Category Archives: Big Ten

Recap: A Steaming Pile of Purdue-doo

Let’s count the ways things did not go the Huskers’ way against Purdue-

Ameer gets taken out of the game (and possibly longer?) after he gets crushed by his own lineman trying to recover a botched snap on 4th and goal from the Purdue one yard-line.

(Feel free to count snap issues and goal line inefficiency as individual problems if you are so inclined.)

Roommates Tommy Armstrong and Jordan Westerkamp were on the wrong page to the tune of two interceptions.

A Blackshirt  interception turned fumble essentially gave Purdue eight downs from inside the Huskers’ 30 yard-line.

True freshman kicker Drew Brown missed his third field goal in four attempts.

Now let’s count the ways things went right-

After all the offensive, offensive miscues, pulled boners, and Tim Beck over-thinking, the Huskers still won handily.

The Blackshirts held Purdue to 14 points the same total the Boilermakers notched against Notre Dame. Don’t forget they hung 31 points on Michigan State.

Two blocked punts.

Bo Pelini got a sideline penalty and it wasn’t due to taking a swing at an official!

When a 21 point victory over Purdue can feel like a loss to Iowa State, you gotta take a step back and admit that’s a good problem to have when moving into November with an 8 – 1 record.

As frustrating as the game was to listen to (for the record, I still haven’t watched a single highlight), it’s hard to get that upset.

Nine games into the season, we still haven’t seen this edition of the Huskers at their best and we certainly haven’t seen them at their worst. The pendulum has swung in both directions all year long without reaching one extreme or the other. If you think they reached a new low against Purdue, congrats on having a very short memory.

Will playing above average with spurts of greatness and stupidity be enough to beat Wisconsin in Madison? Who knows?

November is shaping up to be an entertaining month so sit back and try to enjoy the ride as best you can. There aren’t many teams that can claim to have an equal chance at making the playoff as making the Meineke Car Care Fight Hunger with Pepperoni Pizza Bowl.

**On a completey unrelated note, the Purdue game was the first time I listened to a Huskers’ radio broadcast from pre-game to post-game in its entirety since Ball State was a missed field goal away from an upset in Lincoln.

Video streaming didn’t work so well out in the middle of nowhere but Greg Sharpe and Matt Davison came through crystal clear. (The only trick is using the TuneIn Radio app rather than the unfortunately unreliable official Huskers app.)

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This was our view during the game.

Greg and Matt really make a great team. Greg deftly rides a fine line between the legendary Kent Pavelka’s I’m-about-to-have-an-aneuyrsm  level of enthusiasm and professional polish, balanced out by Matt’s nuanced observation and appropriate level of dread when needed.

If you’re ever in the mood to kick it like it’s the 20th century, give those guys a listen sometime.

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Purdue Or Do Not. There Is No Try.

For the second consecutive year, we’re going to be away from the comforting bosom of our neighborhood watch site on Purdue weekend.

In 2013, the Huskers traveled to West Lafayette and rolled an 1 – 11 Boilermaker team 44 – 7 in a game that was decided well before halftime. It was a great, stress free Saturday, especially the part where I was able to venture out of the tiny bubble of free hotel lobby WiFi and spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the beach.

This year we’ll be in nestled in the mountains in the new age hippie paradise of Ojai (with a requisite side trip to the nearby premium outlet mall).

In a season where the Huskers have been rolling, the Boilermakers come to Lincoln with a semblance of momentum and the proverbial elephant in the proverbial room looming larger than ever.

That elephant would be the Huskers’ seemingly annual crapping of the bed against a lousy team. With that in mind, Purdue’s visit suddenly adds suspense and anxiety to the mix. It’s like Husker Nation is one big traumatized family on pins and needles when they realize it’s been far too long since dad has come home piss drunk. A Husker meltdown is imminent. It has to be.

Or does it?

