Soccer Report: Big Ten race goes down to wire

It’s all to play for in the Big Ten, as yet again the so-called ‘experts’ got it all wrong! Four teams now have regular season hopes, after Penn State, Northwestern and Indiana all failed to win. The highlight of last weekend’s games was the performance of Jay Chapman up front for Michigan State.

Chapman registered his first collegiate goals with a classy hat trick in the Spartans’ impressive win over Indiana. The freshman’s first was a thing of beauty that riffled into the top corner from distance, his second displayed pace, composure and quality with a finish worthy of Premier League status, while his 3rd was a cool finish, slotted into the bottom corner with ease.

Eriq Zavaleta scored a consolation goal late on, but the day belonged to Chapman, and I hope he got to keep the match ball.

So for a short period of time, the Hoosiers were consigned to missing out on the regular season crown, until John Bluem’s Buckeyes produced late heroics to salvage a 4-4 draw from Happy Valley. It was a rollercoaster of a game, but with nine minutes to go and Penn State leading 4-2, it looked like the Nittany Lions were going to claim at least a share of the crown.

Bob Warming, I’m sure, was seething at how his side failed to close out the game. Now he and his players must sit back and hope that results go their way elsewhere. That’s never fun! Coach Warming needs Northwestern and Indiana to tie in Bloomington on Thursday, and then for Michigan to get at least a point from their home game against the Spartans.

I’m curious to know why the Big Ten has all three final games being played on three different days. To me, that makes no sense. Michigan State plays Akron on Wednesday – so does Damon Rensing go all out and try and beat a national powerhouse for a second year running, or does he gamble, rest his stars with the hope that the Wildcats and the Hoosiers tie.

For entertainment purposes alone, it would be fantastic to see every scenario being played out at the same time. Manchester City won the English Premier League title last season with the last kick of the game, while down the road, Manchester United thought they won it until they were informed about City’s goal. It was drama exemplified.

I can’t see a reason why the conference can’t have three games on at the same time, and create that last ditch drama that our game needs to attract viewers and fans. With the way it is set up now, if Northwestern beats Indiana on Thursday they win the regular season title, and Michigan State’s trip to Ann Arbor is for pride rather than silverware.

Get Off The Fence!!! Aron Hyde was on Chicago Fire duty on Monday, so he couldn’t make the show…..but I think he was a little embarrassed at his 0-3 score from the weekend’s games! Our joint predictions that Indiana and Northwestern would win fell by the wayside, but I called it that Ohio State would get a draw at Penn State, and that’s exactly what happened.

With one week to play, here’s how our scoreboard looks:

Aron Hyde:
8 from 18 games

Kevin Egan:
10 from 18 games

So it all comes down to this weekend, with Mr Hyde going for broke! Take a look at this weeks picks:

Northwestern vs Indiana
Aron: Northwestern
Kev: Indiana

Wisconsin vs Ohio State
Aron: Wisconsin
Kev: Ohio State

Michigan State vs Michigan
Aron: Michigan State
Kev: Michigan

If all three of Aron’s picks come good, he’ll have staged a dramatic comeback to win. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this week’s games. For a third consecutive week, I expect real drama in the Big Ten. Good luck to all involved!

The Big Ten Soccer Report is a weekly online-only show that looks at the last action in Big Ten men’s and women’s soccer. Follow the show on Twitter @BTNSoccerReport and find previous shows here. Kevin Egan is the host of the BTN Soccer Report, an online-only weekly show spotlighting Big Ten men’s and women’s soccer. Want to send a note to Egan about Big Ten soccer and the BTN Internet show? Use the form below and subscribe to the Big Ten Soccer Report RSS here.

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