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September 9, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (3:00 PM)

Hello, everybody, and welcome to another Big Ten Monday chat. I'm here for the next hour to talk about all things Big Ten football. So fire away with your best questions.

Brian Bennett
  (3:00 PM)

And, geez, can we get some fall weather already?

Andrew (Spartan in NJ)

What should / what will MSU do at QB? I think it's looking more and more like Terry will get a shot, then, if he fails, they can have him roll his ankle in hopes of getting a medical redshirt.

Brian Bennett
  (3:02 PM)

Ah, yes, the inescapable Michigan State QB questions. That's in danger of becoming a clown show. My opinion is that it doesn't really matter who the QB is if the Spartans are going to keep calling very conservative, questionable plays -- especially on third down -- and if the receivers don't get better. But, yeah, why not give Terry a shot? At this point, you've got to try anything and MSU should be all in for this year with that D.

Brian (Midwest)

Come on, no helmet sticker love for Kenny G? I know it was SDSU, but he did an amazing job filling in for Miller. This goes beyond a decent statistical day as he showed a great understanding of the game with some good audibles and smart option reads. Some people may have questioned why he was made a captain, but his command of the offense Saturday showed he deserved it (as well as more recognition!).

Brian Bennett
  (3:04 PM)

I love what Guiton did and what he gives to that team. But we only give out five stickers (cheating a bit when we honor teammates) and the five we picked all had huge days. The SDSU game wasn't much of a challenge. No offense to Kenny G and his smooth jazz ways

Brandon (Atlanta)

The Big Ten is off to a decent start this year. Will this finally be the year that living in SEC Country won't be hard for me from August until January?

Brian Bennett
  (3:06 PM)

Brandon, the Big Ten has its best record after two weeks in a decade. That's the good news. The bad news is it hasn't really played anybody, so the record should be good. This week is huge for the league as most of the big nonconference games are Saturday. That said, I like what I've seen from the top teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin and think Nebraska has a lot of room to grow. And Penn State looks like it will remain tough to play all year if it can stay healthy.

Jon (Seattle, WA)

Hi Brian! Big thanks for the chat. Prior to the season, most including this Badger grad, believed Wisconsin would have a very hard time escaping Tempe with a win. Is it crazy that I feel more confident after the first 2 games against UMASS and Tennessee Tech? Say what you want about the schedule, but they've impressed me. Don't get me wrong, the Badgers will still have their hands full, but I suppose now I see this game as a tossup (even considering the hostile/hot environment) as opposed to ASU being the favorite. I just hope this game doesn't come down to a field goal/extra point because I don't see any confidence in French

Brian Bennett
  (3:09 PM)

This is no doubt a tough matchup, especially on the road. Arizona State plays fast, has a lot of speed on offense and a great defensive tackle in Sutton. Not going to be easy. You have to love most everything about Wisconsin's first two games, but the reality is they were basically scrimmages. I think this is a tough matchup in terms of style of play and the site. You make a great point about the kicking game. That could come back to haunt Wisconsin. (I almost wrote it could bite them, but that would have led me to another easy Jack Russell joke. Self-control, Brian).

Rob NitLion (Morristown, NJ)

Brian, can you please explain the change in game day coverage, both during the afternoon games and post-games? Seems like there were a lot less blog posts on each of the individual all your commentary coming through twitter now? I really enjoyed the coverage on each game, and your and Adam's thoughts...seems like we got a lot of Michigan-ND coverage and not much else, aside from an article on Illinois' win over Cinncy...

Brian Bennett
  (3:11 PM)

Sure, Rob. Saturday was the first day we tried a new format where we comment on the day's action throughout but don't write a lot on the individual games. A lot of those posts got buried in the Saturday rush, and it's also true that many of last week's games weren't very compelling. We'll have more individual coverage of games when they're more interesting/important, but for now we're seeing how this works. Our wrapup posts would merely echo most of the thoughts we're providing during the games, anyway. We appreciate the feedback and please let us know what you like/dislike.

Sgt. Big Ten (B1G Country)

Will we see USC and Texas fighting over Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald after Lane Kiffin and Mack Brown are inevitably fired at season's end?

Brian Bennett
  (3:12 PM)

They'd be foolish not to consider Fitzgerald. I really don't see him as a USC kind of guy, though the Trojans could throw some serious money his way. Texas is a much bigger threat. That school has all the resources you'd ever want, and Fitz recruits Texas hard already. Don't know if he'd be at the top of their list but it's something to watch for. Would take a special job to pry him out of Evanston, that's for sure.

