Week 4 in the Non-Con: What I Want

We have favorites and we have loyalties, but if the Big Ten is going to continue to gain national respect, we're going to have to do it together. That means that we have to all be pulling in the same direction. Here's what I want to see from each Big Ten team in their non-conference battles this week.

At least it's not last year. Last year's Week 4 schedule was so atrocious that the prime choice ABC game was Eastern Michigan at Ohio State. The Buckeyes won that game 73-20. At least this week sees Ohio State hosting Colorado - big in name, if not ability. The rest of the schedule, however, is still pathetic. And so I renew the call. Let's see this happen:

I normally spend this column urging teams to win, hoping that teams fix their flaws, or begging them to help the Big Ten's conference profile. I will not this week. The Big Ten should win all ten of these games. They are all cupcake games against low-level opponents. And I don't begrudge the teams for wanting to schedule a cupcake in the game before they begin their 8-game conference grind. So what I want, is Jim Delaney to see that we don't suffer through weeks like this in the future. The Bore of Week 4 Should Be No More!

That means, joining the Pac-12, ACC, and SEC in moving conference games into the first four weeks of the season. Adding Nebraska was all about adding "more valuable inventory" (i.e. good games for TV), right? Then space the inventory out so that more of the games can be seen by fans. Would people care less about Penn St. and Iowa if it was in Week 3 instead of Week 6? Think that people wouldn't turn in to watch Ohio State at Illinois if it was in Week 2? Would you really have no one watch if Indiana and Minnesota played in Week 4 instead of...well never mind that example. The point is that Florida-Tennessee, Stanford-Arizona, Georgia Tech-UNC, and Auburn-Mississippi State all show that you can successfully begin your conference season early (and spread some cupcakes into the later weeks). It's not just good for fans. It's good business sense.

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The announcement of the 2013 and 2014 schedules showed that the B1G missed the opportunity. Here's hoping that it won't miss it again for 2015. Move six conference games, that's one game per team, into the first four weeks. If you pick the right games (annual games that aren't the biggest rivalries), you'll draw big early headlines. You'll also create new traditions (kind of like Tennessee and Florida always meeting in Week 3 of the season). Here's what I'd love to see...

Week 1

Indiana v. Illinois

Week 2

Michigan v. Minnesota

Iowa v. Purdue

Week 3

Ohio State v. Wisconsin

Michigan State v. Northwestern

Week 4

Penn State v. Nebraska

You're telling me that those games wouldn't whet the appetite? This also moves 12 cupcake games into the Big Ten season.  There, they'll be under-card events, ignored by all but the fans of those teams. On November 12, LSU will host Western Kentucky. Will anyone outside of the Tiger faithful care? No. SEC fans will be focused on Florida at South Carolina, Alabama at Mississippi State, and Tennessee at Arkansas. That's the way it should be. Instead, the B1G has Penn State and Michigan State playing MAC teams (and not good ones) on ESPN2 and ESPNU. That's not good for the league. That's not good for anybody. We can fix this. Let's do it.

Here's this week's crap schedule:

11 AM

Louisiana-Monroe at Iowa (BTN)

Eastern Michigan at Penn State (ESPN2)

Central Michigan at Michigan State (ESPNU)

San Diego State at Michigan (BTN)

2:30 PM

Colorado at Ohio State (ABC with ESPN2 reverse mirror)

South Dakota State at Wisconsin (BTN)

Western Michigan at Illinois (BTN)

Night

Indiana at North Texas (6 PM - ESPN3)

North Dakota State at Minnesota (6 PM - BTN)

Nebraska at Wyoming (6:30 PM - Versus)

 

What I Want

I want 10 wins. And, I want an announcement that future schedules will be better.

What I Expect

I expect somebody to blow it. Western Michigan is good enough to beat an Illini team that hasn't regained its composure from the win over Arizona State. Indiana could lose on the road. San Diego State could play out of their minds against their ex-coach. I expect that some B1G squad will drop a game.

What We Have So Far

The Big Ten sits at 26-10 (.722) out of conference. The league is 6-6 against BCS Conference teams (plus Notre Dame). The league has four losses (Ball State, New Mexico State, Rice, and Army) to non-BCS teams.

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