What were you doing between 3-4 p.m. ET today? The right answer, the smart answer, the only answer is ... chatting with me about Big Ten football.
If that's not your answer, hang your head. And then read this transcript of the Big Ten chat.
As always, some highlights:
Jason from Columbus: Adam, after watching the OSU defense play good and bad this year. The team has two SERIOUS issues, neither of which are named "Fickell". First, OSU needs some linebackers BAD!!!. Second, like with Michigan's defense, UM DC Greg Mattison and OSU DC Fickell are getting their defenses directed to the right places, the players just aren't doing anything once there. With my alma mater, I am seeing some serious discipline issues with players not finishing plays. Especially, when the Indiana kid ran around the OSU player to get the ball and throw it back in-bounds. OSU needs some discipline, something Meyer's was not known for at Florida. If they have the team speed and talent, you can get away or mask that, but NOT OSU....not NOW. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Jason, completely agree with you about the lack of depth at linebacker. It's a killer, especially when you lose one of few veterans like Etienne Sabino. I also think discipline has something to do with the struggles. All season, I've seen Ohio State defenders go for the big play -- the interception, the big hit, the sack -- and struggle to make the simple play with good fundamentals. That has to be Luke Fickell's big focal point going forward. Ohio State didn't always have the flashiest defense in terms of takeaways, sacks, etc., but the Buckeyes also were barely on the field because they were so fundamentally sound.
Mitch from NJ: Do you think the conference suffers by not having enough good QB's? There are some great dual threat QB's (Miller, DRob, Martinez) but where are the classic throwers? Seems like the Big 12 took all of our mojo.
Adam Rittenberg: Mitch, I definitely think this is a problem. And the lack of elite pro-style quarterbacks is a bigger problem. There are some good spread QBs (Miller, Robinson, Martinez), but Matt McGloin has been the only consistent pro-style passer in the league. I think you'll see upgrades at Michigan as they go away from the spread, and Joel Stave has some potential at Wisconsin, but in terms of elite quarterbacks, the Big Ten is lacking there.
Chris from Carmel, Ind.: Do you think the window of opportunity is closing for my Spartans? This was supposed to be the year we took the next step, but that obviously isn't happening.
Adam Rittenberg: Chris, I've thought about this a lot. I still like the way Michigan State is recruiting on the defensive side, but with Michigan back on track, recruiting will be tougher in the region. The Spartans won't be able to keep DC Pat Narduzzi much longer, which will be a big loss. But the consistency Mark Dantonio provides, along with stronger support for the program, leads me to believe that Michigan State's long-term future still looks good. This was a big year, though, and it hasn't gone well to date.
Illini Mike from Chicago: Vegas as Illinois as two touchdown underdogs to the bye week. I am thinking of taking the points, is this too crazy of a wager?
Adam Rittenberg: I don't provide gambling advice, Mike. But idle can be a crafty opponent. He has a heck of a defensive line, I've heard.
Adam from New York: From the conference's perspective, the worst possible outcome of this weekend's games is: ?
Adam Rittenberg: Michigan loss, Wisconsin loss. While some fans won't like reading this, the Big Ten's best-case scenario at this point, for branding purposes, is a Wisconsin-Michigan matchup in the Big Ten title game, with both teams coming in at 10-2.
Thanks again for participating and asking good questions. My apologies to those whose questions didn't make the rundown. Let's do it again next week: same time, same place.