Back in late August, I listed 8 Audacious Big Ten Prognostications
for the upcoming football season. Seeing as we are about halfway through the season, I thought it'd be worth taking a look at how my predictions were coming along.
1. OHIO STATE WILL NOT MAKE IT TO THE BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAMERESULT: LIKELY. The USC loss happened, but the loss at Madison didn't. However, Ohio St. does not look as good through the first half as I thought they would. I am still confident this one will come true. And with Penn St. playing good ball, if they win out, they will be going the NCG.
No doubt about it, Ohio State is stacked this year. They are, hands down, the best team in the Big Ten. The Pryor show will be entertaining. The defense is solid. Yet I don't see them getting past USC in the third week of the season inside the Coliseum. A one loss Ohio State team can absolutely make it to the BCS Championship game, but I think they end up with two losses on their resume. I see them slipping up either in Madison or East Lansing.
RESULT: TOSS-UP. MSU is sitting at 5-1 right now. By my count that means they need to get 3 more to bust my prediction. Should be easy enough, right? Take a look at MSU schedule, it's gets tougher as the year goes on and I honestly think Jevon Ringer is going to run out of steam soon.
2. MICHIGAN STATE WILL NOT WIN 8 GAMES
So I just told you Michigan State could beat Ohio State, which I think is true... but their season will not be as glorious as that potential upset. The rest of the world thinks it will be, though. Good Lord. Everyone loves Dantonio (Mark, the HC of the Spartans, not Mike, the bassist for Killswitch Engage). The Spartans are the Dark Horse for the Big Ten crown. Dantonio for Big Ten Coach of the Year. Enough already. Now don't take this as an anti-MSU rant, but I see them losing to CAL and ND in the out of conference schedule... and if that happens I just can't picture MSU getting 6 wins in conference when they have to face Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin (arguably the Top 3 teams in the Big Ten) and not getting the gimmie vs. Minnesota. 7-5 is the best I see from MSU. I keep hearing "watch out for Michigan State", but enough of that palaver because Sparty isn't going be "that team". Michigan State hasn't had back to back winning seasons since I was in grade school. They might break that streak this year, but not to the tune of 8 wins. Besides, it's not like MSU is known for rising to the occasion over the past few decades.
3. THE BIG TEN COACH MOST LIKELY TO BE FIRED AT THE END OF THE SEASON IS NOT KIRK FERENTZ.RESULT: FAIL... SORT OF. Adam Weber is single-handely keeping Brewster's job intact, while three straight losses isn't helping Kirk Ferentz's job security (albeit he really isn't going anywhere regardless). So while Brewster likely isn't going anywhere, neither is Kirk.
Kirk Ferentz has to be the most likely, right? He's overrated, overpaid, overmatched, etc... WRONG. SHUT UP. Ferentz isn't going anywhere unless he leaves for the NFL, which he has turned down multiple times during his tenure at the University of Iowa. His paycheck was based on the market's demand at the time, and I don't have a problem with what Iowa pays him. He's a hell of coach, and an even better person. He's not going anywhere. However, Tim Brewster might be. Oh, what a silly, silly comment to make about a man in his second year at a school. No way he is going to be fired. Think again. Timmy can't seem to keep any of his recruits eligible - the incoming freshman class recorded the lowest test scores of any school in the Big Ten. Rumor is their stud recruit, MarQueis Gray had someone re-take his qualifying test score. Whoops. Plus, Timmy wanted to bolster his defense, so he hired an assistant coach away from the football powerhouse named Duke. Let me repeat that. Tim Brewster, head coach of Minnesota, wanted to improve his team, so he hired someone from DUKE. DUKE! Well done, sir. Of all the Big Ten coaches, I would pick Brewster over anyone else to get the axe.
4. CURTIS PAINTER IS NOT A HEISMAN TROPHY CANDIDATERESULT: FACT. 110-for-191, 1,225 yds, 5 TD, 5 INT, 0 rush TD, QB Rating: 114.9 and almost getting benched isn't going to get you to NYC anytime soon.
Contrary to the Purdue Sports Department's opinion, there's no way Curtis Painter is or will be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. First off, Curtis Painter really isn't that good. Check out his Big Ten only stats and get back to me as to why he would be a candidate for the Heisman. He's not even the best QB in the Big Ten. Additionally, he plays for Purdue. By all means, you need to be in at least a January Bowl to be seriously considered for the Heisman. As much as Tiller can pray for it, Purdue isn't going to be bowling in the early part of '09. And finally, having a site like CurtisPainter12.com will do nothing to help the case... it's worse than having a huge banner on a building in Times Square.
