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Big Ten Football Preview: The Gnomes Change It Up

A delayed edition of the best gnome Big Ten recap on the internet, now with snarky predictions for this weekend's games!

The snark was delayed not by my life or the fact that talking football post THINGS was less fun, but because I wanted another excuse to use UNDEAD GNOME. Yup, that's the reason.

Illinois

Last Weekend: Nothing happened. They did not play a game in which they beat a team the gnomes are fond of. They did not wear uniforms that included barely any of the school colors. Nothing interesting happened at all. /Brewster'd

The gnomes found the following tweet funny, but also odd as Illinois was on a bye last week.

The Champaign Room also seems confused about the bye week:

I don't believe what I just saw. For the first time since Homecoming of 2011, Illinois has won a conference football game in Champaign. What do the Fighting Illini have in common with the Texas Christian Horned Frogs?

They're the only teams to beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers this season.

The gnomes are worried about their friend Mark. He is smoking something.

Gnomes Prediction: Illinois comes off it's second bye week in a row, shocks the world by beating Ohio State for Tim Beckman's first Big Ten win this season and saving his job all in one fell swoop.

Seriously though, with a pregame poster like this victory is definitely assured:

http://www.sbnation.com/admin/entries/new?community_id=153&entry_type=Article#wysiwyg

NOTE: If you are artistic and would like to do something like this for TDG, drop me a line. 'Cause this is seriously sweet and I'd be proud to work with anyone to get a similar weekly thing going here.

Indiana

Last Weekend: BYE WEEK. OTE's writers dropped Indiana to 14th in their Power Poll this week anyway. That's called losing the bye week Indiana.

Gnomes Prediction: Tevin Coleman runs for 784 yards, scores 18 touchdowns, saves a baby from a burning building, and Indiana still loses to Michigan by 3. Because that's how Indiana rolls.

The Crimson Quarry knows where the gnomes are coming from:

That said, Michigan's terribleness has been relative. Michigan is bad, particularly by their own lofty standards. But I've seen a lot of people picking Indiana to win this game and, well, you might not want to do that with any sort of confidence. Indiana has been trending downward all season and the loss of Nate Sudfeld only made things a helluva lot worse. The F/+ Ranking, which we've used a lot around here, tells the story of IU's season:

indianaf+

I don't have our F/+ ranking for our bye weeks, as I didn't write a game preview for those, but as you can see, it's been a slow downward slide until the Maryland game, when neither side of the ball seemed capable of doing anything. After that, Nate Sudfeld's shoulder imploding in the same game in which the defense absolutely collapsed, surrendering long touchdown after long touchdown to an offensively-challenged Hawkeyes squad, finally buried the Hoosiers.

Iowa

Last Weekend: BYE WEEK.

Gnomes Prediction: Just Northwestern makes Hawks fans want to sell off the prized hogs to fire Kirk.

Black Heart Gold Pants takes a look at the game:

That old uniform is looking a bit... snug, Wade. Still a pretty classic look, though. Happy Halloween to one and all!

Forget a Northwestern preview. Not topping that. Moving along.

Maryland

Last Weekend:

What did you do to offend Jobu and put up that performance against Wisconsin?

Seriously Testudo Times, WTF was that?

Wisconsin embarrassed Maryland on Saturday in Madison. Whenever you're held to 175 total yards of offense, you're not going to win many football games, especially when you allow your opponent to rack up 527 yards of offense. Wisconsin is clearly one of the better teams in the B1G (although not at the level of Michigan State and Ohio State) and is probably second to just Nebraska in the Big Ten West. They showed that with a strong offensive and defensive line, you can limit Maryland's effectiveness on both sides of the ball, much like Ohio State did a few weeks ago. But you still wonder how a Wisconsin team, one that completely dominated Maryland in all phases of the game yesterday, lost to Northwestern a few weeks ago.

Yes, the gnomes are confused too.

Michigan

Last Weekend: Did this before the game, promptly got their butts kicked:

Jeebus Michigan, you're not even making the gnomes stretch to come up with reasons to say this every week.

Brady Hoke, your thoughts on #Stakegate?

"I think I was aware that something happened, but I'm not fully aware."

FFS. I just...I think Brady just flew well past the Brewster Horizon.

Talk to us Maize n' Brew...explain this to us:

What I see, from the gif, to Hoke's initial reaction, to Hoke's statement is a desperate team trying everything it can to psyche itself up, and just like everything else, the whole thing goes off haphazardly and leaves everyone with a bad taste in their mouth.

Maybe the big problem is that Michigan as a program seems incapable of admitting that MSU irks it.
Gnomes Prediction: Michigan beats Indiana but no Michigan fan cares because they are all too busy popping champagne over the resignation of Dave Brandon.
In arguably the biggest press conference of his young presidential career, Mark Schlissel stood up and accepted the resignation of athletic director Dave Brandon on Friday.

