Big Ten Has Three National Title Contenders, but None are Among the Favorites

Lots of college basketball pundits have deemed the Big Ten the strongest conference in the nation this season, and the numbers seen to verify this. From top to bottom, it’s the strongest conference in the country, but it’s strongest teams aren’t among the elite of the elite nationally.

The Big Ten has three teams, #6 Michigan State, #10 Michigan and #13 Purdue that have a legitimate shot of winning it all, but none are likely to earn a #1 seed on Selection Sunday. You won’t find any of that trio among the top favorites to be crowned kings of March Madness either. In short, the Midwestern based league, headquartered in Chicago, is just not top heavy enough.

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Illini WR Mike Dudek: rare bright spot in lost season

Mike Dudek Catch

Champaign, IL- While your statistics professor might give you a decent argument disputing it, Saturday’s loss to Iowa effectively ended the season for the Fighting Illini. Sitting at 4-5, Tim Beckman’s squad needed to win two games to gain bowl eligibility; the team’s primary goal for the 2014 season.

For three quarters, it looked like the Illini might actually notch number five, but the fourth quickly reminded the 50,373 frozen fans (and the thousands of fraternity and sorority members choosing to watch the game at Joe’s and Red Lion instead) that both wins and bowl games in the Tim Beckman era of Illinois Football are not easy to come by.

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Michigan St. B1G Title Game Loss: Emotionally Devastating

Mark Dantonio

The Michigan State Spartans pulled out all the stops last night, but it jsut wasn’t enough. They out-gained the Wisconsin Badgers in yardage by a wide margin, and took advantage of some trick plays, but it still didn’t yield a W.

Like I said in my B1G Title game preview on Wednesday:

This game has that Mark Dantonio “trickeration” feel. Like they could win the game on a trick play with a cool name like “little giants” (Notre Dame) or “mouse trap” (Northwestern)

Perhaps it’s time to give the nickname “riverboat gambler” to Dantonio after his gutsy 2nd quarter to remember. (After all, he did say at NU in ’10 “I’ve always been a risk-taker.”)

A cajones call on a critical 4th-1 set up one touchdown. Another touchdown on a lateral from Keith Nichol to B.J. Cunningham. Followed by a direct snap to Sontag for a 2-pt conversion that no one saw coming.

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Michigan St. QB’s Strong Words for Bowl System, League, Michigan

kirk-cousins

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins is a very accomplished player. He re-wrote much of the Spartans record book for passing, and winning. So he has a lot of room to talk.

Tonight’s inaugural Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis was an instant classic. It featured a lot of scoring and lead changes, and came down to the wire. Unfortunately for MSU it was decided on two questionable calls that went against them, and they lost their lead in the final minutes.

We know college football is a very emotional game, and this was an extraordinarily emotional loss for State. And Cousins had some interesting things to say in postgame.

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Can Michigan State Reach the Rose Bowl? B1G Championship Game Preview

kirk-cousins

Here we go- the inaugural Big Ten Championship game- a play-in game for the Rose Bowl. Something MSU has has been playing for and focusing on for awhile.

This year in East Lansing, it’s all about “P4RB” meaning “Prepare for Rose Bowl” for the Michigan State Spartans. It’s a slogan you’ll find displayed on t-shirts within the program. It originated during a presentation during a winter meeting. The presentation was made by Running Backs Coach Mike Salem’s brother Wade.

“At the end of his talk, he brought up a slide that said P4RB, and his point was as we go through our winter workouts, spring practices, summer workouts and training camp, we’re not just going out to practice, or run around. We’re doing it to prepare for a Rose Bowl. And that perspective has really helped to galvanize and strengthen our workouts,” said MSU QB Kirk Cousins at Media Day.

“And the focus is not on the Rose Bowl, the focus is on the preparation and the process. And making sure we’re doing what we can towards the things we can control,” he continued.

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