With the Indiana Hoosiers lurking in the shadows, the Huskers’ fall break is over with a vengeance.
DUN… DUN… DUN.
Hey there… remember this site? The one that seemingly fell off the earth faster than Barb after the Huskers rolled Illinois?
Well, there’s a good story behind that if only I could remember what happened. To keep it brief, I went to see a concert the Tuesday evening of bye week and somehow had a random blackout episode (for the record I was still on my first beer) that sent me to the ER with a rather gnarly concussion. Now that I’ve regained enough brain power to form mostly coherent thoughts, it’s time to get back to what’s really important.
The Huskers rolling into Indiana and snapping some Hoosier necks like they have the power of telekinesis.
Since we last checked in, the Huskers slid into the Top 10 thanks to other teams losing which has raised the question if the Big Red is really a contender, especially with their signature win coming against an Oregon team that’s now experiencing its worst season since their days of getting blown out at home 70-21 was a regular thing.
Look, it’s not the Huskers fault that they pummeled the Ducks so hard they ended up more mentally roasted than Eleven’s mom. That’s just a potential side effect from having Mike Riley’s team on your schedule. Get used to it.
Even still, pundits are worried Indiana is going to be a trap game. This is the same Indiana that is currently 3-2 with a loss to Wake Forest and is coming off a 38-17 beat down by Ohio State. Granted, the Hoosiers’ most impressive win of the season came against Michigan State in overtime but let’s not overlook the fact that Indiana won thanks to the fact that the Spartans suck this year and T-Magic’s brother Drake got called for a game changing leaping penalty (WTF?) during a field goal attempt.
Big deal if Indiana doesn’t huddle. That just means there’s going to be less time for Michael Rose-Ivey and Nate Gerry wait before they get to tackle someone again. The only worry for the Blackshirts is if Chris Jones gets a blister from making so many interceptions. Hoosier QB Richard Lagow has thrown seven in five games. Meanwhile, our boy Tommy is holding steady at two. (He had six through five games last season.)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
#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.
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.
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)
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.
#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)
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.
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.
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.
“Dr. Delany. Paging Dr. Delany. You’re needed in the emergency room.”
“What seems to be the problem, nurse?”
“It’s the conference. It’s choking on something.”
“Well let’s have a look. Let me stick my fingers in here a moment… Ah-ha! Here’s the problem.”
“What is it, doctor?”
“Donkey balls. It appears the conference has been sucking on them.”
I originally intended to do a week 2 “power” ranking for the Big 10 Conference, but after seeing how each team looks hell-bent on proving who is the most namby-pamby, I’ve decided to respect their wishes and rank the conference teams according to inadequacy.
So here goes.
WEEK 2 BIG 10 IMPOTENCE RANKINGS
1. Northwestern (0-2)
It’s the Wildcats who have swung the limpest of dicks so far this season. Featuring the nation’s 113th ranked scoring offense and 80th ranked scoring defense, Northwestern has lollygagged out to an 0-2 start to the year. They first headed to Berkeley and got golden-showered on by the Golden Bears — a school that went 1-11 last year — and then came home and lost to Northern Illinois. Granted, the Huskies are used to beating Big 10 teams by now. But still, it’s goddamn Northern Illinois.
2. Purdue (1-1)
The Boilermakers have gone one for two in their attempt to pad their win total via a gauntlet of Michigan directional schools. It looked like a brilliant strategy, in week #1 at least. But Central Michigan is no Western Michigan, evidently.
3. Ohio State (1-1)
Week 1 showed that things were definitely amiss in Columbus without Braxton Miller in the driver’s seat. Week 2 proved that Ohio State is nothing more than pellets for a flock of Hokies.
An old Ohio State alum can probably tell you what it’s like to sit through a four-loss season, Buckeyes. Because that looks to be where you are headed.
4. Michigan (1-1)
Notre Dame ended your series like a disinterested ex-lover. Then proceeded to take your house, your car, your dog and your manhood. The clock may be ticking on Brady Hoke’s tenure in Ann Arbor.
5. Indiana (1-0)
The Hoosiers had little problem with in-state nemesis, Indiana State. But being the only game on Indiana’s resume thus far still puts them higher on the impotence scale than a pair of Big 10 losers. Getting stopped by the Sycamores on fourth down twice inside the red zone doesn’t help, either.
But hey, the alternate uniforms sure are dandy!
6. Michigan State (1-1)
Sparty went out to Eugene with one single mission. Show the world that the nation’s top-ranked defense didn’t merely build its resume on the dubious backs of an offensive bush league.
And how did that go?
Well, if surrendering 500 yards and 46 points is your idea of making that statement, then mission accomplished.
7. Wisconsin (1-1)
Does a 34-point win over Western Illinois do anything to lessen the pitiful display of Wisconsin’s wet-noodle-tackling, lame-duck-tossing blown 4th quarter against LSU?
8. Rutgers (2-0)
Not a bad start for the Scarlet Knights. As long as giving up 1,000 yards to winless Washington State and Howard doesn’t worry you. No cause for concern in Piscataway. Right?
9. Minnesota (2-0)
Out-yarded by both cream-puffs so far this season. Good thing the Gopher defense is killing it in the take-away department.
10. Iowa (2-0)
Pair of shitty wins over a pair of shitty opponents.
11. Illinois (2-0)
A guy with the first name of “Wonderful” put a scare into the Illini on Saturday. Western Kentucky was supposed to be an easy win for Illinois, but the Illini needed all of 21 points in the 4th quarter just to get some breathing room.
12. Penn State (2-0)
Within spitting distance of being the League’s best team is a program that isn’t even eligible for the post season.
13. Nebraska (2-0)
Okay, Nebraska narrowly escaping overtime against FCS school McNeese State does come with a few caveats. The Cowboys — a team filled with Power 5 conference transfers — are thought to be contenders for the FCS National Title. They even shellacked South Florida last year, giving McNeese State the distinction of having the largest margin of victory by a FCS school over an FBS team ever. We can also assume that, given a second chance by Armstrong, the 98-yard pick-six would not have happened and Nebraska mostly likely would have taken a 28-7 lead into half time. Even with a shitty 10-10 second half, that’s still a 21-point win. A large enough gap to keep the Huskers from tumbling out of the AP Top 25.
But, alas, the 98-yard pick-six did happen and Nebraska did tumble out of the AP poll. So swallow those caveats like caviar, Huskers. Your performance against McNeese State (particularly in the second half) lands you second fiddle to:
14. Maryland (2-0)
That’s right. These crab-cake-eating, Old-Bay-dipping, Blair-Witch-chasing Johnnie-come-latelies are the froth atop the Big 10 septic well. Just two weeks into the season and the Rust Belt Conference — home to no less than 4 college football Blue Bloods — has been shown up by a team whose sole purpose is to quell the grid-iron lust of Ravens fans one day prior to when REAL Maryland football gets played.