Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

October 17, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (3:00 PM)

Hello, everybody, and welcome to another Big Ten chat. I'm here for the next hour to discuss all things Big Ten football (and rally squirrels and happy flights)

Brian Bennett
  (3:01 PM)

Fire away!

Chris (Albany, NY)

How is that Michigan State player who threw a punch not suspend for this weeks game and why wasn't he thrown out of this past weeks game?

Brian Bennett
  (3:02 PM)

Chris is talking about William Gholston, who threw a jab at a Michigan offensive lineman. Gholston also got a personal foul for twisting Denard Robinson's helmet in a pile. There has been no word on a suspension, and Brady Hoke declined to term the plays dirty today. But I wouldn't be surprised to see a suspension. Think the refs simply missed the punch

Monte Ball (Madison, WI)

I really R-Dub to win the Heisman but if I shatter the record for most TD's in a season shouldn't I have a good shot too to strike a pose? I know I'm not getting yards but I'm still getting there 3 to 4 times a week.

Brian Bennett
  (3:03 PM)

Montee, first of all it's weird you misspelled your own name. Secondly, I think you'd be getting a lot more consideration if not for Wilson. Maybe if Wisconsin needs to run the ball more down the stretch, you'll overtake your backfield mate.

JMO55 (Tampa)

Which defensive unit is the best in the B1G?

Brian Bennett
  (3:05 PM)

It's a close call between Penn State and Michigan State. Both are playing great. Michigan State is more aggressive and physical, while Penn State is getting far less help from its offense

Mark (Ohio)

Brian: Despite the reluctance to throw the ball, Ohio State's running game has certainly imporved, especially with the return of Herron. If they can get Miller out of the pocket with a run/throw option their offense may be serviceable. The defense and special teqms are solid. As bad as OSU has appeared at times they are a Miller sprained ankle away from being 5-2, a fairly respectable record considering the chaos.

Brian Bennett
  (3:07 PM)

I agree with you there. It's almost as if Ohio State has become an old wingbone team that never throws. The defense is good enough to make that work against a lot of teams. I don't think it will be good enough against Wisconsin, but against Indiana, Purdue and Penn State, and maybe even Michigan, it certainly could

Adam Trombone (ESPNland)

Brian, what part of upset alert did you not understand for the OSU game? And did you really pick Purdue to win in Happy Valley? Your luck has run out.

Brian Bennett
  (3:08 PM)

I didn't pick Purdue, so I don't know what you're talking about there. Figured the Illinois game would be close, just didn't think the Illini offense would be so bad

Mark (San Diego)

Brian, if Oklahoma State and Wisconsin both win out, who will get the bid to the championship game?

Brian Bennett
  (3:08 PM)

The computers love Oklahoma State (and the Big 12). So it would be the Cowboys

Melissa (Nebraska)

How does a coach tell everyone that this may be his best defensive unit so far then have the type of season we are having? Over optimistic coach or the players are out thinking themselves?

Brian Bennett
  (3:09 PM)

I'm still surprised by how poor the Nebraska defense has been. There are some new faces mixed in there, and it's a little different scheme than last year. And a few players haven't quite lived up to billing. But other than Lavonte David, no one has really played at a high level. I'm interested to see what possible fixes Pelini came up with in the bye week, especially with Crick now gone

Sky (In a very dark place)

If you had to pick a middle of the pack team that has yet to make a statement, who would it be?

Brian Bennett
  (3:11 PM)

Probably Penn State. The Iowa win was good but not great, and the Lions have yet to put it together on both sides of the ball. They could be 8-1 before we really know how good they are

Aaron (St. Louis)

Afternoon Brian. I'd like to know what you make of this quote from MSU's DC:"That's what we try to do," Narduzzi told sportsillustrated.cnn.com. "Sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness. I'm just happy it didn't get called on every snap."Ordinarily I wouldn't give it a second glance, but after the game MSU played, it sounds like the nasty play we saw against UM is part of Pat's game plan.On Wisconsin and Go Cards!

Brian Bennett
  (3:12 PM)

Love the last two words of your question. That quote really raised my eyebrows. No question Michigan State played with a serious edge that was borderline dirty (some would argue it crossed that line). And it appears the tone was set by the coaching staff. That's a dangerous line to walk, but it worked for the Spartans last week

Waffles (Southern California)

Adam won't admit that the trombone shorties lost to anti-gingervitis, during the bye week when you still had Montee Ball. Will you let him hear it in your next podcast?

