Nebraska played the toughest schedule in the Big Ten and went 7-1. Wisconsin played a mediocre schedule (no Michigan or Northwestern) and went 4-4.
Using that information, it’s hard to believe the Big Ten championship game is a coin flip.
But look at their point differentials in conference games:
The Huskers’ one loss came by 25 points. The Badgers’ four losses came by a combined 16 points.
The Huskers blew out one team on the conference schedule (Minnesota), got blown out once (Ohio State) and won six close games. The Badgers blew out four teams, but lost every close game.
Starting with that Sept. 29 throwback showdown at Memorial Stadium, Nebraska was 4-0 in games decided by seven points or less. Wisconsin was 0-4.
It’s an incredible contrast. There are tangible reasons for those numbers, starting with Nebraska’s offensive skill players, who have the ability to make up deficits in short amounts of time. But the real difference is NU’s confidence in clutch situations.
If Wisconsin is going to win, it better do so decisively.
>> Did Jim Mora tank the game? And if so, was he right?
Saturday night on Twitter, I speculated that a small part of the UCLA coach may want to lose to Stanford. Why? A win would send the Bruins to Oregon for the Pac-12 championship. A loss would give them Stanford again. Who would you rather play?
Well, L.A. Times columnist T.J. Simers, known to ruffle a few feathers, wrote a whole column about the issue, speculating that Mora didn’t give 100 percent. But first, he went after Mora in the post-game presser. Watch this, it’s amazing.
Anyway, this morning I asked Bo Pelini about rematches, specifically the UCLA-Stanford situation. His answer shows that football coaches have the same conversations around the office that fans do.
“That’s an unusual one. It’s not ideal. I wouldn’t want to be in Jimmy Mora’s shoes. That was really odd for him knowing you could play a team two weeks in a row. His situation was a little bit different because he was already in.
“We sat around last week and talked about it, what would you do if you were in those shoes? How would you approach it? I don’t know if there’s a right way or a wrong way. At the end of the day, you want to win the Pac-12, you want to play for the next week. But everybody wants to win as many games as they can. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation. That’s a different one right there.”
On the other hand, I don’t envy Stanford this week. No football team should be asked to beat the same team in back-to-back weeks.
I wish Jim Delany would take a hard look at the Pac-12 situation and recognize that non-divisional games shouldn’t be played the final week of the season. If that means moving Ohio State-Michigan to early November, so be it. If it means putting them in the same division, that’s even better.
>> I wrote a column about Rex Burkhead‘s return at Iowa. On Monday, Jeremiah Sirles shed light on why Burkhead is so respected among his peers.
“I don’t think I’ve met a nicer person in my life. I don’t think I’ve met someone that I could trust more in my life. I know I could call Rex at any hour of the night and say, I need you,’ and he’d be like, ‘Where? What time?’ That’s just the kind of guy Rex is. I think he’d do that for absolutely anyone on our football team. … I’m sure in 10 years if I call him and say, ‘Rex, I need some help,’ he’ll say, ‘Where’ and ‘What time?’”
Sirles met Burkhead the summer before freshman year, 2009.
“We were all gonna go for a run as a freshman class down here at Memorial Stadium. He led us through the warm-ups, he led us through the workout, he led us through the whole bit. That’s when we all knew we had a special character.”
>> Creighton went to Vegas and did what Top-15 teams do — it took care of business. Its depth and offensive efficiency wore out Wisconsin and Arizona State. Neither of those teams will make much noise in their respective conferences — Wisconsin is probably the sixth-best team in the Big Ten. But the Jays needed these wins for NCAA tournament seeding.
Most impressive was Creighton’s play in the paint; it won the rebounding battle in both games. Doug McDermott played great, as expected. But what I liked most was the small lineup with McDermott and Ethan Wragge.
Wragge’s hot shooting opens the floor for McDermott to go to work inside. And opponents can’t double-team. I recognize Gregory Echenique’s importance to this team. But late in games especially, I like the McDermott-Wragge combo.
>> In case you missed Kyle Korver’s game-winning 3, here’s the video.
>> Was Saturday Chip Kelly’s last regular-season game at Oregon? Sure feels that way, John Canzano says.
>> Did Jim Tressel really ride on his former players’ shoulders Saturday? Pete Thamel documents a strange scene at the Horseshoe — and what 2013 means for Urban Meyer. Joe Posnanski writes about Meyer’s coaching performance like no one else could.
>> Speaking of Joe Poz, he lays into Lane Kiffin for that goal-line disaster against Notre Dame.
>> Last week I criticized Clay Travis for saying Notre Dame hadn’t played any good offenses. Well, Travis said on Sunday that Notre Dame would be the seventh-best team in the SEC! Pat Forde shines another light on SEC arrogance.
>> How it all unraveled on Gene Chizik.
>> A New York Times profile of Johnny Manziel’s family.
>> What would a four-team playoff look like this year? Blair Kerkhoff explores the potential chaos.
>> The Big Ten Network may be the most important channel in college sports. Ironically, says Will Leitch, it’s not that great.
>> Last thought. After watching one great rivalry game after another Saturday, it’s so clear that Nebraskans are missing one of the best parts of college football. Iowa better get its act together … or find someone else to spend Thanksgiving Day with.