Friday, October 3, 2008

What's up the weekend

Wow, the conference race is already narrowing? After a pre-season of mostly yawns we quickly began to whittle down the teams with a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. Or did we? The 2 biggest games last weekend were the Penn State win over Illinois and the Wisconsin loss to Michigan.

Most people including myself felt the Illini-Nittany Lions game would impact the race and favored Penn State. VERY FEW people thought Wisconsin was going to lose to Michigan especially if they watched the first half. So now as a result of last week we have Ohio State and Penn State as clear favorites with Michigan State next, Northwestern as the Wildcat Wildcard and of course Wisconsin and Illinois looking for some losses by these 4 to get back into contention.

What about this week?

Well Illinois and Wisconsin have MUST win games. The Illini face Michigan in Ann Arbor and despite renewed optimism, a strong defense, a well conditioned team, I don't see Michigan avoiding more turnovers, I don't see them being able to contain Illinois offense as well as they did Wisconsin's so I see the Illini back on track.

Wisconsin faces Ohio State at home, in front of their crazy crowd at night! Unfortunately I don't think the crowd will make up for Ohio State's multi-threat offense (Pryor and Wells) and Wisconsin's bonehead offensive play calling. Unless Wells gets hurt in this game, it's the Buckeyes and the Badgers are out of the Rose Bowl race.

Michigan State can continue to prove they are NOT the Spartans of old by finishing off Iowa at home. The Hawkeyes have lost 2 games in a row they were winning and are not showing much heart..let alone matching the talent of the Spartans. MSU can probably get a lead on the ground then give Hoyer enough protection to pick apart the Hawkeyes..and Ferentz is clearly to most over paid coach in the conference.

Penn State should roll over Purdue. That said, the Boilermakers have given some teams a scare in the past including Oregon this year. They clearly have the ability to score points. They clearly have the ability to give up a lot of points..which is exactly what will happen Saturday...Nittany Lions continue to roll.

Indiana vs Minnesota. Loser of this game secures the chance to finish 11th in the conference as Michigan probably will win 3 conference games after all. I think the Hoosiers, despite flashes of brilliances on offense lose to the Golden Gophers

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Todays' Picks

Ok first week of the conference race and let me first again state my complete displeasure of the fact that each team only plays 8 opponents out of a possible ten. I will share this week what an unfair advantage that is for a couple of teams this season. I know that some years some teams will always have the better home schedule etc. But by not playing the same 2 teams for a two year period you can have a big advantage.

One example, for 2009 and 2010, Michigan State is expected to be a competitive team in the conference. They do NOT play Ohio State! This means they skate by having to play a perennial power AND they skip Pryor in probably his peak years as a college QB before moving on to the NFL. But I am getting ahead of myself

This week:

Michigan State plays Indiana and I think we may see in a week or two if Indiana is indeed the weakest team in the conference. Lewis is a strong QB but one has to believe that the Spartans will chew up the Hoosier defense with a lot of running.

I am not sold on either Iowa or NU but I give the nod to the Hawkeyes since it is their home field and they had at least one tough test against an improving Pitt team.

Minnesota is clearly a better team than last year but they are not this years version of the 2007 Illini...they are at least a year away. The Buckeyes with Wells win this one at home!

Michigan Wisconsin. Michigan loses it's first Big Ten home opener in 23 years UNLESS the defense holds the Badgers to under 21. Michigan MIGHT pull off one long drive, one Barnum Bailey TD with McGuffie front and center and MAYBE a short field TD based on a defensive led turnover....THAT'S best case. If UM plays anywhere nearly as sloppy here as they did at ND or as flat as they did against Miami it will be embarrassing. I think Badgers win by 10 or less

Purdue vs Notre Dame. I am not impressed with Notre Dame despite what they did to Michigan. Their running game is weak, but Clausen has gotten better. If this is a high scoring game I give it to Purdue, lower scoring game allows the Domers to sneak a win. I hate Notre Dame and I am a Big Ten fan so this one I call for Purdue!