Only 110 days into his presidency, Schlissel confirmed the rumors that were swirling around Ann Arbor for most of the morning. Michigan's embattled athletic director was out. The decision came during a discussion between Schlissel and Brandon on Wednesday.

In other news, the resignation followed the release of emails where Dave Brandon went full Glen Mason on the Michigan fanbase:
Brady Hoke, your thoughts?
/clap clap clap clap clap...
Gnomes Final Thoughts:
wtbd_09_14_MI

Michigan State

Last Weekend: Still took offense to every little thing that Michigan did, like a little brother would.

Much like the whiffle bat assaulted child, there was one valid reason to cry. But I'm still waiting for the day when the Spartans will grow up and stop acting like the world is against them in all things. The Only Colors podcast pondered the big questions related to this:

--Do we want Michigan to be good at some point? Would the success that would likely come with a Jim Harbaugh regime be worth it for the rekindled HATE?

Well, given the fact that Michigan sneezing in your direction would be considered a sign of disrespect I think the HATE and fearful loathing is already there.

Gnomes Prediction: MSU spends the bye week talking about Michigan because of course they will.

Nebraska

Last Weekend: Beat Rutgers. Goody. Talk to us Corn Nation:

What a way to welcome the newest members of the Big Ten to Lincoln.

Behind a record breaking game performance by Ameer Abdullah & a new career mark by Kenny Bell, the Nebraska Cornhuskers never trailed as they defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 42-24 in Lincoln on Saturday.

Abdullah, the SR from Alabama that had been seemingly forgotten about in the Heisman Trophy chase, notched a school record 341 All Purpose yards, breaking the previous record held by Roy Helu Jr. against Missouri back in 2010. His combination of 225 rushing yards, 90 return yards and 26 receiving yards along with 3 rushing TD's were the main cogs on offense.

Abdullah was a stud. Got it.
Gnomes Prediction: PURDUE HARBOR IS COMING.

Northwestern

Last Weekend: BYE WEEK.

Coming up? THE CORN PEOPLES OF IOWA.

Gnomes Prediction: Iowa wins while playing like crap and someone finds a way to explain why this is good news for Northwestern.

What is IInside NU thinking about the Hawkeyes?

We've already discussed how similar Iowa and Northwestern are statistically this season, but ironically, the state both programs is eerily similar. Both teams expected to contend in the Big Ten West at the beginning of the year, as they should have. It's a weak division in a weak conference, and both seemingly had the playmakers to make some noise. Instead, they've struggled to mediocre seasons. Northwestern hasn't put together good games with any consistency, and you could argue that Iowa hasn't had a single impressive win yet.

It's a strange feeling a disappointment surrounding both fan bases, but not the same kind of disappointment you would get at South Carolina or Texas A&M this year. Those fan bases know they'll be back, because their schools have shown, beyond the typical rhetoric of coaches, that they have a legitimate expectation to be nationally relevant for more years than they're not. In Columbia and College Station, it's a disappointment best described as "well damn, this season sucks." Hell, you could even say that about Michigan.

But in Iowa City and Evanston, it's a different kind of disappointment. It's "here we go again" combined with "is this what we're stuck with?" And unfortunately for both fan bases, there isn't any evidence to suggest that something is going to change the course.

Go on...

But college football is supposed to be cyclical, with a few down years and a few up years. It's supposed to be peaks and valleys, and I'd argue that's the best for fans — they can know when to be excited about 7-5 and when to be disappointed in that same record.

But at Northwestern, it doesn't appear to be cyclical. At least it hasn't since the Randy Walker era. The Wildcats had a great year in 2012, due mostly to losing to who they should lose to and also not losing to anyone terrible. But since the late 2000s, despite bringing in better talent, NU has gotten worse. Maybe luck has hit the cyclical nature of the team, since the 2007 to 2010 teams were incredibly lucky, while the 2013 team was incredibly unlucky. Maybe this is just a down year with average luck, and soon we'll see an up year with average luck, and the pattern will make more sense. Maybe NU will revert to its Walker era teams, but with better down years because of improved talent. But it appears to be more than that. The coaches talk about wanting to compete nationally, but they've yet to be innovative enough to make it happen.

The same is true in Iowa City. In 2008, fans knew to be happy with 8-4, since it was a rebuilding year, and consequently, a stellar 2009 happened. In 2006, they were skeptical of a 7-4 that should have been better, and consequently, a bad 2007 — during the true down period — happened. There were down years, but usually they came when they should have.

Now, it seems like every year is the same. Iowa has gone 7-5 or 8-4 every year except for 2012 since 2010, and the Hawkeyes don't seem likely to reverse that trend any time soon. Kirk Ferentz all but said Iowa's not going to be be a national player by saying he's never going to play meaningful non-conference games.

Go on...

In both Iowa City and Evanston, there's some mix of apathy and complacency that's far more dangerous than being cyclical. College football really isn't all that fun at either school, and subsequently, interest in the teams has naturally declined. Someone will win on Saturday, but around the country, nobody will be paying attention. And I don't have much confidence that America be watching either team in this matchup in seasons to come.

