Omaha World Herald: In Big Ten West that Minnesota's a near-lock to win, Nebraska's a wild card

BleedGopher

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per Sam:

Here are the Big Ten facts so far:

* Only four teams — No. 21 Minnesota, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Michigan and No. 11 Penn State — remain undefeated after one month of play. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives OSU a 32.4% chance of winning the rest of its regular season games but, get this — the Gophers currently have a 73.9% chance of winning their division, according to the metric. Only Georgia and Alabama have better odds.

Why? The Gophers avoid the Buckeyes and Wolverines. Iowa plays both.
* Nebraska (1-3 overall and 0-1 in the league) brings up the rear, with Northwestern losing three at home to Duke, Southern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) since beating the Huskers in Ireland.


“We’ve had same recipe with three straight games,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters after the Miami loss.

The Wildcats drew the tougher crossover games — Ohio State, at Penn State and at Maryland — vs. Nebraska’s Indiana/at Rutgers/at Michigan trio.

* OSU and UM each have eight home games this season, and neither has played on the road yet. The Wolverines head to Iowa this week; the Buckeyes don’t travel until Oct. 8 at Michigan State. Michigan visits Ohio State Nov. 26 in what could be a battle between undefeated teams.

* Unless PSU — which already has road wins at Purdue and Auburn — plays spoiler. The Nittany Lions’ season will be shaped by a three-week stretch — at Michigan Oct. 15, vs. Minnesota Oct. 22 and vs. Ohio State Oct. 29. Penn State’s schedule softens considerably after that.

* Nebraska isn’t exactly a contender — ESPN’s FPI crunches predictive numbers in a way that says the Huskers have a 0.1% chance of winning the West — but it can be an intriguing wild card, especially if NU can pull off two wins over Indiana and Rutgers. A slightly confident Nebraska is an interesting spoiler for teams like Purdue, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, given the Huskers can play even at quarterback and offensive skill players with some of those teams. Should Nebraska lose the next two weeks, it could become a team that serves as a pick-me-up for its opponents, too.


Go Gophers!!
 


Schnauzer

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Iowa and Wisconsin’s problems are well documented. I agree the Gophers should be favorites at this point. It just feels like MN is too big of a favorite after just one conference game. The most common reason given (Wisconsin plays Mich and OSU) was also true when the media were overwhelmingly picking them to win the west.

I guess… stay the course, one week Purdue championship season.
 

GopherVotary

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Iowa and Wisconsin’s problems are well documented. I agree the Gophers should be favorites at this point. It just feels like MN is too big of a favorite after just one conference game. The most common reason given (Wisconsin plays Mich and OSU) was also true when the media were overwhelmingly picking them to win the west.

I guess… stay the course, one week Purdue championship season.
Wisconsin plays the Spartans, not the Wolverines.
 

mnsportsgeek

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Wisconsin plays the Spartans, not the Wolverines.
Ya and that’s why they’re gonna be around till the last week IMO. It’s the same recipe every year. Look like crap in non conference, roll into Thanksgiving with 2 losses. We roll in with 1 or 2 and the axe is for all the marbles again.
 


Schnauzer

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I have to hand it to the writers in Nebraska. They manage to feed the egos and fantasies of the Husker faithful even in a horrible year like this. Really impressive the way Nebraska was weaved into the writings in a way that somehow make them still seem relevant. Congrats to the Huskers with their "Intriguing wild card" status.
 



Otis

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All these expectations, make me uncomfortable.
Like when the Vikings are the best team in the league on paper.
 



MNVCGUY

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Ya and that’s why they’re gonna be around till the last week IMO. It’s the same recipe every year. Look like crap in non conference, roll into Thanksgiving with 2 losses. We roll in with 1 or 2 and the axe is for all the marbles again.
Their schedule isn't all that daunting between now and our game so decent chance you end up being right. That said, I have not been impressed by what I have seen from them so far. Last year their defense was amazing so their offense just had to be decent. Their defense this year has taken a massive step back from where they were last season which means their offense has to carry them more and I'm not sure it can. Allen is a really good RB but he can be contained and he can't beat teams alone. Mertz is maybe a little better than last year but their passing game doesn't scare me at all.
 




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