By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) It’s Week 2 of the college football season.
And it’s weak, too.
On Thursday, Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette wrote, “Only three games nationally qualify as marquee status: Notre Dame-Michigan, South Carolina-Georgia and Florida-Miami. After that? Ick. The fourth-best game of the day might be Coe College at Monmouth.”
Locally, the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein called this week’s slate of Big Ten games “generally hideous.” And outside of that Wolverines-Fighting Irish matchup, they really are.
Cincinnati vs. Illinois would be good – if Illinois was. The rest of the schedule is a wreck of games that includes: Navy at Indiana (the game is already taking on water), Syracuse at Northwestern (Jim Brown doesn’t play for the Orange) and Minnesota at New Mexico State (Aggies just lost 56-7 to Texas).
It doesn’t get any better with San Diego State at Ohio State (Aztecs were just drilled 40-19 by FCS Eastern Illinois), South Florida at Michigan State (Bulls lost 53-21 to FCS McNeese State), Southern Miss at Nebraska (Eagles have lost 13 straight, including last week to Texas State), Missouri State at Iowa (’nuff said), Eastern Michigan at Penn State (EMU is 0-31 vs. the Big Ten), Indiana State at Purdue (ISU lost 73-35 to IU), and, finally, Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin (Tech will start the game down by four TDs).
Looking at that mess – and recognizing the fact that even the great Michgan-Notre Dame series dries up next year – I’m getting on board with the idea of the Big Ten spreading out its conference games throughout the entire season.
Before the first Saturday of this season, Greenstein wrote that, “While Indiana was shelling Indiana State and Minnesota was scraping to get by UNLV on Thursday night, a nation of starved college football fans was hooked on the incredible Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game.
“What a wasted opportunity. The Big Ten should play at least two conference games every week. Would you have watched Michigan-Penn State? How about Indiana-Michigan State? What games do you think the nation’s top recruits watched?”
During my lifetime, the most exciting college football season opener I’ve ever attended was when No. 25 Illinois hosted No. 13 Michigan to kick off my sophomore year in Champaign in 1995. The Illini lost that game 38-14, but it was still an incredible way to start September.
Before he left for the SEC himself, former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema (as well as former Illini coach Ron Zook, who also had SEC roots) said he’d like to see the Big Ten mimic the Southeastern Conference and others by scheduling league games earlier in the season.
“They (the SEC) front-load the schedule,” Bielema said in July 2012. “I saw they released their September games, and everyone goes gaga over those games. Well, we could have the same effect if the Big Ten would play them in September. I would much rather go that road than playing nine (league games), because it gives you an opportunity to get two out-of-conference, BCS opponents (on the schedule), travel to one and play one at home. That would bring a lot of excitement.”
This season, Wisconsin and Purdue actually took such matters into their own hands by moving their 2013 Big Ten game in Madison up from its original date on Oct. 26 to Sept. 21. As a result, the Badgers and Boilermakers will open league play two weeks earlier than everyone else.
With nine conference games coming to the Big Ten beginning in 2016, it would make sense for the league to also consider spreading those out throughout the year to avoid more weeks like the one we’re enduring today.
Because, it really is weak.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/tag/dave-wis