I figured I'd take an couple interesting question from each of the Big Ten's upcoming matches. Key phrases will be recycled over and over this offseason ("underdog", "slumping", "drug dealing roomie"), so why not discuss these trends?
3. How will Iowa react to the loss of so many key playmakers? Michigan State '09 is a valid comparison, although that team came into the season with lower expectations. After the Spartans lost wide receivers, running backs, and key defensive players to a violent, sprawling fight, ESPN and everyone else expected MSU to get blown away in the Alamo Bowl v. Texas Tech. I remember the World Wide Leader claiming that MSU had the least chance to win their bowl game of all teams playing in the 2009-2010 Bowls. Not so fast my friends; Don Treadwell threw in multiple trick plays and the Spartans were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. It takes leadership to keep the team together over that tumultuous holiday season and Greg Jones, Kirk Cousins, and Blair White delivered. So which senior leader will step up in the Hawkeye lockerroom and push everyone to play for pride, to play hard, to hate Mizzou? I find myself worrying about Iowa getting blown out in this game. Every element of this season is yelling at Iowa to quit - Your stud players have shown little respect for the program they invested in, you have a challenging matchup, your collapses have been well documented by your opponents and your own fans. Who will stand up and say - "Enough is enough, we're a tough as hell team with a Top Ten level defense and a veteran quarterback. F*** all ya'll, we should be favored. Let's go. Time to hit someone."
Still have faith in Iowa? Put your money where your mouth is and play The Obligatory Predictions Competition - Bowl Edition. Win and you get cool Big Ten gear, plus bragging rights. Entries are due by Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Click here to play.
2. How frickin' huge is the chip on the Spartan's collective shoulders? The MSU football program has a signature win over Wisconsin, a Top Ten ranking, and the most wins in school history. They're also a touchdown underdog to a three loss Alabama team. And that's not the first sign of disrespect or national storyline that will piss off the Spartans. Consider - Mark Ingram was going to MSU before he had some issues up here in Michigan. Off he goes to Alabama, hello Heisman. Nick Saban used to be up in East Lansing also. He was an asshole to a large percentage of people here, plus he always knew MSU was just a hop-off to coaching at a higher level. Off to LSU, hello Nat'l Titles.The Spartans knock off Wisconsin (something that OSU couldn't do) and clinch a berth in the Ro...Capital One Bowl.
I'm not going to order the crab cakes, I love the chicken at this restaurant, I'm not discussing this decision anymore, I've always wanted to get the chicken marsalla....I'll have the crab cakes.
And Sparty even has to deal with comments like this from my OTE co-founder:
It's not a popular view, but I'm one of those people that still thinks Alabama is the most talented team in the nation, and if you played the season 1,000 times, Bama wins the national championship more often than not. It's also not a popular view, but I can't get the image of Michigan State being disemboweled by a 7-5 Iowa team out of my mind.
1. Which mediocre Big Ten team has the best chance to win a bowl game? Here's where the oddsmakers have placed all our second-tier team's chances at:
-PSU...5 Point Underdog
-Illinois...2 Point Underdog
-Michigan...5 Point Underdog
-NW...11 Point Underdog
-Iowa...3 Point Underdog
And the ugliness doesn't end there. Consider:
All five of these teams lost at least two November games.
Each team is currently on a losing streak of at least one game.
So which team do you blow your hard-earned money gambling on? It's not NW (bad matchup, no Persa), it's probably not Michigan (has made shit offenses like Mississippi State's look solid), and Iowa has been slowly cutting off their own legs. So PSU and Illinois it is! I love the Illini run game this year and sometimes a mushy defense like Baylor's will just capitulate under the constant power rushing. I also think Florida falls apart against even decent defenses; something that PSU does possess.