Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema
The Big Ten football season is winding down and, as we head into the last week of the season, we have three teams tied atop the Big Ten conference.
The conference will likely see its three leaders finish the season tied at 11-1. While no Big Ten team controls its own destiny for getting into the BCS Championship game, there still remains a possibility to see a Big Ten representative playing in the big game.
The Big Ten also may see two of its teams playing in BCS bowls for the second consecutive year. The Big Ten clearly has reason to be thankful.
If the Big Ten was invited over to the house of Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney for Thanksgiving, one could imagine that Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue would be relegated to the kids table.
The food at the kids table with the folding table and chairs would likely be chicken, mashed potatoes (but no gravy as kids are finicky), green beans, a small slice of sweet potato pie and a glass of milk.
11. Minnesota – Last week, Minnesota had a bye and an opportunity to enjoy their road upset win over Illinois. This week, the Gophers take on a down Iowa Hawkeye team that has lost its last two games. Minnesota may be well positioned to pull off their second consecutive upset of the season to finish the season strong with two wins. While it may be controversial, I would be willing to consider jumping Minnesota in the final regular season rankings ahead of Indiana and Purdue if the Gophers vanquish the Hawkeyes.
10. Indiana – The Hoosiers their chance to become bowl eligible disappear last week with their 41-24 loss to Penn State. Indiana travels this week to play for the “Old Oaken Bucket” against rival Purdue. Ben Chappell needs to have a great performance against Purdue if he hopes to generate any interest from NFL scouts as he has had only one good performance this year against a team with a winning record.
9. Purdue – The Boilermakers should have upset the Michigan State Spartans, but Purdue couldn’t hold on to a 28-13 fourth quarter lead. As a result of the loss to the Spartans, Purdue will fall short of becoming bowl eligible regardless of what happens against the Hoosiers. Too bad for Purdue fans because, with all of the injuries their squad had this year, Purdue sneaking into a bowl game with a 6-6 record would have been a good story.
In the kitchen with their choice of turkey or roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy or stuffing, and green beans would be Penn State, Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa. The dessert in the kitchen would be sweet potato or apple pie. Milk is available, but so is your favorite pop or soda as you get to watch some football action on the small 23 inch screen.
8.Northwestern – The Wildcats gave up 330 yards to Mikel Leshoure of Illinois in losing to the Illini 48-27. What is going to happen when Northwestern faces the running game of Wisconsin this week when the Badgers demonstrated the power of their running game by calling only one passing play in the second half on their way to six rushing touchdowns against Michigan?
7.Penn State – Since their bye week, and going to quarterback Matt McGloin, the Nittany Lions are 4-1 with their only loss at the horseshoe in Columbus. While McGloin is not the only reason for the resurgence of Penn State, the Nittany Lions have become a better team over the course of the season. A win over No. 12 Michigan State for Coach Paterno would be a great conclusion to one of the best coaching stories in the history of college football if this is his final game in Happy Valley.
6. Michigan –There is no doubt that the 2010 Wolverines are a better team as the Wolverines will be going to a bowl game this post-season, but there has to be concern in the Coach Rodriquez camp about how the Michigan faithful react if the Wolverines lose their third straight game against Ohio State? If Michigan is to have any hope of upsetting the Buckeyes, the Wolverine defense will have to play its best game of the year.
5. Illinois – The Illini rebounded very nicely after their collapse the previous week against Minnesota in Champaign. The best kept secret: the effectiveness of the Illini in being able to run the ball, was revealed last week as Mikel Leshoure rushed for 330 yards and the team accounted for 519 yards on its way to averaging 7.4 yards a carry. This week Illinois has a bye before traveling to play Fresno State on December 4.
4. Iowa – Most teams with one game remaining would be pleased with a 7-4 record. Iowa came into the season believing that they weren’t like most teams and that they would be playing in a BCS bowl game, or possibly in the BCS Championship game. Iowa needs to be careful against Minnesota, who is coming off a bye week, to avoid coming into the Twin Cities flat and getting upset by the lowly Gophers.
In the man cave would be Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Ah, the good life. Turkey, Roast beef and ham are all available and kept warm. Mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing and dumplings are waiting. Of course, there are sweet potato and apple pies available, but there is also German chocolate cake. Beverages? Well we are at the Commissioner’s house, so you know he will likely have whatever you would like to drink.
How do you like that large flat screen television?
3. Michigan State – The Spartans kept their Rose Bowl hopes alive with a dramatic fourth quarter comeback against Purdue capped off by a blocked punt. Michigan State will face a stiff challenge this week as they travel to Penn State; the last two years the Nittany Lions have manhandled the Spartans winning by 28 points last year and 31 points two years ago.
2. Ohio State – While the Buckeyes win over Iowa was not by a significant margin, the manner in which Terrelle Pryor led his team down the field at the very end of the game was very impressive. When DeVier Posey dropped a sure touchdown pass, Pryor could have folded the tent but instead he marched the Buckeyes 50 yards in six plays and scored a touchdown. The Buckeyes have not been as dominating in their wins as the Badgers, but, on a neutral field, it would be interesting to see which team would prevail.
1.Wisconsin – Forget about the ridiculous numbers Wisconsin put on Indiana, and chalk it up as an aberration. The Badgers have simply played the best football in the Big Ten in the last six weeks as they have played the most consistent defense, had the most consistent special teams play and have been beyond proficient with their offense. The Badgers face Northwestern without Dan Persa in a game in which Coach Bielema will likely go to the card early and often to see what play he should call to keep the Badgers BCS Championship hopes alive.
Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving.