It’s that time of year again when the Big Ten ushers in its main course…the conference schedule. You know, the time when you set aside the hors d’oeuvre plate and prepare your feasting area for the bigger plate. It’s the time where you reflect and look a back at the sampler plate you just wrecked and summarize it. You tell yourself ‘there were two or things on that plate that I really liked, but man, that one potato skin just didn’t sit well with me. I can’t tell you what it was, but it wasn’t one of my favorites’. But now, with all of that behind us, we eagerly await our main dish. We know what we ordered and can’t wait for it…but it seems like no matter what we thought we ordered, the chef always seems to surprise us with a little something. Will that happen this week?…let’s find out.
Just a side note from here on out…If you see the term “The Jackson” or are confused by a reference to “A Jackson” or simply “Jackson”..it is referring to a notion of sorts that uses legendary play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson’s voice to warn me or let me in on possible factors that may or may not give one team in a certain game a particular advantage. The Jackson does get louder…it does, more times than not, tend to favor the underdogs. It also, from time to time may just pop-up in random games where there is no chance of a shocking outcome. The Jackson does get ignored…but it is difficult to ignore the Jackson. So far in 2013…I have not ignored it and I am 2-0 using it. So that is what it means if you see it…Wouldn’t you know that I get a voice talking to me and it sounds like an 84 year-old sports announcer…why can’t I get a voice that sounds like Scarlett Johansson?
Saturday, September 28
Miami (OH) (0-3) @ Illinois (2-1) Noon Big Ten Network: This will be the first meeting between the two schools. The life and times of a MAC school…the RedHawks have lost on the road to Marshall and Kentucky. They had a well-timed bye week then had their home opener and got shutout by the Cincinnati Bearcats…in what was by all accounts a truly horrifying display of football skills. Looking at the Miami numbers…ugh…the RedHawks are 125th (a very difficult ranking to accomplish since there are only a current total of 124 full members) in total offense gaining just under 150 yards a game….and giving up 545 per game..which is ‘good’ for 122nd in the NCAA. If the Illini offense gets on the field this weekend, they should win. I think the Hawks will pose more of a threat than most people think…but I still feel that Illinois will win….Fighting Illini win 38-17.
Northern Illinois (3-0) @ Purdue (1-3) Noon ESPN2: The Huskies lead the all-time series vs Purdue 1-0…they met in Ross Ade back in 2009 and NIU won 28-21. Northern Illinois is 3-0 and won their first two games on the road vs Iowa and Idaho…Their biggest W was the Idaho game they won 45-35. So the Huskies give up points…giving up essentially 38 a game. So that begs the question..can Purdue score that many? I get the feeling that PU coach Darrell Hazell may have a sense of urgency about winning this game. He just got done losing to Wisconsin, after NIU leaves town he gets Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa…well you get the picture. His chances of going to a bowl game may already be out the window. I think Purdue will hang around and may actually lead late in the game….but Jordan Lynch will work his magic and put the Huskies in game winning situation….and they will get it done. Northern Illinois wins the game 34-30.
Iowa (3-1) @ Minnesota (4-0) 3:30pm ABC: The Gophers lead the all-time series vs the Hawkeyes 60-43-2…Iowa has won four of the last six meetings but the Hawkeyes have yet to win at TCF Bank Field (0-2). The Battle for Floyd of Rosedale…love this game. Any idea why these two schools battle for a 21 inch long, 15 inch high bronze pig?…well, in the 1934 game between the two schools, the Gopher team was accused of roughing up Iowa star HB Ozzie Simmons and the Gophers ended up winning the game big time…in 1935, many Iowa fans sent some very threatening letters to Gopher coach Bernie Bierman saying if you beat up our star again, we are leaving the stands and coming after you. Upon hearing of these threats, Minnesota governor Floyd Olson tried to ease the tension between the two fan bases by offering a wager…prize hog vs prize hog. He even threw out the first notion* of trash talking when he stated in a telegram that the Iowa governor, Clyde L. Herring, would be getting odds because Minnesota raises better hogs than Iowa….great stuff there. These teams are pretty even in most of the vital areas of concern…defense, offense…so what I am looking at here is who will run the ball better…I like the Gophers to do that at home and hit some big plays on some play action late…home field will help too. Gophers keep the Floyd…21-17.
*- may not be an actual true statement…trash talking in the upper Midwest goes way back. It may however be the first notion of trash talk involving livestock…it was also the last due to the general cleanliness or lack thereof of the sport.
#23 Wisconsin (3-1) @ #4 Ohio State (4-0) 8:00pm ABC: Ohio State leads the all-time series 55-18-5. The Buckeyes have won five of the last six meetings. Ohio State has won the last three meetings in Columbus, but lost the previous three at the Shoe. This should be a really fun game to watch. I have been very critical of the Buckeye defense thus far..well now they get the test. If they can somehow stop the Badger running game, they force the Badgers to throw…I think OSU may have a chance. But I love the matchup in the trenches when the Badgers are on offense. I think they will be able to run the ball and take some time off the clock and more importantly, keep Braxton Miller and his offense off the field. I just haven’t seen enough of a stout OSU defense and enough critical stops to tell me that they can stop a team like this. Now they may be able to, I just haven’t seen it yet. Plus I also have a hunch that Wisconsin has a plan for the OSU spread. It should be a classic, but I actually like the road team on Saturday night…Wisconsin wins in Columbus 31-27.