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NIU-Ball State trophy is something to stalk about

Northern Illinois v Massachusetts

Northern Illinois v Massachusetts

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Updated: November 10, 2013 10:12PM



College football has some pretty famous rivalry trophies. The Little Brown Jug (Michigan-Minnesota) comes to mind. The Megaphone (Notre Dame-Michigan State). The Victory Bell (UCLA-USC).

Of course, the Bronze Stalk.

Wait, what?

The Bronze Stalk — that’s the trophy Northern Illinois and Ball State vie for. Think cornstalks. Think campuses surrounded by cornfields.

Most of all, think about this huge game Wednesday night (7 p.m., ESPN2) between the 9-0 Huskies and the 9-1 Cardinals. First place in the MAC West is on the line, and Ball State is a threat to dash NIU’s hopes of returning to the BCS stage, not to mention quarterback Jordan Lynch’s hopes of getting to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. If BSU coach Pete Lembo beats the Huskies for the first time in three tries, he might be fielding multiple job offers soon.

Hit the road, Mack?

The arrow is pointing straight up for Lembo. Is it still pointing down for Mack Brown? If it is, ol’ Mack can’t be more than one more win from making the good folks of the Lone Star State love him again. No. 23 Texas has won six in a row and leads the Big 12 by a half-game over Baylor. The Longhorns host No. 12 Oklahoma State on Saturday (2:30 p.m., Fox-32) in a matchup that never fails to deliver high-end entertainment.

And another thing

Why is Texas ranked 24th in the coaches’ poll if Oklahoma is ranked 17th? Both are 7-2. The Longhorns whipped the Sooners 36-20 on a neutral field. And Oklahoma is seven spots higher? That’s just stupid.

Not even close

Somebody is going to have to explain how Auburn is favored by only a field goal against Georgia. Let’s break down the simplest of facts about their matchup Saturday (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2). Auburn is 9-1 (5-1 SEC) and ranked seventh in the Associated Press poll. Georgia is 6-3 (4-2) and ranked 25th. The game is at Auburn. The red-hot Tigers just won by 32 at Tennessee, which took Georgia to overtime earlier this season. What more does Gus Malzahn’s team have to do to be taken as seriously as the SEC’s traditional powers?

Upset alert

No. 5 Stanford had better be ready to rumble Saturday at unranked USC (7 p.m., Ch. 7), which is playing very well — and very hard — for interim coach Ed Orgeron. The timing of this game could be bad for the Cardinal, coming off such an emotional victory over Oregon. Also, when was the last time the Trojans played a high-profile game in which all the pressure was on their opponents?

Legends?

Not even in their own minds. Michigan at Northwestern (2:30 p.m., BTN) sure isn’t what it was cracked up to be back when both teams were seen as strong contenders in the Big Ten. Instead, the division rivals are two of the most disappointing teams in college football. The Wolverines’ 6-3 looks a lot better than NU’s 4-5, but they haven’t played even the slightest bit better.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg



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