Big Ten notebook: Conference championship game moving?

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Let’s give Minnesota a chance

The Big Ten championship game has been played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis since the game began in 2011. Lucas Oil Stadium is a great site, but it’s time for a change. Let’s spread the wealth.

Minnesota Sports and Events plans to bid for the title game, according to a report in TwinCities.com. The game would be played at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Minnesota Vikings play their home games. Bidding for the conference championship game hasn’t started yet, according to the Big Ten office, but Minnesota Sports and Events president and CEO Wendy Williams Blackshaw told TwinCities.com that the Big Ten knows her organization is interested in hosting the game.

Yes, it’s cold and snowy in Minnesota in December, but fans of Big Ten football teams are hearty souls. They can handle below-freezing temperatures and icy precipitation. The NFL’s Super Bowl was held at U.S. Bank Stadium in February 2018 and it went off just fine. The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl that year. They sure loved the venue.

This year’s Big Ten championship game will be played on Dec. 3.

Big Ten West still up for grabs

 

The Big Ten West remains the most interesting division in college football. There are seven teams in the division. No clear favorites have emerged to win the division title and earn the right to face whatever powerhouse (Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State) comes out of the Big Ten East in the conference championship game on Dec. 3 in Indianapolis.

The only team in the Big Ten West that looks like it doesn’t have a chance to win the division is Northwestern. Wisconsin and Iowa were supposed to be the teams to beat in the Big Ten West, but they’re both 1-2 and tied with Northwestern for last place.

The Big Ten West is a dangerous place for coaches. Two have lost their job this season. Northwestern beat Big Ten West rival Nebraska in August in Dublin, Ireland, which eventually got Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost fired. Illinois beat Wisconsin, and Badgers coach Paul Chryst got his walking papers a few days later.

Illinois, Purdue, and Nebraska are tied for first place in the Big Ten West, each with a 2-1 record. Illinois beat Iowa 9-6 last week in a game that set college football back a century, but it was the Illini’s first win over the Hawkeyes since 2008. Illinois will play host to Big Ten West foe Minnesota (1-1) on Saturday. Nebraska will travel to Purdue on Saturday for a Big Ten West showdown of sorts.

The Big Ten West was a surprising 2-0 against Big Ten East opponents last week, both coming from behind to win on the road. Nebraska beat Rutgers 14-13 after the Cornhuskers trailed 13-0 at halftime and Purdue topped Maryland 31-29 after being behind 23-17 in the fourth quarter. While those wins gave the Big Ten West some bragging rights, Rutgers and Maryland are not Ohio State, Michigan, or Penn State.

Take Penn State and the points

So who will win the Big Ten East collision Saturday between No. 10 Penn State and No. 5 Michigan? The Wolverines are favored in the battle of the unbeatens and should win, but the Nittany Lions won’t be intimidated by the 100,000-plus screaming fans in the Big House. Penn State won 35-31 at Purdue in Week 1 and 41-12 at Auburn in Week 3. Take underdog Penn State and the seven points against Michigan. Kickoff is at noon EDT on FOX.

 


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