Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett will stop by to talk some football.
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville.
Send your questions now and join Bennett Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (3:00 PM)
Hey, everybody. Let's talk some Big Ten football. I'm here for the next hour, so fire away with your best questions.
Danny (New York)
What are the chances Denard Robinson ends up as a solid NFL QB ? I hate to throw out the Vick comp here but they are physically the same size. Both 6 feet tall,considered small for QBs. The biggest thing of course, similar skill sets as they are both mobile QBs. With Denard now in a more Pro-style offense, I don't see why people doubt his ability to stick at QB.
Brian Bennett (3:02 PM)
Danny, I love watching Denard play, but he's nothing like Vick, who has a cannon arm. Denard was throwing a bunch of jump balls on Saturday. Just don't think he's an NFL passer. But he is sure fun to watch on Saturdays, and that's all I really care about
Ryan (Walled Lake MI)
Notre Dame has been embarrassed starting the season 0-2 when some analysts predicted a BCS Bowl. Are the Michigan State Spartans playing them at the right time (when they are down) or at the wrong time (because they are so angry)? Please give us your opinion on how this game unfoldeds.
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
No doubt, Notre Dame will be desperate, but the players' confidence has to be shaken right now. How could it not be? I'd rather play an 0-2 team if I had my druthers
Please make Hawkeye Nation feel better by telling us that we would have had a better shot of trying to win that game in regulation. With over 1:20 remaining and two TO, why are we playing for OT? We had success moving the ball the previous drive, we have some studs at WR and we're playing ISUs defense. And don't forget that we could stop them on defense all afternoon. Am I going crazy? Ready to jump off the cliff with such predictable play calling.
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
Remember you've got a quarterback playing his first road game since 2009 in there. The playcalling there didn't bug me too much. Iowa should have won the game given the way its offense played (except for the fumble). The Hawkeyes just couldn't get a stop when they needed, and that was worrisome
After two weeks of Wisconsin & the Russell Wilson show, what are you most impressed by? What match ups are you looking forward to the most when Nebraska comes to town on October 1?
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
Most impressed with how poised and accurate Wilson is. But not that surprised, as I saw him play with a crummier cast at NC State and knew he'd be good. Still, he's only been with the team for a couple of months, so it's impressive. As far as matchups, it's the O-line of the Badgers vs. Crick and the Blackshirts I'm looking forward to the most. Although ...
That Nebraska defense against Fresno State looked great providing they were using only 8 or 9 against Fresno's 11. Other than that it was the worst looking defense since the Pelini brothers arrived. Give me some reason to hope for better.
Brian Bennett (3:07 PM)
I was stunned at how easily Fresno moved the ball on the Nebraska defense. Reason for hope? It's only Week 2, and the Pelinis will get this fixed. Getting Dennard back will be huge as well. But I no longer see Nebraska as a heavy favorite in the Legends
Waffles (Southern California)
What is your prediction in the Pitt-Iowa game?
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
You'll get my (and Adam's) official prediction on Thursday. But after seeing Pitt struggle with Iowa, you can bet I'm not picking the team from the league I used to cover
How can you and Adam still think Northwestern is going to the last bowl in Detroit? I know last year we were passed over (casue of the Persa injury), but the year before we passed over other teams, plus the past two weeks we have looked better than almost every team in the B1G other than the top 4 or 5?
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
I understand where you're coming from, Matt, and we've been tempted to move them way up. Three things: 1) It's real early, so take these predictions in that spirit. 2) I still think NW is going to need Persa, because BC is not that good (got blown out by UCF this weekend). 3) NW isn't as attractive a bowl team as others like Iowa and Penn State because of the fan bases, so keep that in mind.
Was Braxton Miller and Nathan williams secretly suspended? Ohio State listed 5 current players attended the charity event and 2 former players, could Miller and Williams have gotten a 1 game ban just for not clearing the event with compliance.
Brian Bennett (3:11 PM)
I enjoy your conspiracy theories and would like to subscribe to your newsletter, Jim. I don't think secrecy would serve Ohio State well right now. Williams was hurt and Miller didn't play because the game was too close throughout.
