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Weekend Rewind, Week 11: Should we really be laughing?

The Week 11 edition of the Weekend Rewind looks back at the comedy of Saturday, Matt Alviti's brief appearance, and goes Around the Big Ten to assess Ohio State's Playoff hopes and next week's battle for the Big Ten West. Plus, Big Ten Power Rankings, with a new No. 1.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, InsideNU writers Josh Rosenblat and Henry Bushnell will wrap up Northwestern game coverage with some final thoughts (we'll try to stay away from topics addressed in game columns), along with our big takeaways from the rest of the Big Ten. Following Northwestern's 10-9 loss to Michigan, here's the 2014 Week 11 edition of the Weekend Rewind:

Prevailing thoughts on Northwestern

Should we really be laughing?

I'm not really sure what else needs to be said. After another pathetic performance from Northwestern, technical analysis has been exhausted. There were two ways to react to Saturday's loss. One was to angrily question the coaching staff, a view which our Kevin Trahan discussed excellently. The other was to giddily recount the humor of two haphazard football teams "embracing the suck."

During the game, most of the coverage, including ours, wasn't even taking the game seriously - a game that both teams desperately needed to win, and one that was close for 60 minutes. Instead, "M00N" had become a laughing stock nationally, and we couldn't help but play along.

At times, I felt bad about the comedic element, sometimes even guilty. It's not as if Fitzgerald and the players aren't doing what they believe to be their best to put a winning product out on the field. They put in extensive work behind the scenes to try to please you the fan on Saturday, and in times like these, all that work is unforgiving. It seems unfair to ridicule them.

But then I look around, and I talk to fans that don't see any side of it but the comedic side. I even had multiple fans enthusiastically tell me that that was one of the most fun games they'd ever watched or been to just because of how amusingly awful it was. So maybe at this point, there's nothing to do but laugh.

In the past, in a piece of writing, I tried to pinpoint the main reasons that we as a society love sport. The list was, of course, extensive, and still not even close to complete. We love sports because of the excitement, competition, passion and intensity; because of the sense of community they bring us; because of the sheer athleticism and stunning skill; and most of all because of the thrill of victory.

Also included on the list, however, was comedy. Sports help us relax, make us laugh, and bring us moments of levity. They entertain us. They are fun.

With this Northwestern team, that aspect is all we have left.

So yes, we should be laughing. Many fans - alumni, students, others - have made an emotional investment in Northwestern football. Every Saturday, they need a return on that investment, and right now, laughing is the only way to attain that.

- Henry Bushnell

Matt Alviti makes debut

It was a long awaited moment for Wildcats fans as the former-four-star recruit stepped onto the field at quarterback for the first time at Northwestern. The redshirt freshman got into the game for a few plays and picked up a total of five yards on the ground before taking a sack.

With such a small sample size, it's hard to tell whether playing Alviti was just a ploy to throw Michigan off guard or if Pat Fitzgerald actually felt as if Alviti did give Northwestern a substantial advantage running certain plays. Without knowing for sure, it seemed as though Fitzgerald wasn't ready to unleash more responsibility to the young quarterback, yet it did seem that Trevor Siemian's leash had gotten a little bit shorter over the week.

While Siemian did finish the game strong, Alviti's presence will be something to watch next week, especially if Northwestern gets down early to Notre Dame.

- Josh Rosenblat

Around the Big Ten

Ohio State a Playoff contender?

Well that was impressive. If you hadn't already had you're weekly helping of Big Ten football excruciatingly fed to you by by Northwestern and Michigan, Ohio State vs. Michigan State was a pretty healthy second course.

The Buckeyes went into East Lansing and put together an offensive exhibition, tearing Sparty's defense to shreds and coming away with a 49-37. And in reality, the Buckeyes could've easily reached 50 or even 60. J.T. Barrett was that good.

After an early-season loss to Virginia Tech that had many dismissing Ohio State as a national contender, the Buckeyes have really turned it around. Sure, their Big Ten competition hasn't exactly been stout, but Urban Meyer's team is playing as well as anybody in the national right now, and is a serious contender for the College Football playoff.

Two things don't help OSU's cause: Outside of yesterdays game, they don't have anything remotely close to a big win, and they're loss, at home to Virginia Tech, looks worse and worse every week.

But with the SEC doling out self-inflicted wounds left and right, and Florida State perhaps looking vulnerable, the door is still open. Ohio State will have to win out, but they easily should. They are the class of the Big Ten, and that's indisputable. It's now just a question of other national contenders faltering.

- Henry Bushnell

Wisconsin, Nebraska the class of the West

The Badgers and Cornhuskers play next week in a battle of the two best teams in the Big Ten West. Yes, Minnesota, that means I am saying that the Gophers are the third best team in the division right now.

Wisconsin seems to be hitting its stride, albeit after a grind-it-out win at Purdue on Saturday. Both of these teams have the most explosive offensive weapons of any team in the conference in Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah. Both players are a threat to take it to the house each time they touch the ball. Nebraska also has one of the best defensive fronts in the Big Ten. Minnesota can't match either of these teams' big-play ability.

The winner of this match up will represent the West in the Big Ten championship game.

- Josh Rosenblat

Big Ten Power Rankings

Rank Team Henry's Rank Josh's Rank Average Rank
1 Ohio State 1 1 1
2 Michigan State 2 2 2
3 Nebraska 3 3 3
4 Wisconsin 4 4 4
5 Minnesota 5 5 5
6 Maryland 7 6 6.5
7 Iowa 6 8 7
8 Michigan 8 7 7.5
9 Northwestern 10 9 9.5
10 Purdue 9 12 10.5
11 Penn State 11 10 10.5
12 Rutgers 12 11 11.5
13 Illinois 13 13 13
14 Indiana 14 14 14