Confidence: Like any woman who has ever thought she could change her man,  the Huskers are wearing their new look and attitude well but have the potential to regress back to their old losing habits in a heartbeat. (Then again, that could be the years of psychological damage talking.) If Nebraska can get through this one with a W, they just might have turned a corner for both the season and the program.

Scouting Report: Purdue, the Indiana university that is neither Indiana or Notre Dame, is located in Tippecanoe County. Tippecanoe, as we all know, translates to “place of the succor fish people.” In our hearts, the Boilermakers will always hold a special place for ensuring Kansas State’s dream season of ’98 had a nightmare ending.

KYLE ORTON PURDUEIn Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer, distinguished Purdue alum Kyle Orton explained how he wore number 18 as a tribute to Brook. It’s amazing how one little anecdote can instantly make a guy unhateable.

More seriously though, Purdue is a 3 – 5 team the Huskers can’t treat lightly. A week after Nebraska manhandled Illinois, the Boilermakers bumped off the Illini 38 – 27. They followed that up by playing Michigan State to within a touchdown until Boilermaker QB Austin Appleby threw a game sealing pick six with 1:29 to go.

The pessimist could look at that and conclude that the Spartans aren’t that good and Purdue is better than Nebraska. We’ll go out on that fragile limb of optimism and say Michigan State played poorly because they were still rattled from their oh-so-near miss against the Huskers the week before.

Long story short, Purdue is finally starting to click. Check out Hail Varsity for all the stats to back up that statement. Then again, they’ve also lost to Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Ideal Scenario: The Huskers cruise into their bye week ahead of their big showdown with Wisconsin. Ameer, Kenny, Tommy and Randy all do their Ameer, Kenny, Tommy and Randy things. I don’t resort to hiding from my wife by holing up in a premium outlet bathroom stall and faking the worst dump of my life just so I can watch a too-close-for-comfort game in relative peace and agony.

Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: 5 — Don’t expect the ABC/ESPN/SEC Network faction to cut him any slack, especially with Ed Cunningham in the broadcast booth.

A Question That Needs an Answer: Will Imani Cross ever score again? He hasn’t notched a touchdown since the Illinois game a month ago.

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Recap: Huskers roll, Dirk Chatelain trolls

Even in a lethargic, let’s-just-get-the-game-over-with-and-set-some-records-along-the-way 42 – 24 victory, Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain found a way to stir up unnecessary drama.

Following Nebraska’s win over Rutgers, Bo Pelini rightfully called out his team for lack of execution. With a little more attention to detail, the Huskers could have easily doubled their 18 point margin of victory and given the backups some valuable playing time. Instead, they shot themselves in the foot enough times to still have the starters on the field at the final whistle.

While you expect the Huskers to show improvement from one week to the next, sometimes their progression stalls and the end result is a “blah win” which ultimately should never be anything to complain about.

Even our watch site had trouble getting motivated for the game. In our defense, 9am kickoffs on the West Coast are for the birds. Couple that with the game being on ESPN2 and a normally robust turnout plummeted to just a couple dozen who could barely bust out a Go Big Red. Games like this have all the fun of a Catholic mass at 6pm on a Sunday night. Everyone in attendance just wants to get communion and get the hell out.

Husker Watch Site
Rutgers scores a late touchdown and not single Husker fan throws things at the screen. This is how little anyone cared.

In a game where Ameer Abdullah ran for 225 yards on just 19 carries (11.84 YPC) and broke the Husker record for all-purpose yards with 341, Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain’s biggest concern is why Tim Beck didn’t call more running plays. (It should be noted that the Huskers finished with 297 yards on the ground.)

From his column:

Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain: “Do you understand the frustration when (Abdullah) rips off two for 50 and you throw it three straight times the next possession?”
Beck: “No, I don’t.”
Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain: “Really?”
Beck: “No. You think every time we hand him the ball, he’s gonna run for 50? What if he runs for 2? Should they get frustrated, too, ’cause he didn’t run for 50? Is that the line’s fault then? Or is it his? Did he miss it? Or is it a bad play call because we should’ve ran the other way?”

