My apologies for accidentally including Western Illinois @ Northwestern in last week’s guide. I hope I didn’t screw up anyone’s big party. The Buckeyes are off this week, so we’ll just be enjoying watching everyone else (hopefully) crash and burn.



Eastern Michigan @ Michigan State. Noon, Big Ten Network.

Maryland @ Syracuse. 12:30p, ESPN3 (online)/ACC Network (is that a thing?)

Utah @ Michigan. 3:30p, ABC/ESPN2.

The Big Ten is in a tailspin right now, so we might actually be forced to do the unthinkable this week: cheer for Utah, but be okay with it if they lose. (Sorry, SOS apologists, that’s as far as I’m willing to go.) Utah may not be a big name Pac-12 team like Oregon or Stanford, but they are 2-0 and the Big Ten really just needs any win over a decent major-conference opponent.

Rutgers @ Navy. 3:30p, CBS Sports Network.

UMass @ Penn State. 4:00p, Big Ten Network.

Texas State @ Illinois. 4:00p, ESPN News.

San Jose State @ Minnesota. 4:00p, Big Ten Network.

Indiana @ Missouri. 4:00p, SEC Network.

I mean, who knows, right?



Miami (OH) @ Cincinnati. 7:00p, CBS Sports Network.



Bowling Green @ Wisconsin. Noon, ESPN2.

Southern Illinois @ Purdue. Noon, Big Ten Network.

Western Illinois @ Northwestern. Noon, ESPN News.

Iowa @ Pittsburgh. Noon, ESPNU.

Miami (FL) @ Nebraska. 8:00p, ESPN2.

The Hurricanes are 2-1, so a win here is okay, but a loss is pretty much disastrous for the Big Ten. Guess which one’s going to happen!



Marshall @ Akron. 2:00p, ESPN3 (online)

Ball State @ Toledo. 7:00p, ESPN3 (online)

Idaho @ Ohio. 7:00p, ESPN3 (online)



Auburn @ Kansas State. 7:30p, ESPN.


Florida @ Alabama. 3:30p, CBS.

Oklahoma @ West Virginia. 7:30p, Fox.

Clemson @ Florida State. 8:00p, ABC.

The Spread, Week Four: What Did You Expect?

The Big Ten took a beating this past weekend–again. As the favorites in six of the nine non-conference games on the slate, the conference was looking for a little bit of redemption. Instead, it was another massive letdown.

Only Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska managed wins, and each of those was against a significantly weaker opponent. Penn State also squeaked past Rutgers, but that’s a wash for the conference.

Personally, I don’t really like the conference unity mindset spawned by the BCS and only exacerbated by the assumption that strength of schedule will be the major factor in making the new playoff. (I’m trying to really hard to not launch into yet another anti-SOS rant here.)

But since we live in a perception-is-reality college football world, I thought we’d take a look at how the conference is faring so far in that department with my Performance Against Expectation ratings.

Quickly, PAE is a calculation I came up with last year which compares the final score of a game to the “public prediction” of the score, as indicated by the associated betting numbers (point spread and over/under.) Teams who win do not always do so as convincingly as we thought they would and teams who lose do not always do so as badly as we thought. PAE reflects that. (Keep in mind that games without published lines–usually the ones against FCS teams–can not be included in this rating.)

It may surprise you that the Big Ten as a whole has actually outperformed expectations in two of three weeks of the season so far, including this week. To be fair, those numbers are boosted by a few great performances like Nebraska’s big win over Florida Atlantic and Ohio State’s shutout against Kent State.

So let’s look at the teams individually. It’s important to remember here that most teams’ ratings right now are based on just one or two games. Still, it’s a good measure of just how disappointing most Big Ten teams have been so far this year.

