The Slate, Week 4: Here's What's Going Down in the Big Ten This Weekend

It's week four of the College Football season and the Big Ten's Out of Conference season is drawing to a close. So far, the Big Ten has show pretty well, at least in terms of over all record. The only conference team with a losing record is Minnesota (1-2), but everyone else (even Illinois!) has a winning record. If you're looking for another impressive fact, Northwestern is 3-0 and they've already played two road games. Not so bad for a quarter of the way through the season.

So in an effort to get everyone up to speed on the weekend ahead, I figured we'd run down the conference games this week and make a few snarky predictions to pass the time until the clock strikes five and you bolt from your office like a hungry cheetah after a fat kid.

The Games

Eastern Michigan at #2 Ohio State - Oh sweet merciful jeezus is this going to be ugly. Before the season the Orlando Sentinel's College Football Blog ranked Eastern Michigan 120th out of 120 Division one teams. Last season the Eagles failed to win a single game. So far this season the Eagles have failed to win a single game. They're currently on a 15 game losing streak, they're 0-3 on the season, and they're coached by former Michigan and Lloyd Carr defensivecoordinator Ron English. Basically this is just another chance for Jim Tressel to continue to mercilessly pound the Carr coaching tree back into the Earth from whence it came. You'd think by think point Tresselwould've just bored the root out with an auger. But no, he enjoys taking an axe to the last remaining parts every couple of years. This isn't even close. The line is has Eastern as a 44 point dog. Ohio State crushes Eastern in one of the few situations where the a spread like that makes sense.

Austin Peay at #11 Wisconsin - To borrow from the Big Ten Network's preview of this game:

Austin Peay (2-1) is an unlikely candidate to end those streaks as it faces a BCS conference foe for the first time. The Governors were a non-scholarship program from 1997-2005.

They were required, as a condition of their contract, to bring their own body bags to the game. John Clay will inadvertently kill some poor safety during a failed attempt to tackle him on Saturday. He'll feel bad for a moment, but then remember he didn't schedule the game. They did. That's what they get. Wisconsin rolls by 20.

Ball State at #18 Iowa- With Iowa down to three-ish running backs, this one could be a little closer than Hawkeye fans would like. You have to believe that Ferentz is going to try his hardest to shield his lone remaining real running back in Adam Robinson from any contact whatsoever. I expect to see Robinson, Freshmen Marcus Coker and De'Andre Johnson thoroughly covered in bubble wrap and shielded in a hyperberic all oxygen environmental tent at game time. Iowa eventually releases one of the running backs to play in the game and Iowa puts awy a pesky Cardinal team. However, at the end of the game as Stanzi goes for the kneel down, whatever running back that is in the game in run over by the Coors Light Silver Bullet Train, as everyone dances to the sweet sounds of the O Jay's "Love Train." The crippled back will attempt to get up but will immediately be crushed by the flaming wreckage of the International Space Station as it drops from orbit for no reason whatsoever. You'd think by now every running back that is offered a scholarship by Ferentzwould realize that accepting it basically means you're an extraneous character in one of the those "Final Destination" movies. Or for you older types, a black dude wearing a red shirt on the original Star Trek. Either way, it means you meet some form of horrific death/injury irrespective of your talents because that's what the script calls for, and dammit, it was in the fine print of your contract. 

Bowling Green at #21 Michigan - Beauford covered this. I think Michigan's defense continues to struggle, but plays better because BGSU is a spread team and that's what they practice against. Jonas Mouton improves marginally and Obi Ezeh looks a little better as well. But it's still going to be uncomfortable. At least the weather should be nice.

Temple at #23 Penn State- Ooooh, the trendy upset special. Let's be clear, the Fightin' Cosbies will not win this game. But they're going to scare the everliving ---t out of the Nittnay Lions. The scary thing about this match up is that Temple, TEMPLE, seems to have the better adjusted offense. With a productive running game churning out 140 yards a game, the Lions' front 7 are going to be busy trying to stop Bernard Pierce, who's averaging 5.4 yards per carry and just under 100 yards a game. Despite the peril, I think this is the game where Penn State finally gets its running game going. Evan Royster breaks out of whatever funk he's been in and rolls for 150. And Penn State will need every yard. Temple picks Robert Bolden twice, and despite getting out-gained by Penn State, hangs in until the fourth quarter. Penn State wins by 10. If not... oh boy... it'll be the first time since Truman... no wait... FDR was president that the Owls beat Penn State.

Northern Colorado at #25 Michigan State- FCSschool. Emotional game for the players because their coach is in the hospital with a heart attack. MSU flexes its powerful running game. Spartans by 30.

Central Michigan at Northwestern- The 'Cats are 3-0 and they've already been on the road twice. Northwestern always finds a way to drop a non-conference game it shouldn't, but this may very well be the year that they break through and start the season 4-0. If you've been listening to Maize Pants(which you should be) you'll know that we have a fairly significant man crush on this team. They are dangerous. Very, very dangerous. Kind of like an M80 in the hands of a six year old. And that's what this team is. They're powerful enough to blow someone's hand off but not quite powerful enough to knock over a building. But they're handled by a guy that's young enough not to give a ---t what happens. Central will put up a game fight at first, but they're really just a bullfrog in the sights of a kid with too many fireworks. Northwestern by 10.

Toledo at Purdue - This may actually be a surprisingly entertaining game. Purdue struggled to put away Ball State, and now face a Toledo team that actually looks on paper to be better defensively than Purdue does. Well, that's crap, there's no way Toledo's a better defensive team. But they're probably getting close. The key, of course, will be the dread pirate Robert Marve. Marve has completely underwhelmed this season despite coming in with a Tyson Fight's worth of hype, and basically the same results. Marve's calls to fame so far this season are interceptions, bad running decisions, and a pointless flip into the endzone against Notre Dame. I'd say that this is the game Marve gets on track, but I'd be lying. Marve will have another one of those 9-15, 1 TD, 1 INT, "what the hell is he doing that for?" kind of day. The defense will crush Toledo's anemic offense. And Purdue creeps away with a single digit win.

Akron at Indiana- I'm actually going to watch this game very intently. Indiana faces Michigan next week and the Hoosiers are putting up XBox numbers two games into their season. As everyone expected, the defense is struggling but the offense is doing what it should, crush crappy defenses. Ben Chappellhas thrown for almost 550 yards  so far this season and Indiana's passing attack is ranked 20th in the nation. But there's a reason for that. Indiana's first two opponents have been FCS Towson (which lost 43-7 to Villanova last week) and FBS Western Kentucky (whose last win of any kind was September 20, 2008). Akron's not much better this year at 0-3, but at least they've been respectable in the MAC over the last few years (not last year, tho). Indiana is definitely feasting on the cupcakes, but it will be interesting to see whether their guady numbers are more the result of their potent offense or their sugary scheduling diet.

Northern Illinois at Minnesota- The naysayers are already predicting that this game will determine whether Tim Brewster survives the end of the weekend let a lone the end of the season. Personally, I don't think it matters. Brewster is beyond fired by the end of the season, and I suspect he'll be canned within a day of the season ending. Howeva, I think Minnesota pulls this one out and gives it's fans cruel, cruel misguided hope that he might be able to salvage something this season. He won't. But at least he'll FIGHT. TRY. WIN. RESUME. TREMENDOUS. I'm sure he'll claim that he won three Superbowls with the Gophers. It's just how he rolls.

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