Ahhh, Hate Week. Whether it's Iowa-Minnesota, OSU-UM, Indiana-Purdue, or the Grandbaby of them all, the White Hot Fury for the
Ugliest Goddamn Trophy In The History of the World Land Grant Trophy that is MSU-PSU, Hate Week, in all of it's Glory, has arrived is almost past..
One of the great things about the 21st Century is the ability to watch old OSU-UM games on ESPN Classic. As I type this, John Navarre threw a desperation pick to Dustin Fox to lose to OSU in 2001. Hang on...let me get into my DVR library...now I'm watching Anthony Gonzalez break UM's heart in 2005.
All right, enough bashing of Michigan. There will be plenty enough of that later today.
Lots at stake today. By the end of the day, we could have three co-champions, two co-champions, or a stand alone champion. If we have three co-champs, there are only two BCS spots available, so someone will be getting a nice pair of pissy pants for Christmas. We also have three rivalry trophies up for grabs, and what many people think is the Greatest Rivalry in All of Sports, your humble correspondent included.
Quick previews after the jump. All kickoff times are CST, because I hate the east coast. Hate, Hate Week, get it?
Michigan at Ohio State, 11:00, ABC: Ohio State has a lot to play for, namely at least a share of what would be their sixth straight Big Ten title, and Michigan would like nothing more than to put a stick into Ohio State's bicycle tire spokes. Oh, and love or hate OSU, six straight titles, shared or outright, is pretty damn impressive. Michigan State fans find themselves in a weird position of cheering for their biggest rival, because if OSU, Wisconsin, and MSU all win out, conventional wisdom has the two BCS bids going to OSU and Wisconsin. Can MSU fan root for their not-so-big brother? Will it matter? If this game were in Ann Arbor, I'd give Michigan a fighting chance. But it's in Columbus, and barring a complete OSU meltdown, like to the tune of five turnovers that UM converts into TD's, I don't see Michigan coming out of Columbus with a win. Oh, I warn you: Ohio State, for the second year in row, will be wearing hideous throwback uniforms. Can we not ever do this again? Please? G. Gordon Gee bitch slapped Boise State for not playing a tough schedule. He should've bitch slapped them for their ugly ass uniforms and blue field...but he can't, because these throwbacks make Boise's uniforms look cool. Terrible, just...terrible.
Michigan travels to Columbus, Indiana on Saturday. The horror...the horror.
Michigan State at Penn State, 11:00, ESPN2: Like I said above, even if Michigan State wins this game, they'll need some help, presumably, to get to a BCS game. But first, they need to take care of business and bring home the Land Grant trophy, as embarrassing as that may be to put in the trophy case. Penn State is a lot better now than they were at the beginning of the year, save their trip to Columbus, and Happy Valley is never a pleasant experience for the visitor. If there is one of the 'Big Three' that could lose today, I would have to pick MSU in this game. Personally, I think it wouild be great to see MSU get to a BCS bowl, but they have the toughest draw. Penn State has looked good for the last month, and will be a formidable bowl opponent for whoever they meet.
Shortly after this picture was taken, John L. Smith punched the trophy.
Indiana at Purdue, 11:00, Big Ten Network. A month ago, I thought this game would have bowl implications for at least one, if not both of these teams. Alas, 'tis not to be. Indiana came close against Michigan and Northwestern, and but for a Damarlo Belcher drop in the end zone against Iowa, they would be playing for more than a trophy. For Purdue, this season had a black cloud from week one. Injuries, bad luck, and some unlucky bounces ended Purdue's season almost before it began. Still, they haven't quit, and that's a testament to coach Danny Hope and his staff, and damn near ended Michigan State's BCS hopes last week. Although the Old Oaken Bucket isn't one of the more talked about trophy games, it's one of the oldest and this year's edition is essentially the bowl game for Purdue and IU.
Phonetically, the initials at the top of the bucket say "I pee". Heh.
Iowa at Minnesota, 2:30, Big Ten Network. This is not the way Iowa envisioned their season would end when it began. The largest, and most talented, senior class in school history had visions of, at minimum, a Big Ten title. Four heartbreaking losses, three of them in conference, have relegated Iowa to Capital One Bowl Week. I think this is the first time the Hawkeyes have travelled to TCF Bank Stadium, so they'll have to re-create some of their oldest and most sacred traditions besides walking off with the Floyd of Rosedale. Like christening a bathroom stall, or tearing down the goalposts after they win. For Minnesota, a victory would be the first rivalry game victory for the outgoing senior class, and would be a very nice feather in the cap of interim coach Jeff Horton. How about scoring, for starters? I'd have to look it up, but I think the last time Minnesota scored...not beat, scored...against Iowa was in 1998. The only reason I give Minnesota a chance is because Iowa has got to be demoralized after last week's close loss to Ohio State that knocked them out of the Big Ten title race.
If Minnesota wins, the pig is theirs. If they score, they get a baffle.
Northwestern at Wisconsin, 2:30, ABC/ESPN. For Wisconsin, it's simple: Win, and they go to a BCS game, be it the Rose Bowl or at-large berth. They have been the best team in the conference from start to finish, and haven't been beating opponents as much as they have gone all Spanish Inquisition on them. Normally, I'd give Northwestern a chance here, but they have three big things going against them: They're on the road, their defense is juuuuust above Michigan's in suckiness, and Dan Persa, the Great Equalizer, is gone for the season. Enjoy your BCS game, Wisconsin fans!
And I hope you guys hang out here today. Enjoy the games, and embrace the hate!