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Big Ten v MAC
September 26, 2010 - Al Stephenson
There were no fewer than 8 games yesterday matching Big Ten teams against Mid American Conference opponents. The question can be raised as to whether or not the Big Ten teams are loading up on "cupcakes" when scheduling these opponents. Are the MAC teams willing to take a shellacking for the big financial payout? Is it truly a matter of whipping up on the little guys?
I think the answers to these questions are yes, yes and not so fast my friend!
In many cases, scheduling a MAC opponent is the chance for a Big Ten team to soften its schedule and add an easy win to its record. The MAC teams will get a good chunk of change for the "scrimmage" and presumably be better prepared for conference play after taking on one of the big boys. However, taking a whipping does not always happen.
The MAC has some pretty good teams and have provided quarterbacks for the NFL in healthy numbers in recent seasons. If you don't believe that, just check out the Pittsburgh Steelers roster. Sometimes you get the cupcake and sometimes you get the whole cake!
Yesterday's action proves my point. There were some clear mismatches. Iowa handled Ball State 45-0. Michigan trounced Bowling Green by a 65-21 count, though both Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier, the Wolverines top two quarterbacks, injured knees in the rout.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Ohio State's 73-20 drubbing of Eastern Michigan. The lopsided win was expected, the number of points Jim Tressel allowed his charges to put on the board was not. Ever the exemplar of good sportsmanship, Tressel has been criticized by some OSU fans for not scoring enough against some opponents to impress voters. No one can harp on that fact after yesterday. OSU had a cupcake and they let them have it.
Another three games were tightly contested as Penn State narrowly edged Temple by a 22-13 score in a game that Temple led much of the way. Northwestern held off Central Michigan 30-25 and Indiana beat Akron 35-20. You wouldn't refer to these opponents as cupcakes.
Two Big Ten teams went down to defeat at the hands of MAC foes as Toledo defeated Purdue 31-20 and Northern Illinois beat Minnesota 34-23. These games may not rival Appalachian State going into the Big House to slap down Michigan, but they are upsets nonetheless.
The view from my seat suggests that in any given year scheduling a MAC team is risky at best for a Big Ten school. It would appear that Wisconsin chose not to take that risk as they chose to give Hostess a call.
The Badgers rumbled to a 70-3 trouncing of (not quite a powerhouse) Austin Peay. Can you say cupcake?
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