Also this...

Fitzgerald himself owns a 5-3 record over the Hawkeyes as head coach of the Wildcats. And he takes pride in continuing the rivalry his old coach started.

"We weren't competitive against Iowa for a long time," he said on Monday. "We became competitive since 1995. Before that the games were irrelevant. Now this has become a pretty darn good rivalry."

Iowa fans probably don't agree. They refuse to consider Northwestern a rival. But they have no problem returning any hate. However, the hatred between these programs has diminished a bit since both teams started struggling. The contempt heading into this week doesn't seem nearly as intense as it was in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and as both programs have become less relevant, the "rivalry" factor has cooled off.

wtbd-09-14-nw

Ohio State

Last Weekend: Almost lost to Penn State but the refs cheated.

Twice.

No8fsvp

On the very next series, following a punt, Ohio State's Jalin Marshall would be called for making a motion to fair catch despite the fact that he was just waving his teammates off from touching the punt Needless to say, both teams would be wise to not leave this one up to the officials.

And they suck at reasons.

Q: The Ohio State Interception in the first quarter, was there a problem with the two replay feeds on that?

O'Neill: The play technically was not throughly reviewed due to some technical difficulties with the equipment.

Gnomes Predictions: Lose to Illinois because why not?

I'm going to guess that Land-Grant Holy Land feels otherwise:

The talent and depth that Ohio State has over Illinois should be more than enough to lift them to their fifth straight victory. The recent win over Minnesota might put Illinois in high spirits and believing they can upend the Buckeyes in Columbus, but they'll need a perfect game on both sides of the ball if they want to succeed and against a team like Ohio State at home.

Yup.

Penn State

Last Weekend: ALL OF THE SCREWJOBS.

To the Black Shoe Diaries!

It was over when the referees called a blatant incomplete pass an interception, and handed a dominant Ohio State offense the ball with great field position. It was over when the referees decided that the play clock was 44 seconds long, and let Ohio State make a field goal they never should've been allowed to attempt. It was over when, with the defense surging and the offense moving, Christian Hackenberg threw an interception--one that actually was. It was over when Donovan Smith, the only offensive lineman on this team with any experience, came out with a possible concussion.

It was over early, and it was over often.

At least, that's what we might have thought. This is a Penn State team that all season hasn't shown the sort of toughness and determination and fight that they displayed tonight, before a whited-out Beaver Stadium packed with nearly 108,000 fans who truly, genuinely made a very real difference, causing miscommunications and false starts and forcing Buckeye timeouts. No, this game wasn't over until fourth down in the second overtime, and that's a testament to the players, to the coaching staff, and yes, to the largest crowd at a college football game this season.

It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't even that much fun, for most of the night, but it was a football game that Penn State had a chance to win, despite the sanctions, despite the officiating, despite the injuries, despite the offensive line, despite John Donovan--despite everything, and that's almost magical in and of itself. And even in a loss, it reaffirmed our pride in this team more than any other game this season has. We all expected a blowout. We got a heartbreaker. And somehow, it was worse and better all at the same time.

Moral victory? Moral victory.

Purdue

Last Weekend: BYE WEEK.

Gnomes Prediction: PURDUE HARBOR IS COMING AND THE WRECKAGE AT NEBRASKA WILL BE GLORIOUS.

Hammer and Rails does not seem to agree:

If I am Purdue, I am very concerned. This is a versatile offense with multiple weapons that are going to be difficult to stop. Minnesota only had three plays and one receiver, but they ran those three plays to perfection and racked up 39 points on us. What will Nebraska do? Purdue's only saving grace last season was three interceptions. Even then, the Boilers lost 44-7 and had their only score on the game's final meaningful play.

Pffftttttt. It's happening.

Rutgers

Last Weekend: Steamrolled by Nebraska.

On The Banks, your summary please:

Fear Ameer indeed. Mr. Abdullah proved to be as good as advertised and then some.  The Nebraska running back went off for 225 rushing yards and 3 TDs. He also added 26 receiving yards and 90 yards on kickoff returns, good for 341 all purpose yards on the day. The lightning quick Abdullah was a weapon the Knights simply could not stop.

Welcome to the Big Ten.

Gnomes Prediction: Rutgers reedems itself by embarrassing Wisconsin. Why? Because the gnomes hate Wisconsin.

Wisconsin

Last Weekend: Ooooooooooooof. That'll do.

Bucky's 5th Quarter?

It was a solid showing for the Wisconsin Badgers on both sides of the ball against the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. The Badgers came off of a bye week firing on all cylinders--both offensively and defensively. And from the opening drive, a Badgers' victory was never in question.

To the point, albeit an unlikable point. How's that hockey team though?

Gnomes Cackle With Excitement

Gnome Prediction: The hockey team continues to suck and the football team loses at Rutgers because the gnomes hate Wisconsin. /logic'd