Our final preseason Big Ten chat is in the books, and it was a good one. You guys are definitely ready for the games to begin.
In case you missed the hour of fun, I've got you covered with a full transcript.
Ryan from Indy: Why does the SEC get the free pass for new/young players but the B1G is labeled as weak in those areas? (thinking the criticism in UM's d-line versus AL's defensive backfield)?
Adam Rittenberg: That's a fair question, Ryan. I think it's because SEC teams have shown a better ability to reload than some Big Ten teams over time. Remember that Michigan is just two years removed from 7-6 and three years removed from 5-7. Brady Hoke and his staff must show they can replace great players like Martin, Van Bergen, etc. They certainly have the expertise to do so, but Michigan isn't at the level of an Alabama where you can just assume it will reload. You earn that over time.
Blackhawk from Grand Rapids: Adam, how important are the Legends division team's games with OSU in terms of a potential tiebreaker? Assuming MSU, UM and Nebby split the round-robin, and each have one more loss to tie at 6-2 in the division, would MSU have a significant advantage getting OSU in EL and right at the beginning of conference play? Those three would seem to be poised to run through the rest of the Legends, and OSU is the only common opponent that can affect the tiebreaker.
Adam Rittenberg: Really good question, Blackhawk. It certainly helps Michigan State to get the Buckeyes at home, while both Nebraska and Michigan must travel to Columbus. Still, if you look at the division tiebreakers, division games are more important than cross-division games. So a win against Ohio State might not mean as much as a win against Iowa, Minnesota or Northwestern for any of these teams. Iowa could have more to do with determining the division winner if this scenario plays out. Michigan State and Michigan both get Iowa at home, while Nebraska must travel to Iowa City.
Bryan from Hoboken, N.J.: Adam, which of the following B1G teams has the biggest chance of being upset by its Pac-12 opponent: OSU (vs. Cal), Neb (@ UCLA), or Wisconsin (@ Oregon St.)?
Adam Rittenberg: Wisconsin can't take Oregon State lightly as that's a long trip to a tricky stadium, but I'd have to go with Nebraska. Although UCLA wasn't very good last year, the Bruins have some talent and will be playing at home. While the Huskers should win, they'll need to take control in Pasadena. But quite frankly, I don't see any of the Big Ten teams losing. Maybe if the Ohio State-Cal game was in Berkeley, I'd feel differently, but Cal is on the downswing (saddens me to say having grown up a Bears fan).
Lou from Gaithersburg, Md.: Adam, maybe this is a question for Ivan, since he's in State College, but with Bench being a co #2 on the depth chart, is that an indication of Bench rising that much or Jones underwhelming? Would they burn Bench's redshirt?
Adam Rittenberg: Lou, I think it's a combination of Bench impressing and Jones struggling a bit with the system. The coaches really, really liked Bench from the get-go, and I don't think they'll hesitate to play him if things go south with McGloin. In fact, I'd be shocked if Bench redshirts this season, especially with Hackenberg coming in next year. I think it's important for Penn State to get Bench some experience.
Alex from Anaheim: Who's the best defensive player in the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg: It's a tough question, Alex, as I could see at least five players in the race for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Right now, the four at the top of my list are John Simon, Gerald Hodges, William Gholston and Kawann Short. All four are exceptional at their positions, and all four can dominate games at times. I'd lean toward Simon right now, but they're all great players.
Thanks again for participating and for asking good questions. My apologies to those whose questions didn't make the rundown.
Let's do it again next Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.