Just Sayin’: The good news is, a whole lot of bad teams could win the Big Ten West

The worst division on the planet is there for the taking. Somebody take it — please.

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Purdue v Syracuse

Payne Durham and his Purdue teammates did a little too much celebrating at Syracuse.

Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Did you catch a whiff of Purdue’s 32-29 loss at Syracuse on Saturday?

It was noxious and then some.

After scoring a touchdown to take the lead with 51 seconds left, the self-approving Boilermakers taunted their way to having to kick off from their own 10-yard line; it set up Syracuse’s offense at midfield. Then, on third-and-10, the Boilers were flagged for defensive holding. Several ticks later, again on third-and-10, it was pass interference. Imploding spectacularly, the Boilers gave up an inevitable touchdown with seven seconds left, then committed multiple personal fouls before the extra point because, hey, they hadn’t yet humiliated themselves to their satisfaction.

That pretty much covers it, all of which is to say: Yes, 1-2 Purdue has a terrific shot at the Big Ten West title.

Then there’s Northwestern, which lost 31-24 to Southern Illinois. One can only assume it was the same Southern Illinois squad that had been pummeled by Incarnate Word by five touchdowns in the season opener. The Salukis? Really? Indeed, Pat Fitzgerald’s 1-2 Wildcats also are right there in the mix for the division crown.

We mustn’t forget about Nebraska, which — six days after firing coach Scott Frost — barreled out to a 7-0 lead on blue-blood Oklahoma, making Big Red fans deliriously happy. Forty-nine straight Sooners points later, Husker Nation had found a new rock bottom. And you know what that means: Now 0-3, Nebraska is in the West hunt, too.

The worst division on the planet is there for the taking.

Somebody take it. Please.

Preseason favorite Wisconsin might do it, though the Badgers haven’t completed a downfield pass since the Obama administration. Always-competitive Iowa might do it, though the Hawkeyes’ late-1800s offense makes Wisconsin look like the Dan Marino Dolphins. Minnesota actually has played darn good football, which, let’s just be honest, is highly suspicious.

Are we forgetting anybody? Ah, yes: Illinois. Can the 2-1 Illini — who were off Saturday, probably a good thing — win this clunker of a division? That’s an affirmative, friends. There isn’t a West team they can’t beat, that’s for sure. In the spirit of the weird, wooly West, they’re just bad enough to be good. 


A tip of the helmet to Notre Dame, which hung on to beat California 24-17 for its first win, and to Marcus Freeman, who finally is on the board with a “W” as a head coach.

And now back to Irish fans’ regularly scheduled complaining. …

Nebraska, in its perpetual need of a coach half as good as Tom Osborne, has communicated with Urban Meyer, according to reports. Frankly, they deserve each other. …

Three games in, Georgia’s defense — the only question mark about the defending national champs entering the season — has allowed one measly touchdown, and it was a garbage-time touchdown in the final minute of a massive blowout of South Carolina. Just get it over with and lock the Bulldogs into the No. 1 playoff seed already. …

Cracking open the menu this weekend at Micky’s Irish Pub in Iowa City, what did I see? A spicy turkey club sandwich called the “Grandpa Rossi.” Yes, it was renamed in honor of Cubs manager David Ross, who ordered one when he popped in for a meal in 2008.

“I’ve definitely made it now,” Ross cracked via text after seeing a photo of this enormously important discovery. …

Tony La Russa or Miguel Cairo? Wrong. The right question: What do the White Sox have to do to get Guardians skipper Terry Francona? …

A window into Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, tormentor-in-chief of the Bears and their Sunday-night opponent: Way back in 2010, I did a very positive interview with him in Green Bay for the season preview issue of a national magazine. Everything seemed to go well, but soon after a call came from Rodgers’ apoplectic then-business manager, who warned the young star was so outraged over a question involving predecessor Brett Favre — and by a potential cover pose he didn’t find flattering — that he’d never speak to anyone from the magazine again. It was more than a little strange. …


Aaron Rodgers apparently didn’t approve of this cover.

Three things Rodgers said during that interview: (1) He wanted “to be like” Tom Brady, (2) he was a “big fan” of Jay Cutler and (3) he’d definitely be done playing by 2020.


“E60: The Survivor” (Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN): Shaul Ladany made it through the bombing of his family’s home during World War II, was saved from a Nazi concentration camp a few years after that and, at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, was part of the Israeli delegation that saw 11 of its athletes and coaches murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Now 86, Ladany shares his extraordinary story.

Guardians at White Sox (Tuesday, 7:10 p.m., NBCSCH): It’s sweep the Guardians, starting today, or just fold up the tent and end this season-long circus. You’re up, Dylan Cease.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals

Mitch is the man in Pittsburgh.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Steelers at Browns (Thursday, 7:15 p.m., Amazon Prime): The fate of the mighty Black and Gold rests in the hands of one Mitchell David Trubisky. What could go wrong?


From Twitter user Geoffrey:

“Should the Big Ten even hold the title game this year?”

What a clever, witty, incisive question, my good man. Did I mention I made the same joke in this very space last week? But let’s take it a step further: The Big Ten should cancel the championship game in Indianapolis and chuck the entire West division into the transfer portal.


Northwestern: “What happens in Dublin stays in Dublin” should be the Wildcats’ new slogan.

The Big Ten on TV: I can’t remember how much the league is raking in in rights fees, but it should consider paying a bunch of it back to bury the footage.

Meatballs: No, not the hit-me pitches Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols keeps clubbing for historic home runs. I’m talking about the clowns who keep suggesting opponents are teeing Pujols up on purpose.

Bad jokes: The Cubs designated Frank Schwindel for assignment. Guess that makes this my final “You can’t spell ‘Schwindel’ without the ‘win’ ” reference.

The Minneapolis nine: You can’t spell “Twins” without the … nope. Looks like there’s another Sox rival in need of a name change.

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