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View from the Boneyard: Michigan State

I mentioned a few weeks ago in my Wisconsin game recap that I had only ever cried in Memorial Stadium twice. After this weekend, that tally has gone up to three.

If it had been any other season, the line to get in to the Michigan State game would have been absolutely insane. Instead, East Stadium boasted roughly 30 people waiting for doors to open.

Most people in the student section had the same laid-back mentality going in to this game. No one was expecting a win after how everything has gone down lately, so everyone just wanted to find a way to have some fun.

The Boneyard quickly found their source of entertainment: heckling Connor Cook during warm ups. Excessively.

Everything from taunts about hair gel to asking him to transfer here for this game was being yelled to Cook as he warmed up by throwing the ball. He even humored us by going along with our requests to try throwing with his left arm instead.

The problem? It wasn’t Connor Cook. The Boneyard had been yelling at Michigan State’s long snapper, Taybor Pepper.

Students quickly caught on to Faux Cook’s true identity and began chanting Pepper’s name. I’m sure the long snapper had to be at least a little excited to hear his name echoing through the stadium for once. Or even that that many football fans even knew his name.

Michigan State Long Snapper Tabor Pepper
Michigan State long snapper and proud fanny pack wearer. Taybor Pepper, everyone.

A while later, the sun set and the starting lineups were being announced. Sadly, Pepper’s name wasn’t called, so we improvised a chant during Connor Cook’s intro instead. Close enough.

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Game on for the Huskers.

The Huskers started out strong with a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter. It was hard not to like how the Huskers looked early on in the game. Right outta the gate the Huskers were showing that they were ready to play an entire 60 minute game against an undefeated Michigan State.

The Spartans made the field goal towards the end of the first quarter, bringing the score to 10-3. All the students cared about was that our new favorite was out on the field. The entire Boneyard chanted Taybor Pepper’s name as latecomers looked around confused as to what was going on.

Now, I could sit here and bore you with the rest of what happened in the middle. Yeah, it was fun, but… come on. Yeah, the Spartans scored some touchdowns, but so did we. The second half started with Michigan State leading 17-13.

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Imani Cross‘ touchdown run gave the Huskers a 20-13 lead early in the third quarter.

I know the real reason why you’re here. Either you want to hear about the end of the game or you’re one of the (many) people I shamelessly promoted this column to while I was downtown on Saturday night. Or you’re my mom. Hi mom.

So with that being said—fast forward to the fourth quarter.

The Huskers were down 38-26 after the Spartans capitalized on a nearly nine minute possession. With 4:16 left on the clock, the Huskers had to be quick.

This started the first wave of fair weather fans exiting the stadium. To them, this was just going to be another disappointing heartbreak of a loss. To the rest of us, we knew that stranger things have happened with the Huskers.

With a touchdown from Tommy Armstrong Jr., the Huskers cut Michigan State’s lead to 38-33 with 1:47 left. Force the punt and the Huskers would have enough time to get a touchdown.

And they did.

The Huskers had the ball with just :55 left to do something with it. Two passes from Armstrong to Jordan Westerkamp put Nebraska just 30 yards away from an upset.

Then it happened.

Ask a Husker fan and a Spartan fan about the rules regarding a wide receiver stepping out of bounds and you’re going to get two completely different answers after Saturday’s game. A completed pass from Armstrong to Brandon Reilly lead to a touchdown for Nebraska, yet some people were still unsure as to how he wasn’t ruled out of bounds.

Basically, if Reilly had gone out of bounds on his own, he would’ve been out. But there was clear evidence that the Spartan cornerback had made contact with Reilly.

At this point, I was screaming, hugging everyone within a 20 foot radius of me, and being carried all around the student section. The realization that we were up 39-38 with :17 left in my second to last game as a student hit me hard as I started crying in the middle of the chaos. A tight game was finally going to go our way.

The last seconds ticked down as the Spartans were unable to get in to field goal range in time.

The Huskers won. They finally won. An upset in the final moments of the game and the Huskers were finally on the winning side of it.

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Football can be so much fun.

Let Me Clear My Throat blasted through Memorial Stadium as everyone both on and off the field cheered, danced, and hugged everyone else. I was there for the 2013 Hail Mary pass against Northwestern and I can honestly say that this victory celebration was so much better.

Dreams come true when you work hard and pray. Go Big Red.

Hayley Archer is a senior Broadcasting major at UNL. Follow her on Twitter at @Harchinator.

 

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Sunday Evening Hot Take: Michigan State Edition

While the Huskers’ dramatic, come-from-behind win over Michigan State was one for the ages, its best highlight was that it reinforced the power and importance of maintaining a positive attitude and never quitting.

