Friday, October 17, 2003

For the first time in the [Purdue football coach Joe] Tiller era there is experience, toughness, offensive balance, defense, special teams and leadership all at the same time.

That's's Bill Curry on one of tomorrow's major marquee matchups, 6-1 Purdue at 6-1 Wisconsin, which he considers a sign of the "changing of the guard" in the Big Ten. Michigan's vulnerable, Ohio State's vulnerable, Penn State frankly sucks. But Iowa's dangerous (again), and so is Michigan State, not even a year removed from their 4-8 campaign. [College football's feel-good story of the year is MSU QB Jeff Smoker.]

Tomorrow, in fact, is a major day in the Big Ten, with 3 games each involving a pair of ranked teams. In addition to the game in Madison (#12 vs. #15), there's #18 Michigan State travelling to #19 Minnesota in what should be a fun-as-hell shootout, and #8 Ohio State trying to bounce back from their first loss in 20 games as they host #9 Iowa. [The 7th of the league's ranked teams, #17 Michigan, essentially gets a bye week, hosting 1-6 Illinois.] Penn State? Indiana? Northwestern? Unless you're a fan of any of those teams, you don't care, and I don't, either, so why pretend?

If both teams in the Metrodome tomorrow score fewer than 40 points, I'll be stunned. MSU-MN is a battle of high-powered offenses, and should be great fun (noon, ESPN2). After last week's Red Soxian (or Cubbish?) slipped-out-of-our-hands loss to Michigan, expect the Golden Gophers to bounce back in a close dogfight. But if the Spartans pull off the win, Smoker and coach John Smith had better start getting mentioned for end-of-season honors.

Ohio State hadn't lost in 19 games until travelling to a very soggy Madison last weekend. Now, suddenly, they look fallable. Iowa isn't perfect, but Coach Kirk Ferentz is making a case for coach of the year honors for taking a team with very few returners from last season's 10-1 squad and looking like he'll do it again. Both teams are ranked in the top 10. This is a big game - but it's in Columbus. OSU is beatable, but will likely bounce back and top the Hawkeyes in a close contest.

And then there's my beloved Boilers, who if not for a 3-point season-opening loss to Bowling Green (the MAC's better than you think) would be undefeated. Wisconsin are ripe for a letdown this week, and may be taking Purdue as easier than they'll be. The Badgers' victory over OSU made every stand up and take notice that this is a team to be reckoned with - but as their home loss to UNLV (an embarassing 23-5) proved, they can be beaten at home. This will be rock 'em sock 'em football, the stuff autumn Saturdays are made of and for. Call me a homer if you will, but I think Purdue's ready to step up, and win by a TD.

Whoever you're rooting for, enjoy what should be another great Saturday of college football.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?