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Big Ten Review: At Least We're Not Iowa

After their loss this to Wisconsin at home this weekend, it  can feel like the whole world is bringing the Hawkeyes down.
After their loss this to Wisconsin at home this weekend, it can feel like the whole world is bringing the Hawkeyes down.

After the guys from the Daily Gopher stopped by last week to give their two cents about how the Nittany Lions' trip to Southern Canada would go, a popular sentiment emerged: at least we're not Minnesota. The argument was more or less "be thankful that Penn State fans get to support a team that has a strong football tradition and routinely competes for the Big Ten championship."

That argument didn't make any sense to me at the time and still doesn't. Case in point, Iowa. The Hawkeyes suffered their second loss of the season on Saturday, ending hopes for anything more than a share of the Big Ten title and officially closing the door on their preseason hopes to have one of the best seasons in school history. The kids over at BHGP expressed their frustration in the crazy and hilarious way of breaking the internets that is their signature.

For my money, it's way easier to be a Minnesota fan today than it is to be an Iowa fan. As we well know, Iowa fans have a bad taste in their mouth that probably won't go away even if they win out the rest of the way. Great expectations lead to great disappointments. Meanwhile, fans of Goldy have probably been ice-fishing without a care in the world since Saturday afternoon.

Same deal, different sport: Being a Penn State hoops fan is a lot easier than being an Indiana hoops fan, because I never expect the Nittany Lions to do anything special. If they do: bonus. Bob Dylan said it best: if you ain't got nothin, you got nothing to lose. And Iowa had something to lose this year. We do every year. Minnesota almost never does.

Other thoughts from last weekend:

Michigan State's backdoor cover was the greatest gambling moment of the year in the Big Ten thus far. It was one thing for Sparty to come from 17 back to beat Northwestern, but it was an entirely other thing for Sparty to cover the six point line. After scoring with two minutes remaining to go up by one, MSU only had to force a stop from Northwestern to win. They did, but there was enough time left on the clock-and Northwestern had enough timeouts-that MSU also had to get a first down to avoid giving the ball back to Northwestern. On the way to the first down, Edwin Baker just kept on going to score a 25-yard touchdown with 1:07 remaining. It would have been better for MSU if he would have just fallen down--they could have kneeled once or twice and won, rather than kicking to Northwestern who could have miraculously tied with a td and two-point conversion in the last minute--but much worse for those who bet on them to cover the line.  

Speaking of Michigan State, their coaches give the best on-field interviews in the business. I laughed when Mark Dantonio said with a special intensity that the name for the fake punt he called in Sparty's come from behind win against Northwestern was "mousetrap" because "we had to get ‘em to take the cheese." I also laughed because it reminded me of arguably the most hilarious on-field interview in Big Ten history. Cue John L. Smith:


"Power" Rankings are weak if they just mirror actual rankings. Adam Rittenberg put out his weekly "power rankings" column on Monday morning. And surprise, surprise, he has the Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa as the top four teams in that order. Really? Those are the four best teams? I could have just looked at the actual conference standings to figure that out. Power rankings might have a place in the NFL, where teams only play 13 of their 31 possible opponents. But in the Big Ten where every team pretty much plays everyone else, there's no need for them, particularly once the conference season has begun in earnest. I suppose I could just not read them, but welcome to the interwebs, where everyone else is an idiot.