Big Ten PAE Rating through Week 3 (as a percentage)

1. Nebraska, 193%
2. Penn State, 123%
3. Ohio State, 120%
4. Rutgers, 118%
5. Wisconsin, 97%
6. Michigan State, 96%
7. Illinois, 86%
8. Maryland, 86%
9. Purdue, 76%
10. Minnesota, 67%
11. Indiana, 65%
12. Michigan, 60%
13. Iowa, 60%
14. Northwestern, 56%

Note that a high number doesn’t necessarily mean a better team. For example, no one really expects Purdue to do much, and they don’t. But people expect more of, say, Michigan than they’ve been able to deliver so far.

We’ll get a better sense of who these teams are as they all play some more meaningful games, but for now, it’s tough to argue that the public perception of the Big Ten as a “weak” and disappointing league is inaccurate.



(9/13) Kent State @ Ohio State. Noon, ABC/ESPN2.

It’s time to start the healing process. You’ll remember from previous losses that the Buckeye Healing Process consists of a home game against an Ohio MAC team, against which we will play poorly for at least the first quarter before finally overpowering them, leaving fans happy but nervous and nearly convinced that we’ll lose all of our remaining games.

So enjoy!



Toledo @ Cincinnati. 7:00p, ESPNU.


West Virginia @ Maryland. Noon, Big Ten Network.

Another Big Chance for the Big Ten. Can a conference newbie help erase last weekend’s debacle? Or would that just make it look worse?

Indiana @ Bowling Green. Noon, ESPNU.

Miami (OH) @ Michigan. 3:30p, Big Ten Network.

Illinois @ Washington. 4:00p, Fox.

Minnesota @ TCU. 4:00p, FS1.

Penn State @ Rutgers. 8:00p, Big Ten Network.

The first Big Ten game of the season is an East Division matchup of unbeaten teams. Penn State and Rutgers have played 24 times (including every year from 1982-1995) and Rutgers has won twice, in 1918 and 1988.

Michigan State: no game.



Iowa State @ Iowa. 3:30p, ESPN.

Purdue @ Notre Dame. 7:30p, NBC.

Western Illinois @ Northwestern. Noon, ESPN News.

Nebraska @ Fresno State. 9:30p, CBS Sports Network.

Wisconsin: no game.



Ohio @ Marshall. Noon, CBS Sports Network.


Texas vs. UCLA in Arlington. 8:00p, Fox.

Tennessee @ Oklahoma. 8:00p, ABC.

The Spread, Week Three: Perspective

We lost a football game.

Here are some other things that happened in the past week:

The NCAA lifted Penn State’s scholarship sanctions and bowl ban. You might remember that these things were part of a massive package of punishments for covering up (or failing to properly investigate) serial child sexual abuser and former PSU defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Most of the complaints about the harsh sanctions were centered around unfairly punishing people who weren’t Jerry Sandusky (or the people who failed to bring him to justice earlier.) Keep in mind that it is entirely impossible to punish a school without punishing people who had nothing to do with the thing being punished.

Now, former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden thinks Paterno’s vacated wins should be reinstated as well, because after all, it wasn’t JoePa doing unspeakable things to innocent children. This, of course, misses the point of the sanctions altogether, which was to jolt PSU and its community into rethinking the value they place on football over other things (not destroying children, for example.) Oh, and by the way, Bowden wouldn’t mind his wins back too, since you’re already over there.

As if that wasn’t enough, a large amount of Penn State students also would apparently like the Paterno statue back–although its removal was completely an institutional decision. It’s also worth noting that since the sanctions were imposed, PSU has managed to attract two pretty darn good coaches to what was supposed to be a smoldering crater of a football program.

So much for re-evaluating priorities.

Elsewhere, Rutgers decided to remove Ray Rice’s image from its stadium. You might think that this is related to the disgusting video of Rice knocking out his then-girlfriend in an elevator, but Rutgers says it’s just part of a routine weekly update of exhibits that are intended for current NFL players, which Ray Rice currently is not. (One has to wonder if they would add Rice back in should some team be dumb enough to pick him up in the future.)

