Looking over last week’s prediction, I’m forced to quote the wisdom of Maxwell Smart: “Missed it by that much.”
As I predicted, Indiana came ready to play and I think without both its starting QB and running back being taken out with leg injuries, they would have won that game. Losing one was bad, both was catastrophic.
This softened my own agony over Purdue’s stubborn refusal to go down and stay on the mat.
I had a sense of foreboding when Coach Dantonio chose to punt on an otherwise achievable fourth down at midfield. That disastrous punt gave Purdue new life and it is interesting to speculate how the game would have gone had the Spartans scored on that drive. If the score was 28-0, would Purdue have still had the will to rally?
No one can say, but one of the few benefits of surviving scares like that is that it builds renewed resilience in a team. MSU should have done better, but the Spartans saved themselves. They earned the victory with a crucial stop, which is vital to building confidence. Indeed, I think part of the problem with BYU’s collapse in the Big House was that they had been living on the edge, relying on Hail Mary passes for their overall winning record. It can save you once, but only a fool relies on it.
Meanwhile, the Skunk Bears demolished a pathetic Maryland team that will probably go coach shopping. I watched a little of the game once again it was clear that the Shouting Harbaughs are nothing to write home about. A soaked, sloppy game that featured four turnovers and 6-0 halftime score isn’t that much to brag about, particularly over the hapless Terps (known local as the Derps).
Still, hope springs eternal in Ann Arbor that Michigan! Is! Back! and thanks to this victory, they are halfway to their goal of a sweep against the bottom of the Big Ten East (Rutgers is a home game, so they have that to look forward to as well).
Speaking of a State of Disgrace (New Jersey) the Spartans have an evening game against a Scarlet Knights this weekend, which should help keep the team focused. Last year they demolished Rutgers and hopefully with some of the injured players coming back in, MSU will be able to put together a complete game as they prepare to slay the Harbaugh dragon.
This would also be a good game to unleash Connor Cook and let him finally throw to his heart’s content.
MSU 45, Rutgers 6
MEANWHILE, AT THE TAN PANTS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD: Who would have thought that the Skunk Bears and Wildcats would both be ranked teams coming into this game? Certainly no I.
Tis no secret that I’ve sold the Wolverines short, though one must be cautious as many a Skunk Bear team has won the September National Title only to crash in burn amongst the October rains.
Northwestern has put together a surprisingly good team this year, and wins against Stanford, Duke and Minnesota demonstrate some real resiliency. The vaunted U-M defense (a reputation built on pounding cupcakes, naturally) will finally face a serious challenge.
Normally one can’t go wrong betting against the Wildcats – perhaps the most mercurial college team in the game – but here I’m forced to give them the benefit of the doubt.
It is true that Northwestern has repeatedly lost to Brady Hoke-coached teams who were clearly inferior to their current foe, but at the time the Cats were also engaged in a divisive and pointless attempt to create a players’ union. With that useless distraction behind them, Coach Fitz is now able to focus his team on righteous vengeance.
Last week the Skunk Bears had four more turnovers, and despite those gives the Derps could do nothing. I doubt Northwestern will be so generous.
This could be a game of vintage pounding Big Ten football and I have to say that Northwestern probably has more depth –particularly on the offensive side of the ball since yet another one of the Leaders and Best is facing felony charges.
I must temper my enthusiasm by acknowledging that St. Harbaugh has a solid defensive coordinator and the inmates in Ann Arbor may finally be getting their money’s worth out of their talent.
This will likely be a low-scoring slugfest (which makes the point spread outright insane) but I’ll give a narrow edge to the Wildcats: 17-14.