Brian Bennett
  (3:13 PM)

He's in complete denial about my 7-0 record against him in fantasy.

Ben (Iowa City)

I know they gave up a lot of yards, but shouldnt the Iowa defense be given at least a little credit for holding NU to 24 points (that mattered)? Thats fewer points than NU scored on Illinois and the same as Michigan, and Iowa was missing a few defensive starters to injury.

Brian Bennett
  (3:15 PM)

Iowa still gave up nearly 500 points, and to me, all the points matter. The Hawkeyes did enough to win the game, and if they can continue to improve that the rest of the season with that offense, they'll make some noise in the Legends

Sid (Carmel, IN)

Do you remember a year when the bottom of the conference was this bad? It's unwatchable.

Brian Bennett
  (3:15 PM)

Indiana and Minnesota are really, really bad. Both have first-year coaches, though.

kurt (Buff)

4th and 1, driving in for the tying touchdown, and you try to be sneaky? and boy oh boy did Denard look awful. Does that game precipitate a change in positions for him?

Brian Bennett
  (3:16 PM)

I would have run Denard on that play, and I can't see how he doesn't get at least a yard. However, the play might have worked if not for a perfectly called corner blitz by MSU. No way do you change Denard. He's been amazing most of his career. That defense and that wind just made it a bad, bad day

Joe @writingillini.com (Chicago)

Illinois "is who we though they were" or just had a rough game against Ohio State? They seemed to finally move the ball well in the fourth quarter.

Brian Bennett
  (3:17 PM)

It's a good question. I didn't think Illinois was a Top 20 team, necessarily, nor as good as its 6-0 record. But there is a lot of talent on the roster, and the Illini should have played better offensively on Saturday. I still think this team can win nine games

JMO55 (Tampa)

What will improve league perception more? Having the B1G champion dominate the rose bowl and another mediocre showing against the SEC in lower bowls or B1G champion losing but winning 5-6 non-BCS bowls?

Brian Bennett
  (3:19 PM)

It all starts at the top. Can you remember who won the non-BCS bowls three years ago? Two years ago? Winning on the biggest stages, especially against the SEC, is what shapes perception the most.

Brady Hoke (not in East Lansing)

So because I didn't complain, you're going to excuse a unit (MSU D) whose coordinator glories in unnecessary roughness, and one that has exhibited extreme tendencies toward undue violence? Bushwah!

Brian Bennett
  (3:19 PM)

I did not excuse it. I said it was a dangerous line to walk. I didn't like the late hits and excessive stuff from the Spartans this weekend, but obviously the coaches were trying to get them to play with an edge

John (New York)

IS Rex one of the Top 2 RB in the conference?

Brian Bennett
  (3:20 PM)

He and Montee Ball are the top two. Adam and I will debate who's better later this week. Stay tuned.

Evan (Auburn, Ala.)

Brian: Is there anyone worse at mismanaging a game/team than Danny Hope? Two QB systems never work and Purdue can never seem to have good clock management.

Brian Bennett
  (3:22 PM)

Purdue still makes too many major mistakes, and it's disheartening. I didn't like the play call on the two-point conversion try Saturday, either. Purdue played well enough to win that game in many aspects against Penn State but shot itself in the foot.

Yooper (Minneapolis)

Regarding the UW/OkSt question...don't you think the computers will think much differently of UW at the end if they keep winning, with 3 tough road games and a CCG (that B12 does NOT have). Ok State's schedule isn't much different in the end...and the voters (2/3 of BCS) will likely still have UW ahead. Seems it'd be VERY close between UW and Ok or Ok State in the end.

Brian Bennett
  (3:24 PM)

The computers have Oklahoma State No. 1 right now, and the Pokes would get a big boost by beating Oklahoma. Wisconsin's computer rankings should go up, and they'll have to hope teams like Nebraska and Illinois keep winning. I also think the voters could jump OSU over Wisconsin with a win over Oklahoma. It would be close, but I'd give the edge to OSU. The Badgers need some help

Iowa Fans (Greatest Ever) (From Kinnick Stadium)

How cool was our card stunt that we successfully pulled off? What do you think the 15+ recruits that were on hand thought of it?