The most amazing thing about this story is that Rice still had a job to lose after the initial video of the incident surfaced earlier this year–that version only showing the former Ravens RB dragging the unconscious woman out of the elevator. Somehow, that only warranted a two-game suspension. And spare me the defense of Goodell just following the rules, because my problem is with the fact that could ever become “the rules” in the first place.

On a lighter note, Eric Dickerson went ballistic on his alma mater, ranting about the current state of SMU football and longing for the dominant teams of his day, completely ignoring the fact that it was his and his teammates’ actions back then that crippled the program in the first place. Not to mention the fact that if it hadn’t been for the illicit wads of cash, none of those dominant players would have even gone to SMU. Oh, and Dickerson also mentioned that he and other former players decided that if “they” (read: SMU) didn’t want to “do anything” (read: win football games) then they should “kill the program.” Because winning is the only thing that matters, right?

So there’s three examples of the power of football in our society (what, you thought I wasn’t going anywhere with this?) The desire to win can lead people to openly break rules designed to achieve fairness, to set rules that devalue an entire group of human beings that isn’t even represented in the process, and to turn a blind eye to the most subhuman behavior imaginable.

You may think that Mark Emmert is a bumbling fool or that the NCAA is an antiquated, broken institution. You may think that vacating wins is a pointless punishment or that the so-called “Death Penalty” is too harsh of one. But these things are exactly what they were trying to fight with that monumental penalty against PSU. They saw a sports culture that had spiraled out of control and tried to take a stand against it.

But they failed. Lifting Penn State’s sanctions is essentially an admission of defeat. Has anything changed?

We lost a football game.

Leap Of Faith

This might seem like an odd place to talk about this, as it has nothing to do with Ohio State or the Big Ten or Brady Hoke’s waistline. This is way more important than those things. This is about kids–young athletes who just want a chance to make it in college football, an entity that has become an enormous star-making, money-printing machine powered by the passion of students, alumni, and fans.

This is about terrible people who exploit that passion, who take advantage of those kids, who make a mockery of the sport we love.

First and foremost, read this: Are There Two Fake Schools Operating On The Periphery of CFB? This was posted by reddit user /u/Honestly_ to /r/cfb on Friday. Many of you have probably seen it, but for those of you who haven’t, please go read it. You don’t have to read all the comments, but read through Honestly’s write-up and check out the links he provides. This is crazy, shocking stuff.

It’s important right now, because ESPN posted a story the same day about a new NCAA defensive record set by D-II Tusculum College. The school they set that record against is the College of Faith, one of the two schools Honestly investigated. Do we want the record books rewritten against programs that aren’t connected to legitimate institutes of higher learning?

While Honestly raises the possibility that the “student” athletes may be complicit in this (possibly getting paid since they wouldn’t be subject to any regulation,) I’m more inclined to think that’s not the case. The schools seem set up specifically to target the unsuspecting and naive, using religion as a hook in the way politicians and televangelists often do. The admissions requirements are non-existent. There are nonrefundable fees and “tuition deposits.” There are charges for adding and dropping courses. One the schedules implies that three of the games will be televised by ESPN, but this is pretty obviously a lie.

Davidson College played College of Faith on August 30th. The shutout victory was Davidson’s first win since November of 2012 and their first by more than eight points since September of 2011. Davidson plays in the Division I-FCS Pioneer League, the same conference that houses the University of Dayton’s football program. While it’s unlikely that an FBS school would schedule a game with one of these “colleges,” it’s concerning that they have managed to get on the field with a Div-I program, even one that’s not very good.

While I personally think these organizations should be thoroughly investigated and immediately shut down, I understand that’s probably unlikely. At the very least, I hope this serves as a cautionary tale for young athletes looking for an opportunity to show their stuff at the next level.



(9/6) Virginia Tech @ Ohio State. 8:00p, ESPN.

We didn’t learn a lot from either team’s opening game, but it’s worth noting that the offenses had nearly identical performances. Both teams were breaking in new QBs, and each one threw 2 TDs and 1 pick with yardage in the mid-200s. Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer threw the ball twice as much as J.T. Barrett with a similar completion rate, but that only amounted to 25 more yards of offense. Both teams also rushed about 40 times for around 200 yards.