Cindy (michigan)

I'm not quit sure i understand all the fuss about michigns win over ND. Everyone complains that ND was overrated this year, yet this is a "big" win for michigan? How? I was wataching and with T. Rees as ND QB, this team is average at best. Your thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (3:14 PM)

My thoughts: Hogwash. Everyone wants to bash Notre Dame and say they're overrated any time they lose. Not buying it. That's a very talented team with a bunch of future pros that went 12-0 last year. Great win for Michigan, no excuses needed.

Dan (Chicago)

Hey Brian:Maybe the first step in Beckman turning the corner in Champaign? Realistically, can we hope for a 6-6 this year and a minor bowl?

Brian Bennett
  (3:16 PM)

We put them in our bowl projections this week. That may be a leap, but the Illini should be no worse than 3-1 in conference play and should beat Purdue. Indiana is a toss up game. So, one more win, and there you go. It's early and Illinois has a lot to prove still. But the team can score, so it will have a fighting chance.

Virgil (Grand Rapids)

I found Michigan playing the Chicken Dance as Notre Dame was leaving the field to be unsportsmanlike. Typical Michigan Man move in my book. Do you think it was inappropriate of them to do so?

Brian Bennett
  (3:16 PM)

Come on, it was funny. These are the kinds of things you do in a rivalry game, especially when your rival has pulled out of the series.

Tom (Chicago)

Brian, is the MSU offense the worst the Big 10 has seen in around the last 10 years? Will they beat any of the Big 10 teams currently ranked?

Brian Bennett
  (3:17 PM)

It's not worse than Purdue's right now and not a whole lot worse than the one last year on a seven-win Spartans team. That defense will keep them in every game.

Maxnorth (Canada)

I felt like you could have given Penn State more coverage this weekend. Our freshman quarterback had a noteworthy day and it never made your radar.

Brian Bennett
  (3:19 PM)

Max, they played Eastern Michigan. Josh Moyer was at the game and wrote from it. I was at the Syracuse game and wrote about Hackenberg. Again: Eastern Michigan.

John (Lincoln, NE)

Brian, if Nebraska wins against UCLA this week, where would you put the Huskers in your power rankings?

Brian Bennett
  (3:21 PM)

Depends on what others do, but that would probably count as the second-best win by a Big Ten team this season, and maybe better, depending on Notre Dame's season. It will also matter whether Nebraska's defense plays well or the Huskers simply outscore UCLA in a shootout. If it's the latter, then opinions of the Huskers won't change too much. I'd probably have them at 4 or 5 in the B1G and around 16-18 nationally with a win, again depending on other outcomes. I'll be at the game, by the way, and am greatly looking forward to it.

Coolio (Minneapolis)

What are your thoughts on the Gophers? Do you think they may compete and even win a game they shouldn't in big ten conference play this year?

Brian Bennett
  (3:22 PM)

I thought in the preseason they'd have a chance to win seven games, maybe eight with some good fortune. I like how opportunistic the Gophers have been in finding non-offensive ways to score. I would like to see a little better execution on offense and a more physical tone, especially against the lightweight competition they've been playing. The San Jose State game is a big one. Win that, and they'll be 4-0 going into Iowa at home.

Joe (Philly)

Nice try, but other than Michigan, who from the B1G played a significant opponent? Again: who other than Michigan? #ESPNHatesPennState.

Brian Bennett
  (3:24 PM)

And we didn't cover those teams any differently this week. Did you see a Wisconsin game story? We also run a site called NittanyNation on ESPN. Gotta tell you, this conspiracy stuff is extremely tiresome.

Carl (Long Island)

Who's more at fault for Purdue's dismal passing game: O-line or Qb?

Brian Bennett
  (3:25 PM)

Both have been bad. Overall, the entire offense is completely out of sync and has had communication issues. It really starts with that line, though. If the Boilers can't be physical and run the ball the way they want, then not much is going to work. Purdue has some of the worst offensive numbers in the country, and the two teams it has played gave up huge yardage and point totals in their other games. Scary stuff with ND coming in this week.

Mark B. (Husker Nation)

Brian, the Huskers drub Southern Miss and still drop in the polls? What gives? Weak opponent syndrome or are the pollsters still not convinced the defense can hold up?

