakers for finishing up at 5-3 in the conference. I know the Big Ten was really, really mediocre at best outside of the top three teams this year, but to come through by winning five conference games after last year and comfortably qualifying for a bowl it is a huge improvement. We're not going to turn many heads by beating Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Michigan State, but it at least shows we're back to beating the teams we should. We were a spotless 7 for 7 in games we needed to win no matter what. Some were close, some weren't, but all were victories.

We're also two wins short of having just our second 10-win season in school history with two games to play. The level of competition rises steeply in the next two game, as we get a ranked Hawaii team that is an offensive juggernaut and bowl opponent that may be ranked, but it's not too steep to overcome. We at least have one win over a bowl-bound team thanks to Minnesota knocking off Iowa. The critics can piss and moan all they want, but eight wins are eight wins. Indiana fans can piss and moan all they want, but we're still playing and have a bowl game to go to, and they are not.

Speaking of bowl games, I found out this afternoon in the course of our wanderings over Oahu that we have officially accepted a bid to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando to face Random ACC team #4. I must say I am a little disappointed with this bid, but not because of our actions. As regular readers of this blog know, my wife is a University of Miami alum and diehard 'Canes fan. I was really hoping to make this bowl and face off against the 'Canes so I could have friendly bragging rights within my marriage football wise. After we saw the 'Canes at Louisville it looked very possible, but it is safe to say they have fallen off the map and may not even go to any bowl. Mrs. BoilerTMill is so pissed off at them that, even facing the prospect of watching them Thursday afternoon with her buddy from Miami that she hasn't seen in over two years, she may not watch them. Larry Coker is a dead man walking as coach, and I fully expect him to be fired sometime Friday before we wake up, win or lose against Boston College.

But we are in a bowl and we know where we are going. Since the ACC is fairly weak this year and there are about four teams fighting it out for the title we can probably guess at who we are playing. We get the #4 selection and we don't have to worry about two teams being selected to the BCS. Georgia Tech won't be it as they have already clinched their division and will either go to the BCS or #2. That leaves Maryland, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, or Boston College as our likely opponents. There is the small chance of getting Florida State or Miami, thereby giving us a chance at a 'name' win, but Miami needs to get bowl eligible and Florida State would only be picked to sell local tickets.

Of the four likeliest choices Virginia Tech and Boston College offer the best chance for a 'name' win. Virginia Tech scares me because they are playing very well and only have two losses. They have dropped games to Georgia Tech and Boston College, but have played very well against everyone else. The ACC pecking order goes BCS-Chik-fil-A-Gator before the Champs Bowl. Should Va. Tech beat Virginia and finish with ten wins they will likely get picked up before the #4 slot.

That leaves Maryland, Wake Forest, and Boston College. One of these teams will win the ACC Atlantic and likely be the #3 team picked depending on the outcome of the ACC title game. I honestly don't know how Maryland keeps winning games, but they have only three losses and they are to ranked teams. Of the four biggest possibilities, I think we match up with them the best. They seem to be a mirror image of us in the ACC in terms of who they have played and beaten. We're familiar with Wake Forest as it wasn't that long ago that we played a very close home and home with them. They won up here because we couldn't make a field goal and we won in Winston-Salem because Stu Schweigert used his Shinning to anticipate a snap. Boston College is one of those teams that you never know how well they are going to play.

Honestly, I feel that as long as we don't play Virginia Tech we have a good game. The ACC is about as down as the Big Ten is this year, and we match up very well with anyone but the Hokies. The Hokies are probably the biggest name we can beat, but at this point I just want to win a bowl game.

Sorry to go off on a bit of a diatribe there, but it was needed since our bowl was officially announced. Even though it was only a one-year absence, it feels good to be back in any bowl. I want every Indiana fan to read that past sentence too. I am allowed to taunt for a few words and this is my space to do it. It sucks so bad that we had to wait almost two calendar years between bowl games. Our program is bad and we're worse than Indiana, but it's only because we've had such a long bowl drought. Wins are wins. We have more of them. Deal with it.
Seriously though, I meant to do a final Big Ten rankings in this entry, and I will deliver now that everything is finalized. This time with no divisions.

