It is here. This is supposedly the biggest week in the Big Ten's season, but ti feels like just another week. The only real drama is in Ann Arbor, where Michigan must win to get to a bowl game. Some are saying Iowa has a shot at an at large BCS berth, but I think it is a crime if TCU and Boise State both don't get one if they are undefeated. Everything else is pretty much settled this week. Event eh rivalry games seem disjointed because not much seems to be on the line in any of them.
Still, these are rivalries, so anything can happen. It has been a week full of talking and condescending jokes, so I will let the folks from Anchorman set us up properly.
#10 Ohio State (9-2, 6-1) at Michigan (5-6, 1-6) Noon, ABC
Well, this is it for the Wolverines. They have to upset the Buckeyes to go to a bowl, and they can't even deny Ohio state anything. The trip to Pasadena is already locked, while Ohio State would love nothing more than to rub salt in a wound. Even a Michigan win only gets them as far as Detroit for the Pizza Pizza Bowl. One has to think Ohio State would almost love to throw the game so Central Michigan can run up 60 points on the Wolverines in said bowl game.Of course, Michigan winning would be about as surprising as Brick killing a guy with a trident.
I still maintain that this is Rodriguez's fault and he should have been fired last year. There is never any excuse whatsoever for Michigan to finish dead last in the Big Ten at 1-7. some are whining that the talent is down. Well, I don't buy it. Michigan doesn't even need to try to recruit talent. They're Michigan. It comes to them. All signs in this one point to an Ohio State victory because Michigan has been unable to stop anyone this year except Delaware State and Western Michigan. Ohio State 31, Michigan 17
Minnesota (6-5, 3-4) at #13 Iowa (9-2, 5-2) Noon, ESPN
This game is about like public news fighting the Spanish language new channel in the fight. It is big in there corner, but pretty uneventful elsewhere. Our game with the Golden Gophers is one of many that I would absolutely love to play again. Like last year, they have shown virtually nothing since beating us. Only an unexpected passing explosion against Michigan State has them in a bowl game. They almost lost to a 1-AA team last week! This is not a good team, yet their win in Minneapolis over us will have them bowling while we will be at home. Minnesota has to be a win for us next year because I do not see them getting any better.
If Iowa is to go to a BCS bowl they have to win this one. I was impressed by their ability to keep it close in Columbus last week. People are knocking their conservative game plan, but it damn near won the game. Isn't that the point? Iowa has gotten the job done this year against lesser teams. Only the sudden Stanzi injury against Northwestern prevented them from winning that one. With a week of preparation they beat Minnesota easily. Iowa 27, Minnesota 10
#16 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2) at Northwestern (7-4, 4-3) 3:30 Big Ten Network
What Anchorman fight comparison is here? I'll leave it to you the reader. Wisconsin is one of two Big Ten teams that does not finish its regular season this week. They will enjoy Hawaii next week, while Northwestern looks for a win that will send them to a Florida Bowl. Wisconsin also has a small hope of grabbing that elusive second BCS bid from the Big Ten. They have an enormous fanbase, the chance to finish 10-2, and if Iowa and Penn State lose this weekend they get second place all to themselves. That's still something to play for.
Can you believe, however, that Northwestern might finish 8-4? They somehow beat both Indiana and Purdue. They lost to freakin' Syracuse. They don't really have a dominating win on the schedule, but they have taken advantage of other team's blunders. That has to help Fitz as he is trying to build a consistent winning program. Say what you will, but I would take their seven wins right now simply because they don't screw things up. Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 20
#14 Penn State (9-2, 5-2) at Michigan State (6-5, 4-3) 3:30 ABC
The most contrived "rivalry" in the Big Ten has its next meeting Saturday in East Lansing. This is a bastardized rivalry because Penn state has no true rival in the Big Ten while Michigan State's always has Ohio State at the end of the season. One could argue that each team's biggest rival faces each other in that Michigan-OSU game. Penn State, even at 10-2, will leave me wanting more this year because they could not win the big games at home.
I was impressed by Michigan State in person last week. They answered every challenged and played a nearly perfect fourth quarter against Purdue. It started by going for and getting the quick score when down eleven. Purdue had just went on a clock eating drive to seemingly put the game away, but Michigan State responded immediately. Kirk Cousins hit every big throw too. He might be the best quarterback in the league next year. Michigan State 30, Penn State 28.
Purdue (4-7, 3-4) at Indiana (4-7, 1-6) 3:30pm Big Ten Network
I have been good this week. When it comes to blogging I am slow to anger, always keeping an even keel. This is funny because it is totally contrary to my regular personality. In person I am a fiery guy, though I am mellowing somewhat in my old age. When it comes to this game though, I have had just about enough of hearing how Indiana is going to pull off a close win at home (as predicted by most big Ten bloggers)
I get it. Indiana is better than last year. They have four wins and they have played a number of close games. With a win here they will set themselves up for a very good 2010 season. They have had better attendance and they are supposed to have a huge student section tomorrow.
They are still Indiana, and this is football. Here are the facts:
They are still 1-6 against the Big Ten with the one win coming over Illinois before the Illini decided to field a team this year.
Purdue is still 3-4 with a win over the Big Ten champion. Indiana wasn't even close to Ohio State.
Both teams have found ways to lose close games, but Indiana has been even more dramatic at Iowa, at Michigan, and at Northwestern.It is like Luke Wilson's character getting his arm cut off above. They never see it coming.
Indiana got rolled by an awful Virginia team. Purdue took the potential Pac-10 champ to the brink and probably should have won. These were both road games too.
Purdue has figured out how to win a road game in Big Ten play, something Indiana has not done since 2007.
I am going to this game tomorrow. I would honestly feel sick to my stomach to lose to Indiana in football. I can tolerate basketball because at least they have historically been one of the best programs in the country. As much as I despise Notre Dame, I can at least respect losing to them because they are a <cough, choke, hold back bile> good team. Indiana is historically awful, we own them, and we owned them last year when our offense couldn't score 62 points if you gave them four games. To me, it would be devastating to see Indiana have a 52 point turnaround in one season. They are talking about using last year's game as motivation, well we can too. We can show that it was not a fluke by continuing our domination in the series.
Losing to Indiana would be an embarrassment after last year's game, and a major step back in a season where I feel we have taken some big steps forward. Even when Indiana is decent, like this year, they still carry the stigma of being the worst program in Big Ten history. Indiana is a team that barely knows how to win. They merely survived Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan due to late fumbles. Purdue has at least looked good when they have won.
I really hope good Purdue, the Purdue that beat Ohio State, Michigan, and scared the crap out of Oregon, shows up tomorrow. If it does we'll silence the crowd and keep our Bucket where it belongs. We're at least going to attempt to defend the Bucket, unlike Indiana last year when they rolled over and died somewhere around the Tippecanoe county line.
It's our Bucket, IU. You can take it from our cold, dead hands. Purdue 45, Indiana 21