Frustrated PSU fan (conservative, pa)
Adam's video with Jay Paterno proves what every penn state fan has known for too long...our offense is ridiculously conservative. Goal on first down is 3 yards, then try to get 5 more for a 3rd and short. The way to beat teams like alabama is to OPEN up the playbook. What do you have to lose than to throw the kitchen sink at the number 2 team in the country?!
Brian Bennett (3:12 PM)
No doubt the offense is conservative and probably too much so in this day and age of college football. I'm not sure Penn State could have done much more against that Alabama defense. But I agree with you -- would have liked to have seen a more ambitious game plan.
While it was an exciting game, I wouldn't bet on Michigan or Notre Dame winning more than seven games this year.
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
I think Michigan will be 5-0. But I'm not sold that they're really any better than last year. Still a lot of issues to fix with that team.
J (TRUE B1G FAN)
FOR BEING A B1G BLOGGER, U SURE HAVE B1G TEAMS LOW IN UR 25.
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
That's because I'm not a fan. I call them like I see them. Who should be higher?
Illini Mike (Chicago)
What are you thoughts on the Illini victory this weekend. Nate Scheelhause's performance was excellent even if the statistics don't immediately reflect that.
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
Let's be honest up front: They played an FCS team. Still, that offense has a lot of options and Scheelhaase is playing great (Adam and I just talked to him today for our podcast; make sure to check it out this week). Really interested to see how the Illini fare against a pretty good Arizona State team this week.
Hey Brian, I know much has been said about expansion, but I'm wondering what you think about the possibility of the University of Toronto. It hasn't been discussed much, but if the Big Ten really wants to add a B1G market, Toronto is the next largest city after Chicago. Not only would you get Toronto, but you'd get quite a bit of Canadian interest. Toronto fits in the Big Ten's footprint, has over 68,000 students enrolled, and is a well-respected research institution. If they were to join the NCAA, they'd be able to offer athletic scholarships which would help them field teams to compete with the Big Ten counterparts. If it's about TV markets, the Big Ten could hit a home run by adding UT.
Brian Bennett (3:15 PM)
Is it April Fools' Day already?
Austin (high school)
with the injury to smith at corner, what are the Badgers chance ar a national tite?
Brian Bennett (3:16 PM)
It's a big, big loss. Wisconsin has time to recover, and Smith could be back during Big Ten play. But the defensive staff will have to make some good adjustments to a position that wasn't real deep to start with
ChuckBeau Gopher (MN)
Very sad to see what happened on the sidelines this weekend at TCF - how do you think this affects the team going forward? With how things have started, we have another game that appears to be a toss up this weekend. Will coach Kill be back (as he did when this situation has come up in the past) and will we be able to show the improvements needed to walk away with a W this weekend?
Brian Bennett (3:19 PM)
Too soon to say whether coach Kill comes back, though there is press conference going on right now. Team doc says he thinks Kill will be back. Let's hope for the best. This has to be difficult for the team, but they should be inspired if he comes back. Miami of Ohio is a good team, though
Brady Hoke (Ann Arbor)
Brian, After you witnessed that game saturday night, are you a believer that this team can make improvements the next 3 weeks and be ready to challenge for a Big Ten title? I mean sure the defense needs to keep improving but can you honestly count this team out of any games the rest of the season? Look at how Nebraska, Iowa and "Ohio" stubbed their toes a bit this week.
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
Yeah, the league doesn't look too dominant right now, does it? Denard can keep this team in any game. I just wonder if the defense can stop the potent offenses that can run it down your throat, which Notre Dame could not do. Michigan benefits from the division set up, I think, because it could potentially sneak into a division title
Do you think Michigan State is the best defensive team in the Big Ten? I think the Spartan defense will provide a problematic match-up again a high powered but turnover prone Notre Dame next Saturday.
Brian Bennett (3:22 PM)
The Spartans have the potential to be very good defensively. I would have said Nebraska for sure before this weekend. Only thing is, Michigan State hasn't played anybody yet. Let's see how the Spartans fare against an ND team that has put up a lot of offense (and too many turnovers) in its first two weeks against much better competition
come on, admit it any program that has "the situation" on the sideline is still a joke.. its ok you can say it, we all already know
Brian Bennett (3:22 PM)
Unfortunately, I think most programs would welcome him. Tell me again what that guy's talent is?
