Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's Big Ten reporter Brian Bennett will stop by to talk some football.
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville.
Send your questions now and join Bennett Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (3:00 PM)
Hello and welcome to another edition of the Big Ten Monday chat. I'm here for the next hour, so fire away with your best questions.
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 (3:02 PM)
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.
Tyler (CR, IA)
Brian - Two questions...1) Who are your top contenders for Coach of the Year in the B1G? 2) If Iowa were to win out and win a bowl game to finish the season 9-4 (very big if's with the inconsistency on offense), is that a bigger surprise than an undefeated OSU being denied a National Championship game appearance?
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
Right now, COY is between Urban Meyer, Mark Dantonio, Gary Andersen and Jerry Kill/Tracy Claeys. I think Minnesota's situation would lend itself perfectly to coach of the year, but I'm not sure voters know who exactly to choose there. So Meyer probably has the lead. And yes, Iowa would be a bigger surprise, because we all knew there was a strong possibility Ohio State could get left out thanks to its schedule.
Jacob(Atlanta,Georgia) [via mobile]
Did you think Nebraska exposed Michigan states defense as being overated. Nebraska put up 392 of totall offense behind a very injured offensive line. That's not mentioning the yards forfeited when we have 5 turnovers that we just gave away. Looking at Michigan states schedule the really havent played any good offensive teams exception Indian which put up 28.
Brian Bennett (3:05 PM)
No, I don't think that. For whatever reason, Nebraska matches up well with Michigan State's defense. The Huskers can run do a lot of things well on the perimeter, which you must do against MSU. One bad game doesn't mean MSU's defense is bad. Far from it.
You're reasons for having Wisconsin over Michigan State are ridiculous. Comparing points beaten common opponents by is just moronic. Compare WINS and LOSSES. How bout that? Novel concept!
Brian Bennett (3:07 PM)
Moronic, eh? How dumb is it to say compare wins and losses when two teams have played different schedules? Michigan State hasn't played anyone the caliber of Ohio State. Look, it's very close. Dead heat, almost. But when two teams play four common opponents in the same league and have the same road/home splits, it would be moronic, to use your choice of words, not to take that into account.
Hank (Washington DC)
Fitz should stop whining about the officiating during the last second Michigan field goal. I counted at least 5 potential interceptions (with 2 pick sixes) for his defense and they somehow dropped the ball!
Brian Bennett (3:07 PM)
Yeah. Northwestern had a lot more problems than that. A 7-yard punt from their own goal line didn't help either. You hold a team to no touchdowns in regulation at home, you should win. 'Cats have been ridiculous at finding ways to lose this year.
LJ (Mauston, WI)
Brian - Other than the B1G bashing that is so popular these days, what do you think are the top reasons for the Badgers are being so underrated right now?
Brian Bennett (3:09 PM)
The Arizona State "loss." The schedule. Wisconsin does not have a marquee win. In fact, its best win could come this week against Minnesota. Who'd have thunk it?
If OSU goes to the Nat'l Championship game, does the Rose Bowl still have to take a Big Ten team? If they do, who would they take?
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
The Rose would be under no official obligation to do so, but with this being the 100th edition and the last one before the playoffs, I would be stunned if the Rose didn't take a Big Ten team. And in that scenario, I would see Michigan State going, provided the Spartans win the next two weeks.
Jed (Lafayette, IN)
Illinois @ Purdue this Saturday. Somebody has to win.
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
Checking the NCAA bylaws to make sure that is true ... I am morbidly fascinated by that game.
Brian, are you as exited as I am to never hear about the ridiculously flawed BCS again? I'm especially thrilled to not have to look at the computer rankings again that have ASU average ranking at 11, while WI is slammed with a 20.
Brian Bennett (3:12 PM)
Yes, I'm done with the BCS, for sure. But don't think we'll be controversy free next year. The debate instead right now would be about Baylor vs. Ohio State for the 4th spot if we had a four-team playoff.
