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Mike Beas: Colts vs. Ravens

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By 10 o'clock Saturday night we should know whether Bill Polian's standing as one of professional sports premier administrative minds is defensible. If Polian is spotted searching for a quick back route out of Lucas Oil Stadium with security personnel in tow, we'll have our answer.

Hopefully it won't come to this. But when one is brazen enough to yank the plug on perfection even though it's going to exasperate 95 percent of his team's fan base and an even higher percentage of the players, you live with the repercussions whatever they may be.

Polian comes off as a cool cucumber on the outside, but you just know he's revisiting his decision to pull the starters against the Jets on Dec. 27 a couple hundred times a day. At least I hope he is. That way Polian experiences some tinge of guilt if Indianapolis loses to the suddenly-peaking Baltimore Ravens this weekend.

It shouldn't get to that point. Indy will take care of the Ravens, while San Diego brushes aside the Jets, setting up the Colts-Chargers AFC Championship Game everyone has been itching to see.

Unfortunately for Polian, he and his reputation remain fair game unless Indianapolis advances to Super Bowl XLIV. Even if the Colts were to lose to, say, the Saints or Vikings in Miami the night of Feb. 7, he's off the hook for motioning in the junior varsity when the Dolphins' 37-year-old charge to perfection was ripe for the taking.

Peyton Manning didn't like the move. Jeff Saturday hated it. Yet due to Polian's foresight, both players and pretty much every one of their teammates are healthy, rested and hungry. If they come out Saturday night perfectly synchronized in all facets of the game, Polian looks the part of genius.

For the next few days, however, he must remain a resident of Buffoonville.

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BOILER DOWN: Purdue for the most part has contractually firmed up its non-conference football opponents through 2016 and . . . yawn! . . . let me tell . . . Zzzzz! . . . you . . . Zzzzz!

Sorry. How could I not remain wide-eyed while looking ahead to the greatly anticipated 2011 opener against Southeast Missouri State or the game at Rice the following Saturday. Going 1-on-11 against Jerry Rice would generate more local and national interest. Or Jim Rice. Or Rice-A-Roni.

Oh, but have no fear. Purdue's schedule really kicks into high gear the ensuing weekend with a home game against, wait for it, Kent State.

Apparently the days of prominent non-Big Ten opposition (aside from Notre Dame) taking to the Ross-Ade Stadium turf are the property of bygone eras, and that's a shame. Purdue's infatuation with Central Michigan, Marshall (home-and-home in 2012 and 2017) and Indiana State is baffling, but, hey, to enhance one's chances for a bowl bid, a program has to do what a program has to do.

In fairness, the Boilers signed a four-year deal with Cincinnati, which seems quite the find now, though who knows what the Bearcats will be like when the series begins in 2013. Three years later, Oklahoma State makes the trip to West Lafayette with Purdue returning the favor in 2019.

Cincy and Oklahoma State are steps in the right direction, but such games are becoming few and far-between. Proof lies in the 2010 non-conference home schedule: Western Illinois followed by Ball State followed by Toledo.

Purdue has too good a facility and far too much tradition to keep lowering its standards and plowing forward.

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