We had a grand old time in the Big Ten Monday chat, as always. If you missed it, there's no need for all that crying. That's just embarrassing. Instead, read this full transcript and cheer yourself up with these highlights:
Gill (Minneapolis): Good column today. Why wouldn't a simple requirement of a team having to be not on probation and above .500 in Conference play and OVERALL solve the championship eligibility question? If a Division can't provide a team then the 2nd best team in the other division goes. The UCLA debacle last year should have shown the way.
Brian Bennett: Still some logistical problems. How, exactly, do you determine the second-best team when there are unbalanced schedules? I don't think the Big Ten envisioned the Leaders champ being .500 or worse. As I wrote, I was being a little whimsical with the Ohio State suggestion, but the league could have come up with some alternatives this year.
Andrew (Omaha): Hey Brian,If the regular season were over today it would put Nebraska in the Rose Bowl with Oregon (which is not an unimaginable outcome in real life); can the Huskers conceivably even make that game interesting?
Brian Bennett: I would be very, very afraid of that matchup for Nebraska. Or any Big Ten team, really. Nebraska has trouble already with spreads and mobile QBs; imagine going against the Ducks. Big Ten fans should root for Oregon to make the BCS title game and for a much more manageable matchup in Pasadena, such as Stanford, Oregon State or even USC
Brad (Indiana): If Indiana beats WI and one more B1G team and WI loses out would they be playing for a BCS game at 3-5 / 5-7 overall?
Brian Bennett: Yes, that is entirely possible. Maybe you can see now why I said some radical thinking about the Big Ten title game this year was in order.
Steve (Milwaukee): No doubt the OSU defense is making strides as a unit, but do you think it's MORE due to the offensive style of their opponent or due to an actual improvement in team play?
Brian Bennett: A little bit of both. Clearly, the Buckeyes defense does better against a more traditional pro-style offense (and while it played well against Purdue, that was, uh, Purdue). But I also see a lot fewer missed tackles and guys like Ryan Shazier are playing better. Getting Nathan Williams going has also been key. Too much talent on this D for it to struggle all year long.
Ryan (Ohio): If Ohio St goes 12-0 will any AP voters dare give them their 1st place vote?
Brian Bennett: I doubt it, because of the schedule. Ohio State didn't beat anyone of consequence in the nonconference, and the Big Ten's perception is so low that voters will see that as the Buckeyes ripping through a weak league. I think No. 2 or 3 is the ceiling.
Kevin (Rochester): Am I crazy to think NU has a serious shot at reaching the championship game? Bye week this week to get ready for Michigan at the Big House. Northwestern front 7 has been great shutting down the run game all season. If they contain and stop Denard on the run they should win. They then face Michigan State whose been shaky on offense. Then play a depressing illinois team. I understand its Northwestern and they blow leads but its not crazy to think they can make it right.
Brian Bennett: It's not crazy, but Northwestern needs Nebraska to lose twice because the Huskers have a one-game lead and the tiebreaker. You need to root for MSU to win this weekend and then for Minnesota or Iowa to knock off the Huskers.
Waffles (Southern California): If Stave doesn't leave the game, do you think the Badgers would have come out wit ha V?
Brian Bennett: It's a great question and one that can be asked about Denard and Michigan. No doubt both injuries completely changed the texture of those games. Ultimately, though, injuries are a part of the game and you'd better have a good backup plan. Neither the Badgers nor the Wolverines did. I feel bad for Stave, because he was having his best game before his season got cut short. Tough break.
Eric (B-Town): Proof that the B1G is screwed up this year: Purdue fans are already looking to basketball, while Indiana is alternately celebrating #1 in basketball and looking at a potential conference championship game in football. The Mayans were right.
Brian Bennett: Well, the good news is that we'll all be put out of our misery in about two months and won't have to watch bowl season.