SjT: Finally...Football!

Aaaah, the high schools kicked off tonight in Arizona, the colleges begin next week and NFL after that. It's nice to have the pigskin back!

I'm really at a loss as to what to expect in Oxford on Thursday besides a lot of emotion.br>
I think the fans will be emotional on both sides, but as for the teams it will definitely show more with NU as these were Walker's players. As to whether that emotion will be a drain as we hit a wall of grief or fuel that causes NU to focus on one game at a time this nonconference season is yet to be seen.

As for what the game looks like on paper, throw that out the window. Big Ten teams rarely visit MAC stadiums and when they do they should always be on upset alert - heck, the MAC has shown an ability to pull those surprises on the road in recent years. I like that we at least have the people around the new QB back to give him some confidence. As for what the D will look like, we'll see, but I think Nick Roach will make a fine field general and make Coach Fitz proud.

Final score? No clue whatsoever here - but I'll hope for the best and expect victory.
On Bowls and the Big 10....

This is going to be an interesting year for the league - with the right breaks, we could have as many as 10 bowl-eligible teams with six wins (don't laugh until you look at Illinois' schedule and think what would happen if they beat Rutgers) ... but half of those teams have little or no margin of error and NU is one of them. Gotta win all the gottawins and tossups as well.

The good news is that we could be looking at a double dip in the BCS again, especially with that Iowa/OSU game early to give the loser time to recover. Plus, with Notre Dame playing four Big Ten teams, we have the chance to create an extra opening by wiping that smug grin right off Charlie and the Domers' faces in September.

I dunno if Lloyd Carr will step up and play to win vs. the Irish, but I'm starting to smell an upset in JoePa's visit to South Bend with the speed PSU has at wideout and how Paterno's teams usually play when JoePa and his coaches have a long time to prepare.
I'll try and get a Big Ten preview out this weekend if I get my class essays graded in time, but a quick look at the bowl picture.
LOCKS - OSU, Michigan, Iowa, PSU, Wisconsin ... Bucky's got a kind schedule, PSU will slip a bit but not far, and the other three are all legit Top 10 teams who will be in the thick of what should be a wild MNC race to wind up in the beautiful new stadium I can see on my drive to work that's sprung up in the Valley of the Sun since last year.

LIKELY - Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State ... None of the three are going to sneak up on the Rose Bowl race, but they could pull an upset or two ... only problem is that each could lose a game or two they should win as well and all could be sweating out a bowl bid come late November. None more than Mr. Smith in East Lansing, who better have that bowl bid locked up before November if he wants to keep his job. [The MSU guys are already running "Is Smith on the Hot Seat" stuff.]

HOPING - Northwestern, Illinois ... they gotta get all the breaks, but it's possible that the Sweet Sioux game could be for a six-win season and bowl trip for these two. Heck, given Indiana's cushy NC schedule and improvement they could even be 4-7 heading into the bucket, but the Illini get to play both NU and IU whereas the Hoosiers and Cats are off each other's schedules. Advantage Zookies ... if they can figure out how to stop NU's running game in November.
T.G.I.Footballseason!

GO CATS!!!
-SjT


Stephen J. Truog, former NU Marching Band member and now educator in Arizona, comments on the Wildcats from both the sidelines and his couch
He has his own NU oriented Web Site - Visit SjTonline

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