Josh Harvey from Scout has the audio of the whole conversation between Beck and Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain posted on his site. It’s worth a listen if you want to hear a master troll at work. Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain comes off so whiny with the “Really?” that he makes Luke Skywalker sound like Samuel L. Jackson.

Now let’s go back and examine Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain’s big question from above.

Ameer’s first 50 yard (53 if you want to get technical) touchdown run was preceded by him rushing for 7, 2 and 5 yards. The entire drive was four Ameer rushes and took 1:31 off the clock.

The next time the Huskers got the ball, their first play from scrimmage was this 16 yard strike to Jordan Westerkamp.

Had the the Rutgers defender not sent Westerkamp’s spleen into his kidneys, he may have gone all the way for a score.

Then, on the very next play, Ameer runs 48 yards for his second touchdown in barely three minutes. You might say Tim Beck set up this run with the previous PASSING PLAY.

Over the span of two drives that milked all of 2:03 off the game clock, Ameer carried the ball 5 out of 6 plays and scored two touchdowns.

So, the next time Nebraska got the ball don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, the Rutgers defense will be on the lookout for #8?

Starting from their own 41 and up 21 – 7, here’s how those three passes that Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain was all in a huff about went down.

1st Down- Chucked out of bounds about ZIP Code away from DPE.

2nd Down- Caught by Alonzo Moore at the sideline but Moore was out-of-bounds by a sliver of a heel. Had the game been in a tighter situation, the play could have been called for a review. If it were ruled to be a completed pass, the Huskers would have been looking at third and 2.

3rd Down- Kenny Bell gets tossed off the field by a Rutgers defender. Tommy Armstrong then proceeds to throw a perfect strike to said defender for an INT.

Hmm… Sounds like Tommy Armstrong could use some work on his passing. With the Huskers up by two touchdowns in the dregs of the second quarter, why not give him some throws? Or does that make too much sense for Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain?

His readers seem to think it does-

Dirk Readers
However, one Top Commenter chimed in to give credence to Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain’s claim that people are frustrated by the lack of running.

Ronald Scribner
Yes, Ronald. It is beyond frustrating that every day can’t be like 1994 where vaginas were still hairy and wide receivers were used more for their blocking ability than catching skills. Heaven forbid that Bo Pelini and company could recruit receivers who can block AND catch.

Note Westerkamp’s pancake and Sam Cotton being such a nuisance that the Rutgers defender resorts to grabbing a double handful of jersey in a futile attempt to catch Ameer during his first touchdown run.

Funny how both those guys caught touchdown passes later in the game.

 

 

 

 

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Recap: Huskers Make Wildcats Grumpy, Husker Fans Stay Grumpy

After a frustrating first half filled with near misses, the Huskers fired on cylinders for the final 30 minutes, scoring 24 unanswered points and neutering the Northwestern Wildcats to the tune of a 38 – 17 final score.

Defibrillators were pulled off standby (for at least one year anyway) as the Huskers romped through the 4th quarter. While last second Hail Mary drama is always exciting, an almost relaxing and cathartic win is welcome anytime.

Following the game, the Husker Athletic Department pointed out that the Big Red had clinched a bowl berth for the seventh consecutive year under Bo Pelini.

However, Joshua Brixius was far from sold on the idea that the Husker Athletic Department would actually know where the team stood with regards to bowl eligibility. He was so confident with calling out their lies that he didn’t even have to do any research for confirmation.
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Boom. Posted on Facebook and in your face, no nothing Athletic Department.

At least Joshua was gracious in being clarified.

The other big story in the game was the Huskers second half adjustments (or lack of) depending who you believe.

Huskers Adjustments

In his post game comments, Coach Pelini said his team didn’t need to make too many adjustments for the second half. They just needed to play better.

