Well, that was a terrible non-conference season. There's simply no other way to put it. With only two irrelevant games for the Indiana schools remaining against other conferences before bowl season, the national perception of the Big Ten is locked in a negative state for the remainder of 2012.
So what does that leave us with? A hell of an entertaining conference race, for starters. There is a legitimate chance that Northwestern and Purdue could end up playing one another in Indianapolis for a spot in the Rose Bowl, which is a shocking possibility. But both of those teams have played as well as anybody else in the non-conference portion of the schedule.
We also are left with these weekly conference power rankings, which should continue to be very fluid if the first four versions are any indication. No team has been able to stay at the top or the bottom of the rankings for more than one week at a time. Just when a team seems to be figured out, it goes out and puts up an unexpected performance. Which is exactly why Big Ten football should be a blast to follow the rest of the season.
But now, conference play begins and the best nine weeks of the year are here. So because we are waxing romantic about conference play and feeling the blues of non-conference play, Dwight Yoakam has brought his brand of country ballads to be our soundtrack this week. Let's get right to it, with the Honky Tonk Man strumming us through the next 12 slides.