Earlier this week I found out a buddy from high school who also lives out here in Los Angeles had been in a severely life threatening motorcycle accident.

Nestled in my Facebook feed among the cat pics and the usual daily outrage from both ends of the political spectrum was a post from him letting everyone know what had happened but that he was going to be OK. Accompanying his post were some gut wrenching photos from the hospital that would make Evel Knievel cringe.

About a month ago, he left his studio and hopped on his motorcycle to run home and walk his dog over the noon hour.

He never made it.

He was struck by a Ford F-150 whose driver was on a suspended license and apparently considered stop signs to be optional. He did what he could to lessen the damage but when you’re getting creamed by a 4,000lb truck, there’s not going to be much you can do.

His bike literally exploded on impact. He broke both legs, his pelvis, his right arm, and jaw despite wearing a full face helmet. He spent two weeks in a coma and needed eight units of blood which is pretty much a full oil change. And if that wasn’t enough, he contracted pneumonia while comatose and required a tracheotomy.

But you know what?

Even though his bones are now infused with as much titanium as Wolverine has adamantium, he’s far from being down for the count.

In fact, he’s already weeks ahead of schedule with his physical therapy and I have a solid hunch that this will only be a minor detour on his path towards becoming the heir apparent to the title of Most Interesting Man in the World.

I’m not kidding either. This is just a brief rundown of the stuff he’s done: served in the Army, owned a bar on O Street, took up metal fabrication and moved to California to build bikes at West Coast Choppers before striking out on his own. In his free time, he travels around the world and recently began installing some rad guerrilla street art around LA. That’s a pretty good start, wouldn’t you say?

Not long after the news of what happened started flying around the Facebook, a plan for a visit down at the Long Beach VA Hospital was made. Thanks to some good timing (and a hall pass from the hospital staff) we ended up having mini high school reunion down in Huntington Beach. Some fellow classmates had coincidentally picked the perfect weekend to come out from Arizona and rent a beach house.

Even though some of us hadn’t seen each other in nearly 20 years, it took all of five minutes to pick up where we left off. The next few hours were spent laughing our asses off and getting mildly day drunk without of fear of getting busted by our parents. If it weren’t for the wheelchair in the room, you’d never know that anyone recently had a very near miss with death. The mood was that bright.

As it got closer to kickoff, the Huskers began to dominate the conversation. Even though we all went on our own adventures after high school, it was amazing to see how our fandom for the Big Red has never waned.

Not long after the game was underway, it was time for my road trip partner and I to return to LA so that he could celebrate his wife’s birthday.

On the drive back, I put my phone up on the dashboard and we listened to the game on the Huskers App. We hung on every word with suspense and hunched forward with our heads cocked like we were trying to hear the ocean in a conch shell. It had to be one of the more ridiculous sights on the 405 that afternoon.

I made it to our local Husker spot in the middle of the third quarter. I couldn’t miss the chance to celebrate a Husker win with the people I’ve been suffering with every Saturday.

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any swearing or dread (or Ohio State fan friends who moseyed over to our side of the bar just to bask in our misery) but when the Huskers got the ball back and Tommy threw that first frozen rope laser to Westerkamp, it became clear that this game was finally going to have a different ending.

And boy, did it ever.

The Huskers never quit and my friend sure won’t either.

After yesterday, they’ve both gone a long way towards getting back to their old selves.

A Couple of the Usual Sunday Things… 

Our Score Prediction: Granted things got more than a little hairy at the end but we’ve been saying for weeks that the Huskers would beat Michigan State.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: Somebody got his balloon back.

Mike Riley Balloon Michigan State

Now let’s get that bowl game and wreck Iowa’s season.

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Bye Week: Basking in the Doom and Gloom of Other Fans

You know what’s awesome?

I just did a Google Image search for sad Michigan State fans and the Google machine spit back of a treasure trove of sad Michigan fans. Apparently, sad Michigan State fans are nowhere to be found on the internet.

This photo though is priceless.

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Was this poor Wolverine’s left eye already bloody or has the pepper spray caused him to cry tears of blood?

With the Huskers enjoying an unprecedented second bye week, today is a great day to sit back, relax and enjoy watching other fans’ seasons come to a screeching and catastrophic halt.

With  our local Husker watch site also being home to an Ohio State alumni group, I’m very tempted to go watch their big showdown with the Spartans just so I can watch a dear Ohio friend possibly have a meltdown. I know it’s not exactly “classy,” but you can rest easy knowing she’d do the same for me.

While Los Angeles is far, far away from being a college football town, all of us idiots who moved here have helped turn every sports bar into a United Nations of college football. Walk into any place on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see groups of fans from at least a dozen different schools huddled around their respective TVs. It really makes for a great scene.

