Who needs champagne on New Year's Eve when you have a Big Ten Monday chat?
We toasted 2013 early with some football discussion this afternoon. If you missed it, then your new year is already off to a bad start. But we're here to rescue it with this full transcript and these highlights:
Dennis (Airville, Pa.): I've heard that as many as 10 head coaches in the NFL will be canned in the next few days. O'Brien's name has been mentioned but what other Big 10 coaches might be taken? Will Bo Pelini be considered?
Brian Bennett: Happy Black Monday. O'Brien is definitely the most desired Big Ten coach by NFL teams. Pelini is an interesting name. I could see him being an NFL guy someday as he does not seem to particularly enjoy recruiting or glad-handing, but not sure he's a hot commodity right now. Kirk Ferentz will always have some appeal, though he's not exactly on fire, either
Kevin (San Diego): I really think with some more experience for the offense, Michigan State will be back to competeing for the B1G title next year if Laveon Bell sticks around. In your opinion, any chance that he and William Gholston do decide to stay in East Lansing and show that this year was the fluke we all know it was?
Brian Bennett: The Spartans will have the defense and the schedule to make some noise. The offense is the huge question. I don't think Bell will be back unless he hates his body. It's really all about the QB situation, which now looks like a wide open competition. Michigan State's passing game has been abysmal, and if that doesn't improve, things won't be much better next year.
Zach H (Centennial, Colo.): Is there anyway for Nebraska to beat Georgia. I know they will have a tough time on both offense and defense but as an optimistic fan, I think and hope they can get it done. Also, what do you think next year will hold for the Huskers. They have a relatively easy schedule and will have another high powered offense. Do you think they can make it back to the big ten championship and possibly have a rose bowl trip?
Brian Bennett: The thing that would give me hope is how Alabama ran all over Georgia in the SEC title game. Nebraska is not quite as physical as 'Bama (who is?) but its running game could give Georgia problems, especially without its starting DT. But the Huskers are going to have to play a clean game. As for next year, Nebraska should be the Legends favorite. It's going to come down to whether that defense can rise to a championship level.
Ken (Toledo): Brian What chances does Michigan have tomorrow? And do you feel they will be in the big ten title mix in 2013?
Brian Bennett: A decent chance, if the offensive line can hold up and the Devin/Denard combo is effective. I think Michigan's defense can contain USC and Lewan can at least slow down Clowney. I wonder if Michigan can get any kind of running game going. The Wolverines are definitely in the mix for the Big Ten title. I'd put them up there with Nebraska for the Legends favorite role, which Michigan State and Northwestern a shade behind.
Bob (Penn.): Was this year a fluke for Penn. State, or do you expect them to be even better next year with that number one quarterback heading to their?
Brian Bennett: A fluke? No. There were some outstanding seniors on this year's team. As far as even better next year, that's going to be tough without McGloin, Hodges, Hill, Mauti, etc. The Lions will have an inexperienced QB no matter who they choose. But they will also have a better knowledge of O'Brien's system and shouldn't be subject to early-season problems. Team could have same record but not be quite as good as this year's team, potentially.
Andrew (Struthers, Ohio): What's your early prediction where Ohio State will start in the polls next season?
Brian Bennett: A little depends on how teams finish, who leaves for the NFL, etc. But I see the Buckeyes absolutely in the Top 5. My prediction: No. 3.
Craig (Braintree, Mass.): I looked at the schedule for the Gophers next year. If they can perform near the level of the game against Texas Tech, chances for another bowl game look decent to good. Are you more bullish or bearish on the Gophers for 2013?
Brian Bennett: Nonconference sked: UNLV, at New Mexico State, W. Illinois, San Jose State. Shameful, but it should equate to 4-0 unless disaster strikes. Gophers can definitely win at least two Big Ten games again. Program is on the upswing but needs to find more offensive playmakers.