Defensively, who knows? You don’t learn much about your defense from playing Navy, and I can’t imagine you get a good feel for it by playing William & Mary either. This is going to be an enormous game for both teams. I know we’re the comfortable favorite, but I’m not taking anything for granted.


Middle Tennessee @ Minnesota. 3:30p, Big Ten Network.

Howard @ Rutgers. Noon, Big Ten Network.

Michigan State @ Oregon. 6:30p, Fox.

Well, Wisconsin couldn’t hold against LSU after losing the rock-toting services of Melvin Gordon, so the Big Ten turns to returning conference champ Michigan State and this massive matchup, easily the best game in the country this week. Sparty plays the type of defense that gives Oregon fits, but the Ducks are as unrelenting on offense as ever.

Akron @ Penn State. Noon, ABC/ESPN2.

Michigan @ Notre Dame. 7:30p, NBC.

It’s the last time this game will be played for a long time, maybe forever. Despite large amounts of hatred for both teams, this is still usually a fun game to watch. Not that I’ll be watching most of it, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on.

Western Kentucky @ Illinois. Noon, Big Ten Network.

Maryland @ South Florida. 3:30p, CBS Sports Network.

South Alabama @ Kent State. 2:00p, ESPN3 (online).

Indiana: no game.
Cincinnati: no game.



Ball State @ Iowa. 3:30, ESPN2.

Central Michigan @ Purdue. Noon, ESPN News.

Northern Illinois @ Northwestern. 3:30p, Big Ten Network.

McNeese State @ Nebraska. Noon, ESPNU.

Western Illinois @ Wisconsin. Noon, Big Ten Network.



Missouri @ Toledo. Noon, ESPN.

Ohio @ Kentucky. 3:30p, ESPNU.

Eastern Kentucky @ Miami (Ohio). 3:30p, ESPN3 (online).

VMI @ Bowling Green. 3:30p, ESPN3 (online).



USC @ Stanford. 3:30p, ESPN.

Literally the only non-Big Ten game worth watching this week.

The Spread, Week Two: Jumping to Conclusions

Look, I’m as excited as anybody for the new playoff in college football. Yes, there will still be controversy and we’re not where we need to be yet, but it will be nice to see things settled on the field more than ever before.

But would it be possible to not talk about who’s going to make the playoff until at least October?

I made the mistake of turning on ESPNU yesterday, and almost immediately there was a lengthy segment about which four teams would make the playoff if the season ended right now. Yes, really. Actual human beings collecting paychecks for talking about sports were having a serious discussion about a hypothetical college football season that only lasts one week, long enough for most teams to play a single game and for some to play even fewer than that.

Of course these brilliant college football philosophers (I don’t remember who they all were, but Tom Luginbill was one of them) put their heads together and came up with an answer that no one saw coming: Lots of SEC teams! Despite what was by most accounts a fairly lackluster showing for the conference last weekend, ESPN still can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet SEC. I can’t imagine why.

Each of the four or five panelists included at least two SEC teams in their groups, usually mixed in with Florida State and Oregon. Luginbill (there’s a reason I remembered him) actually slotted his top three with SEC teams. I know ESPN has long since given themselves over to the almighty dollar, but would it kill them to sometimes pretend to have the slightest shred of professional integrity?

From time to time, ESPN also likes to pretend their not just a collection of desperate newspaper writers, bitter ex-athletes and -coaches, and Syracuse grads. So they come up with nonsensical new “stats” like QBR or FPI. The FPI, simply, is just a number ESPN plans to hype the crap out of in an effort to influence the playoff committee. Unsurprisingly, FPI is also remarkably kind to the SEC.

Two SEC teams (Alabama and Auburn) are currently in the FPI top four, and seven more make appearances by the time you get to #21. But don’t worry, they also went ahead and put together a conference-based version of the number and sure enough, the SEC came out on top.