Playing better is technically an “adjustment.”

The other angle that Loren doesn’t grasp is why would any coach in his right mind use his post game press conference to diagram exactly what his team changed in the second half? You gotta keep those details close to the vest, my friend.

The biggest adjustment of all came late in the first half when the Huskers suddenly found themselves down 14 – 7 with under two minutes to play.

Two plays, 56 yards, and 30 seconds later Tim Beck called a new play called Texas.

Faced with a quarterback lacking touch on passes under 40 yards and his most reliable receiver riding a four dropped ball streak, Coach Beck called the play any sane and rational offensive coordinator would dial up at 1st and 10 on your opponent’s 16 yard line.

His touch lacking QB handed the ball of to the Heisman contending running back who then flipped it to a speedy but otherwise unproven Freshman wide receiver who then threw a perfect strike to his quarterback who was heading towards the end zone all alone.

So to recap, when your quarterback can’t throw, and your receiver can’t catch, you have your receiver throw to your quarterback.

Makes perfect sense.

And it makes us think that Texas was just a codename for a play called “The Ultimate Fuck You Adjustment.”

We can’t wait to see what Coach Beck draws up next.

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Game Day Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers at Northwestern Wildcats

When the Wildcats left Lincoln with a win after their first match up with Nebraska as Big Ten rivals, the table was set for Northwestern to become the thorn in the Huskers’ side- like some unholy combination of the worst attributes of Kansas State and Colorado.

Confidence: One T-Magic led comeback and ridiculous Hail Mary you’ve watched a thousand times later, the Huskers now lead the series 2 – 1. With Nebraska quickly running out of ways to cruelly disembowel the Wildcats, look for the Huskers to return to good old fashioned ass whuppin’.

Scouting Report: Bucking convention, but not surprising for the Harvard of the Midwest, the Wildcats feature a spunky, first year head coach in Molly McGrath from the hailed McGrath coaching family.

Coach McGrath
If you think Bo Pelini has a fiery sideline demeanor, you haven’t seen Molly McGrath in action.

Coach McGrath didn’t start with much in the cupboard but after winning the respect of her players, the Wildcats rebounded from a frustrating 0 – 2 start to go 3 – 1 in their last four games. For the math adverse among us, that means the Wildcats are now 3 – 3 with their most impressive win being against #17 (at the time) Wisconsin.

The Maverick and Goose of the Wildcats is a thunder and lightning duo known only as Krushinski and Trumaine.

Krushinski Trumaine
As impressive as they are on the field, Krushinski and Trumaine’s true calling may be on the basketball court.

Ideal Scenario: With Husker Nation expected to turn whatever Northwestern calls their stadium into the Chicago adjacent branch of Memorial Stadium, the crowd shouldn’t be a factor. If defenses can’t stop Ameer Abdullah, don’t except Northwestern’s natural grass surface to put up much of a fight. Here’s hoping Tim Beck used the bye week to brush up on his roster and remember he has Imani Cross. It’s been far too long since Cross was a factor. And with that in mind, Tommy Armstrong used his week off to work on finding all the receivers on the field and shows improvement with his reads.

On the defensive side, look for Randy Gregory add to his legacy with a soul crushing sack or three as the Blackshirts (Wait, is the defense still called that?) keep the Wildcats in check.

MACHO MAN RANDY GREGORY 4

Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: 2 – With the game on the Big Ten Network, don’t look for the broadcast to go out of its way to try and make Bo look bad.

A Question That Needs an Answer: Will @FauxPelini get outed by a nosy fan looking over his shoulder?

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Game Day Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Michigan State Spartans

It’s gameday!

Or is it?
Cornhusker Game Day
Time zones is confusing to Wanda.

Just so we’re all on the same page,  the official start time for the Cornhuskers is 8pm Eastern Time. That means 7pm back in the land of Runza.

