Sunday, January 23, 2022

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Game Day

Big Ten deserves tarnished brand



You roll as your flagships roll. Why is the Big Ten down? Rich Rodriguez. Jim Tressel. Joe Paterno. Jerry Sandusky. There. Next question.

            The B1G’s traditional One-Percent Club, the Blue Bloods — Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State — have all spent a good chunk of the last 30 months on the wrong side of the NCAA’s morality police, in one way or another, and dragged through public-relations hell.

            And all deserved.

            Now let’s be clear, here: That’s not to equate RichRod’s practice-time transgressions in Ann Arbor with Sandusky’s decades of sickening sexual abuse, nor the unseemly cover-up that allegedly followed. No, the point is that the Big Ten is a tarnished brand, nationally, with decades of institutional hubris finally coming home to roost. Tressel’s high horse and refusal to report improper benefits got the Buckeyes a one-year postseason ban. The Sandusky stain got the Lions four years in the penalty box. As you sow, so shall you reap.


            But most trends in football are cyclical, and you get the sense that this one will be, too. Brady Hoke has the Wolverines’ train pulling the right direction again; on Sunday night rated Michigan’s recruiting haul for 2013 as the tops in the country so far. New Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has never won fewer than eight games at the FBS level. The Lions’ purgatory will stick — again, deservedly so — but that hasn’t stopped the fans in Happy Valley from matching last year’s season-ticket base of 68,000 and kicking in a reported $17.5 million in projected donations, according to Bloomberg News. And as any Alabama, USC or Oklahoma fan will attest, when you get a One-Percenter down, they generally don’t stay down for very long.


Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight…


            1. Texas (4-0) / vs. West Virginia

            2. Kansas State (4-0) / vs. Kansas

            3. West Virginia (4-0) / vs. Texas

            4. Texas Tech (4-0) / vs. Oklahoma

            5. Oklahoma (2-1) / vs. Texas Tech

            6. TCU (4-0) / vs. Iowa State

            7. Ohio State (5-0) / vs. Nebraska

            8. Nebraska (4-1) / vs. Ohio State


            1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia:  All he did was light Baylor up for eight touchdowns. Over one afternoon, Smith threw for more yardage — 656 in all — than eight teams have by themselves.

            2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Pundits are already salivating over the K-State/West Virginia showdown on Oct. 20, but the Wildcats have to endure a sneaky trip to Ames on Oct. 13 first.

            3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State: North Carolina State’s up next, and the ’Pack just gave up 566 passing yards and five touchdowns to Miami quarterback Stephen Morris.


The games you won’t want to miss …

            1. Oklahoma at Texas Tech, ABC/ESPN2, 2:30 p.m.: Is The Fighting Tubervilles’ defense for real? Tech is going to find out against an Oklahoma bunch coming off a loss and a bye.

            2. West Virginia at Texas, FOX, 6 p.m.: Another massive Big 12 title elimination tilt. The last time the Longhorns and Mountaineers did the dance? October 1956 — a 7-6 West Virginia victory.

            3. Nebraska at Ohio State, ABC, 7 p.m.:  Big Red’s riding high after an emotional win over Wisconsin, but The “Shoe” has a history of humbling folks in a hurry. The Buckeyes’ “Payback Tour” continues with a visit from the Huskers.



            Locals didn’t expect much this fall — these are the Jayhawks, after all — but losses to Rice and Northern Illinois have Kansas fans fearing a 1-11 campaign on the horizon. The Jayhawks are slated to lock horns Saturday with K-State in the Little Apple, where things could get awfully ugly in a hurry. CV


Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at and at You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog:

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