College Football in November

Man! You gotta love college football in November! There's not another game around where every single game means so much -- and we had some good football today.

The Illini may have only been competitive for one Big Ten title in the last decade, but it sure seems as if the road to the conference championship has gone through Memorial Stadium in the last decade, and we've seen quite a
few Champaign Classics.

There's that 1994 colossal tilt between the defense of Lou Tepper and the offense of Joe Paterno that saw the Illini score three early touchdowns, but Kerry Collins leading some clutch drives late to get the big win enroute to the perfect season.

Add to that today's overtime defensive chess match between the defending champion Illini, fighting for a bowl berth, and the top-ranked Buckeyes, fighting to keep pace with Iowa and make it to Tempe.

But, of course, my favorite was the 1995 game in Champaign -- who can forget that fourth down play? The entire horse shoe of purple on its feet. The sidelines of orange on their feet. The band beating the drums for that Illini war chant and Northwestern's perfect Big Ten season hinging on one play, from one yard away. I remember peeking through my fingers as my hands were across my eyes and watching that beautiful pitch to Darnell Autry as he crossed the goal line.

Too bad they don't get bigger crowds in Champaign, as they've certainly had some dandy games in Big Ten play the last decade.
And it's probably a good thing (not just for league respect and bowl money) that OSU won, or you'd see more attention on Big Ten officials for that blown TD call early and the missed call late where the Illini receiver was clearly out of bounds before catching the pass that set up the last kick.
They didn't expand the old Shoe in Columbus enough to hold everyone for next weekend's game. What a colossal showdown that will be -- certainly the biggest game in the series from OSU fans' prspectives.

And Texas lost!!! Aside from keeping a non Big XII championship game team out of the BCS title game for a second straight season, the Longhorns' loss all but guarantees that Iowa will be in Pasadena on January 1, regardless of what happens in Columbus next week. With that, the new bowl picture...

FIESTA: Miami vs. Ohio State -- Both teams have big tests left next week
ROSE: Washington State vs. Iowa -- Could be the best game of the bowls
SUGAR: Notre Dame vs. Georgia -- LSU or SC could spoil it, though
ORANGE: Florida State vs. Oklahoma -- Not so much at stake this time
The Rest
CITRUS: Penn State vs. Florida -- Lots of firepower in this battle of powers
OUTBACK: Michigan vs. Auburn -- SEC's probation keeps better teams on sidelines
ALAMO: Wisconsin vs. Nebraska -- Could be KSU/ISU, but Wisky's fans help 'em get to San Antonio... as long as they beat Minnesota next week
SUN: Minnesota vs. Oregon -- Could be high scoring at least
MUSIC CITY: Purdue vs. Tennessee -- The Vols won't fall this far, will they?
Another wild Saturday -- and next weekend should be better with all the rivalries. Hope we can catch a disappointed Illini team and get Sweet Sioux back.

[Stephen J. Truog reports on College Football from time to time on Purple Reign - he also has his own NU oriented web site]

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