Yes. Yes it is. [Ed Matt: Nah.] Not a ton of time for the column this week, so why don’t I run down a (relatively) unbiased power rankings of the Big Ten that Matt and Bob will probably have some major qualms with? Most of our readers are Big Ten fans anyway. Don’t forget to put the brown paper bags you use to hide your identity for fear of shame back over your head after you finish reading! Just so you have a heads up, this week is probably going to be an all-time record for me making people really mad, although our Southern friends escape mostly unscathed.
Actually Competent Football Teams
1. Michigan State
Defense! A competent quarterback! If the Spartans don’t run away laughing from their divisional competition I will be quite surprised.
This team could be so good if only it had a quarterback. The Badgers looked great for most of the game against LSU and if they didn’t have a safety under center, they would’ve won that game easily.
3. Ohio State
Instead of analysis, I’m going to embed the following video for your viewing pleasure. Glorious. You’re welcome. Keep in mind this VT team lost to East Carolina the next week. BIG TENNNNNN!
Arguably Semi-Competent Football Teams
Reply hazy; come back later. The Huskers have looked really good in two of their games and my instinct is to dismiss their close game against McNeese State as a combination of a fluke and McNeese State actually being okay (they’re a top 10 FCS squad). We’ll find out more against Miami this weekend.
5. Penn State
I have them at five because they’re undefeated, but I would not be confident picking them against Michigan or Maryland. Their wins have been about as unimpressive as you can get without being UCLA.
This team lost 31-0 to Notre Dame and by my estimation they’re pretty likely to go 6-2 in this conference. BIG TENNNNNNNNNN!
WHY IS MARYLAND IN THE BIG TENNNNNNNN?!?!
Really Just Glorified MAC Teams
Imagine being married for life with no possible way out to a man or woman who just brings you endless emotional pain, has completely archaic views on relationships and constantly punts in opponent’s territory. That’s Iowa fans with Kirk Ferentz.
At the time, taking Rutgers was seen as an embarrassment for the Big Ten. Now, it appears the Scarlet Knights suck so much they just fit right in! BIG TENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!
As if getting out-gained by more than 100 yards in a win against Middle Tennessee wasn’t cute enough, this adorable little bunch got spanked by a relatively pedestrian TCU team last week. [Ed Matt: Just for fun, because everybody on Earth loves to blow Jerry Kill nonstop for some reason: Game two: MTSU yards per play: 5.5. Minnesota yards per play: 5.8. Game three: TCU yards per play: 5.8. Minnesota yards per play: 3.9 (!) Maybe it’s time people realize that Minnesota was incredibly lucky to go 8-4 last year and the only redeeming quality of their team is a solid, but not all that special defense.]
Worse Than MAC Teams
Many people have them lower. Based on just this year, the Wildcats should probably be tied at the bottom with Purdue. Taking into account what we know about the programs in previous years, I think they’re better than Indiana, Illinois and Purdue. It’s very likely I’ll live to regret the previous sentence. Also, this goes here:
@Harry_Kroll Rude. I’ll bet that NU wins more games than Miami this season.
— Bobby Pillote (@BobbyPillote) August 26, 2014
Is it basketball season yet? Oh wait, they’re not even good in that anymore. And they have to go to school in Bloomington, Indiana. If you see an Indiana fan today, give him or her a hug on my behalf.
Matt is going to kill me for putting Illinois this low, but I haven’t seen anything to justify putting them higher than their 2nd-to-last Big Ten finish a season ago. Playing close into the fourth quarter with a bad FCS team and a questionably legitimate Sun Belt team followed by a smoldering crater of a performance at Washington didn’t make the case for them. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. Illinois fans reading this will probably get super pissed at me for pointing out what’s probably reality. I accept that. [Ed Matt: Based purely on this year, I’d put Illinois over Northwestern and Indiana. Indiana beat Indiana State by 11 (close game against FCS team) and just lost to Bowling Green, whom Western Kentucky obliterated. Northwestern is 0-2 against bad teams. Based on the last couple years, this is fine but Rutgers should be lower than nine if we’re not just talking about 2014.]
A Brief Interlude of Things That Are Better Than Purdue
-Obama’s foreign policy
-The NFL’s public relations
-Niles West High School’s football team
-Okay maybe Nickelback was too harsh
-On second thought, no it’s not too harsh
-Customer service at the DMV
-The pace of baseball [Ed Matt: Too far.]
-An education from Mississippi State University
-The male-to-female ratio in China
-Sepp Blatter’s integrity
-Watching paint dry
-Watching grass grow
-Watching a sex tape of Charlie Weis and Melissa McCarthy [Ed Matt: NOPE]
-Watching the final season of How I Met Your Mother
I Guess We Have To Include Purdue
In games we picked last week:
- Miami (-16) finally broke out offensively and blew out Arkansas State.
- South Carolina (+5.5) emphatically announced its presence in the SEC East title race.
- Washington (-13.5) blew out Illinois and Tim Beckman made a regrettably dumb statement that Matt really doubled down on defending for reasons unclear to me. [Ed Matt: A combination of me being pretty sick and testy/impatient and Illini fans constantly bitching about anything and everything just because the team lost by 25 to Washington, who was favored by 13.5 and had two defensive touchdowns in the first half.] Yeah it was taken out of context, but it’s still laughable.
- Is Texas (+7) okay or does UCLA suck as much as the eye test says it does? I suspect the latter.
- Oklahoma (-20.5) did end up covering, but that game was a lot closer than the final score.
Sadly I can’t say that I’ve won every week this year anymore, but I’m still hanging on to first place! Standings:
And the peanut gallery:
This week, Northwestern plays an FCS opponent so we’ve replaced that match-up with a third national game. As usual, all lines come from Pinnacle and game times are eastern.
