Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Oddysey: BIG WEEK in the Big Ten

In case you didn't hear...there's a couple big games in the Big Ten this weekend. It was almost a tough choice for the Most Important Game in the Big Ten This Week (seen on the right), but alas, THE GAME OF THE CENTURY 2008 Edition! is happening this weekend. There has never been a better week for the Big Televen to stake their claim as a respectable conference. This is the week to turn around the "down" label that has plagued the conference since the infamous National Championship Game Suck-Job #1. Ohio State learned the hard way this week just how negative the rest of the country feels about the Big Ten. After a poor performance against Ohio last weekend, the buckeyes dropped from 2nd to 5th in the polls. After a Win! Rarely do teams drop after a win, no matter how ugly. Sadly, that is the state of the Big Ten's national perception. But fear not, 3 big time games provide an opportunity for the Big Ten to earn their way back into the nation's good graces:

Ohio State @ USC
This game has been hyped, talked about, disected, and predicted like no other game this year. And the crazy thing is, the circumstances keep changing. Tuesday we heard that Beanie Wells would be playing, and that he wanted 45 carries. Wednesday he practiced well. Thursday...he's doubtful. President Bush just declared the state of Ohio a disaster zone due to massive flooding from all the tears. USC on the other hand comes in with the full arsenal of talented skill players and an experienced defense. Call me stupid, but I don't expect a ton of points in this game. Ohio State will struggle without Beanie to pound the rock. Boeckman will show his big game struggles again, and the USC defense will be flying all over the field. On the other side of the ball, USC looked unstoppable against Virginia. But the OSU defense is better than Virginia's, and the USC O-line is young/inexperienced. Expect the Buckeyes to blitz early and often and try to throw the Trojans off their game. Ultimately, the Trojans will pull away, but not until a late touchdown seals it. USC over OSU 24-10.

Oregon at Purdue
Yards, Points. Yards, Points. That's pretty much how this game should go on Saturday. Both offenses are wide open and capable of putting lots of yards and points on the board. Both defenses leave much to be desired. Purdue will come out fired up, as they will for most games this being Joe Tiller's final year, and it will be on Oregon to match their intensity. After a long trip from Eugene, I don't think the Ducks will have it in them early. Expect Purdue to take a first half lead behind the arm of Curtis Painter, but the Ducks to come storming back. Don't be surprised at the final score. Oregon over Purdue 45-37.

Wisconsin at Fresno State
Pat Hill has been building this game as the biggest game in Bulldog Stadium history. Fresno State is known for their motto of "anyone, anytime, anywhere". Well, the Bulldogs are finally getting a big-name program to come into their house. The fans will come from all over the Valley to support the Bulldogs, and Wisconsin fans may show up too. (sidenote: yours truly will be there, and judging by the booster event in San Fran tonight, there will be tons of badger fans). I fully expect the Badgers to come out just as fired up as the Bulldogs. Look for the Badgers to go on offense first if they can, and use their big O-lineman and a punishing tailback trio to beat up the Fresno D right off the bat. Fresno will look for the big play early to get their fans into the game right away...and don't be surprised if the trick plays come out of the bag. Eventually though, the Badgers will pull away. Allan Evridge will start throwing on first down to soften the D, and after four quarters of pounding, the Wisconsin O-line and running backs will take control in the fourth. Badgers over Bulldogs, 31-21.

Other Games:
Michigan over the Domers 17-7
Penn State over Syracuse 56-10
Minnesota over Montana State 34-21
Michigan State over FAU 35-14
Illinois over Lousiana Lafayette 42-21
Iowa over Iowa State 21-17
Northwestern over SIU 27-10

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