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 ``Statement Saturday’’ was filled with terrific college football around the nation.

Four. . . The SEC was hitting on all cylinders around the league: Georgia silenced Missouri. Alabama muzzled LSU. Ole Miss survived desperate Texas A&M. And Arkansas won in overtime at Florida.

Three. . . The Big 12 provided a trio of dramatic performances: Oklahoma State upset Oklahoma 27-24 in what could be the final Bedlam meeting. Texas held off Kansas State 33-30 in overtime. And Kansas held on at Iowa State 28-21.

Two. . . The ACC, where Clemson took down Notre Dame 31-23 and Duke slipped past Wake Forest 24-21, provided some good drama.

And the Pac-12, which is going out with a bang in its final season, was highlighted by Washington surviving a 52-42 shootout at desperate USC, arguably the best game of the day.

One. . . The only conference missing in action? That was the Big Ten, where the rich got richer and the poor had everyone reaching for the remote. Michigan and Penn State routed lesser lights. And all credit to Rutgers for playing Ohio State tougher than the 35-16 indicated. But that was more of a meat grinder than a viewing delight.

Careful readers of this space—Thank you very much!—will recall that last week, I lamented that while it was nice for the Big Ten to have three top-notched teams, the Little 11 are so wobbly that viewing Big Ten games should come with a warning from your opthalmologist.

Honestly, the most interesting storlyline in the Big Ten this fall is the overripe Crime and Punishment melodrama involving Jim Harbaugh and Michigan's obsessive/compulsive sign-stealing caper.

Illinois’ 27-26 thriller over Minnesota was pretty good stuff by the Big Ten West’s modest standards. But Wisconsin’s inept 20-14 loss at struggling Indiana was like fingernails on a blackboard.. And Nebraska’s 20-17 misstep at interim Michigan State? Not a good statement.

The worst thing about this trio of misery is that Iowa, with an offense so bad that its coordinator already has been fired, now leads the Big Ten West.

The Hawkeyes banged their bottoms to a 10-7 win over Northwestern at Wrigley Field, where six Cubs games saw more scoring this year. The over/under of 29.5, a collegiate record-low, was not low enough. A big thank-you to the TV Muckety-Mucks who put that game on Peacock, sparing a multitude of viewers from being tempted to watch.

This Saturday, at least, Michigan’s trip to Penn State brings the promise of a Big Ten game where viewers do not need to adjust their set—or their expectations. Although the Wolverines have been steamrolling through their schedule, the sign-stealing investigation has cast a cloud over what is potentially a monumental season for Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan program.

Elsewhere, the intrigue is not all that intriguing: Will Ohio State’s hit-or-miss offense be a hit at Michigan State? Will Iowas impose its leather-helmet will against Rutgers? Can Nebraska become bowl-eligible against nose-diving Maryland?

That leaves the parental-discretion-advised matchup between my two alma maters—Wisconsin, which should be better. And Northwestern, which should be worse.

When the Wildcats’ program was devastated last summer by by the hazing scandal that felled Pat Fitzgerald, I was penciling in NU for 2-10, assuming UTEP and Howard had no upset surprises up their sleeves.

Then the Cats took down Minnesota and Maryland. If they can add two more against their final three (Wisconsin, Purdue and Illinois), they could go bowling. Which would be, under the circumstances, a remarkable thing. I have been assuming NU needs to make a splashy coaching hire after this troubled season to remove the nasty hazing odor. Interim coach David Braun hardly qualifies as a splashy hire. But if the Wildcats keep winning, that could something to think about.

Meanwhile, the Badgers are off to a sleepwalking 5-4 start in their first season under Luke Fickell. After an encouraging 24-10 loss to Ohio State, Saturday’s clunker at Indiana, which is believed to be preparing to shop for a new coach, was a major step backward.

It’s true that Wisconsin, which is operating without its starting quarterback and top two running backs, has a compelling injury excuse. But even when healthy, the Badgers were in no danger of meeting the lofty expectations created by the Fickell hire.

Everyone wearing a red Forward W deserves a share of the disappointment at this messy season. Especially Fickell and his staff, who have a ton of work to do this off-season. There are still plenty of reasons to believe they will fulfill the expectation that they will translate Wisconsin’s vast potential into sustained success.

But the excuses of this year will not cut it next fall.