The Spread, Week Five: North by Northwestern


With most of the Big Ten finishing up their non-conference schedules last weekend, it’s time to force ourselves to review where the conference stands. Try not to be too scared.

Combined record: 33-13. Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad, so immediately I am incredibly suspicious. Let’s investigate.

vs. AQ teams: 5-9. Honestly, that’s not as bad as I thought, but all 5 wins are courtesy of the conference’s three unbeaten teams: Ohio State (Cal), Minnesota (Syracuse) and Northwestern (Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Boston College). Add in the facts that none of those teams are elite and none of the wins was by more than 10 points and you can see why the Big Ten is getting zero respect. That’s probably more than we deserve.

Saturday’s games were more of the same we’ve seen this season so far: Beat up on teams we should be embarrassed to play, look lackluster against teams we should beat up, lose to Notre Dame and a couple of mid-majors.

So how is the rest of the season going to go? Your guess is as good as mine, but here’s something that’s worth considering: Northwestern, the Big Ten team who has arguably proven the most so far with their 3 wins over AQ teams, does not play Ohio State, Wisconsin or Purdue, the three top teams (right now) in the Leaders division. At this point, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats losing to Indiana, Penn State (their next two games) or Illinois (who could, conceivably, improve by the end of the year). With Ohio State ineligible and Wisconsin struggling to register a convincing win over anybody, we are now in a realm where a Northwestern/Purdue Big Ten title game is not at all unrealistic.

You’re scared now, aren’t you?


Ohio State @ Michigan State is the site of ESPN’s College GameDay this week, which must mean the rest of the schedule is a dystopian wasteland that would put Cormac McCarthy to shame. The good news is that this will mean increased Heisman hype for Braxton Miller from the Worldwide Leader in Self-Serving Hyperbole. Expect high doses of this and this in the promos.

Wisconsin @ Nebraska may also be interesting, because at least one head coach is going to totally lose it on the sideline.


Thursday: Person of Interest season premiere (CBS), Forrest Gump (Cinemax), Arrested Development (Netflix), Browns @ Ravens (NFL Network). If you wanted an actual football game, then Stanford @ Washington is as close as you’re going to get.

Friday: Hawai’i @ BYU. Last week, BYU opted not to go into overtime against a team who had shown no ability or willingness to score in overtime-like conditions for the entire game and instead failed on a two-point conversion attempt to lose the game in regulation. And this after I was nice to Mormons last week. You know you can’t re-baptise that touchdown as an 8-pointer now that the game’s over, right? GO WHATEVER HAWAI’I’S NICKNAME IS!!!!

Saturday: Seriously, these games all stink.


  1. “re-baptise that touchdown” – I am so using that on my BYU friends!

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