Brian Bennett
  (3:25 PM)

Very cool. The coordination was terrific and it looked great. I don't think many recruits choose a school based on card stunts, but the atmosphere seemed great in Iowa City

Sid (Carmel, IN)

What about NW and Purdue? They're both really bad also.

Brian Bennett
  (3:26 PM)

Yet both have been competitive in Big Ten play. So if they're really bad, the league is in trouble

Thomas (MN)

So Brian, how bad do you think the Gophers are after they lost by 35 points on Saturday at home to Bye?

Brian Bennett
  (3:27 PM)

Ouch. With Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin up next, I'm shuddering at the score possibilities for the Gophers

Matt (Grand Rapids)

Please tell me that you agree with me and think States unis were a lot better than the bumble bee striped Michigan ones.

Brian Bennett
  (3:27 PM)

Wasn't a big fan of either. Michigan State looked too much like Colorado State for my taste. Doubt Michigan wears those unis again for a long, long while

Tim (Newark, NJ)

Since the disastrous defense play to end the season last year has gotten even worse this year, is it time for Fitz to make changes on the defensive staff?

Brian Bennett
  (3:28 PM)

At the very least, it's time for some serious evaluation. I think the recruiting on the defensive side needs to get better, too.

JMO55 (Tampa)

Where do you see Penn State losing next?

Brian Bennett
  (3:29 PM)

The Lions are going to live on the edge because they can't score. Wouldn't shock me to see them get upset by Northwestern. If you can put up 21 on Penn State, you have a chance. If I had to guess, though, I'd say they're 8-1 before losing to Nebraska.

Molon Labe (Chicago (aka East Lansing West))

Green D is stoked. Lewis re Wisc: "Our linebackers are going to go get it and our lineman are getting after the quarterback. And they're going to hurt him." Wow. Gotta respect the nastiness on the D side. Scary - and it's working. Us State fans are thinking "Kill Bubba Kill"...

Brian Bennett
  (3:30 PM)

Those were some bold words by Mr. Lewis, no? I doubt he's made available for interviews this week.

lisa (hershey pa)

Brian do you think this could possibly be Joepa's last year? I really think it is. I think he knows it and doesn't want to say anything because he doesn't want all the attention to go to him more than it already has. I would honestly be surprised if he coaches next year.

Brian Bennett
  (3:32 PM)

I wouldn't be surprised if JoePa coaches 10 more years. I think the physical pain and having to coach in the press box is no fun for him. But it will come down to how he feels after the season, I think

Chris (DC)

Thanks to only 4 pass attempts, it looks like the Buckeyes are going bowling (seriously, if we lose to Indiana, all of the players should forfeit their scholarships). Do you think that'll help Fickell when he has to argue to keep his head coaching job this winter?

Brian Bennett
  (3:33 PM)

I don't think just six wins will be good enough. But Fickell deserves some credit for holding this thing together through some tough times. I think he'll be an outstanding coach down the line. Just don't know if it will be in Columbus

Johnny the JET (Lincoln)

Who is coaching in Minnesota next year?

Brian Bennett
  (3:33 PM)

Oh, come on. Jerry Kill is in his first year. You can't pull the plug yet.

John (New York)

Should Husker Fans be really excited for the showdown in Lincoln next week?

Brian Bennett
  (3:34 PM)

Yes, especially if Michigan State wins. Even if the Spartans lose to Wisconsin, next week is a key game in the Legends race

Matt (East Lansing)

What made you decide on the CT Dub at Menna's Joint? You should have got the Master Dub.

Brian Bennett
  (3:35 PM)

Didn't really want potato and sour cream. Planned on only having a few bites for the experience. Ate the whole thing. Yum.

Leonidias (East side of Lansing)

Love the blog Brian. MSU's offensive line showed improvement on saturday. What will the offensive and defensive lines have to do to stay competitive with Wiscy's big boys?

Brian Bennett
  (3:36 PM)

That's the key issue in this game. Can't wait to see Michigan State's D line match up against that O-line. I don't see the Spartans dominating, because nobody does that against Wisconsin. But they could hold their own. I'm curious to see whether MSU's O-line really has improved that much, or if it just took advantage of Michigan.

Max (Toronto)

Brian, Did you see Chaz Powell of PSU taunting penalty? If so what do you think? It was a pretty weak call in most peoples eyes.