And for this blog, it means one stressful night because the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles will be squaring off against the St. Louis Cardinals at the same time.

Johnny Stanton demonstrates how Dodger Blue and Husker Red can be a winning combo.

I’ll be at the Dodger game armed with an AM radio to get the sweet, sweet sounds of Vin Scully in one ear, a hopefully functional Huskers app to get the sounds of Greg Sharpe and Matt Davison in the other plus an iPad to watch the game.

If you’re keeping score at home, the last time a Dodger playoff game went up directly against the Cornhuskers was on this very day six years ago.

It was much simpler back in the pre-Twitter era of 2008. Putting yourself in a cone of silence wasn’t impossible, it was downright easy. With the Husker game on the DVR back at home, all I had to do was not check the college football scoreboard on my trusty T-Mobile flip phone. If I remember correctly, I may have even turned my phone off for the entire game.

It wasn’t until we were bouncing back to the car after the Dodgers had swept the Cubs under the rug that I noticed I had a voice mail from a college friend living in Chicago. Thought she was calling to talk smack about the Dodgers slaying her Cubs but nope. She called to vent about the Huskers getting curb stomped by Missouri and ruined an otherwise brilliant plan. If I remember correctly, that game was erased without watching a single play.

And with that one quick message, all the the joy was sucked out of that Dodger victory.

No matter the outcome of the Dodgers’ postseason run, its emotional roller coaster is but a mere bunny slope compared the K12 that is the Huskers’ season. That is the power of Husker fandom.

So, on to tonight’s big showdown –

Confidence: The Cornhuskers  enter the Big Ten’s marquee match up as a solid underdog but the Big Red needn’t fear Michigan State. If the Huskers can execute, there’s no reason they shouldn’t win. (That being said, I won’t be wearing red tonight so as not to be mistaken for a Cardinal fan.)

Scouting Report: Outside of their loss at Oregon, the reigning Big Ten champions have yet to play a team of note with Jacksonville State, Eastern Michigan, and Wyoming rounding out their non-conference schedule. Michigan State has a hoss receiver in the 6’3″ Tony Lippett but the Huskers’ secondary has already gone down that road with Miami’s Phillip Dorsett. If they can keep him and his size at bay, look for it to be a long night for the Michigan State passing game. Michigan State’s defense could give the Huskers fits early on but look for Tim Beck to make continue his hot streak of making good decisions and find a way for the Huskers to move the ball.

Ideal Scenario: The Cornhuskers take the mental toughness that was forged against Miami on the road and stay meltdown-free. Ameer Abdullah gains traction on a possibly wet field and leads the Husker charge in prime time. A strong showing edges him to within striking distance of Marcus Mariota in the Heisman discussion.

Tommy Armstrong breaks off a couple of key runs and takes care of the ball through the air, burning Michigan State deep at least once.

On the Blackshirt side of the ball, Randy Gregory has his coming out party. If the defensive line and secondary can keep things locked down look for Gregory to be turned loose leaving Husker fans to ask, Ndamukong Who?

Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: Four. Look for ABC/ESPN to try to create sideline drama anytime they can.

A Question That Needs an Answer: Which Husker receiver will have a big catch on this trip to RoboCop’s home state?


This Brook Berringer strike to Reggie Baul back in 1995 against the Nick Saban coached Spartans made the pain of a very severe hangover instantly go away.


How huge was Jamal Turner’s game winning catch? My brother was so pumped he called me. A month earlier when his first child was born, he sent me a text.

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Jupiter Was Aligned With Pluto: Proof Nebraska Can Beat Michigan State

This is what things have looked like at Big Red Fury HQ the last few days…

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We stopped taking our crazy pills and went deep down into the college football rabbit hole to find the connection, any connection that would prove the Huskers have the power to take down Michigan State.

Heading into week 6 of the season, teams are becoming intertwined with common opponents. We looked at Nebraska and Michigan State’s opponents. We looked at their opponent’s opponents. We looked at their opponent’s opponent’s opponents. No stone or conference went unturned. Never before have the  South Dakota Coyotes received so much scrutiny.

