Today was my second-to-last Big Ten Monday chat of the regular season. How could you miss it? Well, I'll excuse it this time. Here's a full transcript, along with some highlights:
Bryce (St. Paul): I'm a pretty big homer, but I'd say I'm relatively realistic about the Gopher's chances this Saturday. Would you say the Gopher's have any real chance this weekend? If so, what is more important- Gopher's defense stopping Wisconsin's offense or Gopher's offense being successful against Sconie's Defense?
Brian Bennett: I think Minnesota has a shot, though Wisconsin is a pretty big favorite at this point. Minnesota has got to be able to run the ball. The way the Gophers have succeeded is by doing just that and controlling the clock and tempo. Wisconsin is allowing under 100 yards rushing per game, however. Should be a lot of fun -- and I'll be at the game. My first-ever trip to TCF Bank Stadium. I couldn't be more pumped up about it.
Tom (Cleveland, Ohio): Brian,Just going to ask it bluntly, why is there such an anti-Ohio State sentiment out there? You would think with the brand name like Ohio State that everyone would favor them as a more attractive team over a Baylor team that doesn't have the long storied tradition like OSU. (Not to say that Baylor isn't a good team but one would think that OSU's brand name would carry some weight and serve as a so called 'tiebreaker' for who people would rather see in a title game if the scenario played out. But Ohio State's brand name seems to be working in the opposite way than one would think...against them. Voters in the poll seem to be finding excuses to move Ohio State down a few spots so they don't get in the game. I understand that the perception of the B1G isn't great (which in my opinion the B1G is as good as the Big 12 and ACC but that is for whole another discussion) and Ohio State struggled against an Illinois team that is not great. For the sake of the argument, I wonder if you replace the name "Ohio State" with another university's name, keeping the other factors the same (aka schedule, non-conference opponents, victory margin, etc.) what people would say about this so called 'inferior team' that is Ohio State?
Brian Bennett: Long question there, but I think it's a good one. I'm surprised by the disrespect for Ohio State. Team has won 22 in a row! The B1G perception and the lack of strong nonconference wins are a major factor, no doubt. There may be some anti-Meyer sentiment out there as well. And I think Ohio State is still paying a price for losing the title games in the '06 and '07 seasons, which is flat-out ridiculous.
Kelly Smith (Bend, OR): Talking BCS bids. Interestingly, none of the BIG, Big12, or Pac12 bloggers project a second bid for their own conference. SEC gets 2 (of course), ACC gets 2 if Clemson beats SC, American gets 1 if someone's eligible, non-AQ probably gets 1, and the other AQ conferences get 4. Who deserves the final spot?If MichSt beats OSU, then OSU should. Or if OkSt beats Baylor, then Baylor should. But if the favorites win, Stanford is much higher in the BCS standings than anyone else.Brad Edwards pick Wisconsin. What thoughts have you?
Brian Bennett: Good analysis. Stanford will have a higher ranking, but the Cardinal don't have as large a fan base as Wisconsin. That could help the Badgers. Wisconsin still needs to get in that top 14, and even then, it's no guarantee. Would help a lot if Clemson lost to South Carolina and Baylor beat Okie State.
Robert (Champaign): Where do you stand on the Beckman/Cubit scuffle? It is one of the few times I am on Beckman's side, no reason to be throwing the ball with all the factors.
Brian Bennett: I do think it was a heat of the moment thing. I hated the call -- slow-developing pass play with a backup in for one play because of the helmet rule -- at the time. But wouldn't Beckman be able to overrule that on the headset? Probably a bit more at play there than we realize. Cubit also the most popular guy on the team right now because of the offensive improvement, so Beckman in a tough spot there.
Mike (Cedar Rapids, Iowa): Brian, This is the time of the year where coaching futures are in question. What schools in the Big Ten may be looking to change coaches or are all 11 safe?
Brian Bennett: Beckman needs to beat Purdue, I think. If he ends up 0-for the Big Ten in two years, watch out. And Pelini not out of the woods yet. Everyone else is safe.
Michael (Kingwood, TX): Hey Brian, you looking forward to the OSU-MSU B10 Championship? What matchup will be crucial to determining the outcome in that game?
Brian Bennett: For me, it's Ohio State's run game versus Michigan State's run D. Nobody outside of Nebraska has been able to run on the Spartans. But Ohio State did have success there last year, especially in closing out the game. If you can slow down Hyde and Miller on the ground, the Buckeyes become pretty average, at best, on offense.
Zach (St Paul): As for the poster saying this Minnesota-Wisconsin game won't be close if you look at common opponents...well look at Penn State and Nebraska. In their last four B10 games both beat Michigan and both lost to Minnesota by double digits. Yet the Gophers were pounded at Michigan early in the season. This is clearly a different Minnesota team than the first two B10 games.
Brian Bennett: I agree with that and don't forget that Wisconsin has played quite a few spread teams. Iowa hung around for a while playing smash mouth and would have had a better chance if not for its own mistakes. Also, have you seen the weather forecast for Saturday in Minneapolis? High of 21 degrees. Old school Big Ten football alert!
Rob NitLion (Morristown, NJ): Brian, please help my Rutgers friends here in Jersey out...I keep telling them they need to be hoping that the new AD makes a coaching change and they shouldn't look too far...my recommendation would be to hope they go after Narduzzi at Michigan State...I've been saying this all year and FINALLY the guys in my office are starting to come around (previously Bob Diaco was on the top of their wish list). What would be your recommendation IF Rutgers were to make a coaching change...certainly can't hurt their recent recruiting trend...
Brian Bennett: That's a fantastic idea, Rob. Love it. Narduzzi would be a perfect fit should Rutgers decide to make a change
Brad (Atlanta): Brian, first time on your chat. I'm an SEC fan and BAMA fan actually, but Tom asked earlier about the disrespect of OSU. You ended your answer with the losses in 06 and 07 BCSCG. I think that is right on. A lot of people I talk to view them as not showing up for big games against other conferences. In both those games they were #1 and lost. I don't necessarily agree that that should define them, but I think they may suffer from that stigma until they win a NC or other on the national stage again.
Brian Bennett: Thanks and welcome, Brad. What's silly is that Ohio State has actually performed extremely well on the national stage. Remember the win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl? How about beating Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl (NCAA vacated or not)? The Florida loss was bad, but losing to LSU in New Orleans by two touchdowns is a disgrace? And that was six, seven years ago.