Brian Bennett
  (3:27 PM)

Had more to do with other teams, I think. In fact, I dropped Nebraska out last week and put them back in this week. Listen, it's Week 2. This is no time to worry about the polls. If Nebraska beats UCLA, it will be in fine shape. If not, the Huskers probably were going to fall out anyway

James (Ann Arbor)

Brian, what do you think the chances are of an undefeated psu playing an undefeated Michigan?

Brian Bennett
  (3:28 PM)

Pretty darn good. Michigan simply is not losing before that game with their remaining schedule. Penn State has it a little tougher, because UCF is pretty good and a road trip to Indiana could turn into a shootout. But I like the chances and think that game could be a whole lot of fun. Already looking forward to it.

Tim (Ann Arbor)

Brian, I am really worried that Devin Gardner is going to get injured at some point this season. Do you think that is a valid concern or is he tough enough to keep taking a beating with his style of play?

Brian Bennett
  (3:30 PM)

I was a little surprised how much Michigan ran Gardner against ND given the lack of experienced depth behind him. His health is a huge concern, but these next few games might be a chance to get Morris a chance to gain some more experience. You've got to play to your strengths in the big games, and Hoke and Borges know that.

Jake (Michigan)

Brian: Where's Rittenberg right now? trying out for MSU QB?

Brian Bennett
  (3:31 PM)

I believe he's in Chicago, working on stories. Where else would he be? Ritt will check out Illinois-Washington this week. Interesting game and a big test for Beckman's crew.

Bryant (Milwaukee)

Who has been the most impressive of the three Badger RB's in your eyes so far this season? I know the competition has been terrible but three guys over 100 two straight games and three of the last four is still really impressive.

Brian Bennett
  (3:32 PM)

I still think it's Gordon. He has such a smooth running style and is so explosive. All three have been great, though, and Clement is getting it done with backups in there, which is impressive. Let's see what they do against a much more legitimate D this weekend.

Carl (E.L.)

Isn't it too early to say that Dantonio has mishandled the QBs? The Notre Dame game has always been the measuring stick. Can we hold off saying things like clown show before then, especially since MSU will be 3-0 on Saturday?

Brian Bennett
  (3:34 PM)

To be clear, I said it's in danger of becoming that, not that it has. I don't know that he's mishandled the QBs. You've seen all three play, and none have been very effective. What else is he supposed to do? My issue with Dantonio and the offense is that he didn't hire a big-time offensive coordinator who could have shaken things up when he had the chance this offseason. Instead, they ran it back with arguably less offensive talent than a year ago. No wonder they've struggled.

Jay (MN)

Brian, please tell me you got to enjoy AggieVision Saturday night. What concerns you the most in regards to Minnesota's passing game? I just don't think they have the WR's on the outside to threaten people downfield.

Brian Bennett
  (3:35 PM)

Oh my goodness. I couldn't stop talking and tweeting about the wonders of AggieVision. Loved the intro music and the Casa de Autos commercials (is that Spanish for "garage?). Anyway, I think you're onto it there. The team just didn't have great playmaking ability at wideout last year, and while it has improved some, there still aren't a lot of guys who scare you there. That's why Minnesota has to get the running game going and be physical. That's what worked in the bowl game but it has yet to look the same this year. I do like Nelson's running, though. Has surprised me a bit.

Alan (Los Angeles)

Can someone please explain why ESPN would "hate" any team, since that would mean fewer eyeballs? Grow up people. GO CATS!

Brian Bennett
  (3:36 PM)

Alan, you are my hero. I've never in my career "hated" any school or team. (Well, maybe Duke basketball for a while there, but I think you can understand why).

Samuel (Iowa City)

Brian, is it just me or has problems choosing a QB become chronic in the B1G over the last few years? It seems like every season there is at least one QB competition that goes on and on. Has it always been this hard? If not, why now?

Brian Bennett
  (3:38 PM)

Samuel, I thought the QB position was a problem in the league a little bit last year, but I'm actually encouraged by what I've seen this year. Take out Michigan State and Purdue, and the QB position looks pretty good most places. You've got young guys like Hackenberg, Stave and Sudfeld showing a lot of potential and veterand like Martinez, Miller, Gardner and Scheelhaase all playing at a high level. I think Rudock has so far been an upgrade for Iowa. So, no, I don't think it's chronic.

James (South Bend )

Why is that whenever we lose a game were over-rated, instead of the other team just playing a great game? Find me a single defensive line above the mason-dixon with more pro-potential than this year's Irish team...

