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Big Ten Thursday mailbag

Three weeks from today we'll have football. As for right now, we've got mail.

Brian from Atlanta writes: So it seems every analyst thinks OSU will go 13-0 and play in the NCG. I don't see it. To do so they will have to win 25 straight games. Who was the last to do that? Not even Alabama does that. OSU had 2 OT games plus 3 more games within 5 pts. They weren't that much better than everyone last year and they certainly aren't the only B1G team to get better going into this year. They aren't going to get every break to win like that again. In fact, if the lose to say Wisconsin (OT last year) not only will they not play in the NCG they probably won't even play in the B1G championship game. Am I crazy to think 25 straight games isn't going to happen?

Brian Bennett: You're not crazy, Brian (though you do have a great name). I understand the undefeated predictions, because Ohio State has great talent and should be favored in every game this season, with the possible exception of the finale at Michigan. But going 12-0 is really, really hard to do even once, much less two years in a row. The Buckeyes will have a giant target on their backs, and they'll face more intense national attention and scrutiny than they received last year while on probation. You need some breaks and good fortune to go undefeated, no matter how good you are. Ohio State might do it again this year, but the odds are against it.


Matt from Tucson, Ariz., writes: Why no love for Nebraska's upset over FSU in fan voting for greatest football program of the last 25 years? It was sponsored by ESPN and not even mentioned in the Big Ten blog!

Brian Bennett: Yep, Nebraska won that tournament, even though the Huskers entered as the No. 13 seed. Of course, anything involving fan voting usually tilts heavily in favor of Big Red. Nobody shows more passion for their team than Nebraska fans.


Bryan from Coldwater, Mich., writes: If Michigan and Ohio State both enter the regular season game undefeated and then play again in the Big Ten championship game with both teams winning one game a piece, will both teams get BCS bowls?

Brian Bennett: That's a mighty big "if," and we'd need to know what other teams have done, but the chances would be very good. Conference championship game runners-up haven't fared well as BCS at-large picks, but in this case, you'd have a team that finished the regular season unbeaten and lost to a 12-1 team. Throw in the huge following for both schools involved, and I think a BCS game would jump at the opportunity. I doubt this scenario will play out, but that would be kind of fun, huh?


Benny N. from West Palm Beach, Fla., writes: Big Buckeye and B1G fan here. I'm not sure where to begin with this but I'm just glancing through some of these schedules for the "All-Mighty" SEC schools and I gotta say I'm not impressed, not the slightest bit. I would like to know where the SEC stands/ranks in terms of their Non-Conf schedule. I'm not one to talk because I know the Buckeyes haven't had a solid non-conf schedule for some time. I understand the "full-schedule rankings" will favor the SEC just due to the conference, but I'm looking at some of these teams they play out of conference and I have to admit I haven't even heard of a few of these teams... Am I in total denial?

Brian Bennett: It's hard to paint the entire SEC with such a broad brush. Alabama has consistently scheduled tough teams out of conference, playing Michigan last year and Penn State the previous two years, and the Tide open this season vs. Virginia Tech. LSU usually plays an ambitious schedule and opens the year with TCU. Georgia opens at Clemson and plays Georgia Tech every year, while Tennessee is at Oregon. Florida never leaves its own state, but the Gators do play Florida State in an annual rivalry. South Carolina plays Clemson every year and is opening with North Carolina this year. So while some SEC teams don't schedule as aggressively, and there's often two or three games of chaff on each team's nonconference slate, Big Ten fans can't complain about the SEC schedules in a year where their toughest nonconference opponents are Notre Dame, UCLA, Arizona State and a whole lotta MAC-tion.


Greyson from Lansing, Mich., writes: I've been thinking about Jim Delany's proposal to honor athletes' scholarships should they leave school for whatever reason and, sometime in the future, decide to return, and I believe it is a slap in the face to traditional college students. When I went to college I had a scholarship from the school (not a full ride, but everything helped) and while I didn't play a major sport, I did work 20-30 hours a week, in addition to being a full time student, which is close to the same amount of time athletes put into their sports. However, if my GPA ever fell below a 3.0, I would have had my scholarship stripped and never reinstated. Players are put on 'all-academic teams' for maintaining a 3.0, not given warnings for a low GPA. While I understand the importance of college sports, I don't believe athletes should be held in higher regard than other students.

Brian Bennett: Well, Greyson, did your school ever make a bunch of money selling a jersey with your number on it? Did 100,000 people come to campus to watch you? Schools are making millions of dollars per year off athletics, and the players aren't seeing any of the money outside of their scholarships. I view Delany's proposal as one way of stemming the sentiment for paying players. But this would be one way to give them something back. I'd rather see the money go to this cause than to another shiny new building or another million in a coach's pocket.


Brian from Brian Head, Utah, writes: Greetings from the Salt Lake State! I enjoyed reading the question from "Justin from Oxford" in your latest mail bag. I like how he mentioned the Block M defense, but conveniently left out the fact that Spartan faithful have to guard the Sparty statue from Michigan fans who do the same sort of defilement. They act as if they're innocent of any wrong doing, but Ohio State and Michigan State fans alike can attest to the behavior of Michigan fans in Ann Arbor. That said, since Dave Brandon is concerned about the fans, would it be feasible to make it a Friday night game that limits the amount of time spent tailgating?

Brian Bennett: Brian Head? What is the magical place of which you speak? Take me there at once! To your question, I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that fans would ever try to vandalize or deface a rival's hallowed grounds. Some of it is good, clean rivalry hijinx, like when Wolverines fans hung a UM banner at Notre Dame Stadium or when some others wrote "Beat Ohio" in chalk outside of Ohio Stadium last year. It goes over the line when there is destruction of property involved. But Friday night? Heaven forbid. That game belongs on a Saturday.