As this is written, nobody knows yet. In the "west" Iowa has taken care of business. They went into Lincoln and downed Nebraska fair and square. This was something Michigan State couldn't do just a couple weeks ago. Of course the Hawkeyes benefited greatly from Husker QB Tommie Armstrong and his uncanny ability to throw ill-advised passes, hence interceptions. Picks galore.
One would think somewhere along the line a Nebraska coach would have taken dear Tommie aside and told him a couple things.
1) Our receivers are wearing the red uniforms. The opponent is in white. The objective is to hit the red guys between the numbers with passes -- not the other way around. And,
2) The next time you think about throwing up a lob into the wind off your back foot into double or triple coverage -- don't. A lot of things can happen, and they're all bad. Get out of bounds. Take the sack. Eat it. Whatever. But no more of that stuff --- OK? Those guys in white are already pretty good. We don't need you helping their cause.
In the "east" things are a little bit more dicey -- or maybe not. If Michigan State can take care of its own business at home against Penn State, they will meet Iowa in the Big 10 conference championship game. The Spartans are heavy favorites and will likely cruise to victory. But what if they don't?
Bigger upsets have certainly happened. No way was that rag-tag bunch of USA college kids going to beat the mighty Soviet Red Army team in Olympic hockey back in 1980. But they did. What were the odds Buster Douglas would KO iron Mike Tyson? Very long. But it happened. Remember when Mohammed Ali, at the peak of his career was defeated by Leon Spinks? LEON SPINKS??
While most consider Mich St. a "lock" over Penn St., nothing's for sure until the game clock reads zero and the Spartans have more points than the Nittany Lions. Ya never know about such things. Excuse the tired cliche, but that's why they play the games.
In an earlier Saturday contest, Michigan squares off at home against Ohio State. That should be a rock-em, sock-em affair. Two really good teams getting after each other. And between the head coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer have a long history of being winners wherever they coached in the past. As head coaches go, both these guys are still a relatively young age. The UM/OSU rivalry between them could go on for another decade -- or more. Perhaps even outdoing the infamous Schembechler/Hayes hate-a-thon era before they call it quits.
Nevertheless, obviously one team has to win and the other has to lose that game. Thing is, Mich. St. will know the result before they take the field against Penn St. But from the Spartans point of view, that game is irrelevant.
If they beat Penn St., they'll move on to face Iowa. But if they should so happen to get upset -- the UM/OSU winner will take their place in the conference championship game.
How ironic would that be? MSU beat both UM and OSU on the road and would have to sit by and watch one of them face the Hawkeyes while they waited to see what sort of "doesn't matter" bowl game they wound up in.
And the stakes are quite high. Between Iowa, Mich St., Mich, and OSU, somebody's going to emerge as Big 10 champions. Whoever that is will certainly get a spot in the Final Four national championship showdown. There can be only one from the Big 10. The SEC will get a spot, probably Bama, and the winner of the Big 12 will grab another. Okla, Okla St., and Baylor are in contention. Clemson's already #1, and if they stay clean in the ACC (who's going to beat them?), that pretty much fills up the bracket.
Sure, Notre Dame is mentioned occasionally, but their independent status might have finally come back to haunt them. Even if they wallop Stanford out west, not likely, they don't have the luxury of playing for a conference championship to further show off their talents -- because they don't belong to one. While the other big boys are slugging it out on national TV with the "Selection Committee" closely paying attention, the Irish will be sitting home getting no exposure whatsoever. Notre Dame would have to absolutely demolish the Cardinal and hope a whole lot of things fell just right with other games to sneak in. Chances? Slim to nada.
The best part of all this? My merely one year old 50 inch TV decided to quit a while back. It was under warranty. But getting the powers that be to actually honor the "protection plan" I paid for was quite another matter. Imagine Stephen King and Wes Craven teaming up to write a movie script. Throw in the bureaucracy, red tape, hoops to jump through, and incompetency typical of a governmental agency. Add a few hours in the twilight zone of an 800 number telling the same story over and over again. Let's not forget the attempted repair trips that came after waiting a few days apiece for parts that didn't work.
But finally, mercifully, and after a few trips back to the store raising hell where I bought it from in the first place -- the new TV I had been entitled to all along of equal or greater value finally arrived earlier today. I moved on up to a 55. Works great -- for now. Knock on wood.
Bring on the games.