Virginia vs. #21 BYU (-14); 3:30, ESPN
BYU has a real chance at going undefeated this year and shockingly this is one of their toughest games left. Virginia’s been a pleasant surprise this year and they could push the Cougars.
Florida vs. #3 Alabama (-14.5); 3:30, CBS
Welcome back to DCIAPC, Jeff Driskel! It’s been too long.
Texas State vs. Illinois (-14); 4, ESPNews
If you take away everything negative that’s happened to Illinois in the history of its football program and replace it with positive things, Illinois is undefeated in its history!
#22 Clemson vs. #1 Florida State (-20.5); 8, ABC
I’ll just leave this here without comment. [Update from after I finished writing: Jameis Winston will be benched for the first half of this weekend’s game for this incident. Interesting how he sits for a half after this yet receives full support from everyone that matters after allegedly raping an unconscious girl, but I guess good on FSU in this case. I don’t really think he deserved to be benched for this latest “incident”, but I certainly won’t argue.]
Miami vs. #24 Nebraska (-7); 8, ESPN2
In the words of Bart Scott, CAN’T WAIT. Let’s get to the picks.
Harry: I think BYU is a good team and should win this game at home, but Virginia’s defense has looked quite solid so far this year and two touchdowns is too much for me to lay down. My confidence level on this pick is very low though. Virginia +14
Bob: BYU has looked great to me, while Virginia has impressed as well. My issue is that Virginia has a woeful 112th-ranked S&P+ offense, and BYU has been able to run all over FBS teams the last couple years. However Virginia beat the 21st-ranked Louisville last week and now faces the 21st-ranked BYU. Fourteen points is too many. Virginia +14
Matt: I’m actually pretty confident in Virginia here. They performed really well against Louisville at home last week. Their defense is for real (they sure can make those down in Virginia lately) and their offense will be good enough to score a few points. If Houston can keep it close with BYU, so should Virginia. (Recency bias could really kill me here.) Virginia +14 (BYU 20, Virginia 13)
Harry: You’re telling me I can pick against Jeff Driskel ON THE ROAD AT ALABAMA?!? Where do I sign? You can’t make this line high enough for me. Alabama -14.5
Bob: Alabama’s weakness so far has been its pass defense. Florida can’t throw the ball. Alabama should dominate. Alabama -14.5
Matt: In a match-up between two of the best run defenses in college football, I’ll take the team with a quarterback that can seemingly throw a football (for now, at least). I don’t see Florida covering this line unless they win the turnover battle by a significant amount. Alabama is built to take advantage of their weaknesses. It is probably going to be difficult for Florida to sustain drives in this game, which has been their offensive strength thus far. This is a lot of points to give up, but I’ll take Nick Saban at home. Alabama -14.5 (Alabama 31, Florida 12)
Harry: After doing a little research on Texas State, I’ve made the obvious conclusion that they are not a very good football team. Taking a page out of Bob’s playbook, I looked up their F/+ rankings to find them ranked 97th overall, 106th on defense and 120th on offense. While Illinois isn’t too hot itself sitting at 75th, I think they can cover this spread. I really shouldn’t ever lay down two touchdowns with this Illinois team out of principle, but here we go. Illinois -14
Bob: Harry did exactly what I did, and I concluded the exact same thing. Similar to the first couple weeks, Illinois will look not that good but manage to cover the spread. Illinois -14
Matt: The reason Illinois was blown out by Washington was the weakness of their offensive line, which has had a few key injuries through the first couple weeks. Texas State has four new starters on their defensive line this year, which is a far cry from the three potential All-Americans in Washington’s front seven. They have some solid performers in the middle of their defense, including the brother of Brian Orakpo, All-Pro Linebacker. I’m surprised to see Texas State’s offense ranked so low in F/+. From what I’ve read that seems like their only real strong point. I’m not too worried about this game, though one never knows just what an Illini football team can pull off. Illinois -14 (Illinois 41, Texas State 16)
I’m not betting against FSU at home. Just not happening. Florida State -20.5 The first half suspension of Winston makes this a much tougher pick and without him I’m not comfortable giving up this many points. Clemson +20.5
Bob: I was going to pick this even before the Winston suspension. This spread is ridiculous and will surely drop a bit with the suspension, but I feel comfortable taking the points despite Florida State’s win. Clemson +20.5
Matt: Without Jameis for the first half, I feel pretty good about taking Clemson with 20.5 points. I wouldn’t be surprised if this line drops to under two touchdowns given the new information bettors have about the game. Clemson +20.5 (Florida State 35, Clemson 24)
Harry: In a huge twist, I’m not going to go on at length about this game; there’s no reason to do so. Miami looked good last week, but I do not trust this coaching staff in big games (under Al Golden, Miami is 1-10 against teams that finished with at least eight wins and 23-6 against everyone else) and I don’t think the offense is ready for this type of game. I’ll confidently take the Huskers. Nebraska -7
Bob: I don’t trust Nebraska after that McNeese State incident, and I don’t trust picking a Big Ten team against another power conference team, even if I’m taking Kaaaaaya on the road. Also, if I take Nebraska, that means all three of us made the same pick in all five games, so I ain’t finna do that. Miami +7
Matt: Randy Gregory sacks Brad Kaaaaaaaya 14 times, somehow causing Miami fans to complain about defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio. Actually though, it is always concerning when an inexperienced quarterback goes on the road, let alone on the road against a team with an incredible pass rusher. We saw how that worked out for Illinois last weekend. [ED Harry: To be fair, Miami has a football team. Ed Matt: And a more troubled right side of their offensive line than even Illinois.] Miami could and should have some success running the ball against the Huskers, but I still think Nebraska wins by a bundle. Nebraska -7 (Nebraska 33, Miami 20)