And like Survivor, unexpected allegiances will form.

When Michigan lost their season opener Appalachian State at home way back in 2007, everyone in the bar who wasn’t maize and blue stopped what they were doing to watch Michigan’s last second field goal attempt get blocked.

Never has there been such joy in the anguish of others.

Then again, 2007 was such a dark time for Husker Nation that fans actually stopped watching games in public. On that day against Nevada, there were exactly four of us in red squinting at a 12 inch TV bolted to the ceiling at an bad angle. When your team is Bill Callahan bad, you get banished to the little TV.

By 2009, our in-public attendance had improved but we were still dwarfed by the highly organized LA chapter of the Texas Exes during the Mack wants another second put back on the clock game. Our numbers were bolstered late in the game by Alabama fans who stayed around after their game ended just to help root against fucking Texas.

The all-time best though was the Huskers’ comeback against Wisconsin in 2012. Early in the second half, a dozen or so Ohio State fans sauntered upstairs to our “private” room at our watch site. Without even acknowledging the odd looks they were getting, they grabbed seats wherever they could. A trio sat down at our table and promptly ordered shots of Fireball Whiskey for the table.

“Hi, we’re here to cheer for you guys just so you’ll be ranked higher when we beat you next week. ”

And that was that. For the rest of the game, they cheered on Huskers and marveled at the “Go Big Red” chant.

To their drunken ears, it sounded like Sloth yelling “Heeeey Yooouuu Guuuys” which is exactly what they shouted when a Go Big Red faded out.

Gotta love college football.

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Huskers vs Michigan State, Exhibit ‘A’ For Never Quitting

The clock on the DVR strikes 2am as Saturday night slips into Sunday morning.

On the TV, Nebraska and Michigan State are in the 4th quarter. The Spartans lead 27 – 3 in a contest that was decided hours earlier.

Tommy Armstrong is on the sideline as trainers and medical staff check to see if his internal organs are still in place after suffering a monster hit. Ryker Fyfe is on the field trying to lead the Huskers to double digit holy land. His gangly flailing brings back bad memories of the Huskers’ desperate attempts to score a single touchdown at USC back in 2006.

Meanwhile, I’m on the couch scooping out globs of kale and Greek yogurt dip with my bare hands. The chips were gone before halftime. I’m fully aware of the depressing nature of the situation but the need for an activity, no matter how sad, to help stay awake and see this game through to the bitter end outweighs any personal dignity.

If Husker Nation could suffer through this deflating, gut punch of a game in real-time, the least I can do experience their pain in a half asleep, zombie fog. Plus, it’s not that bad when you can fast forward through the commercials and Kirk Herbstreit monologues.

HAVE I MENTIONED YET THAT I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA HOW THIS GAME IS GOING TO END?

Thanks to the collision of my two favorite teams, Saturday was a day that started with nervous stress and would end in either anguish or joy. There would be no middle ground if either the Huskers or Dodgers lost.

In our 10th season of going to Dodger games together, my wife and I have our system dialed in.  Every little detail down to our seats being in the shade by exactly one row has been honed and refined to an Ocean’s 11 level of precision. It takes between 35 and 50 minutes to get from our driveway to our seats. With kickoff an hour and a half before the first pitch, my only chance to watch the Huskers in real-time was to make sure we arrived at Dodger Stadium extra early.

Throughout the day, I badgered her with every possible angle- watch BP, snag a seat over the bullpen to see Zack Greinke warm up, grab a slice of pizza at Tommy Lasorda’s.

Eventually, ( I think it was the combination of a Rain Man like insistence that we go directly to our seats and pulling out an iPad and a pair of giant headphones the moment we sat down) she caught on to my real motive and left me in peace to scream to my heart’s content in a nearly empty stadium.

Bo Pelini Dodger Stadium

By the time I looked up from the screen, it was halftime. The Huskers were down 17 – 0 in the most brutal way possible and Dodger Stadium was suddenly filled to capacity.

The surreal nature of not noticing 55,000 people chanting “Let’s go Dodgers!” made me realize just how deep I was buried in my mental Husker bunker. Without giving it a second thought, I ripped off the digital Band-Aid and put all the gadgets away and vowed to go off the grid until I watched the second half play out at home.

It was going to hurt but the only way to enjoy the Dodger game was to try and forget about the Huskers.

With Friday’s implosion still a gushing head wound, the game started off tense. The stadium breathed a sigh of relief when the Dodgers jumped out to an early 2 – 0 lead thanks to pitcher Zack Greinke helping his own cause and A.J. Ellis bumping his postseason batting average to .833.

