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Across The Empire: Your Early Games Open Thread

It's the final regular season weekend in the B1G. The conference championship game is set, but there's a lot still at stake, from Monopoly pieces to buckets


Although the Big Ten conference championship teams have been decided, there's still a lot to play for during the regular season finale.

First off, congratulations to Nebraska and Wisconsin, but we'll talk more about them later this week. Today is about everyone else. Bowl eligibility, trophies, and a lot more is at stake today. First, you game grid:

Time Network Visitor Home
11:00 BTN Illinois Northwestern
11:00 BTN Indiana Purdue
11:00 ABC Michigan Ohio State
2:30 BTN Michigan State Minnesota
2:30 ESPN Wisconsin Penn State

This is what I love about the B1G, and college football: Every game, regardless of record, has something at stake today. Illinois and Northwestern play for the LOL trophy. For you Rutgers and Maryland fans that are trying to learn about our conference, that's the Land of Lincoln (LOL) trophy. It's a silver stove pipe hat, or as we like to call it, the world's Largest Monopoly Piece. It's a replacement for the culturally insensitive and borderline racist Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy. Culturally insensitive or not, that will always be a cooler trophy that the top hat. Sorry. We expect Northwestern to win, because Illinois can't have nice things.

Bowl eligibility rides on the outcome of the Old Oaken Bucket game. If Purdue wins, they get to go bowling, but I don't know that it's enough to save Danny Hope's job. For Kevin Wilson, a win in Indiana's most important game gives the Hoosiers a 5-7 season, and a lot of off season 'what ifs' regarding Tre Roberson not getting injured.

Bowl eligibility is also on the line in the MSU-Minnesota game. At the beginning of the year, 99% of B1G fans would have assumed it would be the Gophers needing to win to get to the post season, but Sparty sits at 5-6 and needs to win to get the extra month of practice. Quite a turn of events for MSU, and Minnesota would like nothing more than to keep them from going to the post season. And Minnesota has a decent chance of doing just that. Mark Dantonio doesn't think so, though.

Wisconsin is already going to Indianapolis and Penn State is playing for pride, but Wisconsin really needs to win this game to give them any semblance of creditability in Indianapolis. Most of it is already gone because they lost to Ohio State, and a loss to Penn State would put them at third place in the division and 7-5 on the season. Yet they're still a bad Taylor Martinez pass or four from getting crushed in the Rose Bowl. For Penn State, a win to finish 8-4 would but Bill O'Brien in serious running for coach of the year, and it would be a well deserved award. Trust me, the Nittany Lions have a lot to play for.

And finally, The Game. Michigan at Ohio State. This rivalry has been ratcheted up to be the most anticipated clash of these two teams since the #1 vs. #2 meeting in 2006. Urban Meyer has kicked it up a notch, rumors swirling around OSU has him going for two to honor Woody Hayes if the Bucks go up by a sizeable margin, and that doesn't sit too well with Brady Hoke. An undefeated season is on the line for OSU, Michigan is battling some key injuries and won't be at full strength...which is why this game will probably go down to the final play. Go Bucks, beat That Team Up North.

You guys know the rules: No porn, no illegal Internet streams of games, and don't be a toolbox to your fellow commenters. We'll give you a little more leeway because rivalry games and heat of the moment stuff, but let's try to keep it somewhat civil.

I will be drunk posting by 10:00 from my phone--I am at an OSU party, and by Saturday night I shall be awaiting a liver transplant. WOOOOOOOOOOOO BUCKEYES! So apologies in advance for the copious misspellings that are sure to follow.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's Rivalry Saturday. Sobriety is for the weak.

Enjoy the games, everyone!