Here's the answers I promised you......
1. Time to break out the crystal ball. I want to know what happens at the END of the season. Give me your offensive and defensive Players of the Year in the Big Ten along with Coach of the Year and why.
This should be fun to look back at. Let's give it a try.
Offensive POY - Mike Hart, Michigan. I can't stand the guy, mainly because of his arrogance and inability to properly deal with a loss. Either way, the kid can flat-out run the ball. Say what you will about the Appalachian State game, Hart's 50+-yard run to give Michigan the lead was incredible, and he nearly won that game for the Wolverines single-handedly. His downfall are injuries, which have started to spring up again. If he stays healthy, he's hands-down the best offensive player in the Big Ten
Defensive POY - James Laurinaitis, Ohio State. I still can't understand how some consider Little Animal to be overrated. He won the Nagurski Award, was a finalist for the Butkus Award, and was an All-American....as a SOPHOMORE! Now in his junior season, he's eating up opposition. His two interceptions of Jake Locker last week played no small part in the Buckeyes dominant win. Time and time again, Laurinaitis has been the stopper Ohio State needs for victory, and I see him continuing that trend.
Coach Of The Year - Joe Tiller, Purdue. Purdue's excellence on offense has opened a lot of eyes around the nation. 50 points per game is a nice start, no matter the competition. That should stay the same with Minnesota and Notre Dame up next. Then comes the Big Ten's best defense, Ohio State. But by then, Purdue will be ranked and moving up. If Tiller can knock off just one Big Ten powerhouse this year, Tiller will be hailed as a hero and win the coach of the year.
2. With the upsets, close games, and head scratchers so far, every game we thought was going to be important has changed. Michigan State is 3-0, for Pete's sake, and they look good doing it. Pick the three games on the Big Ten Schedule that will determine the Big Ten Champion. Bonus Points for not picking three games on your own schedule.
1) Penn State at Michigan - If Penn State wins, they get the boost they need in the Big Ten, finally slaying the nemesis. If Michigan wins, they get to claim they're 1-0 in conference play, and they can ride a wave of success with a Top 10 victory. Penn State, if you let these chumps up off the mat, a pox on all you and all your ancestors.
2) Wisconsin at Penn State - Both teams should be unbeaten by this point, and if they are, it'll be a war. The winner gets the inside track to the title, and the loser has to hope for help in order to get the automatic BCS bid.
3) Ohio State at Michigan - Screw the bonus points, "The Game" determines the Big Ten Championship EVERY YEAR.
3. How many games, this season, have you been to? How many games have you tailgated at? If you have tailgated, name your beverage of choice. If you answered no to the previous questions, hang your head in shame, or at least give a good story about watching the game in enemy territory and giving the bouncer the finger when he asked you to quiet down.
I haven't yet been to any games this year....my paying gig requires me to work on Saturdays. The good news is that my Saturday job is running the entertainment at a sports bar. I get to watch the games, keep the crowd fired up, and I get paid to do it.
OK, for my cool story. 1987, Ann Arbor. Earle Bruce has been fired four days before the Michigan game, and I head up with 'Block O' to see the game. Our seats are in the end zone, front row.....Chris Spielman had a look in his eye and you could see what was going to happen. Buckeyes overpower a better Michigan team and win 23-20. We rush the field after the game, and on the way back to the bus, we swipe a maize-colored barricade horse. I still have my share of that, with the date and the score carved into it.
4. As the Big Ten Season kicks off, the Conference is in somewhat of a difficult position nationally. Needing some momentum after a horrid BCS performance, the Conference needed some momentum early in the season. It hasn't gotten it. The first three weeks have been abysmal. Is this just a down year for the Big Ten, is there a change Nationally that the Big Ten just hasn't picked up on, is there some truth to the "Big Ten Style of Play" that everyone harps on, or has college football simply caught up? What so you think and why? I may be beating a dead horse, but no one looks good this year and I'm at a loss as to why.
Frankly, I'm not that worried about it. Last year's BCS Bowls were awful for us, but I can't possibly begin to denigrate the whole conference based on two losses to teams that were ranked #1 at the end of last year and the beginning of this one. As for this year, the conference's bad tidings are overblown.
Maybe I'm a Big Ten homer, but we'll still be sending two teams to the BCS this year...and every year.