5. MICHIGAN WILL NOT FINISH BETTER THAN 5TH IN THE BIG TENRESULT: LIKELY. This team is getting better every week, but they do not have what it takes to break the Top 4 in the Big Ten.
Sure, the Wolverines have some of the best young talent in the nation; R-Rod brought a TON of athletes with him to Ann Arbor. The problem, though, is the system Rich brought with him to Ann Arbor. The offensive scheme used at West Virginia isn't the simplest one to pick up at the drop of a hat. Add in the fact that the players remaining from Carr's reign will have to completely change their approach to the game, and things aren't going to turn out well. You are going to see a lot of talented players, who don't know how to play together, trying to learn a system as the year progresses. Oh right... the starting QB for Michigan has never taken a snap at the collegiate level either. Still, there are experts around the nation putting them in their Top 25 for whatever reason. Michigan MIGHT get to 7 wins, but they will struggle to finish in the upper half of the Big Ten.
6. BIG TEN NETWORK'S "FRIDAY NIGHT TAILGATE" WILL STILL SUCKRESULT: FACT. Holy hell, yes. The worst show on BTN, if not the entire broadcasting world. Great premise, AWFUL show.
Listen, I adore the BTN. I really do. I love it more than eating Breyer's All-Natural Rocky Road ice cream (and I am man who loves him some ice cream). Here's their latest promo - JORDAN AND MIKE - "GET READY FOR THE TAILGATE". I'm not sure this is what Mike Hall had in mind after winning ESPN's Dream Job, but at least he's on TV and making money. But what's with the "FNT" logo? Are they trying to promote Wrestlemania or something? The fact remains that although you get to see some cool on-campus shots and a look at some of the co-eds, "Friday Night Tailgate" still makes me want to take the BTN off my DirecTV Favorites List... but at least they got rid of the fat guy. Clarissa Thompson could be its only saving grace, but it might require too much from her.
7. WISCONSIN WILL LOSE A GAME AT HOME THIS YEARRESULT: FACT. It already happened, and will likely happen again this year.
The Badgers have yet to lose a home game under former Hawkeye (and current recruit poacher), Bret Bielema. That will change this year. Penn State, Ohio State, and Illinois all make their way to Madison at some point during the season. Yes, Camp Randall is one of the most rocking stadium in not only the Big Ten, but also the entire nation. Yet the contingency of 76,000+ drunkards attending the games will not be enough to help out the Badgers in their quest to remain undefeated at home... no matter how much jumping around they do. QB woes will do in Bucky at home this year.
RESULT: UNLIKELY. Iowa would need to go 5-1 the rest of the way, and also win the bowl game that would come along with an 8-4 finish. Or, obviously, Iowa would need to run the table, and the Bowl Game wouldn't factor - that's not happening, in my opinion. The good thing about this 3-3 team so far this year is that they are in all the games and actually look like a quality football team on the field. It's not completely out the question to see Iowa get to the 8 win mark, not at all.
8. THE IOWA HAWKEYES WILL WIN AT LEAST NINE GAMES THIS YEAR
I can hear it already, "YOU FRICKIN' HOMER!!" Settle down and read on. The safe bet would be to say 7-5 or 8-4, but this is supposed to be audacious... so there you go. Iowa will finish this season with a minimum record of 9-3. They could make it through the non-conference schedule unscathed, but I think they drop one over at Heinz Field. That leaves them with a 6-2 record in conference, which is very doable considering the schedule they have in front of them (I completely disagree that it's the easiest in the nation, however, by a long shot). Their toughest opponents (Wisconsin and Penn State) are at home, not to mention their bye week is after Wisconsin and before traveling to Illinois. If Iowa can stay healthy (and get healthy, as well - Moeaki, Stross, Bernstine, etc...), there is no reason they can't put at least the number "9" in the Win column. This year's front four on defense is one of, if not, the best in the Big Ten. The offense will struggle at times this year again, but with the return of Shonn Greene, as well as Moeaki, Brodell, and Stross, Iowa has some actual weapons out on the field. Don't overlook what Erik Campbell, one of the nation's best assistant coaches, will do for Iowa's receivers. Solid D + Contributing Offense = At least 9 wins.
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