It's our first week without Big Ten football since the summer. But don't be depressed. Here's a transcript of my Monday chat session, along with some highlights:
Dan (Omaha): What's your take on the bowl matchups? I think the B1G is setup for a lot of good, close games that could go either way. While I'm not wild about the Huskers pulling Georgia again, it is a chance for redemption and two good programs. Looks like Iowa probably has the toughest game (vs. LSU) , but they are playing good ball so they can pull that out with a good game plan...what's your take on the slate?
Brian Bennett: I don't think it's quite as tough as it was the past couple of years. The Big Ten matches up pretty well in its two BCS games. Wisconsin and Iowa have tough games against really good SEC teams, but both have a chance. Nebraska could have a hard time if Georgia is healthy at all. Minnesota should be favored and Michigan has a good shot. So the Big Ten has a chance to post a winning record, but like you said, probably a lot of close games.
Mark (Rochester, MI): Hey Brian,Could you speak to the depth MSU seems to have? OSU looked worn out at the end of the game, specifically on the last TD run by Jeremy Langford. I saw on the player participation MSU played 55 guys and OSU 31.
Brian Bennett: That's a great point, Mark. Michigan State might be deeper than any other Big Ten team. The defense has solid backups, and the offensive line rotates seven guys. And a lot of receivers play. It's no coincidence that Langford seems to break off a big run late in a lot of games. An underrated facet of the Spartans' success.
Vinnie (ATL): I am a Buckeye living in the south. I have seen quite a bit of Clemson football this year. My concern is with the secondary. Will Watkins and Humphries abuse OSU's secondary?
Brian Bennett: I went to a Clemson game last month, and that's a huge concern. Those receivers are big and fast, and no Big Ten team has a pair like them. Clemson doesn't run the ball very well, but Boyd and those receivers are scary. Ohio State will need to get some good work done on that secondary during bowl practices.
Tim (Columbus, Oh): Face it, it's actually probably a GOOD thing Ohio State lost to Michigan State and save the embarassment of having Florida State run all over them (Disclosure: I'm a Buckeye fan). Having a good chance at winning the Orange Bowl against Clemson will do more for Ohio State and the B!G than losing to Florida, potentially by a blow out. Agreed?
Brian Bennett: Adam and I made this point on our wrapup video from Indy. The Ohio State team I saw would have been extremely challenged to beat Florida State, and it could have gotten ugly. The Buckeyes have a much better chance to beat Clemson, and Michigan State could win the Rose as well (though Stanford is very, very good). The only drawback is it's a setback for Ohio State's image as a national title contender in the future.
Dave Rimington (NorCal): At this point, where do you see the Huskers placing in the newly-configured division next year? And do you think there's much of a chance that the B1G will rise from its current mediocrity?
Brian Bennett: Adam and I talked a bit about this over the weekend. The West Division is going to be wide open next year. Wisconsin loses a ton. Iowa should still be pretty good but does lose those three linebackers. Minnesota returns most of its roster but needs to develop a passing game. Northwestern can't possibly be this bad again. Nebraska might go in as the favorite, but it's hard to trust the Huskers right now.
Charles (Fort Collins, CO): Brian! You are the man. How was your trip to Indianapolis different than last year? I was at the game last year as a Husker fan (still have nightmares) and I loved the stadium, but all the empty seats were unfortunate. How was it with the place almost full?
Brian Bennett: Thanks, Charles. The weather meant there weren't quite as many people milling about the streets downtown on Friday. But the atmosphere in the stadium was the best it had been in three years. Very loud and electric. The game felt like a big event, and it was. Indy, as always, was a great host.
Rob NitLion (Morristown, NJ): I have to come right out and say it...back in September I really questioned why you and Adam were so high on a team that lacked a forward passing attack, I thought MSU was highly overrated getting Top 25 votes, so as a PSU fan I want to be the first to say that I was wrong about MSU and I'm now a believer...Connor Cook looks legit...
Brian Bennett: Hey, let's not forget that both Adam and I picked the Spartans to win the Big Ten in 2012. Turns out we were a year early, but we always knew this program had tons of talent and potential.
Sean (Colorado): With no Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State on the schedule next season, the toughest game for the Badgers next year (on paper) is the opener against LSU in Houston. Do you think they can make a run at a BCS game, or even the four-team playoff ahead?
Brian Bennett: The schedule sets up very nicely. I just worry about all the departing seniors. Replacing the front seven on defense won't be easy, and who the heck will catch the ball with Abbrederis and Pedersen gone?