By: Jamie Samuelsen
Sports love nothing more than a good marketing campaign. ESPN rolls out “Rivalry Week” about twelve times a year during college football and basketball seasons combined. MLB has been using “The Hunt for October” leading up to the postseason for the past decade or so. There’s “Showdown Saturday”, “Bowl Week” and “Friday Fricassee” (I may or may not have made that last one up.)
So with that in mind, I’m proud to announce that for the two local teams taking the field in the next two days – we will forever more call this “WTF Weekend” Oh sure, you may not be able to put that on t-shirts or anything – but I think it is a perfect depiction of what lies ahead. Because by saying WTF – what I’m really saying is this.
Spartans. Lions. We have a simple question for you.
Are you good or not? Because we’d really like to know.
We thought that MSU was a threat to go to the Rose Bowl (and given the sorry state of the Big Ten, they probably still are.) We thought that the Lions might move past the point they got to last year and make some noise in the NFC playoffs. And after three or four games, we’re totally confounded. The Lions seem to have taken a step back. Michigan State seems like they’re a bit better than Eastern Michigan and Boise State, but not nearly the lofty standards set by mighty Notre Dame.
So this weekend should answer once and for all, whether or not these two teams are any good. (Michigan has a BYE, so we’ll have to wait another month or so to figure out just how good they are. And if they lose to MSU, most UM fans will just tell us that this is a “down year” for the program.)
OHIO STATE (+2 ½) AT MICHIGAN STATE – There are some out there who believe that Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten. They just happen to be ineligible to do anything about it. Braxton Miller is easily the most exciting player in the conference, particularly since Michigan decided to turn Denard Robinson into a single threat quarterback rather than a dual threat quarterback (and that single threat is actually against his own team.) But the Buckeyes haven’t technically played anyone yet and they were lucky to escape at home against a stinky Cal team. Is Michigan State good? I still believe that they are. And they prove it this weekend. PICK – MSU
WOJO – OHIO STATE
WOOLEY – OHIO STATE
WISCONSIN (+11 ½) AT NEBRASKA – With Michigan off, we’ve added this bonus game for you bettors out there. It represents the best that the conference has to offer this weekend (narrowly beating out Northwestern v. Indiana). The last time the Badgers got 11 ½ points against anyone, Don Morton was the head coach and none of the fans had learned to “jump around” or wear cheese on their heads. It was a far simpler time. Wisconsin fits right into WTF Weekend though as a rugged conference champ has stumbled to a weird 3-1 start. I say they’re better than that and I certainly say that they cover against Nebraska. PICK – WISCONSIN
WOJO – NEBRASKA
WOOLEY – WISCONSIN
VIKINGS (+4 ½) AT LIONS – It does look like Matthew Stafford will play in this game which is clearly good news for Detroit. But I’m starting to wonder if the Lions MVP is neither Stafford nor Calvin Johnson, but actually Louis Delmas. Probably an exaggeration but since Delmas went down, the Lions pass defense has gone from middle of the road to one of the worst. Look at Jake Locker last week who followed up two mediocre performances with a career best day thanks in large part to horrific mistakes by the Lions safeties. Delmas is out again this week. Common sense tells you that the Lions defense will struggle again. But I see the offense getting its act together and opening things up a bit against the Vikings defense. All kidding aside, this is a huge game and an identifying game for the Lions. 1-3 going into the BYE week might be a fatal dose of reality. Out of sheer desperation, I’ll go with the home team. PICK – LIONS
WOJO – LIONS
WOOLEY – LIONS