THESE ARE OUR FINDINGS:

NEBRASKA VS MICHIGAN STATELast night’s Duck Hunt, only helped solidify our theory that was sketched out underneath the patently obvious (in red).

Michigan State’s signature loss of the season (so far) came at the hand of Oregon which is not coincidentally the only real competition the Spartans have faced. These are the same Ducks that struggled to put away a Washington State team that opened their season by losing at home Rutgers. Rutgers in turn lost to Penn State who we all know went on to be mauled by the Northwestern Wildcats back home in State College, PA.

In their season opener, Northwestern was taken down by Cal 31 – 24. Last weekend, the Golden Bears took Arizona to the brink on the road, losing 49 – 45 on a last second Hail Mary that made the Westercatch look like a routine play.

So back to last night, the Oregon Ducks could only hang 24 points on Arizona. (Yes, we know Oregon’s O-line is depleted and the D has suffered some key injuries, but still.) While Oregon showed some brief flashes of what had previously qualified them as the number 2 team in the country, Arizona had a harder time with UTSA (a team in its 4th season) and the Nevada Wolfpack.

Nevada, in case you haven’t been paying close attention, took down Washington State 24 – 13 — a bigger margin of victory than Oregon. The week before, the Wolfpack opened their 2014 season with a 28 – 19 win over the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.

Two weeks ago, Fresno State finally notched their first victory of the year when they defeated Southern Utah 56 -16.

Finally, Michigan State and Oregon did a about the same against their common foe Wyoming, winning 56 – 14 and 48 – 14 respectively. Between losses, the Cowboys edged Nebraska’s first foe, Florida Atlantic, 20 – 19. Of FAU’s two wins this season, their most recent was against UTSA, a team that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Arizona.

Pee Wee Herman

But what we do know is that college football is a weird and wacky sport and Nebraska should have no reason to be afraid of Michigan State Saturday night.

If the Huskers take care of the ball and turn Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory loose, they should have no problem leaving East Lansing 6 and 0.

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Game Day Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Illinois Fighting Illini

Three things we learned in compiling this Nebraska – Illinois preview:

1. The Illinois Fighting Illini must have had one roll of film in their camera during the 1980’s. Case in point, a Google Image Search for Jeff George. There is not a single photo of him and his sweet mustache in an Illinois uniform to be found on the internet which really throws our plans for a sweet stache bash between George and Jordan Westerkamp for a loop.

Jeff George Mustache

2. If photos the most famous/notorious player to ever wear blue and orange barely exist, good luck finding a photo of Jordan Westerkamp’s dad Bob in action for the Fighting Illini.

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3. Jordan Westerkamp’s older brother Matt has an amazing mullet.

matt-westerkamp
Between Jordan’s stache and Matt’s mullet, the Westerkamp bros could give the Franco bros a run for their money.

Now that your mind is blown, here’s what you need to know about tonight’s match up.

Confidence: The Illini travel to Nebraska for the second year in a row (nice scheduling, Big Ten) and the outcome won’t be any different.

Scouting Report: According to Steven M. Sipple, the Illini run Tim Beck’s favorite offense – that multiple one. They come in to Lincoln with a 3-1 record- their lone loss a drubbing at the hands of a rebuilding Washington team. It’s also worth noting that the Illini’s first victory was at the expense of Youngstown State so it will be interesting to see if Bo Pelini goes for a little get back in honor of his hometown. Illinois might burn Nebraska a couple of times but look for the Blackshirts to have things on lock down by halftime.

Ideal Scenario: First and foremost the 8pm(!) kickoff should be late enough to scare away the blue hairs who would otherwise sit on their keisters and complain about the Huskers’ alternate uniforms.

nebraksa alternate uniform
The helmet is killer. The actual uniform is still a little off. The reflective numbers and accents are going to wreak havoc for photographers.

