Orange is the new black, 40 is the new 30, and I’m afraid two is the new one. That’s in terms of cancellations. The last two weeks of the college football season saw two cancellations in the Big Ten each week after a run of weeks with one cancellation. Friends, or more appropriately, comrades in distress, I’m afraid our trend appears fairly obvious as we inch toward Consolation Saturday. 

I don’t have to spell it out for you, we know where things are headed. Let’s not try to make sense of any of it. 

Thanks to factors like the late start to the season and the sleep suit that is the conference schedule, year-end standings and statistics will certainly read like the irrational creations of a sugar-infused toddler. 

Things will be out of whack based on the number of regular season games each team completes. In the survival pool of game cancellations, only Penn State, Rutgers, Iowa and Indiana are on track to play every game on their respective schedules. There have been no discussions as to how to reward those member institutions for perfect attendance, but rumor has it a Jim Delany bobblehead doll encased in a hamster wheel is the leading candidate. 

On to the records! The always-changing, unbalanced records. (Predictions are for records prior to crossover week.)

Illinois 2-5

With roughly 2 minutes left in the game Saturday against Iowa and down two touchdowns, Illinois replaced Brandon Peters with Isaiah Williams at quarterback. The Illini seem content to stick with Peters, given the chance to go to Williams at a few different junctions through the season, but Saturday against Northwestern presents an evergreen dilemma in college football: at what point do you stop honoring a current agreement in favor of the future? 

Indiana 7-1

Nothing like trading slop in the name of a backup quarterback. If the Hoosiers stifled Wisconsin’s offense to the tune of allowing only a pair of field goals, imagine the sort of fits the unit will give Purdue’s offensive line. Might as well throw some crimson and cream lawn chairs in the Boilermakers backfield. 

Iowa 6-2

Near-misses early in the season against Northwestern and Purdue stain the Hawkeyes’ record, but the sound defense and the improved (from the second quarter of Saturday’s game) play of quarterback Spencer Petras all indicate Iowa is the best and most complete team in the Big Ten West. 

Really looking forward to Wisconsin holding the Hawkeyes to 10 points next week to thwart all that growth as a team. 

Maryland 3-2

There is a sense of forward progress to the Maryland program, even if it came in a small sample size and with wins against teams in down years (Minnesota, Penn State). Enjoy the very real and very likely opportunity the Terps finish with the program’s first winning season since 2014. 

Michigan 2-5

Who needs cable, Netflix, or Hulu when the Michigan coaching search is set to begin? Don’t take it too seriously. Treat the speculation and conjecture as workings of crazy people hired to entertain and not inform. There will be suggestions in regards to the direction of the program that border on asinine (Tom Brady) to impossible (Urban Meyer). I will not tell you to keep your hopes modest or your candidate list incredibly inclusive. Enjoy the fiction spun from every corner of the college football world. 

Michigan State 2-5

Reprising the role of overzealous constable, no one considered the Spartans a legitimate threat to Ohio State. Added bonuses of handing Northwestern its first loss and beating Michigan are enough jerky for the Spartans faithful to chew on for the rest of the season. 

Minnesota 2-4

Here would be the perfect spot to drop the, “No team needs to get to 2021 more,” but even a cursory glance of the 2020 Michigan Wolverines and 2020 Penn State Nittany Lions proves that to be a contested statement. 

Nebraska 3-4

The Huskers struck good relative balance in yesterday’s win over Purdue. Center to quarterback exchanges went swimmingly, no turnovers for the Huskers, and a rare sight to see them in control for the entirety of the game. 

Northwestern 6-1

With the imminent battle of Chicagoland supremacy next week, which should come with the caveat of “Excluding any of the patrons of college-affiliated bars in Lincoln Park and the coupling of Notre Dame and all Catholic Parishes north of Springfield and south of Milwaukee,” Northwestern is ticket-punched and ready for the Big Ten Championship. The week off provided enough time to wipe away all the ugly from last week’s loss to Michigan State. 

Ohio State 6-0

Buckeyes fans need to hope for resilience in their team since the rest of the Big Ten schedule will not draw that character trait out of them. At the very least Justin Fields acquitted himself of all silliness when it came to the perception of him by the ill-informed.  

Could be his contemporaries at the quarterback position, could be the small sample size of games played for Ohio State, but the notion Fields needed to perform an about-face after his efforts against Indiana is a big bucket of silly. Hope his 300 plus yards of total offense satiated those who needed to see something from him. 

Penn State 3-5

Based on the abnormality of how things started, fans should take some solace that the Nittany Lions will presumptively close out the regular season on a three-game winning streak. I mean, there’s nothing else to take, entirely nothing else. Grab any last shred of solace available. 

Purdue 2-5

Jeff Brohm knows he can leave a back in pass protection to pick up extra pass rushers, right? The devotion to his team’s downfield passing attack is invalidated when the front four of the defense maintains such steady presence in the backfield it picks up any potato chip shavings left in the quarterback’s lap. 

Rutgers 2-6

The black jerseys were the high point in a forgettable loss to Penn State. 

Wisconsin 3-2

We’ll always have Week 1 against Illinois and Week 4 against Michigan. 

I guess we didn’t have much.