I wouldn’t wager on it, but Iowa could gain ground this week by not playing football.
Here are the Big Ten Legends Division standings:
Michigan State 0-1
Here are Saturday’s games involving Legends (dumb name) teams:
Northwestern at Penn State
Michigan at Purdue
Michigan State at Indiana
Nebraska at Ohio State
MSU beats Indiana, OK, fine. The Spartans go to 1-1.
Penn State is a 2.5-point favorite over Northwestern. I see this game as a coin-flip. Northwestern does what it has to do to win, and it’s a handful to defend. But Penn State has surprised me with its current 3-game winning streak. I thought the Nittany Lions might go 3-9 this season.
Sure, the wins were over Navy, Temple and Illinois, some flotsam and jetsam of college football. But the win at Illinois was dominant, and Matt McGloin is doing a terrific job at quarterback with 10 touchdown passes and just two interceptions, and he’s getting pretty good pass-protection.
So let’s say the Lions pull this one out, and Northwestern goes to 1-1 in the Big Ten. I’m not predicting that will happen, but let’s say it will.
Then, Michigan is a 3-point pick over Purdue. For those who haven’t noticed, Purdue isn’t bad. It is averaging 42.5 points per game, and is 3-1 with its lone loss a 20-17 decision at Notre Dame that the Irish won with a last-minute field goal.
That was Notre Dame’s toughest game of its three against Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan.
Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines laid eggs against Alabama and Notre Dame, and had to hold on tightly for a 31-25 home win over Air Force.
Purdue gave up a lot of yards and points in its 51-41 win over Marshall last week, but it was 42-14 at halftime. The difference in the game was the Boilermakers returning two touchdowns for interceptions.
With a howitzer to my head, I pick Michigan, thinking Denard Robinson will do what he does best against the PU defense. But a Purdue win would hardly qualify as the upset of the year, let alone the upset of the time slot. So let’s say Purdue finds a way, and Michigan loses its league-opener.
OK, Ohio State is a 3.5-point favorite over Nebraska. Sounds about right.
The Cornhuskers probably spent a lot of emotional capital coming out of a 17-point hole to beat Wisconsin last week in Lincoln, 30-27. The Buckeyes will be remembering the way they coughed up a huge lead at Nebraska last year, so they’ll be motivated.
Plus, Nebraska is 0-1 on the road, having had its defense shredded in Pasadena against UCLA.
So let’s say Ohio State prevails, and Nebraska drops to 1-1 in the conference.
Your updated Big Ten Legends standings:
Michigan State 1-1
Even if all that comes to pass, Iowa still plays at Michigan State next Saturday. And then plays six more games after that. But until then, enjoy your time alone at the top, Hawkeye fans.