Lots of talk on the B1G boards about FSU being overrated. Did you know that FSU's smallest margin of victory this year has been 14 points? The only team EVER to complete an entire season with their smallest margin of victory being 14 points was the 1995 Nebraska squad, quite possibly the greatest college team ever. Lets be real, there is no way OSU deserves to be in the NGC if Bama and FSU win out, right?
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
I don't think Florida State is overrated. The 'Noles get a little too much of a pass on their schedule, however. They haven't really beaten anyone good outside of Clemson. But they have been dominant
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 (3:15 PM)
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.
What's up with the offensive play calling at UM? They put up a lousy last second 9 points in regulation, but then add 18 in 3 o/t's?
Brian Bennett (3:16 PM)
Sure helps when you get to start from the 25. I propose a rule change: if you go to OT after not scoring a TD in regulation, both teams have to start from the 50, not the 25. Prove you can actually put together a drive. But kudos to the Wolverines for showing some toughness, which had been MIA of late.
Cooter Ray (Outskirts of Lincoln)
I don't care what the scoreboard said. The best player on the field Saturday was Randy Gregory. He was dominant again and should be one of the leaders for defensive player of the year. If Bo would quit posing for pictures with his cat and focus on recruiting, all we need is one or two more Randys and its back to the top!
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
To be fair, every team would like to have a few Randy Gregorys. Kid is a total stud at 6-6, 250 with high-end speed. And it is a nice-looking cat.
BenDair (out there)
Rank these as most to least interesting Rose Bowl opponent for tOSU: ASU, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC. Would you rank the opponents the same for MI St?
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
OregonStanfordUCLAUSCAZ State.And, yes, the same for both. I'd pay to watch Ohio State or Michigan State take on Oregon. Or Stanford, for that matter.
Matt (New Albany, IN)
Alright Brian, after Saturday there should be NO DOUBT IU will have a new Defensive Coordinator next year, right? Is there any hesitation about Kevin Wilson making that call after seeing the nation's 124th ranked defense get gashed by Wisconsin?
Brian Bennett (3:19 PM)
It's bad. Real bad. Something's got to change in Bloomington. Coaches are usually the first thing to be changed.
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 (3:20 PM)
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.
Zach (St Paul)
True or False? If the Gophers rush for more yards than the Badgers they will win.
Brian Bennett (3:21 PM)
True. But easier said than done.
Jake (State Farm)
Chances Allen Robinson is gone after this year?
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
Is 101 percent too much? I don't see any reason why he'd stick around
David (Alpharetta, GA)
Another question re Wisc vs MSU. NO derogatory comments your way. I've see a few projections this week that has MSU in a BCS game. NOt the Rose Bowl, so the assumption is obviously that OSU bests MSU. If btoh MSU and Wisc end up with 2 loseese don;t we then compare the losses? They would both have lost to OSU. Wisc "lost" to ASU (who is ranked), MSU lost to ND (who is not ranked). Projecting out, it seems Wisc goes if either of them do. Agree?
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
And yet Notre Dame beat Arizona State. We'll also have another common opponent in Minnesota in two weeks. Not sure there's a definite answer, but it makes for a fun debate.
Tim (St. Paul)
Do you think Pelini's on the hot seat? He didn't commit those 5 turnovers.
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
His seat isn't cold, but it's not burning up, if you catch my drift. I think with the injuries and how the team bounced back, he's probably safe. Unless the Huskers don't play well the next two weeks. And the wild card is the new AD, Shawn Eichorst. No one really knows what he'll do.
I put OSU's "bad win" on the coaches. After going up 28-0 they started treating it like a scrimmage, with cute pass plays, and other nonsense. They could have run the ball for 1000 yards, controlled 48 minutes of clock time, and won by 40 pts with a boring "run until they stop us game plan". Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
Some truth to that. Tom Herman admitted he underestimated the wind. Meyer said he took Mewhort out because he thought the game was in hand. Ohio State could have named its rushing total. Don't forget the three injuries on D, as well. That played a role for a team that's not really deep on that side of the ball.
