- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you missed my Monday Big Ten chat this week, you missed a lot of good questions and a couple of good answers. But never fear. I'm here to catch you up with the full transcript and some choice highlights:
Zach (Lincoln, NE): Do you see 2013 as being the big breakout year for B1G football. All I keep hearing is that Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State are returning a lot of key players to an easier schedule, which is the same way that I look at my Huskers.
Brian Bennett: That's quite possible, Zach. I think you'll see Ohio State and Michigan loaded for bear. Michigan State should still be really good, with an advantageous schedule. No reason to think Nebraska won't be good, and Penn State will be in Year 2 of O'Brien. And Bielema has said '13 might be his best team. So it could be a banner year, though a lot can happen between now and then.
Jerry Jerry (Minnesota): How many games do you think Jerry Kill can win in year 2 at Minny?
Brian Bennett: I think the Gophers have a chance to sweep the nonconference schedule, where the toughest game is Syracuse at home. If that happens, all they have to do is match last year's two Big Ten wins to get to a bowl. I'm being conservative now and saying five, but six or even seven wins is not out of the question.
Carl (Chicago): With the new schedule, Michigan State and Wisconsin won't play very much. Do you think that hurts this budding rivalry or do you see them meeting in the B1G Championship once or twice in coming years?
Brian Bennett: It definitely hurts the budding rivalry. An awful lot has to go right for both schools to make the Big Ten title game in the same year. While I'm picking that rematch in '12 (for now), I'd be surprised if we saw it happen again in the next few years simply because of parity. It's a shame the two won't play for an extended period because those games have been really fun.
Garner (Billings): I know conversation has shifted to bidding off sites for the playoffs, but why does this preclude an outdoor game north of the Mason Dixon line? Aren't places like Soldier, Lambeau, and Heinz field still viable options? It would allow some games to be played in B1G territory as well as keep the cold weather advantage.
Brian Bennett: They would be options, but I would bet that indoor sites like Lucas Oil and Ford Field would get preference. Remember, the Big Ten didn't even want its own championship outdoors, so why would it push for an outdoor site now? The geography would still be beneficial for Big Ten fans and teams with a Midwest site.
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa City): I see we get Ohio State and Wisconsin back on our schedules for the '15 '16 seasons. Do you hate as much as I do having to wait every other couple years for Barry and My teams to compete for the Heartland Trophy? Is there anyway the B1G can figure out a way to make trophy games within the B1G yearly? Like i already don't know the answer. Drop some knowledge on these other Kids. On Iowa!
Brian Bennett: It is a shame those teams aren't playing more frequently, because it's a good rivalry. This is the drawback of having a 12-team league. I would love to see the Big Ten adopt a nine-game schedule, but with the Pac-12 agreement that's extremely difficult.
Michael (Indy): What type of offense should I be expecting to see from my boilermakers. Who are some new faces I might see a lot more of?
Brian Bennett: Probably not wildly different from last year except maybe some more downfield passing with the health of Marve and TerBush's development. And with Rob Henry, you could see different packages for the different QBs. The Boilers are hoping to get Raheem Mostert involved as a slot/screen guy, maybe in the Keshawn Martin role. They really need to generate more big plays than a year ago.