With conference season on the horizon, we had our game faces on in the Big Ten Monday chat wrap. If you missed it, put on your eye black and read this full transcript. Or these highlights:
Sam (Washington DC): I know you guys collectively have Nebraska as your Rose Bowl pick, but if you had to pick a team personally, who would it be? And what kind of record do you think is needed to win the respective divisions?
Brian Bennett: The Huskers are a bit of a default choice, but we're still talking about a team whose best wins were over Arkansas State and a rebuilding (to put it kindly) Southern Miss. It's wide open. I'm sticking with Michigan State at least through this week since I had the Spartans all offseason. But I may very well change my pick once October hits.
As for the second part of your question, 6-2 or 7-1 gets it done in the Legends. In the Leaders, with two teams on probation, 5-3 might be enough.
Joshua (Wilmette, IL): I have been a Wildcats fan for essentially my entire life (since 1996) and know that Northwestern is going to slip up somewhere down the line but also surprise everyone and have a big win. I know they are rolling right now and Fitz has their confidence up but my question is who, other than Nebraska, Michigan, and Michigan State, are potential losses? In other words, which is their "slip up" game and which upset do the 'Cats pull off?
Brian Bennett: Northwestern is usually good for one upset and one head-scratching loss per season. I'd say the best chances for each are as follows. Upset: Nebraska. The Wildcats won in Lincoln last year and get the Huskers at home. Upset: at Minnesota. The Gophers are playing well and could be on a serious roll going into that one.
Riley Feldmann (Minneapolis, MN): The atmosphere here at the U of MN is unreal right now. I've never seen The Bank so rocking in such a long time and it was amazing to be a part of it. My question is: Do you believe the Gopher's win over Syracuse this past weekend legitimizes the team, if only a little bit? Or do you think we'll have to wait to see how we perform on the road against real competition (i.e. Iowa) to become a recognized contender? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the rest of the B1G needs to be careful coming into TCF Bank Stadium from here on out.
Brian Bennett: Glad to hear it, Riley. Don't want to get too carried away about beating Syracuse (I used to cover the Big East and can tell you that was not viewed as much of an accomplishment). But the Gophers' defense was excellent against a very good passing offense. That was the single most encouraging thing. Minnesota is no longer a lightweight and must be taken seriously.
John (Michigan): Hey Brian, after Michigan State's dismal performance Saturday, and Ohio State's struggles as well; how does each team come out on top? Does OSU once again use Braxton as their crutch and MSU use Le'Veon? Or by some miracle will each team be able to find someone else on their offense who can ease the workload?
Brian Bennett: Pretty simple for Michigan State: Defense has to dominate, and the receivers have to play their best game of the season. Ohio State has to load up against the run and make Maxwell beat them, and Braxton will have to Braxton, with some help from the running game.
Jared (Work): Teams have been running quick release offenses against the OSU defense to negate the d-line. MSU runs a pro-set. Could this be the week we see the d-line get to show what they can really do against a pro-style offense?
Brian Bennett: Ohio State really seems more suited to go against a run-first, pro style offense with that big defensive line. The linebackers and safeties haven't been great tackling in space, and the Spartans aren't going to spread you out. Seems like a good matchup for a Buckeyes D that has underperformed.
ghostofsparta (Sparta): Hey Brian I was wondering what you thought of Dantonio's post game comments. I know AR was kind of pissed about it based on his twitter comments. But you have to realize that MSU sucked for 3 and a half quarters against an EMU team that has allowed 40 Points per game. Dantonio wasnt too pleased about it and the questions were kind of generic. So the question is, are the comments a big deal like some make it out to be?
Brian Bennett: I thought it was childish and unprofessional. It's not about the media's questions -- coaches have a responsibility to explain what happened to the thousands and thousands of fans who follow their program and support it financially. Dantonio is better than that and is usually pretty good with the media. There was no reason for him to act like Lane Kiffin.
Mark (Knoxille): Obviously I'm bummed at the B1G's national perception and poor performance in the non-conference. But come on, its time for conference play. Everybody is 0-0. Race is wide open. I'm looking forward to it.
Brian Bennett: Agree wholeheartedly. September struggles will be forgotten when we get into these great conference rivalry games. Bring it on.