It is rivalry week here in the Big Ten and that means some trophies will be handed out. We have a Heroes Trophy, a LOLHat, a Bucket, An Axe, and an overgrown bowling trophy for the laughable Michigan State-Penn State forced rivalry. Even the new Rutgers-Maryland rivalry at least feels natural as the new guys. They should play for a giant moneybag since they signed on for some of our Sweet Rotel money.
The biggest game of record I Minnesota-Wisconsin, but everything gets started today with Iowa-Nebraska:
Nebraska (8-3, 4-3) at Iowa (7-4, 4-3) Noon Friday, ABC
Few things are constant in college football, but one of them is Nebraska losing four and exactly four games every year under Bo Pelini. Seriously. He became the coach for the 2008 season after the Cornhuskers went 5-7. Since then, they have gone 9-4, 10-4, 10-4, 9-4, 10-4, 9-4, and are now 8-3 with the Iowa game and a bowl game to go. They are losing one of those two, and I think that will be this week to Iowa. Iowa 24, Nebraska 21
Illinois (5-6, 2-5) vs. Northwestern (5-6, 3-4) Noon, ESPNU
The LOLhat is going bowling, but with which team? Earlier this year it looked like both teams were going to battle for the Big Ten basement instead of a bowl game, but that is why you play the whole season. Northwestern upset Wisconsin and Notre Dame while Illinois beat Minnesota and Penn State as surprises. Northwestern is probably playing better now, even though their quarterback is out, so I am giving them the edge at home. Northwestern 31, Illinois 20
Purdue (3-8, 1-6) at Indiana (3-8, 0-7) Noon, BTN
We have had an up and down season. Things were way down after Central Michigan, way up after beating Illinois and nearly winning at Minnesota, now way down again. Both of these teams are garbage this year and going nowhere, but someone will have the Bucket at least. The Hoosiers had much higher expectations while Purdue is at least better than last year, but it still feels like a disappointing season after the positives we saw earlier.
If we lose to Indiana it feels like a big step back. It has been 20 years since Indiana successfully retained the Bucket. The last time IU won consecutive Bucket games was before I was even in high school and only rich people had cell phones! We've been bad, but we have always been able to rely on Indiana being worse.
Right now they are not worse. Neither offense is playing well, but they have Tevin Coleman. He is so good that even good defenses haven't been able to stop him. Against Purdue, who has been gashed by every good running back in the nation, he could have a field day. What makes it worse is the fact that HE IS THEIR ENTIRE OFFENSE RIGHT NOW! We know he is getting the ball 25-30 times and I have zero confidence we can stop him even if we send all 11 players on defense at him at the snap.
In games like this the team with the best player often wins. Tevin Coleman is the best player. Indiana 24, Purdue 17
Michigan (5-6, 3-4) at Ohio State (10-1, 7-0) Noon, ABC
I love the thought of Michigan getting sent to the Detroit Bowl based on principle. I also love the thought of a very cocky Ohio State fan base having their season ruined by Michigan, especially a Michigan team coached by Brady Hoke. I am also a realist though. Ohio State is far, far better than Michigan and this could be an ass-kicking of biblical proportions because the Buckeyes need to do that to try and get into the playoff. Ohio State 56, Michigan 10
Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) at Penn State (6-5, 2-5) 3:30pm, ABC
While I don't think teams who cannot win their conference should be eligible, because Michigan lost to both Ohio State and Oregon they have a slim chance of still reaching the playoff if things go absolutely crazy on Saturday. It is not a great chance, but it is still a chance. At the very least they can easily reach a solid New Year's Day Bowl. They should easily dispatch a Penn State team that is somehow getting worse each week. Michigan State 31, Penn State 7
Rutgers (6-5, 2-5) at Maryland (7-4, 4-3) 3:30pm, ESPNU
I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that this is now a Big Ten game. At least Nebraska felt like it belonged in the conference. Rutgers and Maryland feel like they are still outsiders and because we don't play them for a few more years I don't really know a lot about them. I do know that Maryland has played better all year, while Rutgers has barely reached bowl eligibility by beating four bad non-conference teams plus Indiana and Michigan. Maryland 27, Rutgers 13
Minnesota (8-3, 5-2) at Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1) 3:30pm, BTN
This is the biggest Minnesota football game in about 50 years. They have gone 47 years since winning the Big Ten and 10 years since winning the Axe from Wisconsin. With a victory they will win the West Division and go to Indianapolis for a rematch with Ohio State for the Big Ten title. They have already won three trophy games this year, so what is one more? I really think they have a shot at this and there is a ton for them to play for. Ski-U-Mah, bitches. Minnesota 27, Wisconsin 24