1. Ohio State – Hard to argue with the #1 team in the country. They have faced two #2's and beaten them. I won't put them lower.
2. Michigan – I won't think they deserve a rematch because they did lose and I'd like to see what someone else would do, but they probably are the second best team in the country.
3. Wisconsin – What would they do if they got the Buckeyes or Wolverines in Madison? That is the question of the season. It's too bad they had a one game season. Imagine if they had beaten Michigan and we had a mandate Big Ten/Nation Championship game?
4. Penn State – 8-0 against bad teams, 0-4 against good teams. People may diss our weak schedule, but Penn State's losses are to teams with three total losses all to each other (Notre Dame to Michigan, Wisconsin to Michigan, Michigan to Ohio State) The Outback Bowl decided simply on out 12-0 loss to them, as they essentially had the same season as us, only they beat us.
5. Purdue – And I will take the middle this year and run with it.
6. Minnesota – How different would the bowl selection be if not for that bogus pass interference call against Penn State?
7. Iowa – They are better than this, and they know it.
8. Indiana – The same comment as above. Two words: Southern Illinois. I don't want to hear a word about missing a coach or Hardy. When playing a 1-AA team it doesn't matter.
9. Northwestern – Welcome to the single digits, Wildcats. You finished the season very nicely. It is time to ride that momentum. They really weren't that far off from a bowl game. Beat your 1-AA team and close out Michigan State and they were there.
10. Illinois – Either they are the sleeper team of next year, or they are simply a bunch of talented players that can't win close games. (see Purdue football 2004)
11. Michigan State – There is not a single good word I can say about them.

As a final note on the Big Ten season, I wanted to get one last dig in against Indiana. The Indiana fans were out in full force both before and after the bucket game. They said they were going to beat us because they were the better team, then complained about officiating, said they gave the game away, and even said they showed they were obviously the better team by gaining 500 yards against us. You can preen all you want, but we still own you. That's five in a row and nine of ten. You can suck it long and suck it hard.

My national rankings took quite a jump this week, as it was even more difficult to figure out how things will play out, Ohio State is obviously in the BCS title game, but things from there are rather murky. I find it rather disturbing that our own coach has no idea how the BCS is played out, when he said Wisconsin would go to the Rose Bowl this week if Michigan got a rematch with Ohio State. Let someone else at least have a chance, because if Michigan wins said rematch we would have chaos of epic proportions.

1. (1) Ohio State
2. (5) Florida (Win the toughest conference in the country and you deserve a shot)
3. (4) USC (Please, for the love of God, beat Notre Dame!)
4. (6) Arkansas (They should go if they beat LSU, Florida, and USC loses)
5. (2) Michigan (You had your chance, now go home)
6. (8) West Virginia
7. (7) Wisconsin
8. (9) Notre Dame
9. (10) Boise State (the six above them could still all lose, so why not?)
10. (3) Rutgers
11. (12) Louisville (They look like chokers now)
12. (11) Texas
13. (14) LSU
14. (17) Oklahoma
15. (16) Auburn
16. (18) Georgia Tech
17. (23) Virginia Tech
18. (13) Wake Forest
19. (20) Boston College
20. (21) Hawaii
21. (15) California
22. (24) BYU
23. (25) Nebraska
24. (22) Tennessee
25. (19) Maryland

I didn't drop anyone because I feel that the top 25 is fairly solid, but I do feel that everyone outside the top 25 is very questionable. With Hawaii being in my top 20 I think we have an excellent chance to make one last statement before the bowl season. It's a shame that the game is so late that no one will be watching that matters. Should Purdue be ranked if we beat the rainbow Warriors to finish 9-4? It is up for you to decide.

NEXT UP: The week 13 preview all to ourselves, as we are the only game in tow