Winter comes for Northwestern

Originally Published: November 19, 2013
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

WEEK: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | BYE | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:

Cersei Lannister: "And what of my wrath, Lord Stark? You should have taken the realm for yourself. Jaime told me about the day King's Landing fell. He was sitting in the Iron Throne and you made him give it up. All you had to do was climb the steps yourself. Such a sad mistake."

Ned Stark: "I've made many mistakes in my life, but that wasn't one of them."

Cersei Lannister: "Oh, but it was. When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

-- Lena Headey and Sean Bean, "Game of Thrones"

"Game of Thrones" fans will have to wait until early next year to learn the fate of the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of the continent of Westeros.

But college football fans will only have to wait until Saturday to learn the fate of the Iron, err, Porcelain Throne of the Big Ten.

Purdon't and Illinois are both winless in Big Ten play and meet in Saturday's Pillow Fight of the Week at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. One is going to be a winner (for a day, at least) and the other a loser. There is no middle ground.

"Game of Thrones" fans know that Cersei Lannister, queen regent of the Seven Kingdoms, and her twin brother Jaime Lannister are a little closer than siblings are supposed to be. The Boilermakers and Illini might have come from the same womb, too. Purdon't hasn't defeated an FBS team in coach Darrell Hazell's first season, losing six Big Ten games by an average of 31 points. Illinois' streak of Big Ten losses grew to 20 after it fell to No. 3 Ohio State 60-35 last week.

Northwestern certainly knows about going from the penthouse to the outhouse. On Oct. 5, the Wildcats were 4-0 and ranked No. 16 in the country. ESPN broadcast "College GameDay" from the Northwestern campus before the Wildcats fell short against Ohio State, losing 40-30 at Ryan Field. Now the Wildcats have dropped six games in a row and are winless in Big Ten play after losing 27-19 in three overtimes to Michigan last week. Their dubious drought earns them the not-so-coveted No. 5 spot in this week's Bottom 10.

With apologies to Steve Harvey, Lena Headey and Sean Bean, here's this week's Bottom 10:

ESPN.com's Bottom 10
RANK TEAM 2013 RECORD COMMENT
1. Southern Miss 0-10 Joffrey Baratheon: The young, cruel king assumed the Iron Throne after King Robert's death, but he isn't of true Baratheon blood because he's the incestuous child of Cersei and her twin brother. The once-proud Golden Eagles aren't supposed to be sitting on the Bottom 10's throne, either, but here they are after losing 22 consecutive games.
2. Georgia State 0-10 Theon Greyjoy: A former ward of House Stark, Theon betrayed the Starks and tried to sack Winterfell. After Theon was captured, he thought he'd escaped the castle with the help of a serving boy, only to be brought back to the same castle and tortured. The Panthers keep getting tortured over and over again, losing 14 games in a row.
3. Miami (Ohio) 0-10 Jon Snow: You certainly wouldn't want the RedHawks guarding the Wall from wildlings with the Night's Watch. Miami, Ohio hasn't won a night game in more than three years, losing seven in a row after last week's 24-6 loss at Kent State. The RedHawks' overall losing streak stands at 14 in a row.
4. Hawaii 0-10 Stannis Baratheon: The Lord of Dragonstone and King Robert's younger brother, Stannis tried to stake his claim to the Iron Throne by attacking King's Landing via ships during the Battle of Blackwater. Alas, his rebellion was thwarted by a stockpile of wildfire. The Warriors also had false ambitions last week after taking a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter against San Diego State. Hawaii lost 28-21 in overtime, its 10th defeat in a row.
5. Northwestern 4-6 Sandor Clegane: A member of Joffrey's Kingsguard, the right side of Clegane's face was badly disfigured by burns. As a result, "The Hound" abandoned his post during the Battle of Blackwater because of his fear of fire. The Wildcats have been scarred by close games. They've lost their last four contests by 21 points combined, including two in overtime.
6. UConn't 0-9 Daenerys Targaryen: An exiled princess of the Targaryen dynasty, Daenerys was wed to Khal Drogo, a fierce Dothraki warlord. After Khal Drago died, the Khaleesi became the first female leader of the Dothraki and led them into the barren land of the Red Waste. Huskies interim coach T.J. Weist inherited a wasteland of a football program; he's 0-5 since replacing fired Paul Pasqualoni on Sept. 30.
7. FIU 1-9 Jaime Lannister: The "King Slayer" was captured by the Starks and let go only after he vowed to release Lady Catelyn's daughters and never fight them again. But as Jaime returned to King's Landing, he was captured and his right hand was cut off, leaving him unable to fight with a sword. The Panthers can certainly relate; they rank 116th nationally in passing, averaging only 145.7 yards per game.
8. Idaho 1-9 Robb Stark: Robb was the eldest son of Ned Stark and the King In the North after his father's death. Walder Frey killed Robb, his wife and mother for breaking a marriage pact between House Stark and House Frey. We're guessing Idaho's trip to No. 2 Florida State on Saturday will look a lot like the "Red Wedding."
9. New Mexico State 1-9 Bran Stark: The second son of Ned Stark was crippled when Jaime Lannister pushed him from a tower window. After Winterfell was sacked, Bran was forced into hiding and wandered aimlessly north toward the Wall with his brother and direwolves. The Aggies seem to be wandering aimlessly without a conference home; their only victory was against FCS foe Abilene Christian.
10. Cal 1-10 Hodor: Because Bran Stark can't use his legs, Hodor, an oversized stable hand, must carry him everywhere. Now we know how Bears freshman quarterback Jared Goff feels this season. He has thrown for more than 3,300 yards with 17 touchdowns on a team that has dropped 13 consecutive Pac-12 games.

Waiting list: Purdon't (1-9), Temple (1-9), CIAA bathroom brawls, NC State (3-7), Virginia (2-8), Iowa State (1-9), Illinois (3-7), UAB (2-8), Tulsa (2-8), Army (3-7), South Florida (2-7), UMass (1-9), Western Michigan (1-10), Georgia Tech's defense, Georgia's prevent defense, Indiana's run defense, Eastern Michigan (2-8), Air Force (2-8), West Virginia's bowl hopes.

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball

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