Great news. Last Call -- the sofa martini professional part of me -- isn't dead, it just had to go on hiatus for a few weeks while I powered through final exams.
Now we're back in full force, and like Daniel Craig's James Bond, it's time to suck some olives.
Toughest Big Ten Schedules in 2009. Today we're trading summer for the crisp air, and burnt orange fantasy that is fall in the Midwest to figure out who has the toughest road to travel in a league that is "all about who you miss in conference play and how you can hold up with few breaks." (See Scout.com)
Let's get to it:
11. Penn State
No excuses, boys. An out of conference schedule more suited for a MAC power than a would-be BCS contender won't win you any points with this pundit. Iron your panties and pin on your skirts for pink out of conference collisions with the likes of Akron, Syracuse, Temple, and Eastern Illinois. Then, enjoy the benfit of Ohio State at home.
Testicle Points: 4 (1 out of conference, 3 conference).
This to me was a no-brainer. The Wildcat's toughest out of conference game is a visit to Syracuse. They don't have to face the executioner: Ohio State. And they get Penn State at home.
Testicle Points: 5 (2 out of conference, 3 conference).
A visit from Fresno State and a late road trip to Hawaii salvages an otherwise sagging out of conference slate. In conference Bielema is blessed to miss both Ohio State and Penn State. If Bret can't win with this schedule, he's out.
Testicle Points: 6 (4 out of conference, 2 conference).
A visit from Western Michigan and an October trip to Virginia props up their out of conference agenda. Four roadtrips in six weeks during the conference stretch won't be easy for Ben Chappell.
Testicle Points: 8 (3 out of conference, 5 conference).
A more than respectable out of conference schedule with a visit to Oregon and a visit from Notre Dame inflates a conference cakewalk. The Boilermakers won't see the likes of either Iowa or Penn State.
Testicle Points: 9 (7 out of conference, 2 conference)
Watch out Wolverines. A season opener against MAC elite Western Michigan is anything but a gimme. Meanwhile, Notre Dame appears to be on the up and up. In conference, Rich Rod will go on the road to face Michigan State and Iowa. Fortunately, they'll get Penn State and Ohio State at home.
Testicle Points: 10 (5 out of conference, 5 conference)
5. Michigan State
The Spartans see Michigan's out of conference contests against Western Michigan and Notre Dame and raise them a dance with Central Michigan -- another one of those MAC bullies that keeps the Big Ten honest. In state, Dantonio won't miss seeing Ohio State. Oh yeah, he gets Penn State at home. Time for more timeout tantrums.
Testicle Points: 10.5 (7 out of conference, 3.5 conference)
The Illini will have to do some fighting to make it through a season long gauntlet. Out of league they'll tustle with Missouri and Cincinnati. In conference they'll have the pleasure of facing Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State, in a row.
Testicle Points: 11 (6 out of conference, 5 conference)
The Hawkeyes inaugurate their campaign for a conference championship with a visit from Arizona. Then they'll pack their bags for a brutal conference tour at Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Yikes.
Testicle Points: 12 (4 out of conference, 8 conference)
2. Ohio State
If the Buckeyes run the table this year, no one will say they don't deserve to play in Pasadena on January 7th. That's because the scarlet smashes into the season with visits from Navy and the
San Diego Chargers, ahem, USC. If they make it to conference play, they can breathe easy -- at least through road games at Indiana, and Purdue. A late visit to Beaver Stadium to meet Penn State should again decide the conference. Oh yeah, they've got to go to Ann Arbor also.
Testicle Points: 13 (9 out of conference, 4 conference).
Hey, Golden Gophers, you're number 1. Enjoy it while you can, because you're playing Syracuse, Air Force, and Cal out of conference. Sure, you get the Golden Bears at home, but you'll still have to pack your bags to play Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa. This unbearable blitzkrieg brings Brewster the title of the Big Ten's toughest schedule in 2009.
Testicle Points: 14 (6 out of conference, 8 conference).