Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Ten Bloggers roundtable strikes again!

1. Call your shot. We are halfway through the Big Ten season (or, at least, most of us are). What will be your team's final record? Where, if anywhere, will your team be spending late December/early January? Who will win the Big Ten?

I know I'm a homer, but it's my blog and I'll pontificate if I want to.

From what I've seen thus far in 2007, I see one Big Ten team that hasn't faltered yet, Ohio State. Illinois and Indiana have exceeded all expectations, and deserve props for it. But the rest of the conference has had their struggles and nobody yet knows what team will show up from week to week.

The "Big Four", though?

- Michigan showed a lot of power last week, but I'm not convinced yet...they struggled to close out Eastern Michigan and Northwestern in the previous two games.

- Wisconsin hasn't played a good game yet, getting spanked at Penn State, beat by Illinois, and struggling to beat Michigan State and Iowa at home. They only beat The Citadel by two scores. I'm not sure what to expect, but it's not four solid quarters...not yet at least.

- Penn State has been downright embarrassing at times (allowing 339 passing yards to Buffalo?), and dominating at others (38-7 against Wisky). They scare me the most because they're 5-2, playing 5 home games and 2 road games....guess which 5 they won?

- And Ohio State? They've looked better and better each week, and no team has been within 16 points of them yet. Only two teams have even been in the game still by halftime (Akron and Washington), and both teams were overwhelmed by defense shortly after.

And yes, I know the opposition hasn't been world-dominating. But when you play weaker teams, you should beat them by a lot....the final score in the first 7 games? Ohio State 250, opponents 46. That's a 29-point margin PER GAME.

My prediction is that Ohio State will go 12-0 and will play in the BCS National Championship Game. Possible trip-up games will be at Penn State and at Michigan (because you can throw out the proverbial records when those two teams play).

2. How is your team's coaching situation? Clearly, this varies from school to school, with some coaches approaching retirement (Carr/Paterno), some who are just starting out (Brewster/Fitzgerald), the unique case of Bill Lynch, and others who seem to be in their primes. If your coach is on the tail end of his career, where do you see things going from here? If he's still early in his tenure, any buyer's remorse? If he's in he's somewhere in the middle, are you happy or wishing things would go a different direction? How does your view correspond to the "majority" view among your school's fans?

It's Jim Tressel. I can't imagine wanting anything else. He understands Ohio State, he lives and breathes Ohio State, and he loves Ohio State. And I don't think I'm being a homer when I say that 99% of OSU fans would agree that he's the best thing Ohio State has seen since Woody Hayes.

BONUS BASKETBALL QUESTION: If you plan to cover basketball, give us a brief outlook for your team. Who is your best player? What do you expect from the team?

The outlook is up for debate, same as last year. Some powerful freshmen coming in and a lot of losses from the starting lineup gone. Nobody knows exactly how it'll unfurl, but the belief around Ohio is that we will see another uprising like we did when Oden and Conley took the floor. We should get better as we gel, but it might be an early struggle.

Best player? Kosta Koufos. Just wait til you see him play. Unreal.

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