Aaaand we’re back. A bye week for the ‘Cats, and the College Football Playoff oligarchy just ranked us #21 in the country. Not a bad place to be after nine weeks. Plus, the creator of Game of Thrones and Medill grad, George R. R. Martin, is going to be at Ryan Field this weekend to watch us go medieval on Penn State. In Martin’s honor, here’s a nice mash-up of the GoT theme with one of those animated B1G commercials.
So Winter will indeed be coming to Northwestern on Saturday as the Nittany Lions ride into town, fresh off a 39-0 demolition of Illinois this past week. Penn State is starting to look like they might be much better than we thought – their only two losses on the year are to undefeated Ohio State, and the one loss Temple team that almost beat Notre Dame on Halloween. Penn State, along with the six teams ahead of them in our rankings, have emerged as the clear class of the B1G, with a lot of mediocre to bad football teams sitting on a lower tier in the bottom half of the conference. In fact, the top seven teams in the B1G have only lost to teams with a total combined five losses. In other words, the top teams in the conference have only lost to other good teams. It’s a quality group, and on a different level than the bottom seven teams in the B1G.
Speaking of that bottom seven – Nebraska got throttled by Purdue this weekend. Ouch.
The other interesting development this week was a thriller between Minnesota and Michigan – which came down to a goal line stand by the Wolverines for the win. The Golden Gophers were in the game throughout, and should have won if not for some horrific clock management during the last thirty seconds. Northwestern crushed the Gophers 27-0, then lost to Michigan 38-0 – and yet the Gophers played Michigan down to the wire and should have probably won the game. Sometimes college football is hard to explain.
Iowa beat Maryland by 16 over the weekend and sits at 8-0 on the year, ranked #9 in the college football playoff poll. I’m going to go on a quick rant against Maryland, who we have at the very bottom of our WLW power rankings with nine points. The Terrapins played at Iowa this weekend, and absolutely laid down in the fourth quarter when their coach refused to go for it on two consecutive fourth downs. Down a manageable two scores, Maryland showed absolutely no competitive spirit or will to try and win the game. Instead, they punted the ball away to avoid further embarrassment, and waved the white flag. So they sit at number 14.
Speaking of Iowa – I’m going to predict right now that they lose at Indiana this weekend. The chips seem to be lined up perfectly for an upset in Bloomington – we’ll see if I eat my words come Saturday.
And speaking of Saturday, the Penn State – Northwestern game should be a great match-up, though probably a pretty boring game. Las Vegas set the line at -2.5 for Northwestern, which was a bit surprising as I thought the Nittany Lions would be the favorites. These are two teams built around great defenses and featuring meh offenses – though Christian Hackenberg definitely got the team in stride as they put up 39 points last week. You can bet Penn State will be motivated after the ‘Cats stomped them in Happy Valley 29-6 last year, also remembered as Anthony Walker’s coming out party. Hackenberg is supposedly a shoo-in first round NFL draft pick, but didn’t look like it last year as the ‘Cats D pressured him all day long. I’m up for an encore.
On to the rankings:
|1. Ohio State (7)||98|
|2. Michigan State||91|
|7. Penn State||59|