By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published October 9, 2012
Kirk Herbstreit can’t figure out the Big Ten, either.
Last weekend, before the Michigan football team kicked off its Big Ten schedule on Saturday with a matchup against Purdue, Herbstreit, an ESPN college football analyst, made waves by picking the Boilermakers to upset Michigan.
Then he took another leap forward.
“I like Purdue to win the Big Ten outright — Big Ten champions, holding up the trophy and going to the Rose Bowl,” Herbstreit said, speaking on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” radio show. “I think Purdue is now the team to beat in the Big Ten.”
Today, Herbstreit’s pick looks pretty stupid. Michigan routed Purdue, 44-13, and the Boilermakers never even made it competitive. Herbstreit took to Twitter mid-game: “Boy did I completely whiff on this Purdue/UM game…My apologies.”
In a conference call on Tuesday, Herbstreit once again admitted his mistake and went on to say that Michigan looked “outstanding” in the game.
“(The win) gives them a ton of confidence as they get ready for the rest of the year,” Herbstreit said.
Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 3-2 overall) began the season ranked No. 8 before losses to two ranked opponents in No. 2 Alabama and No. 11 Notre Dame caused the Wolverines to fall from the top-25. The win over Purdue lifted Michigan back to No. 25 in the AP poll this week.
“If you watched them play against Alabama, Air Force, Notre Dame, objectively speaking, I don’t know how anybody could be really excited about what Michigan was doing in the first month of the season,” Herbstreit said.
In terms of the Big Ten race, which Ohio State (2-0, 6-0) would have a stranglehold on were the Buckeyes postseason-eligible, Herbstreit called it “wide open.” He said he still sees Michigan, Michigan State (1-1, 4-2) and Nebraska (1-1, 4-2) as the frontrunners in the Legends Division.
“You would think those three teams have a good shot to get to a Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis,” Herbstreit said. “Looking at that, you have to go through who plays who where.
“But Michigan, based on the way they played last week, they’ve got a shot to get to Indy.”
Herbstreit, an Ohio State graduate, credited the coaching staff for “letting Denard be Denard.” Senior quarterback Denard Robinson had 24 carries for 235 yards against Purdue, passing just 16 times for 105 yards and a touchdown.
“If you were to look at Michigan last Saturday and compare it to the first four games that we watched them, it was a different team,” Herbstreit said. “For Michigan’s sake, hopefully, they’re able to bottle that up and play that way the rest of the year. And if they do, they’ll be tough for anybody to beat.”