I'm fairly surprised to see that you're actually giving Minnesota a chance this weekend. By pretty much any measure you use (common opponents, statistics) the game won't be close.
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
Don't get me wrong. Wisconsin is a heavy favorite, and a Minnesota win would be an upset. But the Gophers are on a roll and had an extra week to prepare. I'm done underestimating them this season.
Rob NitLion (Morristown, NJ)
BENNETT!!! Hope you enjoed Clemson, when will you post an article on your experience? For what its worth, I think you had the best out of conference assignment of all the ESPN bloggers! Clemson is on my bucket list of non-B1G stadiums to see a game at.
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
Clemson was great, Rob. Extremely friendly people there and a tremendous game atmosphere. Being on a Thursday night hurt, because so many people travel from far distances to see the Tigers. There were about 10,000 empty seats, and the pregame atmosphere wasn't as festive. But the Howard's Rock, run down the hill intro was awesome. Expect to see something in the next week or two. We're still working all that out.
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 (3:31 PM)
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 (3:32 PM)
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.
For Entertainment value,which 2 matchups would you like to see our 2A and 2B teams aka Wisconsin and MSU?...TAMU,Auburn,Clemson?
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
Michigan State's D vs Johnny Football? Uh, yeah, where do I sign up? And how about Wisconsin vs. Auburn? Neither team might pass in that game. Two tremendous running games.
How about MSU's O averaging 32 points per game in B1G play? Nobody is mentioning how much the MSU O has improved since the ND game... I think it could be a huge factor vs OSU, since the D doesn't have to shut down everyone every game.
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
Pretty incredible, and we're 10 games in, so this is no fluke. Connor Cook and Jeremy Langford gave this offense a whole lot of life. I'm most surprised by Langford and the job he's done.
Hey BB, who will step up for Penn State at Wideout next year? (Considering A-Rob will enter the draft). They are rock solid at tight end and the production from that group will keep on coming.
Brian Bennett (3:36 PM)
Eugene Lewis is one who's going to have to make the leap, and he's got the talent to do so. And Adam Breneman could come on as a big weapon at TE. Had his first TD catch last week. Won't be his last.
Mike (SEC country)
How would Baylor match up head to head with Ohio State?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
It's a great question. I doubt Ohio State would slow down Baylor's offense a whole lot, simply because nobody has. And it's so different from anything the Buckeyes have seen. I also think Baylor would have trouble against Hyde and Miller. I'd sure love to see it.
Going well over 100 yards rushing against MSU with a patchwork offensive line made Ameer Abdullah the B1G's #1 running back this year, right?
Brian Bennett (3:38 PM)
I believe so. By far the most consistent. When you throw in Carlos Hyde, James White, Melvin Gordon, Jeremy Langford, Tevin Coleman, even David Cobb ... what a year for Big Ten running backs.
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 (3:40 PM)
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.
Brian, please answer me this: There were 2 teams Saturday, BOTH of whom played unranked conference opponents, on the road, struggled early but wound up winning by 24 and 25 points respectively...yet one of these teams got the headline that they "rolled," while the other "survived." The former of course being Baylor, the latter being OSU. People aren't even trying to hide their bias anymore. What gives?!?!
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
I'll be honest. I didn't like that, and sent a note to my editors about it. I think it was two things: one, Baylor fell behind early but then had a big finish, while Ohio State scuffled in the second half. That left an impression. Secondly, Texas Tech was ranked pretty high at one point, while Illinois has a 20-game B1G losing streak. I happen to think Texas Tech is wildly overrated -- who, exactly, have they beaten this year?
How much of the blame should Pelini and his staff get for the team's turnovers. The argument is that Pelini is wired so tight it translates to the players and thus creates turnovers. I don't buy it...thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
I wish I had the answer for you. I know the staff really emphasized ball security this spring, but it didn't seem to help. We've seen the same turnover issues over and over in big games, with different players involved. I don't get it.