Yes it is a White Out at State College,PA which along with Wisconsin creates the craziest home advantage in the conference. We will begin to see how good Penn State is tonight if they win by more than a TD. The Illini are good but not great...although if they pull this upset on the road..well I have to rethink that statement. I think the winner of this game challenges OSU for the this early in the season a big game for sure!

Enjoy its a great day for football!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's not the Big One Little Ten afterall! Predictions

Ok, the Big Ten looks like it might be a bit closer than I originally had discussed in the pre season. There are several reasons for this change

1) Ohio State looks mortal between Beanie not being 100% and the QB situation being up in the air.

2) Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State are playing better than expected at least by me. It's really hard to know how good Penn State is, however I think the winner of the Penn State Illini game Saturday is in the hunt for sure.

So here are my predictions and yes it's much easier to make these now vs before the first game of the season. However with the gained knowledge my self expectations are much higher. I would expect that my total wins differential should be less than 11 meaning less than 1 per team plus or minus. Guessing a team will go 3-5 and they go 5-3 is just as bad as guessing 5-3 and they go 2-5.

I've also posted my predictions within an Excel workbook so you can enter yours and see how you compare with mine and friends of yours at the end of the season. You can get that by visiting the Downloads page on the website or just click here .

If you are really brave you can go public with your pics either by commenting here, or entering the contest on the Fansofthebig11 social network site. Go to Forums for more info there.

Ohio State 7-1
Illinois 6-2
Penn State 6-2
Wisconsin 5-3
Michigan State 5-3
Purdue 4-4
Iowa 3-5
Northwestern 3-5
Minnesota 2-6
Michigan 2-6
Indiana 1-7

I might be selling UW and MSU short but I think in both cases their QBs will be unable to rally their teams if they fall behind in tough games. Northwestern is one of the worst 4-0 teams I've seen and Minnesota, while much better than last year is still a year away from a true bowl team.

Michigan has a tough schedule and frankly is a circus act on offense and the defense is good but not great and therefore they will lose every game among the Top 5 teams in the league for sure. This season is pay back for MSU and Penn State over the Wolverines.

I would be surprised if any other team cracks the Top 5 beyond who I have listed and I will be pretty surprised if the Buckeyes lose more than 1 Big Ten game. But hey the arguing and the season begin!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Last of the Non Conference weeks!

I will save my Rant about the 4 non conference games each team schedules and Bye weeks later. This week Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois are all off this week.

Once again there are very few games of interest beyond following every game your favorite team plays. So here are my comments on a few

Ball State vs. Indiana. Ball State is better than most of us think and currently 2-0. Indiana had the week off last week and have had plenty of time to prepare. Call this one the battle of the QBs. Will long ball Nate Davis score more offense for Ball State than emerging star dual threat Hoosier QB Kellen Lewis? Indiana wins this one in a high scoring game

Central Mich vs Purdue. The Boilermakers needs to beat this competitive MAC team who has played Georgia, to show they aren't going to fade into the lower half of the Big Ten. The Oregon game showed they have the potential to play competitively. These 2 teams played in the Motor City Bowl last year and it was 51-48 Purdue. I predict a Purdue win with the total points being over 70 for sure.

Iowa vs. Pittsburgh. Iowa has played much better and a win over another BCS conference team would show me that this team could be 4-4 (8-4) in Big Ten play this season. Pitt hasn't looked good in either of its 2 games, losing to Bowling Green and letting Buffalo keep it close. Pitt has home field advantage which could keep it close, but the Big Ten needs this one! Iowa by a TD

Notre Dame at MSU. The Spartans are a much better offensive team than Michigan, there is no Irish home field advantage, no 1980 National Championship reunion. What the Irish do have is an improved offensive line and Clausen is improved. Ringer should be able to wear down the Irish defense and rack up more yards. This is a Spartan win by more than 10..HOWEVER a close game that requires Hoyer to lead the team back...I would be very nervous so State needs to make sure they don't fall beyond by more than a TD at any point of the game

Friday, September 19, 2008

So Brett Bieleman looks like a Badger right? C'Mon admit it...Name a current or past coach that reminds you of his mascot..I have one in mind I will share on Sunday but would love to hear others..
Ok so maybe Brett's head is a little thinner than Bucky's but still

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not a great weekend...some rants and raves


Coach Rod..stick with Threet and be done with the 2 QB rotation. He is our best chance at winning any more games beyond Toledo and most likely will be our starter for most or all of next year vs a true freshman..

