Some of you may or may not know that there is a fairly large group of Big Ten Bloggers who collaborate on ideas and compliment each other on how awesome we all are. I have offered to host 2008's first roundtable and I have deemed it a Rivalry themed roundtable. If you are unfamiliar with how this works I post my answers, other bloggers post their answers on their blogs then I'll do a recap post near the end of this week highlighting the highlights. Here goes...
1. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg recently ranked the top 5 rivalries in the Big Ten and there were some controversial results (Illinois v Ohio State as #3?). Clearly Ohio State vs. Michigan is the #1 rivalry in the Big Ten, but give me your next three. Your school does not have to be included in this list, but regardless of who you choose defend your picks.
- Minnesota vs. Wisconsin - longest played rivalry in all of NCAA football. People with short memories will tell me that Wisconsin dominates this series and is meaningless, but Minnesota leads the all time series winning 59, losing 50 and tying 8 in the 117 total games played. It is true that in recent years this has not been very competitive but this is a passionate rivalry and both team's fan bases care very much about winning Paul Bunyan's Axe. It should also be noted that this is a key game for recruiting purposes as both teams fight for each other's players on a regular basis.
- Michigan vs. Michigan St. - In state rivalry that has some passion. This one, like the one above, has lacked competitiveness in recent years with Michigan going 15-5 in the last 20 meetings and leads 34-19-2. But also like the one above it is crucial for recruiting wars and is a game fans care about deeply.
- Purdue vs. Indiana - the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket is usually a meaningless game on the national and even conference level. But it is hard to ignore a series that has seen 110 games played. Dominated by Purdue this series beats out a few other considered rivalries but not by much. The in-state angle and the longevity of the rivalry make this the 4th best rivalry in the Big Ten.
2. Obviously winning every game is important and beating really good teams sends a stronger message than beating Minnesota. Assume every team is .500 this year and the outcome of your next two games means nothing outside of pride and a year's worth of bragging rights. Give me the two schools you would want to beat (in order) and why. What makes beating School's A and B significant?
Wisconsin - I put this ahead of Iowa because the largest population base in Minnesota cares more about this game than the Iowa game. Much of the disdain for Badger fans is carried over from NFL loyalties where Vikings and Packer fans also don't care for each other. Wisconsin in recent years has raided some quality football players from Minnesota so this game carries more recruiting weight than probably any other game on our schedule.
Iowa - the other significant rivalry game on our schedule. If you live south of the Twin Cities this is the game that matters to you. Gopher fans are tired of Hawkeye fans filling our stadium and stealing our goalposts. Fortunately for Gopher fans this is the one rivalry trophy that has resided in Minnesota more often than not.
3. Take the two teams from above that you claim are your biggest rivals and give me a new mascot for them.
Wisconsin Favres - there are probably as many green #4's in the stands at a Badger game as there are Ron Dayne jerseys.
Iowa Drunkards - is there anything else to do in Iowa?
4. There are some new rules in college football this year. My favorite is the Big Ten experimental rule which states that after every win this year you get to pluck one player off their roster and bring them back to your campus. Looking at your schedule give me two players you would pluck (assuming a win), why you would take them and what would you do with them?
James Laurinaitis - besides the fact that he is one of the best linebackers in the country and besides the fact that we are very weak at linebacker, Laurinaitis is from Minnesota and represents why we need to keep in state players in state. The current defense would look much different with an All-American LB in the middle (although who's wouldn't) and keeping kids in state like Willie Mobley, Michael Floyd and Bryce McNeal would be easier if there was a history of the best choosing Minnesota over Ohio State, Notre Dame or Michigan.
PJ Hill - I know that we need defense worse than Pres. Bush needs approval ratings, but we also do not have a running game to truly keep defenses honest. Give us someone who can carry the ball, get first downs and keep the clock moving and that will actually help out our beleaguered defense.
5. Brian at MGO was kind enough to post a diary entry which gives us and new coach Rich Rodriguez a list of Michigan traditions that maybe we were not all aware of. This has inspired two final questions...
5A - are there any Michigan traditions that he missed? (here is your chance for some Michigan cheap shots)
Dominating the Little Brown Jug series comes to mind, but I choose to ignore that one. I believe a new tradition was started in 2007 falling in one of the best upsets in recent memory.
5B - Are there any traditions of your school's rival that we should all be aware of?
Wisconsin's tradition of the student section leaving at halftime is a personal favorite of mine. Are they bored with the game or is it already in hand? No, 2 quarters away from the bar is too much to handle, they can watch the second half at the bar right?
That is all I've got for now, check back in a few days for the recap.