Interestingly, the article touting the conference’s dominance in these rankings even points out that SEC teams didn’t play as well as people expected and that the Big Ten dropped in the rankings even though they had a “strong week.”

Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories (although we’ve seen examples of ESPN’s misleading rhetoric before) and I would never deny anyone their right to try to hype up the assets that are going to make them money. But when the hype becomes a blatant attempt to influence a selection committee, that’s something I have a problem with.


Change is the theme for the 2014 college football season, so with that in mind, I’m changing up the TV Guide structure, packaging games in groups to help you enjoy the best of the national landscape, follow all our fellow Ohio schools and conference foes, and/or scout our remaining schedule.


Ohio State @ Navy. Noon, CBS Sports Network.

This is the moment of truth. It might have been less stressful to open the season in the Shoe against an Ohio MAC or FCS opponent with Braxton’s injury casting a shadow of doubt over the season, but a road test against a tricky opponent will tell us more about our young QBs heading into a pivotal battle against Virginia Tech next week.

Note that the game is on CBS Sports Network, not regular CBS. This should be DirecTV 221, Dish 158, Time Warner 1322, U-Verse 1643 & Verizon FiOS 594. Check to make sure you get this channel now! (If anyone knows of corrections or additions to this list, leave them in the comments!)



Eastern Illinois @ Minnesota. 7:00p, Big Ten Network.

Rutgers @ Washington State. 10:00p, Fox Sports 1.


Jacksonville State @ Michigan State. 7:30p, Big Ten Network.


Penn State vs. UCF in Ireland. 8:30a, ESPN2.

Appalachian State @ Michigan. Noon, ESPN2.

It’s unlikely that we’ll see a repeat of the 2007 game, but we can dream, can’t we? Despite being a far worse team now than back then, App State does have one thing going for them: motivation. You think these kids don’t want to do the same thing their predecessors did? You think they haven’t been hearing all about how they won’t be able to? And let’s not forget: Michigan isn’t the team they were back then either.

Indiana State @ Indiana. Noon, ESPN News.

Youngstown State @ Illinois. Noon, Big Ten Network.

James Madison @ Maryland. 3:30p, Big Ten Network.

William & Mary @ Virginia Tech. 4:00p, ESPN News.

Ohio @ Kent State. 6:00p, ESPN3 (online).

Cincinnati: no game.


Northern Iowa @ Iowa. Noon, Big Ten Network.

Western Michigan @ Purdue. Noon, ESPNU.

California @ Northwestern. 3:30p, ABC/ESPN2.

Florida Atlantic @ Nebraska. 3:30p, Big Ten Network.

LSU vs. Wisconsin in Houston. 9:00p, ESPN.

This is the first chance for the Big Ten to make a big statement in 2014. Both teams had solid seasons last year, with only one blowout loss (LSU’s 21-point loss to Alabama) between them. Rumor is that the Badgers will give the athletic Tanner McEvoy the nod at QB over the more experienced (and more predictable) Joel Stave. You may remember McEvoy as a safety, the position he played most of last year after switching from wide receiver due to a wrist injury. Did I mention he’s athletic?



Howard @ Akron. 7:00p, ESPN3 (online).


Bowling Green @ Western Kentucky. 7:30p, CBS Sports Network.


Marshall @ Miami (Ohio). 3:30p, ESPN3 (online).

New Hampshire @ Toledo. 7:00p, ESPN3 (online).



Texas A&M @ South Carolina. 6:00p, SEC Network.


Alabama vs. West Virginia in Atlanta. 3:30p, ABC/ESPN2.

Clemson @ Georgia. 5:30p, ESPN.

Despite the departures of Tahj Boyd and Aaron Murray, this should still be an entertaining and competitive game. Georgia is probably the better team this year, but that’s what most people thought last year too.

Florida State vs. Oklahoma State in Arlington. 8:00p, ABC.


Miami (Florida) @ Louisville. 8:00p, ESPN.

