The Leaders representative in Indy has been decided. Now, over the next two weeks, Nebraska and Michigan will battle it out to see who represents the Legends.
It’s November, and, just as we all predicted at the outset of the season, the most intriguing game in the conference in Week 11 pits Indiana against Wisconsin. Ok, no one actually predicted that. In fact, even though it’s now a reality, not everyone is actually admitting it. Said Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, “This isn’t a big game. If it was, we wouldn’t be 4-5 and we wouldn’t be playing at 12 o’clock.”
November is upon us. It used to be the month when championships were decided. How very 2010. Now, it’s the month when spots in the Championship Game are decided. All in the name of progress…
Last week generated some seriously thrilling endings in the Big Ten: Nebraska’s program record-tying fourth-quarter comeback against Northwestern; Michigan’s game-winning field goal in the waning seconds to end a four game skid against Michigan State; and Navy’s come-from-behind win over Indiana.
Week 8 in the Big Ten is chock full of intriguing games. Michigan-Michigan State has arguably been the most talked-about rivalry in the conference over the last five years – from Mike Hart’s “little brother” quip in 2007 all the way through the early-season derogatory comments about Denard Robinson on Twitter by some Michigan State players this season. I can’t wait to get it going Saturday at 3:30 ET on BTN/BTN2Go.
Is it me, or has this Urban Meyer fellow had a bit of an impact at Ohio State? I know there are still some issues with this team – a bit too reliant on Braxton Miller, a tad shaky at times on defense – but that was still a pretty impressive performance on Saturday night. I really thought going into the game that you could construct an argument that Nebraska was the best team in the Big Ten. I thought wrong.
This week’s college football slate is nothing short of phenomenal: Georgia-South Carolina, LSU-Florida, and West Virginia-Texas are among about a half dozen intriguing games. The Big Ten has its share of good ones, including a match-up of ranked teams in Columbus, as Nebraska visits Ohio State. It seems as good a place as any to jump into this week’s “Numbers.”
Last week, I opened the column by dwelling on the negative. Not happening this week. We’re starting with the positive – the Big Ten’s three unbeaten teams.
Wow. Last week didn’t go so well. It was a not a pretty scene, as we sat, mouths agape, in the BTN green room and watched the Big Ten Conference suffer through a difficult Saturday. And that wasn’t just because Gerry DiNardo was drooling. Sorry, too easy. Not true. Though he did pull out his ubiquitous hankie a few times.
While there’s always a certain excitement surrounding opening weekend, last week’s slate in the Big Ten left quite a bit to be desired. Outside of Michigan’s match-up with Alabama and Michigan State’s battle with Boise State, very few of the games elicited much in the way of excitement. That is far from the case in Week 2, where I’d venture to say as many as eight or nine games carry a fairly significant level of intrigue.
The biggest number at the BTN offices today is 5 – as in our five-year anniversary. The years have flown by – though some of the days have been a bit arduous. That’s the nature of any kind of new venture. I was reflecting this morning on my first meeting with the BTN people. Frankly, I wasn’t sure how interested I was. I really didn’t understand what it was going to be.
The last week of the regular season is upon us. While Ohio State vs. Michigan is always going to be the Big Ten’s biggest rivalry, the biggest game this weekend is in Madison where Penn State and Wisconsin play for the right to represent the Leaders Division in the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game.
First off, apologies for the absence of the Numbers last week. The demands brought on by our Penn State coverage proved to be a bit too overwhelming.
November is here, and the Big Ten races are officially the most convoluted mess I’ve ever seen. Actually, I’m not sure there are official stats for that kind of thing – but, suffice to say, I didn’t see this coming. No fewer than eight teams head into the final month of the regular season with a shot at playing in Indy on Dec. 3. Crazy.
What can I possibly say about last week’s Wisconsin-Michigan State game that hasn’t already been said by the greatest of men – or at least by those who talk about college football and publish their material in the immediate aftermath of the game?
One of the things I enjoy about college football is that you never really know what’s coming. Because there are so few games in a season relative to other sports and because so much needs to be sorted out in those few games, college football lends itself to having multiple “games of the year.” Nebraska-Wisconsin seemed like the Big Ten “game of the year” a few weeks ago. Now Wisconsin-Michigan State is taking on that feel. And, if the Badgers win and, say, Illinois gets back on track, then their meeting in Champaign on Nov. 19 will get that “game of the year” tag. Or, if the Spartans win, their game at Nebraska next week may suddenly earn the spotlight treatment.
The Big Ten is set to record a first this week – a first that might fly under the radar but one that could play a significant role in determining which two teams square off in the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 3. For the first time ever every conference game this weekend is also a divisional game. Remember, the divisional record is the next tie-breaker when a multiple-team tie can’t be broken by head-to-head record. A three-way tie seems eminently possible in the Legends Division where parity may reign (see full tiebreaker rules at BigTen.org).
Wow. So, it seems like Wisconsin is pretty good. I don’t normally focus the Numbers on teams that aren’t playing this week because, well, then what would I talk about the next week? But, it seems reasonable to make at least a minor exception here.
Conference play is finally here. Nothing against the Tennessee Techs, Chattanoogas and South Carolina States of the world, but … actually, I don’t even know how to finish that sentence. Maybe I do have something against them. Perhaps it’s time for some introspection, time to come clean…
I said at the beginning of last week’s Numbers that the Illinois game excited me the most of any one on the Week 3 slate, and the Illini did not disappoint. Their 17-14 win over then-No. 18 Arizona State turned the nation on to something Howard, Gerry and I believed when we saw them in the pre-season: The Illini are for real. The numbers I gave last week were related to their offense, but the real story of the game was the “D.” So that’s where we’ll begin this week.
I wouldn’t necessarily have thought this going into the season, but the game that excites me the most on the Big Ten slate this weekend is Illinois’ game with Arizona State. Obviously, Ohio State–Miami and Michigan State–Notre Dame are generating more national buzz. But Gerry, Howard and I thought the Illini were a legitimate contender in the Leaders Division when we watched them in the pre-season and this is our first opportunity to see if we’re right.
One week in the books. I was obviously fascinated to see a number of Big Ten teams in their openers for a variety of reasons – everything from coaching changes, to new quarterbacks and offenses, to overhauled defenses. It’s dangerous to jump to too many conclusions, particularly given the level of the competition that some conference teams played. But there were certainly a few numbers that stood out. Let’s start with the teams breaking in new coaches.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sure, the conference added a team. True, we now have divisional play and a championship game. Yes, some long-tenured coaches are gone. But you can always count on the “Big Ten Numbers” – back for a fifth season. With no further ado (for no other reason than, in the first week of the season, I’m a little too busy for much in the way of ado), let’s get to them.