Brian Bennett
  (3:39 PM)

Couldn't agree more, James. By the way, I totally predicted that reaction in my column on the Big Ten schedules in Week 1. That's the problem with having ND as your marquee game. The story is always about the Irish, win or lose.

Burnsie (Toledo, OH)

I'm feeling more and more positive about Iowa after this week. Do you see my Hawkeyes making a bowl game?

Brian Bennett
  (3:40 PM)

I think it's possible, but I also believe that winning at Iowa State this weekend is an absolute must. From there, the Hawks would be 3-1 going into Big Ten play with winnable games vs. Minnesota and Purdue. Michigan State at home is doable as well. Lose this week and the path becomes much tougher, in my opinion.

Charlie (Evanston)

Which 'Cats QB matches up best against OSU? This 10/5 game is all us Wildcat fans can think about.

Brian Bennett
  (3:42 PM)

As it should. Northwestern will be 4-0 after a bye going into that game. Biggest regular-season game in school history? You could build a case for that. That's why I like the fact that both QBs are playing well. Ohio State will have to prepare for both the passing game and the option, and Northwestern can mix it up during the game. Need to have Venric Mark ready to go as well.

Landon Fiechter (West Lafayette)

Who's tougher than me in the B1G?

Brian Bennett
  (3:43 PM)

Played with two broken hands and then hurt another limb Saturday. Your effort is making us all look bad.

Vinnie (ATL)

I know it is way too early, but I believe Ohio St. and Michigan are headed for a 2 game collision. I am not saying both will be undefeated, but the BIG is more compelling when BOTH are relevant.

Brian Bennett
  (3:44 PM)

I agree, though I didn't exactly see a question there. Having both be national contenders helps the league. Doesn't mean they have to be the only contenders.

Boilerdmac (Lansing)

Do you think Hazell stays with Henry all year or will he give a shot to one of the backups?

Brian Bennett
  (3:44 PM)

No question another QB, if not both, gets a shot. Henry isn't playing well and he's a senior. Hazell will have to start getting ready for the future. I expect to see both Appleby and Etling -- and soon

Matt (New Albany)

We all know IU has had a historically inept Defense. But just how bad is this year's version? Can a team lead the conference in a boatload of offensive categories and yet miss a bowl game because of how bad they are on defense, particularly against the run?

Brian Bennett
  (3:46 PM)

Well, sure. It's the inverse of Michigan State. I think Indiana is more talented on defense this year, but boy was that dispiriting Saturday. Now, Navy is unique, and those results won't necessarily repeat themselves because the style of play -- and blocking -- is just so different. But that was a huge blow to IU's bowl hopes.

Brian Bennett
  (3:46 PM)

Well, sure. It's the inverse of Michigan State. I think Indiana is more talented on defense this year, but boy was that dispiriting Saturday. Now, Navy is unique, and those results won't necessarily repeat themselves because the style of play -- and blocking -- is just so different. But that was a huge blow to IU's bowl hopes.

Marty (EL)

Point Blank: Is Dantonio on the hot seat?

Brian Bennett
  (3:46 PM)

Not at all. Next question.

Brett (Conshohocken, PA)

Who do you think is the trickier opponent before our game against Michigan... UCF, or Indiana? I'm leaning UCF after the clunker Indiana had on Saturday.

Brian Bennett
  (3:47 PM)

Good question. I'm still not totally sold on UCF. They've won a lot of games recently and have a good, experienced QB. But every time UCF has tried to play a big boy of late, it has gotten smoked. Indiana will be at home and can throw the heck out of the ball, and Penn State could be looking forward to Michigan. I know the PSU-IU overall record, but I'll still say the Hoosiers are a slightly bigger challenge.

David (Chicago)

I think most people agreed that Beckman's seat would have gotten dialed up had they endured another season like last. But lets say the Illini beat Miami OH and Purdue but lose everything else...would that be enough to secure his job?

Brian Bennett
  (3:48 PM)

That would be four wins, which would definitely represent progress. Depends of course on whether the losses are competitive or by 50 points. But I think it would be enough, especially with Wes Lunt waiting in the wings.

Purdue Mike (Indiana)

I say take our lumps with a younger QB now, whoever that is and build for the future ?

Brian Bennett
  (3:49 PM)

Well, the lumps are coming, one way or another, with that schedule.