Two questions. One, do you think the coaches poll has been better at ranking teams than the AP poll lately? Two, Urban Meyer has been complaining about the BCS system, but also stated that the playoff format will have the same problem. Do you think that a play-in between the 4th and 5th teams in the AP poll at the end of the season could at least help to fix the problems?
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
As long as the coaches are ranking Louisville six spots ahead of UCF, I can't give that poll much credibility. Ludicrous. We're not getting an extra play-in game, which would only lead to No. 6 complaining anyway. I think we can live most years with the No. 4 vs. No. 5 debate. Much better than arguing over who should be 1 and 2.
I am a firm believer that Bama will go down, soon. Which team do you see it being against?
Brian Bennett (3:46 PM)
You are? Well, at Auburn next week is your best bet. I don't see it happening.
Any reason to believe 'The Game,' on 30 November will not be a dog fight? Biased, yes, but I can see Michigan, once again ruining a perfect season in the "Big House.'
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
I have a hard time seeing Michigan doing much on offense in that game. But I do think the Wolverines will approach it like their Super Bowl. Just don't think they're good enough to win it.
Lou (Tampa, FL)
Not really in my DNA to defend OSU, but what might be the most ironic about the polls this year is that this OSU team probably matches up better vs an FSU or 'Bama than the '06/'07 teams that got smoked. You don't just score 60 a pop in the B1G.
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
Yep, and the "Ohio State is slow" garbage doesn't fly for this team. Not that it really did for those teams, which produced a ton of NFL guys.
Brandon (Lafayette, IN)
Auburn wins out. Do they go to the NCG?
Brian Bennett (3:49 PM)
Good question. Auburn would have some great wins, including Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama, plus the SEC East winner. I think it would be too hard to overcome the undefeated teams. But you just know the SEC lobby would be out in force, and it would be hard to blame them after the past seven years.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Have you ever seen a Big Ten team with as much bad luck and with as many heartbreaking losses as Northwestern this season? Do you think this difficult season will have any lingering effect on the program?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
Not sure I've seen many teams in any league deal with such heartbreak in one year. (Then again, I did go to Kentucky). I don't think it should have a lasting effect. Just one of those years. Look at all the close games MSU lost last year. It can turn around quickly.
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 (3:52 PM)
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 (3:53 PM)
That's a fantastic idea, Rob. Love it. Narduzzi would be a perfect fit should Rutgers decide to make a change
Brian, based on the current bowl pojections how do you see the B1G faring this year?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
Well, let's just say, for argument's sake, that it's Ohio State-Oregon, Michigan State-Texas A&M and Wisconsin-Auburn (or Missouri) at the top of the lineup. That's not too easy, is it?
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
Another possibility, in the Wings Bowl. Or even OK State or Texas. These will not be easy matchups. They never are.
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 (3:57 PM)
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.
Rob NitLion (Morristown, NJ)
This may have been covered already...but how about a quick shout out for Matthew McGloin! Is there a better recent B1G story?
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
Awesome story. Amazing stuff. Very happy for McGloin, though I heard the Raiders will start Rob Bolden next week. (I kid).
Ahh yes, that same Iowa team that beat Minnesota by 16 at home and "hung around" to score three field goals at home to lose by 19 to Wisconsin
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
Mark, Iowa dominated that first half. Just couldn't finish drives and made some mistakes.
Nick (Farmington Hills)
Now that MSU punter Mike Sadler has successfully ran for two huge first downs on trick plays, is it safe to say he's the frontrunner for the heisman trophy?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
Of course. I'd be stunned if he didn't win the Heisman.
Jake (State Farm)
I see how it is Brian. I posted pretty much the same thing about McGloin and you ignored me :( I also posted a question relating to him and you ignored it :((((
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
Sorry, bud. Lot of questions in here. But hope the khakis are fitting nicely today.
Alien Spartan ( Some Where In Open Space)
Brian, generic questions aside, who goes to the Rose Bowl?
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Still think it will be Ohio State. But I wouldn't count out Michigan State in Indy
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions, everybody. My time is up. See you next week, and enjoy the games this Saturday