Finally into November and the homestretch of the Big Ten Conference season (and hopefully Greg Robinson’s last few games as Michigan’s ‘defensive coordinator’-hey, look at that, his ‘defense’ just gave up another touchdown). If you’re not familiar, Doug from The Detroit Transplant , Joe from Joe Knows Stuff and myself have been running a roundtable since the beginning of the season. Here’s what we’ve talked about this week. Also, pardon the mess-still working on the new look, but also just wanted to thank Doug for the brand new header. Awesome work!
The Big Ten Title Race is officially a mess. What happens the rest of the way, and which team is taking the title?
Doug (Michigan State): Okay, this is getting messy, you’re right. After MSU losing to Iowa last weekend, it’s a giant cluster-you-know-what. With that being said, we’re still technically ahead of the other “top” teams. Granted, Iowa has not played OSU yet, and that’s where the big piece comes in. If MSU and Iowa win out, we tie for the title, giving Iowa the heads up because they beat us. We own the head to head against Wisconsin, so unless we lose one more, Iowa loses one more, and Wisconsin wins out, they have no shot. OSU needs all three to lose to win a share of the title. Now that that’s sorted out, here’s what I see happening: MSU winning the title. We’re not the “same old Spartans,” and we really don’t have any foreseeable challenges on the horizon (in theory). Granted, this is the Big Ten, and anything can happen– that’s why you play the game (thanks Herm). Iowa I think will have issues, and that’s why I’m glad we avoid OSU altogether this year. I agree, lucky scheduling. MSU should win the title when the dust settles, in my opinion.
Joe (Wisconsin): I think the Michigan State loss is just the kind of game that can start a losing skid. I can’t see it happening this week, but I can see them start to lose their edge. I see Wisconsin winning out, and while they’re doing that, hanging on for dear life in the BCS Standings to win the conference.
Norm (Michigan): I see Iowa, Wisconsin, and MSU all tying for the conference title at the end of the season. With the exception of that wild Iowa/Wisconsin game, Iowa is an incredibly tough team at home-that team from Columbus will see their BCS/Conference Championship streak come to an end. Barring Michigan somehow pulling off a miracle win over Wisconsin (hey, it happened in ’08 so anything is possible) the Badgers should cruise. The biggest threat the Spartans have the rest of the season will be complacency.
What was the biggest surprise to you this past weekend?
Joe: Iowa making Sparty their bitch. I haven’t seen a blowout that shocking since… since….. probably some time last year, anyway.
Doug: How flat we looked against Iowa. My god, I wasn’t sure who was on the field. Cousins played uninspired and made some uncharacteristically bad throws– at one point I asked who dressed up as cousins for Halloween. The offense just looked bad, and the defense did too. It was just an overall bad outing. With that said, Michigan’s performance at PSU really shocked me too. They made Penn State look good, which concerns me about our last game of the season– I hope it was a one game thing.
Norm: Doug, it’s Michigan’s defense coached by Greg Robinson. I wouldn’t worry. That being said, I concur-Iowa absolutely dominating Michigan State. I always thought MSU looked shaky the last few weeks, but never thought I’d see them get blown out the way they did. Kirk Cousins looked like he was channeling Chuck Long-the Detroit Lions version.
There are still a few games left, but what two teams do you think will be involved in the BCS Championship Game?
Doug: What I want to see: Oregon vs. Boise State. Why? I want to see if they’re for real, Boise has been the epitome of success in college football in the last long while, and they haven’t really been tested. I want to see if the hype is worthy, or if we’re pumping up a good team that is in a horrifically weak conference. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see like 2,000+ yards of offense in ONE game?
What we’ll probably get: A snoozer. Thanks to computers, we can’t go by gut feelings and pick good games. To place heavy emphasis on one single game: the Iron Bowl will determine one of the teams, unless Auburn lays an egg against Georgia. If Oregon wins out– may not be easy either– they’ll be the other team. High powered offense vs. high powered defense. Yep, I’m picking Alabama vs. Oregon. And I bet I fall asleep by half time.
Joe: I can’t see Oregon falling, and I can’t see Boise State getting in, because Alabama will get the voter love late, Auburn’s got a burning problem that will distract them into a loss to Bama, and I’d honestly be interested in seeing if the SEC can be outrun.
Norm: No argument here. I’d love to see Boise State here (but the computers will give us Broncos v. Horned Frogs…again), but Oregon and Alabama will more than likely get the nod (unless the Ducks stumble at Corvallis in the season finale-always a strong possibility when it comes to those two).
Switching things up a bit since we’re all fans of NFC North teams-which team do you think will take the division?
Joe: The Packers are in the driver’s seat, Jeff George’s spirit in a younger body will sink the Bears, the Vikings are a mess, and the Lions aren’t quite ready for prime time.
Doug: How bout this: I HAVE NO IDEA. The Bears are finally reaping the rewards of Martz’s system– the INT. The Packers don’t know what they’re doing on the field, and have no running game. The Vikings have a revolving door at WR, and Brett Favre is being fitted for a walker. The Lions– I can’t believe I’m saying this– have been the most consistent team in the division this year. That doesn’t mean they’ll win it, but it means they’re a threat to spoil it. And with NYJ, DAL, and BUF coming up, the reality of being a 5-5 team is really not that far off.
As for who takes the division, I have to go with Green Bay– and only because they’re the best team that has the least amount of problems in their lap compared to the other 3. Lions, penalties; Vikings, age/senility; Bears, Jay Cutler. So yeah, Packers by a slim margin in the tightest NFC North race we’ve seen in a LONG time. Like one game. Wouldn’t it be perfect for us to ruin Favre’s last game? That may be what makes it close.
Norm: I’m just in absolute shock that the Lions even have a shot (sure it’s a small chance, but it is one) at the NFC North in November. I still think the Pack will pull it off, but this is a Lions team playing with some confidence. I’d also like to take this moment to laugh at the Vikings and Brett Favre. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA