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I think it's appropriate to have a moment of silence for the reputation of Big Ten football, which was critically wounded last week around the time Michigan was committing its sixth turnover in a loss to that Team From South Bend Which Shall Not Be Named. Or maybe it was when Iowa was expertly giving up nine points in the last 45 seconds to hand a victory to the Central Michigan Chippewas. Or perhaps when Illinois was watching Louisiana Tech celebrate its seventh touchdown in Champaign. Or—
Anyway, like I said: silence is golden.
Now for the good news: It's that time in the season when teams around the country are moving into their league schedules, which slightly lowers their chances of suffering embarrassing upsets to weak nonconference opponents.
The Big Ten's got as interesting a slate this week as anybody. Four of the top teams play each other when No. 20 Michigan State hosts No. 14 Ohio State and Wisconsin travels to No. 22 Nebraska. Iowa and Minnesota may not be great, but it's a righteous thing that the winner gets the bronze pig known as Floyd of Rosedale. A weird Illinois squad faces a weird Penn State squad in a game either could win by 35. And the stakes are always high when Northwestern takes on Indiana, since both teams know that if they lose to those guys, they must really stink.
To quote the ancient proverb: "We may be small, but we sure are slow."
On to the games.
Thursday night special:
Stanford over Washington: I gotta cheer for all the nerdy schools.
Penn State over Illinois: The Nittany Lions are a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. The Illini got walloped by Louisiana Tech.
Iowa over Minnesota: They'll do it for the pig.
Northwestern over Indiana: My dad and brother are proud IU grads, and we all hate to lose to them.
Purdue over Marshall: But something tells me the Boiler defense will have to step up. Something like the fact that Marshall leads the country in passing yardage.
Michigan State over Ohio State: And Romney trails in both.
Nebraska over Wisconsin: Here's betting the Huskers haven't forgotten the Badger-slap they got in their first Big Ten game last year.
West Virginia over Baylor: The Mountaineers have been slightly more impressive in beating up weaklings.
NIU over Central Michigan: The Huskies almost beat Iowa. Central did beat Iowa. Therefore, it's Colonel Mustard in the library with the rope.
North Central over Elmhurst: Naperville may be the place to be Saturday—and I have never uttered those words before. The Blue Jays are undefeated, but North Central is ranked No. 11 in Division III.