Samuel (Iowa City)

Brian, I asked Adam and I'd like your take. I've been paying more attention to the SEC's early marquee match-ups. Is there a window in the next few years when the B1G's weak non-con schedule puts it at a disadvantage in the new play-off scheme?

Brian Bennett
  (3:51 PM)

Well, Samuel, the Big Ten schedules are getting a major upgrade soon. We've got LSU-Wisconsin and Michigan State-Oregon next year, for example. But you're right that the SEC has scheduled very smartly, mixing in some early conference games to have at least one major showdown seemingly every week. The Big Ten is heading that direction, but it takes a while to turn the ship around.

Dallas (Flint, MI)

If ND goes on to blow out Purdue and MSU as expected, do you think that will change the perception of UM's win to the rest of the Big Ten?

Brian Bennett
  (3:52 PM)

Doubt it has much to do with Notre Dame's results against Purdue or MSU. It matters when ND plays Stanford, USC, et al. If the Irish finish something like 10-2 and go to a BCS game, that's huge for Michigan.

Rutgers Fan (Lost)

Hey Brian, Has Nova turned the corner? Seems to be following a similar path as Teel. Shaky beginnings to solid starter. Thanks.

Brian Bennett
  (3:52 PM)

Is it 2014 already?

Early Conference Games (Big10 Country )

How sweet would it be to see a couple of conference games each year spice up these boring early OOC weeks? I can only watch so much of Ohio State versus Tampa Beach Community Arts School before I lose my mind.

Brian Bennett
  (3:53 PM)

Trust me, they're coming. It just took a while to get going because of previously schedule September games. And, hey, we get a Big Ten game next week in Wisconsin vs. Purdue. Anyone?

Luke (Madison)

If the Badgers start every season around #25 like usual, do we have to be the only undefeated team in the B1G to make the playoff? It just seems like pre-season rankings have a huge affect on a teams ceiling.

Brian Bennett
  (3:54 PM)

Polls should make very little difference to the selection committee. It's all going to be about winning your conference and SOS. As it should be.

Patrick (NY)

Why should MSU burn a redshirt of a QB when it's clear the offensive problems run a lot deeper than that? The defense can't put up 14 points a game every week. We saw this story last year, when the team went 6-6. Why use up a year of eligibility just so the Spartans can maybe go 7-5?

Brian Bennett
  (3:56 PM)

It's a fair question. It really just revolves around whether Terry is actually an upgrade on the guys they have. Can he provide a spark and make some more plays because of his athleticism? If the answer is yes -- or if the coaching staff believes the chances of that answer being yes are greater than 50 percent -- then they have to play him. You have to play for right now in college football, especially with the defense and schedule that the Spartans have.

Rob NitLion (Morristown, NJ)

Brian, I'm guessing you might not have been able to tune into the Georgia-South Carolina game, but I'm really concerned that these are two teams that will finish outside of the BCS yet end up in bowl games against some of the B1G's middle of the pack bowl teams, such as Wisconsin and Nebraska...the speed and power of those two teams was amazing, I do not see our mid to upper level bowl teams, sans Michigan and OSU being able to compete on the same field...

Brian Bennett
  (3:58 PM)

I watched bits and pieces of it but was focused on the B1G games. Yes, both teams are wildly talented. I expect one will win the East for sure. Tough potential matchup for any Big Ten team, but remember that Michigan took SC to the wire last year and Nebraska was right in that UGA game. Michigan State beat UGA the year before. So it can be done, and you want to play the best, no?

Samuel (Iowa City)

I need some oxygen. I go away for the weekend and StL is back up 1.5 games. Are the Cardiac Cardinals winning the division or heading to the wildcard game?

Brian Bennett
  (3:59 PM)

Now there's a question! Great sweep this weekend, and the schedule is highly favorable down the stretch. I think Cards win the division, but the one-game wild card might not be so bad if the reward for a division title is playing LA in the first round without homefield advantage.

Scott (Omaha)

How do you think Nebraska will do this weekend against UCLA?

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

I'm skeptical of how the young defense can prevent big plays by the Bruins. I do think the homefield is a huge advantage and that the Huskers offense will show some new things this weekend. I see a close game and a possible shootout. Leaning toward picking the Bruins but want to give it some more thought and will talk to some Huskers coaches and players this week.

Brian Bennett
  (4:01 PM)

OK, that's all my time this week. Hour flew by. Thanks for all the great questions and enjoy what should be a very fun Saturday.