I'll be the first to admit it--I did not expect this. With Illinois dusting Baylor in Texas and Iowa shocking Missouri, the Big Ten seems out to prove the haters wrong. I'm doing fairly well in my pick-ems so far (2nd in both leagues), but I did not see either of those results coming.
Missouri had the game after a slow start--they took control after getting down early and looked like the team everyone thought they were coming into the game. But an awful pass by Blaine Gabbert and a spectacular play thereafter by Micah Hyde changed the complexion of the game. Iowa, a team known for giving up the big play in the waning moments of the game, was the team making the big play.
Illinois, a team known for playing down to their competition this year, not only got up, but blew their opponent out of the stadium with solid offensive line play and a terrific game by redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase.
This was not what we saw during Big Ten season.
So now, it has me rethinking my picks a little bit. Is Northwestern as much of a lock to lose to Texas Tech? Will JoePa's team beat a more talented Florida squad? Can Ohio State put the scandal behind them to take down Arkansas? Before, I had the Big Ten losing most of these games, but after two of my more confident picks being wrong, here are my revised Big Ten predictions for their two New Year's Day games:
Sat. Jan 1: TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern OVER Texas Tech
Maybe I just thought the Dan Persa injury was too big a problem before. But I was probably also discounting the Wildcats a little too much as well. Texas Tech is a mess defensively, especially in the passing game, so even an average quarterback could have a good day. Not only that, but Tech's defensive coordinator left the program. So, it's safe to say, Texas Tech is limping into this game. Although, Northwestern still hasn't won a bowl game since 1949...
Sat. Jan 1: Outback Bowl: Florida OVER Penn State
I'm sticking to my original prediction here, as I feel like Florida is a better team up and down than Penn State. Yes, Urban Meyer is leaving, and that is a bit of a distraction, but JoePa isn't exactly helping himself out with all his quotes lately either. He's made NOT retiring an even bigger story than Urb ACTUALLY retiring (for now, anyway). While this game might be closer than I initially thought, I still think the Gators pull it out.