We have favorites and we have loyalties, but if the Big Ten is going to climb out the national perception doldrums, 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.
Illinois (vs. Illinois State)
I want to see you play like you care. I want to see an offense even when Rejus Benn is sitting on the sidelines.
Indiana (vs. Western Michigan)
I want you to win. I'm not sure that you're the better team, but it's OK if you want to show that you are.
Iowa (at Iowa State)
I want you to win. Actually, I really want you to pound those little shart droppings into the turf of the hole they call a stadium, set the cesspool-town ablaze and leave town laughing. But since Kirk Ferentz is a better man than to let his players do that, I'll take a win.
Michigan (vs. Notre Dame)
I want to see that last week wasn't a fluke. Show me that the "Year 2 RichRod Magik" is in full effect. You don't have to win, but scoring 24+ points is a reasonable goal.
Michigan State (vs. Central Michigan)
I want you to shut CMU down. If Arizona can do it, you can too. I also want Graham Filler to have to write another column explaining why Greg Jones may be a pretty good player after all.
Minnesota (vs. Air Force)
I want to see Adam Weber look away from Eric Decker. Last week he showed that he remembered him. Now he has to realize that he needn't force it into triple coverage. At least not every play.
Northwestern (vs. Eastern Michigan)
You'll kill this cupcake too. I want you to stay healthy.
I don't want to learn the name of his backup.
Ohio State (vs. Southern Cal)
I know it's not fair, but I want you to win. We all need you to win. You probably don't have the offensive weapons to go score for score with the Trojans, but you need to find a way. Ten other teams are counting on you.
Penn State (vs. Syracuse)
I want you to open some holes for Evan Royster. The pass blocking looked good last week. The run blocking needs some work.
Purdue (at Oregon)
I want to see the offense clicking like it has in your last two games. The Ducks are in disaray. Let's keep it that way.
Wisconsin (vs. Fresno State)
I want you to keep your foot on the gas. No comebacks. This should be a double digit win. Make it happen.
What I Want
I want to see no more than two losses.
What I Expect
I expect to see the Big Ten lose both games to the Pac-10, lose to Notre Dame, and maybe lose one more among Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. I also expect "The Big Ten is Dead" stories to begin before the Ohio State game goes final.
What We Got Last Week
10-1 was only disappointing because of the way Illinois lost...and the way that Iowa and Ohio State won.