My apologies for getting to this so late, as last week got crazy with the NFL draft, spring games, the Wrigley Field game announcement and other stuff. Just to bring everyone up to speed, blog reader Vince from San Diego recently posed an interesting question.
Vince from San Diego writes: How about Iowa-PSU to end the season? The PSU-MSU game has not been competitive or even watchable the last two years. PSU won 6 of 8; of those six wins, four wins were by 54, 24, 31 and 28. It makes for an anticlimactic ending to the Big Ten regular season. Iowa has had their way with Minnesota and its not like their is any tangible rivalry there. The Big Ten could end with OSU-UM and PSU-Iowa for a really good last weekend of football to tide us over until the bowl season.
Since I'm not nearly as emotionally tied to rivalry games as you are, I opened this question to you folks, and, as always, the response was strong from fans of all the teams impacted by potential changes to the lineup.
Here are a few:
Mark from Minneapolis: For years Wisconsin was the last game on the Minnesota schedule but for some reason around 1980 it got changed to Iowa. Despite playing Iowa during the Big Ten's rivalry week we still consider Wisconsin to be our greatest rival. A big part of that is reciprocity between the two states which means the rivalry divides families and high school friendships. I for one would prefer to play Wisconsin (and I suspect most Minnesota fans feel the same way) and let Iowa play PSU in the last game of the season.
Alex from Hawkeye Nation: Adam, aside from the obvious appeal of a late season game between Iowa and PSU, what would be the advantage of such a game if the league were, in fact, going to expand? That would create a possible 12 to 15 team conference, taking away a BCS Bowl game from what I understand, and creating a championship game between two teams from a split league. Assuming Iowa/PSU stay in the same side of a possible east/west B10 league, you're looking at dodging a lot of obstacles just to create a late season matchup. And who is to say that Minn. isn't going to make a push for the B10 title this year, and revive a fairly one-sided midwest rivalry that, I feel, has never lost its excitement and is always a great game to look forward too.
Joe from Morgantown, W.Va.: Penn State fans don't seem to place too much stock in the MSU rivalry, which is largely manufactured anyway. But before we jump the gun and go with Iowa as their new nemesis, I think we have to wait and see what might happen with expansion. If the conference picks up Pitt, you've got a much more natural, and much more historical rivalry that could spice up the end of the season for Penn State. Iowa is certainly a good team, and has had Penn State's number in the past several years, but I don't think they can compete with the draw that PSU-Pitt would create.
Ian from Grand Rapids, Mich.: Regarding the comment about breaking up the MSU-PSU rivalry: As a rabid MSU fan, I'm all for it. I'm pretty sure most football fans would rather see Iowa-PSU to end the season. As for the MSU side: Wisconsin has a lot more potential for a meaningful rival than Penn State ever had so I'd like to see the Spartans end the season against the Badgers. Unless of course Notre Dame joins the Big Ten ...
Derek from Glen Gardner, N.J.: I definitely enjoy the annual blood drive between MSU and PSU. If they did not play each other every year, this could still continue, but it would not bring as many donors.-Before we go through drastic efforts to make the end of the season more exciting, maybe the BigTen can simply up the ante for the PSU v MSU game. Think: Loser has to take home the Land Grant Trophy, and display it somewhere prominent. Both teams would come ready to battle, no matter what, if that was the case.-Is there any way the other ten BigTen teams can play in the last week, and Penn State just beat up on Pitt instead of MSU?-If we do play Iowa annually, can we at least play for something either extremely epic, or nothing at all? The Land Grant 'Trophy' is ridiculous. And ugly.
Thanks again for all the great responses. Several of you brought up expansion, which certainly could transform how the final week of the regular season looks in the Big Ten. Most Penn State fans certainly would want to finish with Pitt, while Iowa could keep Minnesota or maybe end with a team like Nebraska if the Huskers joined the Big Ten. I like having Wisconsin play Michigan State or Minnesota in late November every year, as the Badgers have lacked a consistent end-of-year rival since 1980. The Badgers and Gophers wrapped up the regular season against each other every year from 1933-80.