1. Abandoned Hope: Outside of Illinois, Iowa couldn’t ask for a better opponent to return home to this Saturday than the one it will face, Purdue.
The Boilermakers, who I foolishly thought could make a legitimate run at being the Big Ten’s Leaders Division representative in the conference title-game, are 0-5 in the Big Ten, 3-6 overall.
Saturday in West Lafayette, Danny Hope’s Purdue team got swatted down by Penn State, 34-9.
Said Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen in this blog post by the Indianapolis Star’s Michael Pointer that lays out the Boilermakers’ woeful situation: “I’m just lost. I really don’t know. I guess we don’t have the football gods on our side. We go out and we play hard all night and stuff just doesn’t go our way.”
Pointer rightly notes it’s not undevine intervention, but rather, Purdue’s “talent level isn’t very good.”
Pointer makes this particularly pointed observation: “Ross-Ade (Stadium) had the charm of an industrial dump on Saturday, save for the 2,000 or so Penn State fans.”
Does this quote from Hope sound familiar, Iowa fans?
“We just haven’t executed well enough to put ourselves in position to win some ballgames as of late.”
2. Husker Du! Just because Iowa’s team has fallen on hard times doesn’t mean there won’t be significant excitement in Kinnick Stadium before this season is over.
No, I’m not talking about the Purdue-Iowa game. On Nov. 23, Nebraska plays at Kinnick. And the Cornhuskers could clinch the Legends Division title that Friday in Iowa City.
Or, they could have the chance to do so and fail.
The Huskers host Penn State Saturday and Minnesota the week after. Then, Iowa. If they win all three, they are 7-1 in the Legends. Even if 4-1 Michigan sweeps Northwestern, Iowa and Ohio State, with the OSU game on the road, Nebraska has the Legends tiebreaker by virtue of its win over the Wolverines.
So, dear Iowans, how would you feel about a Nebraska-Wisconsin game for the Big Ten title?
Give the Huskers credit. Their 28-24 win at Michigan State Saturday was big. Taylor Martinez threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Turner with 6 seconds left to win it. It was Nebraska’s first lead of the game.
When you come from behind to win games on the road like the Huskers have done against Northwestern and MSU (not to mention rallying from a 27-10 third-quarter deficit at home to beat Wisconsin), you may not be the best team in the Central time zone, but you have something good going on.
But if Kansas State wins its final three games and stays No. 2 in the BCS standings behind Alabama? You do not want to see an Oregon-Nebraska Rose Bowl. Unless you’re a sadist, that is.
3. Slop and Slime? Speaking of a potential Oregon appearance in the Rose Bowl, Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press has these thoughts, from his column after the Nebraska-Michigan State game.
The Big Ten has devolved beyond a comical mess.
Its top-two teams aren’t eligible for the postseason, leaving the remaining dregs wallowing in the slop and slime. The one with least amount of filth and film will place victorious stems in their mouths in Indianapolis a month from now, earning the privilege of having Oregon disembowel them on New Year’s Day.
I doubt that the Tournament of Roses actually will permit roses to be presented to the eventual Big Ten “champion.”
My thoughts on Sharp’s thoughts: Nebraska will beat Penn State Saturday, debunking the belief Penn State is one of the league’s two best teams. And I think Kansas State may cede a BCS title-game spot to Oregon. K-State is at TCU Saturday and quarterback Collin Klein may have had a concussion against Oklahoma State Saturday.
But Sharp’s premise is right. When Indiana is 2-3 in the Big Ten and in the hunt for a spot in the league’s title-game, something is sloppy and slimy.
4. America Enjoys College Football: The Big Ten may want to rethink not playing games at night in November.
As Michael Hiestand notes in this USAToday.com story, the combined viewers for Saturday night’s Alabama-LSU, Oregon-USC and Oklahoma State-Kansas State games rivaled that of what NBC gets for its Sunday night NFL telecasts.
But here’s something to also consider: Those were three highly meaningful games, and it was especially serendipitous that Bama-LSU and Oregon-USC were scheduled on the same evening.
Those were two fascinating games, by the way. I want to see Kansas State go unbeaten just to mess with the BCS, but an Alabama-Oregon national-title game would be the most-hyped such contest since Texas upset USC seven seasons ago.