Remember in the preseason when the Univ of Mich was ranked about #8? To no great surprise, they got blown off the field by Alabama at a neutral site in their opening game. Then they were lucky to survive not so mighty Air Force the week after when they returned home. Sure, they just walloped UMass, but beating a patsy is hardly anything to crow about.
Michigan State was ranked somewhere around #13-14, and many, especially the local scribes, thought not only were they under ranked, but they would surely be on their way to national prominence after they had dispatched Notre Dame. After all, it was a home game for MSU and what could go wrong? It turns out, plenty. Notre Dame swaggered into East Lansing and put a thorough, methodical beat-down on the Spartans. The final score, 20-3, was very indicative of the game. So much for national prominence. Poof. All gone.
Wisconsin, recently another perennial Big 10 football "powerhouse", narrowly escaped being beaten at home by Utah State. If not for the grace of a last second very makeable field goal attempt sailing just wide of the uprights, the Aggies would have unceremoniously dumped the Badgers in their own back yard. Utah State? They were that close? Really?
Ohio State barely squeaked by California 35-28 at home, but new head coach Urban Meyer is just starting off with a new program that had basically imploded not long ago. Give him a couple years to get all his ducks in a row, and they'll be back. For any that would doubt that, check out Meyer's track record at other schools. Where he goes -- they get really good, quickly. But they're not ready for prime time just yet this year.
After the whole Sandusky debacle, and a slew of starters defecting in it's wake, Penn State had a rough way to go. They got embarrassed at home by Ohio U in their opener, then lost a tough one on the road at Virgina. In years past, they would have rolled through such games. Finally, mercifully, they got a win against Navy. Yet with all due respect to the future ensigns, there's a reason why high profile programs want Navy on their schedule. Something about how the final score usually turns out. As in the midshipmen getting torpedoed and sinking faster than the Titanic into Davy Jones locker on the gridiron.
Yours truly is no fan of Notre Dame, to say the least, but after demolishing Michigan State on the road, they go home to welcome Michigan next week. In my opinion, the Wolverines are a one horse show. Quarterback Denard Robinson is a phenomenal athlete, and can do a lot of things at a very high level. Certainly he has blazing speed and won't hesitate for a second to run the ball, while also possessing a powerful, though not always so accurate, throwing arm. But Michigan State, which has beat Michigan 4 times in a row, has demonstrated the blueprint for negating Robinson. When that happens -- Michigan goes down. Don't think head coach Brian Kelly of Notre Dame hasn't noticed. He's got a pretty decent track record himself.
So the Fighting Irish just trashed the Spartans. I suspect they will do the same to the Wolverines.
And you know what? In the whole scheme of things, it just doesn't matter.
The Big 10, or 12, or whatever they are these days, can huff and puff all they want, and realign into divisions called Legends, Leaders, and while that's all very quaint, it's nothing more than a smoke screen for the obvious.
They've become a second-tier conference in the world of big time college football. Yes, they'll likely wind up sending 5-6-7 teams to Bowl games, but good grief, there's more bowl games these days than there are letters in the alphabet, with a few more in the planning stages. Nothing like overkill of mediocrity.
At the highest levels, the SEC (Southeastern Conference) has absolutely ruled college football with an iron fist for the last several years, including the national championships. For whatever reasons, they've just been far above everybody else in the nation. While other teams and conferences may boast about having recruited any number of 4 and 5 star prep football players, the guys that can really PLAY, the difference makers, seem to find their way into the SEC. Therein lies a shot at being a national champion. Success breeds even more success.
At that, the field narrows quickly. Arkansas was ranked #10 going into the season. The Crimson Tide of Alabama just rolled into Fayetteville and made bacon out of the Razorbacks to the tune of 52-0. That's not only very impressive, but sends a rather intimidating message to all future opponents.
Sure, the west coast features USC with their hot-shot QB Matt Barkley, receivers supposedly ready to go pro, and seemingly a whole team consisting of outstanding athletes. In some polls, they were a preseason #1 pick. But they just lost to Stanford 21-14. Oops. Does that mean Oregon is now a contender? Please. The Ducks seem to serve as mere decoys until hunting season opens for real, but they usually get blasted out of the water.
Throw in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State, and probably a few more I overlooked, and what do you have?
A whole bunch of teams that can likely beat anybody in the Big 10, home or away, whenever the occasion arises.
That "little brother" and "little sister" thing the Univ of Mich and Mich State have crowed back and forth about? Perhaps they should take a step back and look around at the bigger picture. Most around the country think of them collectively in much the same way. Bratty little kids that are tolerated from afar, but once under the same roof, need to be spanked and put in their places.
And so it has been for the last few years with Big 10 football. Despite all the whining and crying (pomp and hype), when the feast has been served, they've been relegated to seats at the kiddie tables. And that is exactly where they've belonged. The "big" people don't wish to be bothered with their nonsense while they're trying to enjoy a sumptuous meal.
Perhaps in the near future that will hopefully change, but it's not going to happen this year.
At present, like it or not, whatever meat (team) is on the menu (schedule) doesn't matter either. Defending champion Alabama remains a lot like Edward Scissorhands. With blinding speed, it's chop chop, snip snip, from every which way.
Barring a ridiculous rash of injuries, your truly just can't see anybody stopping them from a repeat.