Do you think that the Hawkeyes can pull it together to salvage a good Big Ten run.
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
Definitely. It's early, they lost a rivalry game on the road. Some young players will continue to develop. No reason at all to panic yet.
Seriously? (Try Again.)
Stanford over UW? Stanford doesn't play a ranked team for like 10 weeks, Until/if UW drops a game Stanford shouldn't have a chance at getting a higher ranking than UW. Even BSU has a harders sked and they are in the MWC! Please explain why your picked Stanford before Wisconsin.
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
I must have forgotten how good UNLV and Oregon State (which lost to Sac State) are.
BeauDuhGoofer (Quad Cities, IA)
I think we lost that game on purpose because we did not want to touch or even look at that Cy-Hawk trophy.
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
I read that the trophy fell apart when Iowa State took it to their sidelines. You can't make this stuff up.
Brandon (Las Vegas)
OSU leap-frogged 2 spots by Mich St? Why? "Michigan State had one of the most dominant defensive displays of the young season" It was against Florida Atlantic!!! Didnt' Ohio State do the same thing (only 90yds offense) to Akron? Isn't Toledo favored to win the MAC?
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
That's what happens with polls early in the season -- you struggle to beat a team people don't know about and you fall in the polls. We're two weeks in -- not time to worry about rankings yet.
In your column, you pondered the question of whether Michigan has changed. I would say somewhat. Basically you have, at least on defense, an average team with better fundamentals and with an increased playmaking ability in a scheme better suited to their talent. Last year, they had an average defense with horrible fundamentals and a ill-filling scheme. Agree?
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
You make some excellent points. I think you can see the improved coaching in the turnover stats thus far. Will it be enough, because I'm not sure the defensive talent is great? We'll have to see. Michigan would not have won that game if Notre Dame wasn't so self-destructive
It's beginning to appear that Kirk Ferentz's philosophy isn't working any longer for Iowa. We may be looking at our worst season since Ferentz's first year. If things don't change, Iowa is going to get jumped by NW (already are), Minnesota, MSU and Michigan on a yearly basis and Iowa will be sitting at last place every year in their division. That's an expensive $4 million dollar price to pay for last place. Looking at the lack of talent and aged coaching staff, in the next few years who should Iowa look at as the next coach? We need someone who takes risks and isn't so damn predictable! Thanks Brian.
Brian Bennett (3:28 PM)
If you want my honest answer, you should be happy to have Kirk Ferentz. This is Iowa football. It's not Alabama or Texas or even Ohio State. He's an excellent coach who's well respected by just about everybody. Be careful what you wish for.
John (Trenton, NJ)
As a long time Michigan student, grad student, and faculty (17 years affiliated with U-M), I have NEVER seen that kind of enthusiasm at the big house saturday night. The team played horribly all night but you must give both sides of the ball a lot of credit for stepping up when they had to and performing when the game was on the line. However here is my question: During those great 4th quarter 3rd down stops by our defense, why on earth was ND not throwing the ball?? Cant help but feel like again we skated by on a bad coaching move by ND. (In 2009 at the Big House, Charlie Weiss chose to throw it and stopped the clock and leaving us with our final timeout)
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
I agree 100 percent, and that's what I wrote as my "second-guessing" column on my instant analysis. Power run plays are not by any means Notre Dame's strength, and yet they tried that on the biggest plays of the game. Why not throw it and force Michigan to defend Michael Floyd (which it couldn't do)? Or at least play-action? Made no sense to me
Can I look ahead to the night game between Sparty and Bucky yet? I think that determines who the Big Ten sends to the national stage. Everybody else looks weak besides Nebraska.
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
So you're going to skip right over Nebraska-Wisconsin and Michigan State-Ohio State? I sure wouldn't
Adam (Grand Rapids, MI)
Brian, you do realize that MSU is coached by Dantonio and Izzo right? It makes a lot of sense why The Situation would be in East Lansing aka Little Italy.
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
There are about 4 million Italians I'd rather associate myself with than anyone from Jersey Shore.
