It’s time for me to face the music. I’ve been writing about the B1G in my weekly installment of the Land Grant Rant for 9 weeks now. I’d love to sit here and tell you all about how I foresaw everything that has unfolded this season; how I am some sort of Nostradamus of the college football world. After all, if you’re reading this right now, you’ve come to a website called Know it All Football right?
The truth is this:
I’ve whiffed more times than I can count.
I missed that Nebraska loss to UCLA – missed pretty badly, actually.
I think I might have said that Illinois wouldn’t win more than 2 games all season.
Indiana was my hot team coming into the season that I couldn’t stop talking about. Sure I was worried about that defense, but defense schmeesense, they had an offense that would off-set any other.
I can’t make up my mind on Penn State. Are they a world beater or the worst team in the league? Are the scholarship sanctions hurting or helping them? At this point, I’m not sure I even know.
I wrote early on how TOSU probably wasn’t going undefeated this season. Now, I’m not sure there’s a team on their schedule that can take them down.
To my credit, I’ve hit on a few too. I kind of felt Northwestern was a tad overrated and wouldn’t handle the hype — and so far they haven’t.
I felt like Iowa would be better this season, though probably not good enough to show it in the record department. I still feel good about that one.
I felt like MSU probably had the best defense in the league and even without a high powered offense, they would be one of the better teams in the B1G because of it.
I had the Ohio State Buckeyes winning the Leaders, but who didn’t?
Sure, I had all that.
Ya know what else I had?
The Nebraska Cornhuskers as my clear favorite for the Legends division. That’s never really waivered and with every week that passes, the better I feel about that prediction.
While it wasn’t completely going out on a limb to predict the Cornhuskers to return to the B1G championship game in 2013, it wasn’t the most popular pick either. That was Michigan, or in some cases Northwestern or Michigan State. Sure, some had Nebraska pegged for that game back in August, but it was a minority.
Fast forward 9 weeks and the Nebraska Cornhuskers are right where I thought they’d be. Maybe I’ve got some magic left in these old fingers.
Taylor Martinez is getting healthy at the right time. The Nebraska defense has grown up over the first 6 games and is starting to come into its own. Ameer Abdullah is a beast and Nebraska has the best wide receivers in the league.
In a season of ups and downs, upsets, whiffs and overreactions, I still feel pretty damn good about Nebraska.
For Iowa and Northwestern, Saturday is a must win. It’s hard to say that a game in October is a “must win” but I am willing to make an exception for both Iowa and Northwestern. The potential for “W’s” for either of these programs is quickly narrowing. Northwestern went from B1G Legends contender to possibly having to worry about getting bowl eligible. Iowa, while not expected to make a whole lot of noise this season, still had a goal of getting back to a bowl game. Both of these teams need this game in order to salvage some sort of positivity for this season. I’m ever so slightly leaning towards the Hawkeyes in this game but Northwestern has had Iowa’s number seemingly since Pat Fitzgerald’s arrival, so nothing would shock me in this one.
Nebraska is just getting started. Did Minnesota turn a corner with their victory over Northwestern last weekend? The simple answer is no. They beat a depleted and beat down Wildcat team that was a fraction of its former self. I give the Gophers little to no shot in this contest. They just don’t have the fire power or talent on either side of the ball to match up with Nebraska. I think the Huskers still have some tough games in front of them; I just don’t think this is one of them.
Michigan State still has a lot to prove. To me at least…. What was that last week at Purdue? There is no reason the Spartans should have still had a game going late in the 2nd half with lowly Purdue. Yet, there they were, up only 7 in the 4th quarter. This week they head to Illinois, who has a potent enough offense to make this game interesting. If Michigan State’s defense is as legit as I think, they should dispatch the Illini fairly easily. This game has trap game written all over it, with Michigan coming to town next weekend. Look for the Spartans to start to distance themselves from the rest of the pack and start to look like a real contender.
Ohio State needs a statement game. And while Penn State may not be at full strength, they are coming off their best performance of the season, knocking off unbeaten Michigan two weeks ago. The Buckeyes need to start winning in style and this game could be that catalyst. A lot of talking heads in the sports world can’t fathom that the Buckeyes could find their way into the national title game, what with all the other perceived stronger candidates still undefeated out there. I don’t know much, but I know this: Win and you’re in. Everything else will take care of itself. There is no conference that has separated itself to the point of being able to say they are so far ahead of everyone else this season. An undefeated Ohio State is going to the national title game and while style points still matter in our current BCS formula, the Buckeyes just need to win and the rest will work itself out.
BY RYAN OSBAHR ON OCTOBER 25, 2013
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