Penn State lost its interest in the Coaches' Poll last week, but moves up in the rankings anyway after an impressive win in the Big Ten's only 3:30 kickoff. The team does in fact look more focused on the road, and what the poll lacks in interest...
10. Michigan State (from 12)
12. Wisconsin (from 13)
16. Michigan (from 18)
19. Penn State (from 21)
22. Nebraska (from 16)
...it makes up for in irrelevance. Start printing the t-shirts:
Park Ridge, Ill. - Michigan State and Penn State collected at least a share of their respective division titles today and the Spartans also punched their ticket to Indianapolis to take part in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game.
Just when you thought we has progressively put the "Co-Big Ten" anything behind us, it rears its ugly head. You do not in fact win anything if you don't get a seat at the Big Ten Championship pre-game dinner, even if the marketing department insists otherwise.
Standings, Sagarin and Predicting the Wisconsin Game After The Jump...
Bowls. With the hot and cold reaction from sponsors, we're not yet ready to digest what the impact on bowls will be. Things seem to be approaching normalcy form a PR perspective, though. Random SBN bowl projection uses sound math and projected results to place Penn State in the Outback Bowl against Georgia -- effectively a third place finish behind Michigan State and Wisconsin. More on what I think of sound math below.
Big Ten Standings. Look how you know they look.
Penn State 6-1
Ohio State 3-4
Michigan State 6-1
The Road To Indy. Here we are, the team with control of their own championship destiny while so much affecting the program is not. Even a birth in the game would constitute a huge accomplishment after the season that's been.
Michigan State has clinched a spot in the championship but will suit up for Northwestern this week anyway. Penn State and Wisconsin will play in Madison at 3:30 on Saturday in what is probably the most interesting matchup of the season. Wisconsin was a 7-point favorite in Columbus; the transitive property says the line will be in the 17-point favorites range this week. The same exercise with Illinois spits out something closer to 14. Sagarin -- who ranks the Big Ten teams Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State -- predicts in the 11-point range.
With so much changing for Penn State in the last couple of weeks, I think the book-keepers math on this one will have to start with a fresh piece of paper. Even if they don't, the over-used word "resilient" has a natural fit with this Penn State team, who's also sporting a renewed focus and coaching staff with nothing to lose. I feel strangely positive about how this one matches up. The Post-It Campaign lives.