Ouimet on the The Big Ten Race

"It's over really -- it comes down to Michigan-Ohio State." So says former staffer Mark Ouimet in his anaylsis of the Big Ten as the season builds to its climax.


If Ohio State beats Purdue this Saturday, which I believe they will, it comes down to Michigan-Ohio State. Ironic really, after all that's happened this season.

Michigan plays Northwestern this Saturday. Northweatern isjust a middle of the road Big Ten team at 6-4 (5-5?), so Michigan should beat them. They've gotten beat by Miami Ohio after all. I saw Minnesota beat them, and I saw them beat PSU. They will pose some problems for Michigan's defense here and there, with the quarterback audibling at the line of scrimmage.

So Michigan should win this Saturday, as should Ohio State -- fortunately things will work out, and it'll come down to the The Big Two once again.

Ohio State has a great defense. So it'll be hell of a game. Their offense is in middle of the pack. And we'll learn a lot this weekend about OSU, since we've played Purdue. The game is at Buckeye Stadium, so we'll see how they handle the Boilermakers.

Michigan's offense better than OSU's. And the defenses match up pretty well -- they're a little better than Michigan on run defense, and Michigan is a little better on pass defense. They give up a few less points, but Michigan scores a lot more.

It's pretty obvious that the two best teams in the Big Ten are OSU and U-M overall: offensively, defensively, and talent-wise. Michigan lost couple games they shouldn't have, but they did a good job responding. And OSU lost to a good Wisconsin team on the road.

It's tough to get through Big Ten undefeated, let alone with one loss. And by the way, can Purdue find a way to upset OSU at OSU? Purdue doesn't have much luck in Columbus ... it'll be UM-OSU I believe.

But that being said, there ARE lot of good teams in the Big Ten. Seven teams are bowl eligible, and Northwestern could be eight if they beat Illinois next week. That's not bad. And by the way the Northwestern-Illinois game could mean $.5 million to the Big Ten in terms of getting one more bowl game ... althought between 11 teams it's not that much money.

The Big Ten is definitely one of the top three conferences in the country, along with the SEC and the Big 12. Is it the best? The Bowl season will let us know. There are two good teams in OSU and Michigan ... as far as how good 3 through 8 are -- we'll find that out in bowl season. If the Big Ten goes over .500 in the bowl season then it is definitely one of the top three ... if not there will definitely be some questions.

Here is my team by team look.

Michigan State. John L. Smith did a great job regrouping those kids that Saban and Bobby Williams had recruited. Bobby Williams let it slide and lost the team ... for John L . to be 7-3 at this point is a great feat. MSU finishes with Wisconsin and PSU. Not matter what happens -- even the worst case 7-5 is a damn good season for them.

PSU is disappointing. Joe Paterno is a legend -- it's sad to see a legend lose lot of games at end of his career. I hope he waits until he has a good year to retire.

The most disappointing team so far has to be Iowa. They have a solid nucleus, so to go 3-3 in Big Ten ... they have Minnesota and Wisconsin left. Of course they beat Michigan. So I thought they'd be a little bit better than what they've shown.

Purdue. They have a good offfense, but their defense seems to take a step back in big games. Bottom line is that it is hard there to contend with U-M and OSU year in and year out ... especially defensively in the front seven. Purdue is usually good against the pass, but they struggle some against the run. They tend to beat the bottom 6-7 teams in the league, and then struggle against the top teams. Joe Tiller's kids play hard, they never give up. Tiller haa done a good job with the program, but they are one step behind U-M/OSU. Recruiting-wise, they tend to pick up kids in Texas. So, with a 5-1 Big Ten record they have a chance to beat OSU this week. Can they do it? I don't think so. They will play in a Florida bowl, which is a good season for them. The Citrus or Outback. They will have a good year recruiting too since they've had a lot of media coverage.

Minnesota.They've done a good job this season, but Tulsa, Troy State, Louisiana Layfayette, Ohio U? They are 5-2 in Big Ten, which isn't bad. They have Iowa left, on the road, and that's it. They've had a great schedule: on the road at PSU, Northwestern, Illinois, and finally Iowa. I think it's a better Minnesota team than the last couple years -- but how good will be determined by this week's game at Iowa and their bowl game. There is no doubt but that Glen Mason has improved the program there. But their quarterback is a senior so we'll see who steps in there next year ...

Bottom line: the next Two weeks will determine the Big Ten bowls. But for the Rose it's the Big Two!


People are calling for a Big Ten championship game. Some day they'll add a 12th team and do it, money will drive it. It'll happen in our lifetimes. But they are not ready yet. Besides, they don't need it this year -- there will be one team standing at the end with one conference loss.

If everyone in the league played each other ...
MSU didn't play Purdue. That would have affected things, definitely .
Michigan skipping Wisconsin and PSU wasn't as big a factor as one would have thought.
OSU skipped Illinois and Minnesota.

This week's Michigan Moment, by Mark Ouimet.
It's infortunate that we lost to Iowa and Oregon. It's unfortunate that Coach Boccher (Special Teams coach) had to go through what he had to go through. It's unfortunate that team has to be sitting with two losses right now. This team is better than a two loss team, and they've played hard all year. But they've had good fortune as well -- it's fortunate that they have found themselves back in a good position, both in the Big Ten and in the polls. And OSU-Michigan will be a hell of a game!

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