SjT: Wrapping up Saturday Afternoon

Live From Arizona - SjT Saturday Wrapup: Not too much can be told about this weekend with the cupcake matchups on most Big Ten team schedules (and most schedules nationwide - thanks B(C)S for removing any incentive to schedule good games!). Still, we can take away a few things ...

For Northwestern ...
- Mike Kafka is looking nice and mature as a leader
- The O-line looks good, granted it's Towson, but still, going against Wootten and company every day in Kenosha has toughened them up
- I was going to say that the defense looks in midseason form, but they slacked off a bit after the 30-0 lead

So yes, it's Towson, but nice to see the Cats rise up and perform like an upper-level Big Ten team should in September. Gotta keep that drive going for a full game, though.

As for what we've learned around the league ...
- IOWA is the Big Ten's version of Ole Miss: Lots of hype based on what they did last year but with little actual reason to expect similar results this year. You had to know they'd struggle to score TDs without Green, but you also had to think the D would do better against UNI.

- SYRACUSE is going to be a tougher game than Cats fans imagined 24 hours ago ... a new coach and new attitude can work wonders for a long dormant team and the Orange are playing with fire against a sloppy Minnesota team. Still a lot of time left for Minny to win, but NU better be ready for the dome in two weeks.

- PURDUE's offense may still have hope of scoring in bunches ... however, their defense still is hopeless (yes, there's a running competition among writers to see who can use the new coach's name the most in Boiler stories this year ... you have to find some way to make Purdue football fun again!).

- New turf at IOWA? Anyone else have grass in the league now?

- PENN STATE has the league's best combo of offensive leader in Clark and defensive leader in Lee and they're playing like it. Why aren't they the favorites again???

- OHIO STATE still needs to unleash Pryor -- they need the O more than ever this year and can't keep hampering him with play calling.

- I really like MSU's transfer QB from Oklahoma. Sparty's gonna be fine without Ringer.

- ILLINOIS is still Illinois. There's talent there, but they just don't play together, they are not well coached and they fall apart mentally. All recruiting hype and no results on the field -- call them the Notre Dame of the West. Either that or Mizzou is much, much better than the team that barely beat Northwestern with Maclin, Chase Daniels and company. Sure, maybe that's it.

- MICHIGAN is not still Michigam ... at least the Michigan of last year. They're not back to the traditional maize and blue yet, but they have the energy back and are playing better overall football (not having your heads hanging in shame/bewilderment all game helps). They're going to get a big upset win this year - could be the Irish next week, but something tells me it might be time for the Michigan/OSU rivalry to return to a contest.

- (From Thursday) INDIANA is not a very good football team.
So assuming the Badgers take care of business tonight and keep the smug smile on Bielema's face (or is that just an effect from that hot seat?), we have a 10-1 week for the league, but the loss was against the only team who really played a respectable BCS conference foe.

THE GOOD: Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern
- All four looked sharp against subpar opponents. Still, they didn't let up off the gas and with a lot of new starters for all four teams, played relatively smart and sound football with few mistakes.
THE BAD: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State
- Two escaped with a win but little dignity and the third couldn't even manage to scrounge up the W in what, given the Illini tendency to fall apart and point fingers, could be a season-defining loss.
THE LUCKY: Iowa and Minnesota
- Sloppy, ugly and lucky to win, but they'll take the W. Iowa's was worse because it was at home and many saw them as a league darkhorse (not me ... I went with the Illini ... yeah, that was smart too). Both need to do some major work before they hit league play.
THE UGLY: The glowing red zone graphic from the Big Ten Network
that looked like something out of the early era of technicolor television. This is what the hi-def age brings us? I feel irradiated ... and suddenly see what all the communist conspiracy nuts were shouting about all summer!:) The reds weren't taking over the earth, they were taking over the turf! It's all happening!!!
THE ???: Purdue
- They showed a bit more explosiveness than last year, but it was a sloppy victory still and the defense seems to have taken a step back. Still, compared to how the debut went for the new coach of their next opponent (Oregon) went on Thursday, Danny Hope will take it.
Good to see football back! The UGa-Cowpoke game isn't a masterpiece, but it is a hard-fought contest living up to billing. Given the other blowouts on the tube now, I'll take it.


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