Last Saturday was full of fascinating Big Ten contests: Michigan fought nobly (if unsuccessfully) to ward off a Michigan State team in the mood for payback; Wisconsin showed up for the first time in a few weeks, at the Illini’s expense; Minnesota continued its mastery of weak teams getting weaker, while Purdue continued to be a model of one; and Indiana and Northwestern exchanged personal fouls and miscues until somebody decided not to lose.

Then, of course, came the nightcap between Penn State and Ohio State: Amid 60 minutes of hard hits and gritty defense, the matchup that will likely determine the Big Ten title came down to a forgotten backup quarterback versus a highly acclaimed freshman quarterback, and the erstwhile benchwarmer scored the winning TD for the Nittany Lions. (Admittedly, a few other guys were on the field too, but for the purposes of dramatic reenactment, this’ll work.) Both sides played crisp, smart, and tough football, and the outcome was literally up in the air until a Penn State interception in the final seconds.

It was almost enough to keep my mind off politics for a few hours.

This week Big Ten fans get to follow up all the thrills with … a showdown between 2-6 Michigan and 2-6 Purdue.

To be honest, though, if you’re a fellow fanatic, you’ll agree that even that one could be fun. (I mean, one of them’s got to complete a pass or two for forward yardage, right? Or at least allow some?) And who knows—maybe the Badgers will make it interesting and play two games in a row. And the Hoosiers might fill their stadium for their much-anticipated showdown with the Central Michigan Chippewas. And, in a recap of what’s been happening on the campaign trail for more than a year, Illinois might overtake Iowa. Perhaps erratic, injury-riddled Northwestern won’t join the ranks of Minnesota pushovers.

And maybe we’ll all be celebrating the barrier-shattering triumph of president-elect Cynthia McKinney in the next few days.

Roll call: 

  • The Hawkeyes blind the Illini.
  • The Gophers gourmandize the Wildcats.
  • The Hoosiers ripsaw the Chippewas.
  • The Wolverines haymaker the Boilermakers.
  • The Spartans dishearten the Badgers.


In South Bend:

  • The Irish depant the Panthers.


Last week: 4-2

Season: 34-14