During lulls in the action, I’d compulsively check my phone but pump the brakes before unlocking the screen. By the 5th inning, unread texts outnumbered the Spartans’ score at halftime. Never a good sign.

Things got so desperate at times I’d even look down towards Magic Johnson to see if I could pick up a clue from his body language.

magic johnson dodger stadium
If Magic cheered between innings, there would be no doubt the Huskers were doomed. He never did.

The Dodgers’ two run lead would stand until the 8th inning when Greinke relinquished the mound to the normally reliable J.P. Howell who promptly gave up a moonshot of a game tying home run.

If the St. Louis Cardinals were a college football team, they’d be a mix of a Oklahoma and Texas- an unholy blend of Sooner Magic and Longhorn arrogance. When they eventually sink in that dagger, they will have shanked you the Cardinal Way.

Thanks Matt Kemp’s heroic bomb in the bottom of the 8th, the Dodgers quickly regained the lead and closer Kenley Jansen slammed the door shut in the 9th.  For one night at least, the Cardinal Way could go kick rocks.

Driving home, post game elation started to give way to inevitable dread somewhere around Korea Town. The feeling was like savoring the last bites of a lobster knowing your next stop is the electric chair.

I was a dead man walking as I went straight from our back door to our living room. My last words to my wife were “I’ll be to bed in a while. Need to watch the Nebraska game.”

“Jill and Holly both texted about that,” was her solemn reply. Jill and Holly are her die-hard LSU fan BFFs. If they were checking me, things did not end well.

I settled in on the couch and started from the very beginning. Watching the first half a second time didn’t hurt any less and opened the door for so much second guessing. Punting from Michigan State’s 30 yard line? Why not give Imani Cross a couple carries just to give the Spartans a different sized body to tackle? Will Jake Cotton ever live down being toppled by a ghost? Doesn’t Tim Beck realize plays out of the wildcat often end in disaster?

As Bo Pelini’s teams have shown, being down 17 points isn’t much of a deficit so maybe the second half would be all Nebraska.

That optimism lasted until the Spartans went up 20 – 0. The game still wasn’t technically out of reach but fumbles and stalled drives started to really hurt. The Blackshirts do a good job of keeping Michigan State out of the end zone, for the most part, further delaying the surely inevitable outcome.

The clock ticks under 5 minutes. The scoreboard has long been frozen at 27 – 9 and Spartan Stadium begins to empty out. The temptation to turn off the TV has never been greater but the Huskers are knocking the door of their second TD of the night. A defensive holding penalty and two rushes by Abdullah later, the score is now 27 – 16.

When Michigan State got the ball back, it took a minute for Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit to realize the Huskers were still in it to win it. They’d punched out on paying attention to the game long before the 4th quarter even started so it came as a shock to see Pelini on the sidelines calling timeouts with teeth gnashing fire.

By the time they finished their calculations and realized there was still chance, no matter how remote, that Huskers could come back, Faux Pelini’s new best friend had already punted the ball away to De’Mornay Pierson-El who promptly took it to the house, bringing Nebraska within five points. If barehanded dip eating was the lowest part of the game, screaming into a throw pillow was the absolute zenith.

The Huskers were suddenly looking down the barrel of their greatest comeback ever. A 36 yard MSU field goal attempt getting blocked by the goalpost confirmed this to be true. It was going to happen. It had to.

Four plays later, the game was over. A Michigan State interception sealed their victory after dodging sure death the play before.

Alonzo Moore
Alonzo Moore gave it everything he could to haul in what could have been the game winner for the Huskers.

After the final whistle, I immediately re-watched the last five minutes just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. What I saw the second time around was a Husker team that refused to quit. There would have been no shame if Tommy Armstrong chose to call it a night but he was out there with his team fighting until the very end, throwing lasers when it mattered  the most. Seldom used reserves were stepping up in place of injured teammates and a true freshman added to his quickly growing lore with the most exciting play of the night.

While Bo Pelini will tell you he doesn’t believe in moral victories, the fact his team never stopped believing is a huge testament to their drive and character. For 55 minutes they were getting knocked down and pushed around by both luck and the Spartans but they finally found a way to put themselves in a position to win at the every end. And that’s all you can ask for.

There is no reason to be ashamed of this loss.

* When I woke up the next afternoon, (the finish left me so wired I had to read about the game until the sun came up back in Nebraska) I found out I wasn’t the only one who went cold turkey at halftime.

 

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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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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:

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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.

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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.

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#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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Big Ten Impotence Rankings

“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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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?

No.

8. Rutgers (2-0)

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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)

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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)

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Pair of shitty wins over a pair of shitty opponents.

11. Illinois (2-0)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

Congratulations.

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