Continue to see Ameer Abdullah go HAM. With Oregon off this week, ESPN will be Marcus Mariotta free so tonight is a great chance for Ameer to be in the spotlight and build his Heisman case, except that dang 8pm kick off (the blue hairs may have a valid point) means the game won’t end unit close to 1am on the East Coast. So here’s to Ameer going off in the first half.

The other storyline to consider is if Jordan Westerkamp will show any mercy to his home state team and his dad’s alma mater. Illinois and every other school recruited Jordan before he ultimately chose Nebraska. Here’s hoping his roommate slings a few big passes his way.

Look for the Husker starters to turn things over to the back ups by the early 4th quarter and start resting up for next week’s showdown at Michigan State. The Husker faithful stay in the stands until the very end unless making it to last call with time to spare becomes an issue.

Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: 3 with the game on the Big Ten Network and a soft opponent, don’t look for Bo’s rage to be an issue tonight.

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Big Ten Power Rankings – Week 4

What a difference a couple of weeks can make.  The second Saturday of the 2014 college football season looked so dismal for the Big Ten that I was forced to eschew my normal conference power ranking in favor of this dubious list of impotence rankings.

Take, for example, this clip from a match two weeks ago.

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To the untrained eye, this might look like Illinois’ 42-34 win over Western Kentucky. But, believe it or not, it is a completely unrelated fight between two jack rabbits.

But now, in week four, things look a little different. The Big Ten posted a 12-1 record for the day while the mighty SEC went 7-4. Now, granted, three of the SEC losses were to other SEC teams. But that doesn’t change the fact that the only Big Ten/SEC match-up for the day resulted in a 31-27 Indiana win over defending SEC EAST Champions, Missouri.

So the Big Ten enjoyed a nice round of redemption in week 4. Enough to earn its first POWER ranking on this blog. But, while there was much to like out of the conference on Saturday, in terms of Big Ten hopes for a playoff berth, I turn to the famous words of Winston the Wolf:

wolf

WEEK 4 BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS

#1 Nebraska (4-0)

Now, you might think that defending Big Ten Champs Michigan State would come in at #1 what with its domination of one FCS school and one 1-3 MAC team and one well-fought loss out in Eugene. But, when it comes to picking the cream of the conference so far this year, it’s simple arithmetic.

4+4

At Nebraska, the tandem of 4s and number 8 have the Cornhuskers looking like the most complete team in the Big Ten. Say what you will about the last minute heroics against McNeese State, the Cornhuskers are a) undefeated and b) dominating their opposition like no one else in the Big Ten.

brad-kaaya-ncaa-football-miami-nebraska-850x560

For now, the Huskers are the top dogs.

#2 Penn State (4-0)

Now, you might think the defending Big Ten champs would come in at #2. After all , the Spartans just slobber-knocked Eastern Michigan by a 59-point margin. But look, the Nittany Lions are also undefeated — unlike the Spartans — and things have looked quite happy in Happy Valley with the news of PSU’s bowl eligibility reinstated.

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Penn State has used a crushing defense (ranked 6th in the country) to roll out to a 4-0 start. But the offense is a little worrisome, mustering just 21 points against Akron and 13 against Rutgers. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg gets a lot of national love. But the dude runs hot and cold.

I get the feeling that once conference play gets into the thick of it, PSU fans are going to see some shit that will turn them white.

penn-state-whiteout-cc-300x200

#3 Maryland (3-1)

Now, you might think Michigan State would at least get the third spot in the power rankings. Everyone from here on out has at least one loss, just like the Spartans. But the Terps have rolled in their three wins so far this year and they went to the wire in a three point loss to a West Virginia team that has shown a knack for hanging with the big boys (Alabama and Oklahoma).

