Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable Week 3

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1)The national media is using the Big Ten Conference as a punching bag in 2008 ranking us somewhere between the Big East and the MAC. Based on Ohio State’s no-show, Purdue’s “APPLE!!!” and Michigan’s debacle, it is redemption week in Big Ten Country. However, several teams have very respectable, yet no-name teams (ie. Troy, Central Michigan, Ball State). Tell us how the Big Ten will respond this week in the final week before conference play.

Minnesota’s dream run of an undefeated season will probably come to an end, as they’re playing a pretty legit (though only 1-win thus far) Florida Atlantic squad. All the other Big Ten teams should win this week, however (and Minnesota might be able to continue surprising us). Ohio State will take down the Troy Trojans, against whom they’ll have a mascot-oriented grudge. Penn State should continue to climb up the charts with an impressive win over Temple. Northwestern and Indiana should take down MAC foes Ohio and Ball State, respectively, though both Mid-American teams are pretty good. Michigan State should avenge their Big Brother against Notre Dame. Purdue has a testy game against Central Michigan, and Iowa takes on a Pitt team that expected to be undefeated at this point, and has a bye week to prepare. Both Big Ten teams should struggle, but emerge victorious.

2)The conference standings look like someone took the 2007 results and flipped it upside down. Which of the undefeated teams are contenders and which are pretenders (another way of saying which teams have put lipstick on a pig)? Recalibrate your preseason rankings and tell us who the conference favorites are now.

The remaining undefeated teams are Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Of those teams, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Northwestern are virtually untested. Indiana will challenge for a second-consecutive bowl, and Iowa and Northwestern will try to return to the postseason. Minnesota will struggle to get bowl-eligible once they start playing Actual Football Teams, and will probably fail to accomplish that. Penn State and Wisconsin are legit conference title contenders.

Among teams that have at least one loss, Ohio State will be a conference contender, and Michigan State and Illinois will probably sit around that second tier of the conference. I think Purdue is overrated, and will struggle for bowl eligibility, though they’ll probably scrape their way in. Michigan’s goal is to try to get into a bowl, and that’s as high as they’ll likely go.

3)Javon Ringer has emerged as the early season best-bet Heisman hopeful from the Big Ten. Real deal or non-conference smoke screen? Does anyone from the Big Ten have a prayer for the Heisman, or is it too late?

Javon Ringer might have a chance, but he’d have to put up those silly numbers against Actual Football Teams (he probably won’t: the Spartans aren’t that good), and the Spartans will have to challenge for the BCS (they probably won’t: the Spartans aren’t that good). The other preseason contenders in the conference were Curtis Painter, who won’t challenge for the Heisman because he never deserved to be in the conversation in the first place, and Beanie Wells, whose two games missed, including a pantsing of the Buckeyes by USC, will eliminate him from contention unless he goes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns in nearly every game, while the Buckeyes make it back to the BCS (they probably will, or at least come close).

4)After three weeks it is time to give your team a new slogan. What is it and why is it what it is?

I’ll quote Rich Rodriguez on this one: “Michigan football will be back.” Sure, it sounds like a concession that this season is lost, and we’ll start focusing on the future. However, I don’t see it like that Michigan football will not wait until 2009 to return. on the contrary, the reemergence begins September 27th against the Badgers, and will continue through the following 8 games. Michigan football will be back this year, and that means at least a token run at the Big Ten Championship.

5)By now, you’ve likely adopted a favorite non Big Ten team to watch. Flex your football worldliness by convincing your fellow Big Ten kool-aid drinkers to watch your “other” team.

I have a very hierarchical method of determining who to cheer for, and it is to complicated to explain in depth in such a limited space. However, I generally cheer for the MAC (especially the state of Michigan teams or those that Michigan plays), because I think it is good for the Big Ten for Midwest football to be strong. I also cheer for the underdog most of the time, which may explain my recent adopting of Stanford. I also cheer against the SEC in non-conference games almost without exception (maybe if they played Notre Dame).

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