The Little Brown Jug stays in Ann Arbor

After opening up the college football season with Vanderbilt, I opened big Ten conference play in Ann Arbor last Saturday, where Michigan took a vice-like grip on the Little Brown Jug, beating Minnesota 58-0.

Across the state, the weather had been somewhat crummy all week. I got into town on Friday night hoping to watch Game 1 of Tigers-Yankees. I thought I might’ve seen snow in Ann Arbor, but everyone saw rain in NYC, necessitating a suspension of that game after about an inning of play. Our Saturday-morning tailgate (for a noon game) was a cloudy windstorm punctuated by grilled bratwurst. It turns out that those are the best kind of windstorms. Even better was that things calmed down and the sun came out just in time for kickoff.

I cannot immediately recall a more one-sided game between teams in equivalent classifications above the high school level. I’m told Minnesota was without its senior quarterback. Given that the Gophers have a win on the year and apparently played USC close, he probably deserves some Heisman votes even if he doesn’t take another snap. It wasn’t so much that Minnesota made a lot of mistakes– they only had one turnover, which I predicted right before the play occurred– as that they just couldn’t function on either side of the ball, while Michigan seemed to gain an easy 8-10 yards on every play.

And thus Michigan improbably moves to 5-0. I want to say they aren’t as good as their record, but I’m really not sure anyone has a basis to say anything about them because, outside of the strange Notre Dame game, they really haven’t been tested. The next two weeks will provide that test, though, as they go on the road for the first time this season, first at Northwestern and then at Michigan State.

Look for ALDLAND to take you to a couple more Big Ten games this year, and maybe even another SEC game.

Big Ten play starts this week, and ALDLAND takes you there

Unlike the other BCS conferences, the Big Ten hasn’t yet begun conference play. That changes this week, though, with a slate of exciting matchups.

Number 8 Nebraska heads to Camp Randall to take on the #7 Wisconsin Badgers in the weekend’s biggest B1G (when did that start, by the way?) game. Suffice to say by the words alone, this is a Big game, making no mention of the large, corn-fed humans who will be colliding with each other throughout the contest. This is Nebraska’s first game in their new conference. Both teams have the same colors, which will make the Huskers feel welcome.

Saturday’s Big Ten schedule also includes Northwestern in Champaign and non-conference Notre Dame headed to West Lafayette to take on Purdue. That pairing leaves Indiana out in the cold, but they get to stay at home and host Penn State in a game that promises to be ugly and unwatched.

Besides Nebraska/Wisconsin, the other major conference matchup is Michigan State at Ohio State. After putting MSU on a one-week suspension last week for their zombie-like performance against Notre Dame the week before, I’m looking for them to make a statement and win a close one in Columbus that finds them ahead early and not quite choking it away late in the fourth quarter.

That leaves one game, a noon contest between 1-3 Minnesota and improbably 4-0 Michigan at the Big House in Ann Arbor to decide the rights to the Little Brown Jug. The Jug is the oldest rivalry trophy, given to the winner of the Michigan-Minnesota game since their 6-6 tie in 1903. For more on the Jug, including a short video of an old man sharing overly dramatic Jug lore in a noticeably informal setting, click here.

The point of all of this Jug business is that, just like ALDLAND took you live to the opening of the college football season (see here and here), so too will ALDLAND take you live to Ann Arbor for the opening of the Big Ten season. In addition to the game, I will attempt to decipher the particulars of the conference’s new divisions, Legends and Leaders, although I suspect that will be impossible, and I’ll be left with Mark Titus’ conclusion: call them Razzle and Dazzle and be done with it. 

Just like last time, stay tuned here, on twitter, and on flickr for updates throughout the weekend, along with a recap next week.