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Additions won’t help Big Ten’s reputation


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If you think those one-liners about the Big Ten being a conference that still hangs its helmet on Woody, Bo and other nuggets of past glory are getting old, just wait nine months.

Maryland and Rutgers will be added in 2014.

Now, if you’ll excuse me for a second, it’s time for a really lame Jack Nicholson imitation: “Congratulations, Jim Delaney. You just weakened a conference.”

Maybe I’m being a tad too harsh here. Let’s find out.

Name one current Rutgers or Maryland football player. Name one or both head coaches.

What are their home stadiums called?

When was the last time you or anybody you knew watched either team on television?

Not exactly inviting Texas and Oklahoma to the party, is it?

With that rant complete, here are this week’s picks:

Wisconsin 45, Indiana 31

The Badgers’ eight-game winning streak against IU includes averaging 68 points over the past three meetings. Double-yikes!

The Hoosiers haven’t won at Camp Randall Stadium since 2001 and will be decided underdogs this time. New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen seems far more likable than Bret “Run It Up” Bielema — perhaps the flimsiest of compliments — so don’t anticipate the home team landing in the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s in terms of points.

Penn State 30, Purdue 13

The Nittany Lions have been something of a disappointment. Still, they have to be better than the team taken into overtime by a woeful Illinois club 10 days ago at home.

Known during its football heyday for its rabid and devoted fan base, Penn State might wind up putting only 80,000 or so in 106,000-seat Beaver Stadium for this lemon.

Northern Illinois 37,

Ball State 28

The Mid-American Conference’s two best teams go at it on tonight in DeKalb, Ill. Even if this game were in Muncie I would take the Huskies, who in Jordan Lynch feature one of college football’s top five quarterbacks. Don’t believe me? Tune in. It’s going to be televised nationally on ESPN2.

Northwestern 34,

Michigan 31

This looks like it could be the decaffeinated version of the point-fest Michigan and Indiana engaged in a few weeks back. Wildcats get the nod because they’re at home and at the front of the line for some much-deserved good fortune.

Baylor 50, Texas Tech 37

Two of the nation’s premier offenses try to outdo each other in Waco. Should be a fun one to watch, but the Red Raiders won’t be able to keep up when it matters most.

Ohio State 49, Illinois 14

The visiting Buckeyes could put 100 on the board if they truly wanted to. Fortunately for the Illini, Ohio State will have likely lost interest by halftime. This cream cheese schedule of OSU’s — it hosts Indiana next week — isn’t helping its BCS National Championship Game case one bit.

Michigan State 24,

Nebraska 20

The Spartans walk into a sea of red, but hostile environments are common occurrences in the Big Ten. Michigan State will be rested and ready after a bye week.

Auburn 26, Georgia 21

Go ahead and deliver those Coach of the Year awards to Gus Malzahn’s office. All the first-year Auburn coach has done is make a top 10 team out of what was a 3-9 trash fire in 2012. Auburn is relevant once more; too relevant to lose at home to Georgia.

Last week’s record: 5-3.

Season record: 89-18.

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