Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ball State--It's MACtacular

It's such a strange thing. I look over at my bulletin board to my Big Ten schedule grid (and major props to that guy who did the Excel spreadsheet this summer) and I see no blank spaces. Why? Well, thanks to the NCAA's new 12-game rule, everyone could fill in their Big Ten bye week with an extra game, and every Big Ten team did it in a different way. Now, Michigan was originally slated to play Ball State in the first three games, but shuffled around to get the Chips on the "Day of the Deluge" ("Return to your cars! Return to your cars!"), making Vanderbilt the opener (which, by the way, marked the only time all year that a Big Ten team faced an SEC team until bowl season) and will now face Ball State this week instead. With this in mind, I thought I would look at who the Big Ten teams have chosen to fill that hole in their soul that is the 12th game. (Please note, in several cases, these are best guesses, based on who is filling in the hole in the Big Ten bye week, rather than any schedule shuffling. Your mileage may vary.)

Michigan--Ball State (to be played Nov. 4)
The Fightin' Football Fightin' Football Cardinals of Ball State travel up from Muncie. Here's to hoping Letterman U will understand it's nothing personal, it's just business. I would like to applaud Michigan for still having never played a Division I-AA opponent, though I will note that the MAC's continued presence as a I-A conference has made that a much easier task. Remember, no MAINE! (This is only funny to the people who know the story rumor about how Bill Martin purportedly went off on a Michigan fan at the Alamo Bowl last year when there were rumors of a Maine game, thus breaking the string. I, sadly, despite repeated attempts at Googling, cannot find said story, hence the 37 layers of "allegedly" there.)

Illinois--Ohio (won by Ohio 20-17)
The most interesting thing about this match-up is that it's clearly was a battle of the fall from grace coaches, Frank Solich on the Bobcats side and Ron "The Fightin" Zook for the Illini. A show of the results shows why the Bobcats are likely, possibly, going bowling.

Indiana--Connecticut(won by Connecticut 14-7)
You know, sadly, I think we can all agree that this would be much better as an intersectional basketball matchup, even if both teams are much improved from year's past.

Iowa--Northern Illinois (won by Iowa 24-14)
It's not a good sign when the most memorable part about this game is the unfortunate thing the ESPNU announcer said. Well that and that the return game will be at Soldier Field next year instead of at DeKalb.

Michigan State--Idaho, I think (Michigan State won 27-17)
It all started out so promising for John L. Smith this season, three straight wins, starting with this victory, and now it's all over. Like John Cooper, I'll miss you John L.

Minnesota--North Dakota State (won by Minnesota 10-9)
Minnesota would prefer I didn't remind you that NoDakSt nearly won this game at the Metrodome, losing only by a 10-9 margin. I think that three-run seventh really sealed it for the Gophers.

Northwestern--Nevada (won by Nevada 31-21)
Normally I would mock a Big Ten team for losing to the likes of the Wolfpack, but because of the tragedy surrounding the program, and the fact that it is my fake alma mater, I'm going to just move on.

tOhio StateU--Bowling Green (won by OSU 35-7)
This looked a lot more impressive, you know, until Bowling Green went and lost to Temple. Where hath thou gone Omar?

Penn State--Temple (to be played Nov. 11)
You know, Pitt's probably sitting there thinking, "Great, old man, you can choose between the two in-state schools, and once again, you duck us for the Owls. OK, probably a wise move, but one day, we will play you again! On the name of all that is Ironhead Heyward, we shall play you again!"
(Was that over the top? I can't tell anymore.)

Purdue--Indiana State, maybe (won by Purdue 60-35)
I am basing this off the fact that a). Purdue goes to Hawaii this season, which means they actually have a 13 game schedule, and b). all of the other non-conference opponents were I-A. (Purdue fills its Big Ten bye week, the second one during the schedule, with the Notre Dame game, which makes this difficult.) Anyway, really, I got nothing here other that it seems only fitting that two Indiana schools would play to what could look like, in some ways, a basketball score.

Wisconsin--Buffalo (to be played Nov. 18)
Poor Wisconsin, it's their turn to be odd man out of the Big 11's rivalry weekend (Michigan/Ohio State, Indiana/Purdue, Northwestern/Illinois, and Michigan State/Penn State) with the west end boys rotating amongst themselves for Floyd of Rosedale, Paul Bunyan's Axe, or the Heartland Trophy (which was just invented two years ago in part to actually give me something to talk about here. OK, not really, but a golden bull? Seriously, that's what you're playing for? I'd show you a picture, but I really can't seem to find one. Darn it!) Anyway, playing for a Golden Bull? That's so Byzantine of you! (What, only GZ gets to make the make the deep historical refs?)

So there you have it. What will next year hold? Only time, and money, will tell.


Brian said...

The one good thing about Buffalo is that you've pretty much ensured a good Senior Day and at least there's not the spectre of competing the season with a loss at Iowa (not outside the realm of possibility).

As for the Heartland Trophy, I'm just dissapointed that it isn't sponsored by Heartland Music (Winning state gets free shipping on all Conway Twitty Collection albums if you today!)

Geoff said...

A golden bull? So many options!. And we're not even talking about golden calves... Nice work here.

Jeremy said...

Thank you for creating the blog that I've spent about a year wishing I'd done. Seriously. Down to the content (Football analysis plus MMB commentary), the picture (I was going to use part of this one that I took), and the name (I was trying to use a clever reference to Varsity).

Your analysis of both aspects is accurate and clever. If you want a younger voice, I'd be willing to contribute.