The Spread, Week One: Into The Unknown

College football is back. Or rather, something that looks kind of like college football is here. 2014 brings us a new Big Ten–now with 14 teams, reshuffled and renamed divisions, and an air of unpredictability the conference hasn’t seen in a while, thanks in part to an abrupt change that has Buckeye fans on the edges of our seats: Braxton Miller’s season-ending injury and the as-yet-unseen impact it will have on the offense.

But things are just as uncertain on the national landscape. For the first time since 2006, the returning national champion does not hail from the SEC. The conference will have to console itself with its shiny new TV network, bolstered by ESPN’s Inception-level layers of conflict of interest.

The ACC welcomes Louisville to replace Maryland (now in the Big Ten) and hopes last year’s Seminole crystal football will be the start of a long streak of their own. Of course, there will be no more actual crystal footballs as the championship will now be decided by a four-team playoff with its own more understated trophy.

How to get into that playoff may be the biggest unknown of the upcoming season. Teams will be selected by a 13-member committee from diverse backgrounds applying vague guidelines. No one really knows what factors will end up being the most important, but suffice it to say that winning will always the best bet. And don’t think it will get any easier going forward. If we learned anything from the BCS, it’s that every season is a unique universe that produces its own unanswerable questions. What works this year might not work next year.

Buckeye fans are hoping the inverse is true: that what doesn’t work this year will work next year. Namely, Braxton Miller’s ailing shoulder. The dynamic QB has stated he’d like to return to the team in 2015–a decision that makes sense whether or not he’s able to make the jump to the NFL.

But first we have to see what this season brings. One-handed grabs, Hail Marys, crazy tip-drill interceptions–those are guaranteed. There’s sure to be a massive controversial officiating blunder or two, like the insulting end of last year’s Wisconsin/Arizona State game. Maybe we’ll get lucky and witness another did-you-see-that moment like Auburn’s “Kick Six” in the Iron Bowl.

One thing is for certain: you just never know.

2014: The (Other) B1G Coaches

This season marks the beginning of a new era for the B1G conference. There are two new member schools, a new East/West divisional structure, and of course the new College Football Playoff as a potential post-season reward. Navigating this new world are 14 coaches in various stages of their careers. We already know all about our own fearless leader, but let’s take a look at where the rest of the head honchos stand:

The Veteran

Kirk Ferentz – Iowa. I’m honestly not sure how Ferentz manages to hang on to this job, but there he is. Still. The only current B1G coach who had his job before Y2K, Cap’n Kirk has only hit 10 wins four times out of 15 seasons, and only once in the last nine.

But guess what? This year Iowa misses Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan. They play Wisconsin and Nebraska at home at the end of the season and face Northern Iowa, Ball State, Iowa State and Pittsburgh out of conference, with only the Pitt game on the road. Nine wins should be the minimum acceptable out of that bunch, and I’d guess they snag another one in there too.

Ferentz is a lock for B1G Coach of the Year, which he won in three of those four 10-win seasons, including 2002–when Jim Tressel took Ohio State to the national championship game (the award was given out before he also won that game.)

The Newbie

James Franklin – Penn State. Franklin is in an unusual position for first-year coach. Even though he still has to deal with the fallout of NCAA sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, he is unlikely to get any of the forgiveness that coaches typically get in these cases. That’s because his predecessor Bill O’Brien managed a 15-9 record in the first two years under the harsh punishment. If Franklin can’t at least match that performance, fans will grow impatient.

Right or wrong, Franklin needs to finish above .500 right out of the gate to stay off the hot seat. Fortunately for him, he was able to that for two of his three years at Vanderbilt, and went 6-7 in his first year, which tripled the win total from the previous year.

The Safe Zone: Coaches Who Aren’t Going Anywhere Unless They Want To

Mark Dantonio – Michigan State. It’s impossible to overstate what Mark Dantonio has achieved for the Spartans. Besides being the most recent conference and Rose Bowl champion, he has won 69% of his games, including five out of seven against in-state rivals Michigan (the two losses coming by a total of six points.)

Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern. Following the shocking death of Randy Walker, Fitzgerald was named the new Wildcat head coach. He had no previous head coaching experience, having served as linebackers coach for five years at Northwestern, and for three years before that at Maryland, Colorado and Idaho.

Yet he has become perhaps the most accomplished coach in the program’s history, making five consecutive bowl games and delivering the first post-season win since the 1949 Rose Bowl. He also turned in the school’s second 10-win season in history–the first came when he was suited up at linebacker.

Bo Pelini – Nebraska. I probably could have just as easily put Pelini in the Hot Seat section, since Cornhusker fans are consistently disappointed in how their season turns out. That’s probably because Pelini has consistently lost four games a year since become head coach in 2008.

Exactly four games. Every single year.

I can see how that would get maddening, but it also means he wins nine or ten a year, and it’s tough to argue that he should be let go for that. No, it’s far more likely that Pelini will be let go for choking an official to death and then using the corpse to beat his kicker for missing an extra point.

The Hot Seat: Coaches Who Need To Get Something Done Or Get Packing

Kevin Wilson – Indiana. Indiana doesn’t ask for much from their football program. Get to a bowl game on a regular basis like Bill Mallory did in the late-80s/early-90s, and you won’t hear too many complaints from the Hoosier faithful. But that doesn’t mean IU has a long leash. Bill Lynch only got four years, sputtering for three after reaching the Insight Bowl in 2007. Gerry DiNardo got axed after three years and eight wins. While Wilson’s teams have shown some promise, he needs to make the post-season in 2014 or it’s curtains.

Brady Hoke – Michigan. You probably won’t see the coaches of Michigan and Indiana grouped together too often, but unlike Wilson, Hoke has actually been regressing each season with the Wolverines, to the point that most people now credit his stellar first season more to Rich Rodriguez than to Hoke himself. Yeah, I know.

As if atoning for all of his own failures wasn’t enough, Hoke must try to make up for Lloyd Carr’s infamous loss to Appalachian State in 2007. If the unthinkable happens again, Hoke might not make it to this year’s edition of The Game.

Up-and-Comers: Coaches Showing Promise

Jerry Kill – Minnesota. No, Kill hasn’t posted a stellar record in his first three years as Top Gopher. Yes, his multiple kidney cancer induced sideline seizures have been terrifying and lead many (myself included) to wonder if this is the best job for him. But the most important thing about Coach Kill is that his teams are steadily improving, making him more likely to become the next Glen Mason (or better) rather than the next Tim Brewster.

Randy Edsall – Maryland. Having guided the Connecticut Huskies from I-AA to perennial bowl team over the course of 12 years, Edsall was brought in to take over the Terrapins program after the severely mishandled firing of Ralph Friedgen.* While they may not be quite where Maryland fans would like to see them, Edsall’s teams have been progressing each season.

*Interesting side-note: Friedgen is now the OC at Rutgers, while his former Maryland OC James Franklin is the new head coach of Penn State. All three teams will compete in the new Big Ten East division.

Gary Andersen – Wisconsin. After just one year on the job, Andersen is the best of this bunch so far. He turned in a 9-win season last year that would have been 10 if the Arizona State game had been officiated competently. His Badgers didn’t get blown out in any game, with the worst loss coming in the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina–a closely contested game that ended in a 34-24 defeat.

Too Early To Tell

Kyle Flood – Rutgers. He’s won 15 games in two years with Rutgers, but the B1G (East) is not the same thing as the Big East. If he gets time to adjust, he may end up okay. How patient will Scarlet Knights’ fans be?

Tim Beckman – Illinois. While six wins in two years isn’t great, Beckman’s team improved last year and if he keeps it up, he may prevent Illinois from becoming the go-to punchline of the B1G.

Darrell Hazell – Purdue. Last year was a complete disaster for Hazell. His lone win was a 6-point victory over Indiana State–a team that also went 1-11 last year. (Their lone win was against 2-9 Quincy. We better stop there.)