Iowa really screwed my perfect week in the pick 'em this week. But regardless of that I'm still beating you. Does it hurt the pride of most of these guys to be losing to a girl?
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
Happens all the time in my NCAA tournament pools. No shame whatsoever
In your opinion what how does Penn State make itself relevant again? Staff changes (including Head Coach), recruiting, play calling, etc.
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
Big, blowout wins on national TV and lots of Wilson love. I get it, but I still want to see the Badgers do it against top-level competition
Illinois has been my sleeper in the Legends division since their impressive performace against a solid Baylor team in last year's bowl game. 2 weeks into the season are you convinced thats an appropriate label for this team?
Brian Bennett (3:36 PM)
They are a major sleeper in the Legends division since they're in the Leaders division (Just messing with you, Drew. It's not easy remembering which is which). I like what I've seen so far out of the Illini and am in love with that schedule. I think they can do some things. This week should be a good test
Would the Big Ten have any interest in sending a team to the Pinstripe Bowl if the Big 12 can't fulfill their obligation? If the Irish take the Big East's slot in the Champs they could very have more qualified teams than bowl slots and the Pinstripe wouldn't want to pick another BE team as an at large so maybe they can arrange a swap with the Big ten for the Pizza Bowl in exchange for a high-profile Big Ten opponent to face their rep in NYC?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
If the Big Ten has an extra at-large team, I would think that would be an attractive spot. Based on how the bottom of the league has looked so far, though, I'm not sure we have to worry about that
Can someone tell Indiana that the white helmet with a red letter thing is already taken in the Big Ten by 2 other programs (who are actually good)?
Brian Bennett (3:38 PM)
Well, at least somebody mentioned Indiana in this chat
Should Ohio State fans be nervous after that poor showing against Toledo?
Brian Bennett (3:38 PM)
I think this: Ohio State is playing shorthanded right now and has some young players in key positions. The offense isn't real explosive. So, yeah, there is reason to worry and this week's game won't be easy. But I do think the Buckeyes will improve as the year goes on
Who looked worse this past weekend? Iowa or Pitt?
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
Far less shame than losing on the road to a rival from the Big 12 than slipping past Maine at home
Thoughts on Nick Toon's performance this week? Really nice to see him getting back to his 2009 form.
Brian Bennett (3:40 PM)
Agreed. I know he had some injuries last year. Potentially big development for Wisconsin if he's back to form.
Time out, Ryan from Ohio gets two questions answered and I have asked five questions??? What the heck??? Answer me this. What does Fickell need to do to keep his job?
Brian Bennett (3:41 PM)
Ryan's bringing it today. I think Fickell probably has to 9-3 to keep the job. Just my guess.
Brian, if the Blackshirts find themselves how scary does Nebraska look? Top 10 D, quick strick offense, and Home Run Threat Return Gam
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
If Adam Wainwright comes back and Albert Pujols hits three home runs every game, how scary are my Cardinals? I mean, sure, that would be great but it hasn't happened yet. And the offense has been inconsistent despite some big plays
Matthew Reimer (Zionsville, Indiana)
I realize Joe Tiller left the cupboard bare and last year was an injury related disaster, but how soon before Danny Hope can be put on watch? At this point I think he would be outcoached in a 5th grade flag football game.
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
Purdue is struggling, no doubt. Still a too soon to put Hope on the hot seat, as the preseason injury to Rob Henry was really tough. But if the Boilers don't go to a bowl game this year, next year becomes win or else
Do you see Kirk Cousins redeeming himself in South Bend on Saturday?
Brian Bennett (3:44 PM)
Well he did beat ND last year but I guess you're talking about the INT two years ago in South Bend. I think he'll play very well. I wouldn't pick Notre Dame to beat anybody good right now.
So, in your opinion, Penn State needs Wisconsin to have big, blowout wins on national television to make themselves relevant again? I mean, I'm down with that and all, but I don't "get" it...are you thinking of Amanda's bedazzled Husker shorts or what?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
You're being very selective, Bucky. Wisconsin is coming off a Rose Bowl season, while Penn State was 7-6 and hasn't had a great win in a long time. Totally different scenarios
do you see NU's offense becoming more like the offense of 01 where everything goes through eric crouch? if so what does that mean for this team moving forward?
