September 20, 2007

Big Ten Blogger Roudtable - Part 4

Big Ten Roundtable is back and we have great set of questions from Maize n Brew.

1. Time to break out the crystal ball. I want to know what happens at the END of the season. Give me your offensive and defensive Players of the Year in the Big Ten along with Coach of the Year and why.

Offense - Barring injury I don't know how you could keep this award away from Mike Hart. He is tearing up defenses every game and has been the one thing Michigan fans could count on their way to a 1-2 start. Runner-Up = Matt Painter.

Defense - If Ohio State finishes 4th or better in conference this will go to Laurinaitis. I get the feeling that the award is already his unless he gets injured or if Ohio State really stumbles and gets passed by Pur, Mich St, Ind or anybody other than PSU, Wis or Mich. Somebody is going to have to have a year that absolutely dominates whatever Laurinaitis does. Runner-Up? - somebody yet unknown will step up and have a big year.

2. With the upsets, close games, and head scratchers so far, every game we thought was going to be important has changed. Michigan State is 3-0, for Pete's sake, and they look good doing it. Pick the three games on the Big Ten Schedule that will determine the Big Ten Champion. Bonus Points for not picking three games on your own schedule.

  • Ohio State @ Penn State - I think this might be THE game this year. I have every reason to believe that Ohio State will be 8-0 heading into this game. Their biggest question mark has been their offense but they'll have 8 games under their belts by this point and should be getting to a point where we'll know what to expect with this offense. It showed signs of life at Washington and if they get things going their defense is good enough that they'll win the league. On the other side, Penn State will have already played Michigan and Wisconsin. If they get through those games this will be their last hurdle and could have the B10 all but wrapped up.
  • Penn State @ Michigan - first game of the Big Ten season and it is an elimination game for both teams. This is bigger for Michigan than it is Penn State though. If the Wolverines can get this win it will be the game that puts them back on the map and will give them confidence to go out and win the Big Ten. Should they lose they'll be 1-3 and essentially be fighting to get bowl eligible. This is Penn State's statement game. They have had trouble with Michigan in recent memory. If they can go to the Big House and win they feel ready for anybody and will establish themselves as the team to beat.
  • Wisconsin's final 3 (@OSU, Mich, @Min) - Unless disaster has struck Wisconsin will enter this final stretch 9-0 or 8-1. Win these final 3 games and they'll very likely be conference champs. Going to Ohio State will be tough enough considering the Buckeye defense and what should be a better offesne. Then they get the wounded wolverines at home. At this point that game appears better than it did a month ago, but should still be tough. Then you have the trap game on the road against a rival. The smart money (and the dumb money for that matter) will be on the Badgers but any let down and the Gopher offense could put up some crazy numbers.

3. How many games, this season, have you been to? How many games have you tailgated at? If you have tailgated, name your beverage of choice. If you answered no to the previous questions, hang your head in shame, or at least give a good story about watching the game in enemy territory and giving the bouncer the finger when he asked you to quiet down.

I have not yet attended a game. And tailgating is lame around the Metrodome. I did watch the Gophers opener (Bowling Green) in enemy territory, sort of. I was in Wisconsin but watched the game in the comfort of my in-law's living room.

4. As the Big Ten Season kicks off, the Conference is in somewhat of a difficult position nationally. Needing some momentum after a horrid BCS performance, the Conference needed some momentum early in the season. It hasn't gotten it. The first three weeks have been abysmal. Is this just a down year for the Big Ten, is there a change Nationally that the Big Ten just hasn't picked up on, is there some truth to the "Big Ten Style of Play" that everyone harps on, or has college football simply caught up? What so you think and why? I may be beating a dead horse, but no one looks good this year and I'm at a loss as to why.

I think this is just a down year for overall talent. So many good players graduated last year and that left every team with major question marks.
  • Ohio State graduated their entire offense
  • Michigan graduated their entire defense
  • Wisconsin lost Stocco and Joe Thomas
This year's conference has a lot of talented young kids and I think that the middle of the conference is better than it was before. Last year you had 3 great teams, 2 average teams (PSU, Pur) and the rest were really quite bad. This year I think we are lacking the great teams but you have 4 very good teams (1 may emerge as a great team) and then Pur, Mich St, Ind and Ill are all very much improved. You could have 8 teams that are bowl eligible by the end of the year. I wouldn't get too worked up about the Big Ten this year. Even if this is a "down year" it is still a power conference and will be just fine for years to come. We can't have a team in the BCS Championship game every year.

As far as the bowl games go I think that judging overall conference strength on that is vastly overrated. Was the Big 12 better than the Big Ten because Iowa and Minnesota lost to Texas and Texas Tech? I don't buy that. They lost simply because Texas was better than Iowa and TexTech was better than Minnesota. Overall I think the B10 was a much stronger conference than the B12 in 2006. Was the Big Ten better than the SEC because we were 2-1 in bowls last year? No, I would say the SEC was a deeper conference last year than the Big Ten.

The great Mike Tice once said "enjoy the season." I think those are wise word from a wise man an idiot.

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