There was a lot of great discussion in today's Big Ten Monday chat. If you missed it, I'm coming to your rescue with this full transcript, along with some choice highlights:
JW (WI): Hi Brian. Are you surprised at the balance between the leaders and legends division? Your top six power rankings this week are split three and three and I know going into the year it was assumed that the legends would be far better than the leaders.
Brian Bennett: A little, but mostly because I think Wisconsin is the second-best team in the league. Wasn't sure that would be the case going in. There's still a lot we don't know about Michigan State and Nebraska (and Michigan to some degree). Northwestern has been very disappointing the past two weeks. Legends is still more balanced, but Leaders is stronger at the top.
Hank (Washington DC): Potential trap game for Sparty this weekend at Illini? Looking ahead to their tilt with UM.
Brian Bennett: You know, I think it could be. Especially since Illinois can score and its weaknesses on defense might not be exposed as much by MSU. If Michigan State is focused and plays as it is capable, the Spartans should win handily. But we saw Purdue hang around all last week, which was very surprising.
isaac (nebraska): Do you buy the argument that to beat the huskers you need a good running game and a mobile qb and a decent defense? And if you do wouldn't you agree that teams like Iowa MSU PSU will struggle to beat Nebraska and I think it's fair to add Northwestern to that list with their weak o line even if colter and mark are back. Maybe Im crazy but I think Minnesota may have the best shot at beating nebraska except Michigan
Brian Bennett: The teams that seem to have really given Nebraska trouble defensively are the spread teams who can get playmakers out on the edge. That doesn't really apply to Wisconsin, but the Badgers definitely tried to work the perimeter and abused a beat-up Nebraska front. Teams like UCLA, Ohio State and even Wyoming have had their way with the Huskers. I don't think Minnesota fits that bill at all. Michigan does. Northwestern, when healthy, does, too.
Andrew (NYC): Hello Brian, I wouldn't be surprised if a one loss SEC team jumped an undefeated OSU team to make the title game, but would voters give a one loss PAC 12 team or ACC team the same benefit of the doubt?
Brian Bennett: I don't think so. With the possible exception of Auburn, which would have to beat Alabama, I don't see any one-loss teams finishing ahead of Ohio State right now. That league has cannibalized itself. Same is probably true for Pac-12 and ACC. Clemson not just losing but getting destroyed at home means the Tigers aren't getting back in the title picture. A 1-loss Stanford team might have a chance, but Ohio State is far enough ahead in the polls that I think it would be safe.
Shazor (Ohio): what are your thoughts right now on next weekend's matchup between allen robinson and bradley roby? if osu does what they did against wisconsin and JA, roby will be matched up 1 on 1 all night. it worked for roby last year, but this is obviously not last year's version of either player, what is going to give?
Brian Bennett: It's a very good question. If Roby doesn't play better, then Robinson will torch him. I get the sense that Roby will rise to the occasion, but I also expect Robinson to get his yards. It will be a fantastic matchup, one of those I've been looking forward to all year.
Rich (Altoona, PA): Brian, does a PSU upset on Saturday set up Bill O'Brien for back-to-back COY awards or do you think they would need to upset Wisconsin as well? This team is not as strong as last year yet B'OB is still making PSU a dangerous team.
Brian Bennett: If Penn State can beat Ohio State and go on to win eight or nine games -- possible with the remaining schedule -- then O'Brien should win coach of the year again. The depth and talent is less than it was a year ago, so the same record or better would tell me he might have done an even better job.