Brian Bennett
  (3:37 PM)

Hated it, just like I hated the Jake Locker penalty a couple years ago when he threw the ball up. Is throwing the ball in the air really taunting and worth 15 yards? Lighten up, people. And how was Powell's a penalty and Isaiah Lewis' holding out the ball not one? That's another terrible thing about the rule -- way too subjective

Chris (Chicago)

How are the standings determined. Is it record within the divisions or overall conference records?

Brian Bennett
  (3:38 PM)

Overall conference record.

Tommy (Bikini Atolls)

Is MSU streak of Michigan Wisconsin and then Nebraska play in well for the Huskers. Those are 3 tough games in a row.

Brian Bennett
  (3:39 PM)

Don't forget Ohio State to start the stretch, which was an emotional game for MSU. That is four ridiculously tough games for the Spartans, and it's hard to stay that geared up for four straight weeks

Kirk Ferentz (Iowa City)

Over/Under 7 regular season wins for us?

Brian Bennett
  (3:40 PM)

You're 4-2, with games left against Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue. I think you'll upset either Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska. So over. But I'm an optimistic soul.

Mochila (Grand Rapids)

(Different Spartan fan from G.R.) Brian, do you or Adam get to go to the Wisc @ MSU game this coming weekend? I know you want another CT Dub!

Brian Bennett
  (3:41 PM)

One of us will be there. Don't know if my stomach can take another Dub.

ron (indiana)

a couple weeks ago a Purdue corner got flagged for a high five to the crowd. this weekend im watching ASU and Oregon, Oregon guy scores a td. then does like a lap of high fives to everyone in the crowd doesnt get called for it. why is the pac 12 so lame?

Brian Bennett
  (3:42 PM)

Again, it's totally subjective and up to the refs' judgment. Which makes it terrible

Pick a Chick for Once (in East Lansing)

So I'm curious at your BCS bowl selection order. You and Rittenberg have MSU as a pick for Fiesta in your "way too early" bowl projections this week. The selection order is Fiesta, Sugar then Orange. Wouldn't you see Fiesta going for a flashier team and Sugar or Orange possibly picking the B1G at large team? Given that two B1G teams get in that is...

Brian Bennett
  (3:44 PM)

There are so many variables at play here. The Fiesta may very well lose its Big 12 tie-in to the BCS title game, giving it two high selections. Big Ten schools are attractive because of their fan bases.

Tim (Atlanta)

What are the chances OSU finishes the season at 8-4 with the loss coming to Wisconsin?

Brian Bennett
  (3:45 PM)

Wouldn't be that surprising. After Wisconsin, the Buckeyes play Indiana, at Purdue, Penn State and at Michigan. Penn State's offense may be worse than Ohio State's, and the Buckeyes of course have that streak against the Wolverines to protect

B.B. (Madison)

Can we keep the streak alive and win another game by more than 30 this week? I know MSU's D is looking good, but they are due for a let down, right?

Brian Bennett
  (3:46 PM)

I'd be shocked if the margin was more than 30. Michigan State's D is much better than Nebraska's and the game is on the road.

Dan (Nashville)

It seems like having Indiana and Minnesota is actually killing the perception of the B1G. Would there ever be a time where the B1G looked at dropping or replacing any members?

Brian Bennett
  (3:47 PM)

I don't really agree with that, any more than Ole Miss or Kentucky is hurting the SEC. You could argue that having a couple of near-automatic wins for each team helps the overall record for everybody else. Perception is based on the top, not the bottom

Montee Ball (Camp Randall)

I can spell Montee with two E's. Also, I can spell where I play my home games. I am giving a lot of Brewer fans something to hear during practice. Keep rolling, Cards!

Brian Bennett
  (3:48 PM)

Huzzah to that

Ed (Wisconsin)

If Michigan State's defense is so phenomenal, what is your explanation for the 31 they gave up to Notre Dame? (I admit, I did not see that game)

Brian Bennett
  (3:48 PM)

Again, they gave up only 275 total yards. Had some short fields and they did allow some big plays. I also happen to think Notre Dame is pretty darn good.

Bret (Madison)

Any concern about my team playing a game into the 4th quarter this week? I know people keep bringing up the whole running up the score thing, but my guys need to get their work in too to stay sharp late when games get tough. Practice speed and game speed are not the same for conditioning.