#4  Illinois (3-1)

Now, you might think that surely, SURELY Michigan State ought to be ranked higher than fucking Illinois. I mean, look at these jack-ass Illini fans for fuck sake.

ncaa-football-louisiana-tech-illinois-850x560

But Illinois owns one more win than MSU and an equal number of losses. Granted Illinois’ 3-1 record is tenuous at best.  For now they should enjoy the view from the top third of the conference because, starting Saturday with a trip to Lincoln, the hot streak is likely about to come crashing down.

#5 Rutgers (3-1)

Now, you might think Sparty ought to at least be Top 5. Right? Not if you ask this guy.

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People understandably hate transitive comparisons in college football. Each match-up is uniquely good or bad based on team strengths and weaknesses. BUT, take a look at the Rutgers/Washington State/Oregon/Michigan State equation.  The Scarlet Knight’s three point win didn’t look so hot in week one against a program that has averaged three wins per season for the last decade. But did you see the Cougars give Oregon everything it could handle last Saturday? Sure WSU is off to another rough start with a 1-3 record, but Rutgers’ opening week win is looking a little better after Saturday, while MSU’s loss is looking slightly worse.

#6 Minnesota (3-1)

Now, you might think this power ranking has officially jumped the shark. Six teams – and no East Lansing brawlers? The same team that devastated Eastern Michigan to the tune of 49-0 in the first half. The same team that, for a brief moment, made Oregon think they wouldn’t hit their 46 points per game average.

But Minnesota just beat a Spartan team by 17 last week. Coincidence? Probably.

Now, you might think that any ranking that doesn’t have Michigan State at least in the top half of the conference is nothing but garbage.  And you’d be right. That’s why, rounding out the top half of Big Red Fury’s Big Ten power rankings is:

#7 Michigan State (2-1)

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Michigan State’s one game season (with two scrimmages) is all about one hell of 2nd quarter out in Eugene. If the Spartans can bottle that offensive magic for conference play, then a repeat trip to Indianapolis by season’s end ought to be a forgone conclusion.

#8 Wisconsin (2-1)

The Badgers have hammered a pair of cupcakes in the wake of their epic meltdown versus LSU (something that Mississippi State managed to avoid, by the way). Wisconsin has a fairly easy road ahead all the way to November 15 when Nebraska comes to Madison.

#9 Iowa (3-1)

Nice rebound against a previously unbeaten Pittsburgh. But still, the first three weeks of the Hawkeye season were atrocious.

The Iowa Hawkeyes have made progress in their eternal quest to win some kind of pig trophy.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have made progress in their eternal quest to win some kind of pig trophy.

#10 Indiana (2-1)

Indiana had the win of the week for the Big 10 on a Saturday that saw a full dozen conference victories. Can the Hoosiers ride their upset of Missouri on into a successful league run?  History doubts it.

#11 Michigan (2-2)

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First, Utah rained down on Michigan with special teams play and forced turnovers en route to a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter. Then the sky rained down on the field with torrential storms and lightning. Then Michigan fans rained down on the parking lot leaving Utah fans free reign to move about the Big House once the two hour delay was over.

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Not a good showing for the Wolverines (the only Big Ten team to lose last week). Still, Michigan can take heart that the defense looked stout against an emerging PAC-10 program. And were it not for turnovers, Michigan’s offense (which out-gained the Utes) likely would have had the Wolverines in the game until the end.

#12 Ohio State (2-1)

That Virginia Tech loss is looking worse and worse by the week.

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#13 Purdue (2-2)

Southern Illinois may be the last victory the Boilermakers see this season. Unless Northwestern still stinks in late November.

#14 Northwestern (1-2)

The Wildcats got their first win of the season by hosting the FCS Western Illinois Leathernecks. They’ve got another one lined up in the middle of conference play on October 25. Along with Purdue, those may be the only remaining wins Nortwestern sees this year. Unless Pat Fitzgerald can pull an epic coaching job out of his rear.  Which he has shown to do from time to time.

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