Purdue...way to grab defeat from the jaws of victory..never trust kickers if you can avoid it in big games!

Hey Buckeyes last time I checked Beanie didn't play defense. Granted you were an underdog due to being on the road and not having your best offensive weapon..underdog yes...but you were dogs period

Michigan...the game was just was wet for ND as it was for you learn to hold onto the damn football!


Javon Ringer, 43 carries in that slop and no are a MAN

Badgers....way to survive questionable refs, a tough opponent and being on the road. Oh yeah and a QB injury...nice gutcheck win!

Sam McGuffie, I swear you won't survice the season if you have to carry the ball 20+ times each game but you were the one bright light for the Wolverines

Terrell Pryor, I was wrong you did get some kep reps and did well in your first big game

Penn State..keep rolling through the cream unlike the rest of the conference who plays the occassional flat game.

Iowa in years past this would have been an upset game you lose, nice win over your in state rival!

Friday, September 12, 2008

5 games that matter

This week things get much more interesting in terms of the non conference schedule.

Iowa plays in state rival Iowa State a game which has often been a waterloo for Iowa. While ISU is not set to challenge for the BCS bowls, this will be a good test of whether Iowa has a chance to be a legitimate contender for a mid to higher tier bowl game. I do believe the Hawkeyes have improved and will win this game.

Michigan plays Notre Dame. The game between the 2 winningest programs in college football and also two teams that are not playing at the level that achieved those records. ND and Charlie Weis have more to lose here. They need to try and avenge the 38-0 destruction that took place last year in Ann Arbor. ND had their year of "unproven offensive players" last year.

Despite Charlie Weis crack this summer...Michigan fans are not going to make excuses. Michigan always wants to beat ND and a win would show some hope that this team can beat average Big Ten teams. As weak as ND appears to be relative to normal expectations..a win Saturday would be a boost to the Wolverines. For Notre Dame a loss here means the beginning of the end for Charlie Loudmouth. Given it's at South Bend and how weak the Michigan offense is, sad to say the Big Ten takes a loss here.

Wisconsin vs Fresno State. Well Alvridge played better last week at QB and we know the Badgers can run. Freson State has shown they are a tough team although they beat Rutgers who is really not very good this year. A win here would be a signature game for Fresno State in their effort to crash the BCS, a loss means they fight for a 2nd/3rd tier bowl spot at best. The game is at Fresno State but the Badgers should grind out a win..just hope they don't get down 2 touchdowns again.

Purdue vs Oregon. This would be a great win for the Big Ten as Oregon is rated higher and Purdue isn't even considered a Top 4 Big Ten team this season whereas Oregon certainly is within the Pac 10. The game is at Purdue and Matt Painter certainly has the experience needed for a big day. I am hoping for the upset, that Purdue shows a defense strong enough to stop Oregon from scoring 35 or more...but I think this one goes to Oregon.

Ohio State vs USC. Well Beanie isn't playing and one has to say the hopes of the Buckeyes rests on their defense keeping the Trojans out of the end zone and creating a short field for its offense via turnovers. A win at SC under these conditions would be heroic almost as much as the win over Miami a few years back for the BCS title. Given how little Pryor played last week when the game with Ohio was close..does anyone think he will get significant opportunities here? Is the risk for making mistakes too high to warrant the potential big play/series he could spark with his legs?

In summary I think we are looking at 2-3 of the big games. A 5-0 run this week would go a LONG WAY to shutting up the national media and disway my own fears about the strength of the conference.

This weak EVERYONE IN THE BIG TEN needs to be a Badger, Hawkeye, Wolverine, Boilermaker, Buckeye fan GO BIG TEN