B1G Body Blow

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It was bad weekend for the Big Ten Conference (B1G). The conference went 8-5 but they lost convincingly in 3 of the biggest games they played and two others came down to the final drive of the game against opponents that should have been beat by a far bigger margin. All in all, things could have go worse for the conference but not by much.

B1G

The 3 high profile games the conference was a part of were Michigan St at Oregon, Michigan at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at Ohio State. Credit to the conference for scheduling these games in the first place as opposed to the SEC who had 3 teams on their schedule on Saturday from the Southland Conference.

The issue here isn’t that the B1G lost the high profile games but that they ended up losing going away. Michigan State was up on Oregon 27-18 but then Oregon ran off 28 unanswered points. Ohio State was exposed badly by Va Tech and Michigan didn’t score a point against Notre Dame in a 31-0 debacle.

Meanwhile other teams in the B1G like Nebraska and Iowa needed game winning drives with time running out to stay unbeaten. Wisconsin was only up 9-3 at the half against Western Illinois before pulling away in the second half and Purdue was manhandled by Central Michigan.

It hurt the conference because, although it is early, the odds of a B1G team making it to the 4 team playoff at the end of the year now seems highly unlikely. That could hurt recruiting, perception and financial standing in college football.

The B1G has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete with the ACC, PAC 12 and SEC. It may start with beating the teams they are suppose to beat like Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. Until they do, they will be on the outside looking in of the college football playoff.

Weekend Viewing Guide Fri. 1/3-Sun. 1/5

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

For those of you in frigid temperatures and shoveling snow just remember,  there is plenty of sports on TV this weekend to keep you warm.

Friday January 3rd

Cotton Bowl: Missouri vs Oklahoma State – 5pm FOX: Possible shootout factor here is very high. We’ll see if both teams can recover from heartbreaking season finale losses that kept them out of a major BCS payday. Mizzou still has one of the better front four’s in all of football and is worth checking out. Gus Johnson is also announcing the game which makes it even better.

Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs Clemson – 5:30pm ESPN: Two years ago Clemson gave up 70 points in this game to West Virginia. Ohio State may be able to do that to them but Clemson might be able to do it to Ohio State too.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Dallas Mavericks – 5:30pm NBA League Pass/Regional: Top teams out West square off in Dallas. Could be close late even if the Orange Bowl isn’t.

Saturday January 4th

BBVA Compass Bowl: Houston vs Vanderbilt – 10am ESPN: Vandy is good and Houston is a team that can give people fits. If Vandy doesn’t come in ready to play it could be a long day in Birmingham for the Commodores. It might also be James Franklin’s last game as the Vandy head coach.

Michigan State @ Indiana – 11am CBS: An early Big Ten road test for Sparty. Assembly Hall is one of the toughest places to play in the country regardless of how good Indiana is.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts – 1:30pm NBC: The NFL Playoffs kick off in Indy. It may not be the sexiest game on paper but Colts QB Andrew Luck is notorious for come from behind victories and Alex Smith is still looking for validation after all these years.

New York Rangers @ Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: The Leafs return to the warmer confines of Air Canada Center to take on old rivals. Rangers need to get on the good foot if they want to get into the playoff picture.

Los Angeles Clippers @ San Antonio Spurs – 5:30 NBA League Pass/Regional: It doesn’t get any easier for the Clippers as they now have to take on the ageless Spurs. This could be a Western Conference Final preview and a good game too.

New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles – 5:30pm NBC: It will be cold in Philly but not as cold as it is right now. Will that effect Drew Brees and the Saints enough to slow them down or are the Eagles the dark-horse team in the NFC to make it to the Super Bowl?

Sunday January 5th

San Diego Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals – 10am CBS: Chargers are one of the more exciting teams in the league. Bengals have been unbeatable at home lately. Turnovers could very well decide this game.  Shootout possibility factor – high.

San Diego State @ Kansas – 1:30pm CBS: One of the few battles between top 25 teams in the college basketball this weekend. It’s a tall order for SDSU to head to Lawrence and come out with a win but something they could very well pull off.

San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers – 1:30pm FOX: Yeah, it will be cold in Green Bay and only get colder as the night goes on. Good news for San Francisco is that their QB played at Nevada -Reno, their kicker played in Cleveland his entire career and their defense is still really good no matter what the weather. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t very sharp last week against the Chicago Bears but he still got the job done. Expect a heavy dose of Packers RB Eddie Lacy. Should be a very close game.

San Jose Sharks @ Chicago Blackhawks – 5pm NBCSN: Two of the top teams in the NHL go head to head. The question is which Sharks team will show up? The ones that beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 earlier this week or the ones who lost 6-3 in the rematch a few days later? The Blackhawks are the best team in the league plain and simple but the Sharks are one of the teams that could give them a run for their money.