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
No, because I like the potential of those young running backs along with Burkhead. I just think the offensive line needs to continue to develop and Martinez has to become a better passer. Talked to him this afternoon, and he said the offense was still trying to figure out its strengths
Why do I keep reading that Purdue had a "bad loss" this weekend on the road? As a displaced B1G fan who has followed the Owls since moving down here, it was clear to me before the game that RU had more talent, and PU was hardly a favorite (-1).
Brian Bennett (3:49 PM)
Any time a Big Ten team loses a mediocre C-USA team, it's a bad loss. Period
Scott (New Jersey)
If Toledo plays a good game against Boise and we beat them on a day when we were without 8 starters does Ohio States performance all of a sudden get looked at like woah, watch out when they get everyone back?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
I agree that Toledo is a good team that might win the MAC. However, the Rockets made a ton of mistakes and still had a chance to win. Might it look better down the road? Yes. But it was still not a good performance by the Buckeyes overall
Brian Bennett (3:52 PM)
Oh, so apparently I posted the wrong question to my Wisconsin answer. The question was supposed to be about why Wisconsin is getting so much love in the polls despite bad competition. Apologies
brock (New Concord)
Which hurts the B1G's reputation more: teams at the top not winning high profile OOC match ups or teams at the bottom losing to non-AQ's like New Mexico State, Rice, and Ball State?
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
I still believe the reputation is earned at the top, especially in the BCS games and SEC showdowns. Nobody really cares what the bottom does, just as no one talk about Kentucky or Vandy when they talk about the SEC dominance
Bob (S Elgin)
I know the sky is falling in Hawkeyeland, but we should remember we have the 6th longest term coach in all D1 and his staff has been together a LONG time with little turnover. You can look at this as a bad thing or a good thing. How do recruits look at it? I'm glad we have KF and their classy staff and don't have to go through the coaching carousel that every other team has gone through.
Beauregard Junkfan (Akron)
How are you liking the change of scenery so far? Are B1G fans making your transition fun and entertaining, or are we more annoying than your former followers? Remember, if you answer incorrectly, this chat will go downhill in a hurry...
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
Sorry for the double question post. Computer is acting weird. Bob, you get the Voice of Reason Award. Calm down, Iowa fans. It was one loss in a road rivalry game. You'll be fine
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
And Beau, I'm loving it so far. First two trips this year to the Shoe and to the Big House at night, with another dream trip coming up this week. I enjoy the Big Ten fans' knowledge and sense of humor
Smith certainly would be a big loss for the Badgers, but from what I understand he got pushed hard by Cromartie for the starting job in fall camp and Cromartie looked solid in relief on Saturday. With loads of experience and talent at the other DB spots do you see this as a real cause of concern for the Badgers' conference title aspirations this season?
Brian Bennett (3:56 PM)
My biggest concern is depth. Cromartie or others might be able to step up, but that just makes the whole position thinner
Brian, why are you so sardonic and angsty? Is it because FIU got their first win over a Big East team, LOUISVILLE?
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
I am? I was happy for FIU and Mario Cristobal. I don't care whether Louisville wins or loses
Bryan (Frustrated Valley)
JoePa said his QB's played good saturday, Bolden going 11-29 for 144 yards, one interception and McGloin 1-10 ZERO yards. What game was he watching?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
You have to judge them based on Alabama's defense and how they executed what they were asked to do, but I can't see how you could praise McGloin or the position in general.
Frank (Alexandria, VA)
Do you agree that Michigan needs a running back to emerge? Otherwise, the Big 10 defenses will key in on Denard.
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
Definitely. He can't keep accounting for 99 percent of the yards. Toussaint was hurt this week, so that didn't help. But Michigan needs somebody else to step up.
Hey Brian. The Big House crowd often gets criticized for "sitting on their hands" and "being the quietest 110,000 in America". What was your opinion of the crowd noise level and enthusiasm on Saturday night?
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
It was an excellent atmosphere from start to finish. One of the best I've ever seen. Love the night game setting
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
OK, folks, I'm being pushed off the stage here. Thanks for all the good questions, and have a great week!