Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let's go bowl-ing, Big Ten style

Purdue plays at Indiana on Saturday in a game that means little outside the Hoosier state except for this: the Boilermakers would become bowl eligible if they defeat IU.
That would make 10 of the 12 Big Ten teams eligible to be invited to bowl games.
Michigan State, which plays either Penn State or Wisconsin in the inaugural Big Ten championship game on Dec. 3, is 9-2 and could earn a trip to the Rose Bowl if it wins the conference title.
Other Big Ten teams will be headed for less attractive destinations, if they go anywhere at all during bowl season.
Illinois, Ohio State and Northwestern have the bowl-eligible minimum of six victories so far. The best Purdue can do is win six games.
One of the Big Ten's also-rans might be in line for a berth in the Motor City Bowl at Ford Field.
Mark Schlabach of ESPN predicted Ohio State will face off against Ohio U. of the Mid-American Conference in the MCB.
The Big Ten's final weekend of the regular season finds Ohio State at Michigan; Iowa at Nebraska; MSU at Northwestern; Illinois at Minnesota and Penn State at Wisconsin.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Michigan can make statement against Nebraska

The weather figures to be raw when Michigan welcomes Nebraska to the Big House on Saturday for the teams' first meeting in Big Ten play, and seventh overall.
It could be precisely the kind of November-in-the-upper-Midwest setting in which Michigan has thrived over the years, in seasons when the Wolverines would pounce on, say, Purdue, Illinois or Ohio State to stamp itself an elite team.
Windy. Chilly. Cloudy. Perfect for tough-guy football.
Is Michigan up to the challenge?
The Wolverines have not had a Big Ten game this meaningful in a long time, perhaps not since the November 2006 clash with Ohio State, when OSU and U-M were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the country.
Nebraska is 4-2 in the Big Ten, 8-2 overall, the same records as U-M.
The Cornhuskers, who won at Penn State last week, are ranked No. 17 in the writers poll, No. 16 in the coaches poll. Michigan is ranked No. 20 and 18, respectively.
After three disappointing seasons during Rich Rodriguez's tenure as coach, Michigan is poised to snare an attractive bowl invitation, provided the Wolverines can defeat the Cornhuskers, or Ohio State next week, or both teams.
Michigan allowed 37 rushing yards at Illinois last week, a performance that rekindled memories of when defense was a U-M staple.
Can Michigan continue its habit of fourth-quarter surges behind quarterback Denard Robinson?
Coach Brady Hoke's Wolverines have outscored opponents 97-35 in fourth quarters this season.
They might need that kind of late-game edge to subdue the Cornhuskers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Paterno fiasco leaves egg on Big Ten face

Joe Paterno's name will not be affixed to the Big Ten football championship trophy, the conference said Monday.
The former Penn State coach, a fixture with the Nittany Lions and for years a college football treasure, was fired amid the furor over an alleged sex-abuse case involving a former Penn State assistant coach.
The lesson for the Big Ten and other institutions is that you never, ever place such an honor on an individual who is still active.
No matter the reputation, no matter how strong the resume, a person active in their profession is one mis-step from a fall from grace, whether by their own hand or others.
It is sad, yes, but it happens.
Just ask Pete Rose.