Big Ten: Butch Davis
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
What if Penn State resumed its rivalry with Pitt? What if the Iowa-Missouri series finally happened? Why can't Wisconsin man up and play a solid BCS team every year? How about a Big Ten-ACC Challenge in football?
We've all pondered these scheduling questions and many others in recent years. When it comes to college football scheduling, you can dare to dream a bit. Although you'll rarely be satisfied in this climate of home games or bust, it's fun to play around with the possibilities.
Here are some nonconference matchups I'd like to see for each Big Ten team.
There's no love lost between these two coaching staffs, especially as Illinois has become more competitive as a national recruiter (i.e. Arrelious Benn). This game won't happen any time soon, but it would be extremely entertaining to watch Ron Zook and Charlie Weis stand on opposite sidelines. Both schools constantly compete for recruits, especially in the Chicago area, so why not meet on the field?
The teams used to play almost every year, and it would be nice to see the series resume. Indiana and Kentucky have a great rivalry in basketball, and both football programs face similar uphill climbs in major conferences. The proximity between the two schools would make it extremely easy for fans to travel to the games.
Many Iowa fans wish this series had happened already -- Missouri backed out of an agreement several years back -- and it makes a lot of sense for the two teams to meet. You already know my view on Missouri joining the Big Ten, and a natural rivalry with Iowa plays a major role. Both schools recruit in the same area, and both programs have elevated their profiles in recent years.
Two of college football's greatest settings would make this series a must-see. Michigan always fills up the Big House for games, and Wolverines fans would be guaranteed a trip to the Rose Bowl every other year even if their team doesn't reach the big game on Jan. 1. The two teams have met nine times in the regular season, most recently in 2000, and it would be great to see them celebrate the Pac-10-Big Ten rivalry.
MICHIGAN STATE-NORTH CAROLINA
The Big Ten should be more aggressive in scheduling the ACC for football, and this series would be a good start. Both programs are on the rise under third-year coaches (Mark Dantonio and Butch Davis), and both have been recruiting better in recent years. Let's just hope for better games than the two basketball matchups this past season.
Minnesota has taken a more aggressive approach to nonconference scheduling, and a series against Washington would fall in line with the new philosophy. Both schools are located in major cities on the northern edge of their respective conferences. Both are trying to revive tradition with energetic coaches (Tim Brewster and Steve Sarkisian). And selfishly, I wouldn't mind making the trip to Minneapolis or Seattle each year.
This isn't really a fantasy matchup because these teams will begin a four-game series in 2010. It's long overdue. Both Northwestern and Vanderbilt face a similar challenge as private institutions with limited football success trying to compete with storied programs in major conferences. Both schools are among the nation's academic elite. There are way too many similarities for the teams not to play.
Though I like colleague Heather Dinich's suggestion for an Ohio State-Miami matchup, Buckeyes fans want the SEC, and they want it bad. No league has damaged Ohio State's national reputation more than the SEC, and the hatred between Buckeye Nation and SEC fans runs deep. Florida makes the most sense for Ohio State, but any of the SEC title contenders would suffice.
This is a no-brainer. Fans on both sides desperately want to see the rivalry resume, and it's a shame there are no immediate plans for a series. The game means a lot to folks in the state of Pennsylvania, and the teams' frequent recruiting battles would only add fuel to the series. Although Pitt doesn't have the wow factor it had several decades ago, the game would generate a ton of local interest.
Something tells me Robert Marve wouldn't mind another crack at Randy Shannon and the Canes in 2010. And Marve isn't the only connection between the schools. New Purdue head coach Danny Hope is a Miami native who signed 14 players from Florida in his first recruiting class.
Wisconsin's hesitancy to schedule big-name teams has irritated its fan base, but athletic director Barry Alvarez can win some support by scheduling his alma mater. Imagine the sea of red from both fan bases when these teams meet at Camp Randall Stadium or Memorial Stadium, two of the nation's most hostile venues. It would be great to see Nebraska play a Big Ten team every year, and Wisconsin certainly needs a marquee opponent.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Sorry this is a bit late. Lot of questions about the polls this week.
Michael from Akron, Ohio, writes: After all the losses in the top 10, how could Ohio State have not moved up more than they did? The AP kept them in the EXACT SAME SPOT! With Beanie & Pryor, i think they are the team we all expected them to be at the start of the season. How is Auburn or Florida ahead of OSU? Auburn struggled against Tenn & Miss St., loss to LSU, but how good is LSU really? Look at their schedule so far, they've done NOTHING to impress me. OSU just got done beating up on a previously undefeated team while Florida lost to Mississippi?? Could the AP be any more OBVIOUS that they don't want OSU anywhere near the top? That means for OSU to have a chance, florida, Auburn, and USC have to lose AGAIN! if you look at those 4 teams, only OSU's loss was to a (at the time)#1 team. Florida and USC should be out of the top 15 after losing to the teams in which they lost!
Adam Rittenberg: Ohio State deserves to be about where it is right now. The Minnesota game was the first time this season that the Buckeyes looked like the team many of us thought they would be. And the good news is a road win against Wisconsin, which has never lost at home under Bret Bielema, would bump up the Buckeyes in the polls. I had the Buckeyes at No. 13 this week in the power rankings, just ahead of Auburn. LSU has looked more impressive than Ohio State, so I wouldn't knock Auburn's loss there too much. I'll agree that there is a media bias against Ohio State after the BCS title flops. And USC gets way too much praise after repeatedly flaking out against weaker teams. If the Buckeyes start piling up some quality road wins -- Wisconsin, Michigan State, Illinois -- they'll demand more respect.
Brett from Madison, Wis., writes: Adam, Love what you do here on the blog, make class and work go by easily. My question to you is this, and it comes at a very important time in the young season. If Wisconsin can manage to win two consecutive games vs OSU/PSU at home (where Bilema has yet to lose) do they have a shot at the Rose Bowl or another BCS bowl? Wisconsin is a phenominal home team, and two night games at home will be rowdy here in madison, I have faith in us even though we left michigan with a long and painful ride home. We're hungry after this, I feel it will teach us a valuable lesson in finishing a game.
Adam Rittenberg: Glad I can be of service, Brett (my apologies to Brett's parents). After the second-half collapse in Ann Arbor, Wisconsin has to win both of those games to keep its Rose Bowl/BCS hopes alive. The Badgers are terrific at home, and the Saturday-night atmosphere will help them even more. Ohio State hasn't been to Madison since 2003 and lost that game, and I'm sure Bielema got on the players about the way they finished at Michigan. But Terrelle Pryor and Chris "Beanie" Wells will test Wisconsin's linebackers, who looked like gangbusters in the first half at Michigan, only to lose their edge in the fourth quarter.
Max from Denver writes: adam, as a die-hard badger fan, who should I be blaming saturdays meltdown on? Paul Chryst (conservative, predictable play calling the 2nd half), Bret Bielema (not giving Clay more carries, not playing Beckum until the 4th quarter), the defense (3 touchdowns in 12 minutes)?? Thanks and great work on the blog.
Adam Rittenberg: It's hard to blame Chryst, who didn't have his best two receivers -- tight ends Garrett Graham and Travis Beckum -- available for most of the game. But someone better start teaching those wide receivers how to hang onto the ball. A drop or two fewer probably saves the game for Wisconsin. As much as the offense stalled, you knew Michigan's defensive line would provide some problems. What really shocked me was the way the defense struggled in the final 20 minutes. The tackling was poor and the Badgers totally lost the edge they had earlier in the game, when every Michigan ball-carrier would pay the price.