Brian Bennett
  (3:50 PM)

Not terribly worried about that because Wisconsin's starters were playing deep into the game against Nebraska and wearing out the Huskers. I'd be more concerned about what happens when there's adversity in a true road environment for the first time

Tristen (New Mexico)

Witht the way Simon has been leading the buckeyes defense recently and with the bye week. Do you see Ohio state having a legitimate shot in two weeks against Wisconsin considering the game is in Columbus.

Brian Bennett
  (3:50 PM)

I simply don't see how Ohio State is going to score enough to keep up. Simon has had an amazing year, but he won't be enough.

Guss Scott (Fairbanks)

Game you have had the most fun at so far this year. Go.

Brian Bennett
  (3:51 PM)

Easy call. Notre Dame-Michigan. Wild game, incredible atmosphere

Brady (AA)

Over/under on 7 games this year?

Brian Bennett
  (3:52 PM)

You've already got six, and you get Purdue at home next time out. Surely Michigan will win one of its final four games, at least. Over.

Sean (LA)

How tough is Wicy's D? Have they really been tested yet this year?

Brian Bennett
  (3:53 PM)

They were tested early on by Nebraska's offense, but then the Huskers got away from what they do best. Wisconsin is not particularly deep on defense and has had some costly victories. It's not a shutdown defense but has been pretty good. Michigan State is not a high scoring team but can get physical with the running game

Hoke-aholic (A.A. (You guess which one))

Too much Kool-aid for Michigan fans thinking this year would be different (despite Hoke's warning), or is MSU that good?

Brian Bennett
  (3:55 PM)

Michigan State is pretty good. Also consider that Michigan really couldn't pass or get anything going in that wind and was outmuscled most of the day, The Wolverines still had the ball down seven and had a chance to tie it inside the MSU red zone. So they weren't that far away from winning

Josh (Quad Cities)

Michigan State hasn't looked very good the last few games against elite talent level teams(see 2010 losses)...would it really be all that surprising to see a blowout?

Brian Bennett
  (3:55 PM)

You mean like the Wisconsin game last year? What was the score of that one again?

Drew (Milwaukee)

Will you get a chance to come to Madison this year, Brian? Only two more home games left...

Brian Bennett
  (3:56 PM)

Penn State at the end of the year is the only real possibility. I'll be bummed if I don't make it there.

Tailgater (East Lansing)

How good of an idea is it putting Game Day on campus during a game where tailgaters can't arrive until 1pm?

Brian Bennett
  (3:57 PM)

Oregon fans showed up while it was still dark outside Saturday morning, and the game wasn't til 10:15 at night ET. No excuses

Josh (Quad Cities)

Wisconsin last year + 1 Heisman candidate this year, Mr. Bennett.

Brian Bennett
  (3:58 PM)

Minus three OL who are in the NFL draft right now and minus JJ Watt. There isn't that much difference in the Badgers of last year and this one.

Bucky81 (KU)

Any pride in knowing you are now on the podium in the Pick 'em with your favorite blog followers?

Brian Bennett
  (3:58 PM)

Absolutely. But it's a long season. One week at a time.

Brett (Conshohocken, PA)

I can't remember a year there's been so much unknown about the middle of the pack in the Big Ten, can you? I can legitimately see PSU going 6-6, or 10-2. What's amazing is how utterly unimpressive it's been aside from Wisconsin. Agree?

Brian Bennett
  (3:59 PM)

Agree, though Michigan State seems to be coming on. Ohio State being down and Nebraska not living up to hype have hurt the league.

Nate (Council Bluffs, IA)

As a long time Hawkeye Fan I've heard many fans talk about how boring and predictable our offense can be. For 5 quarters of play we saw a different, more pro-style offense emerge. We were quickly silenced by Penn St. with only able to hang a field goal. Second half last weekend we looked like the Hawks of old; a balanced attack with the run opening up the play action pass. Do you think the Hawks will go back to the balanced offense or keep the hurry-up?

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

I think the Hawkeyes will strive to keep balance, and Marcus Coker had an excellent day running the ball. The hurry-up is an effective weapon that can be used at times. Of course, Iowa won't always have the luxury of playing Northwestern's defense.

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

OK, my time is up. Thanks for all the great questions today -- more than 500 in the queue. See you next week!