By the way, I'm still pissed.
This week's Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable is brought to us by fellow SBN blogger Maize n' Brew
1. Time to break out the crystal ball. I want to know what happens at the END of the season. Give me your offensive and defensive Players of the Year in the Big Ten along with Coach of the Year and why.
Offensive player of the year: Well, I think our entire receiver corps is offensive. Does that count? No? Well, then it's Purdue QB Curtis Painter. Sure, he hasn't played anyone yet (PU's opponents thus far are 2-7, though that's better than Iowa's games to date; the only game one of our opponents has won was the game they won against us), but 950 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions is a pretty damn good start for a guy who threw 22 picks a year ago. He has a decent offensive line to offer protection and 4 experienced wideouts (generally, wide receivers improve over time; some concept, right?) With Henne injured and Morelli...well, Morelli, there isn't a quarterback in the Big Ten who can match his numbers. When you take a closer look, Purdue's not too bad a team (a point I'll get to in a second).
Defensive player of the year: Deserved or not, it will be James Laurinaitis. RUTS and mGoBlog are convinced he's completely overrated (I'm not going that far; he scares me too much and he's not even on the schedule), but he will continue to be completely overrated all the way to the bank.
Coach of the year: Joe Motherfuckin' Tiller. Purdue may not be the most talented team in the conference (hell, they might not be the most talented team in Indiana), but they've got experience everywhere. Their receivers are great. Their defense is good enough. Their kicking game looks surprisingly competent. And their running backs are mohawked.
Jaycen Taylor, last of the Mohicans
The secondary is worrisome, to be sure, but this might be the year you can get away with that (is there another team in the conference beating you through the air?) I'm not going to predict a conference championship for Boiler Up, but they'll certainly make some noise in the process. You'll start hearing about them the second they squeak by tOSU on October 8, then a little more when that spread attack throttles the Wolverines in the Big House a week later. They'll finish 9-2 (6-2), and unless PSU runs the table, that's enough to get the Walrus the Big Ten Coach of the Year award.
2. With the upsets, close games, and head scratchers so far, every game we thought was going to be important has changed. Michigan State is 3-0, for Pete's sake, and they look good doing it. Pick the three games on the Big Ten Schedule that will determine the Big Ten Champion. Bonus Points for not picking three games on your own schedule.
PSU/Michigan, this week - A Penn State schnide-busting performance kicks off Happy Valley's run at the title. Michigan makes RUTS's nightmares come to life, and suddenly Big Blue starts to look legitimate again.
tOSU/Purdue, 10/8 - The only possible stumbling block for the Shoe before October 27. Sweater vest teams with confidence heading into November scare me. Purdue, you must stop them.
Iowa/Minnesota, 11/10 - Will probably have no impact on the title race whatsoever. But I called Iowa the Harrison Ford of football earlier this season, and Harrison must tell Goldie to "GIVE ME BACK MY PIG" before headbutting some random dude and wreaking total havoc on an unsuspecting Minnesota populous.
3. How many games, this season, have you been to? How many games have you tailgated at? If you have tailgated, name your beverage of choice. If you answered no to the previous questions, hang your head in shame, or at least give a good story about watching the game in enemy territory and giving the bouncer the finger when he asked you to quiet down.
I've been to two of three. I was at the opener in Chicago (Old Style and Jack Daniels, thank you very much) and the Syracuse game (Busch Light and Jack Daniels...is there a pattern developing?) As for last week, I stayed home because I very well might have set Jack Trice on fire afterwards, and nobody wants to kill those poor ISU cheerleaders grazing on the field after the game.
4. As the Big Ten Season kicks off, the Conference is in somewhat of a difficult position nationally. Needing some momentum after a horrid BCS performance, the Conference needed some momentum early in the season. It hasn't gotten it. The first three weeks have been abysmal. Is this just a down year for the Big Ten, is there a change Nationally that the Big Ten just hasn't picked up on, is there some truth to the "Big Ten Style of Play" that everyone harps on, or has college football simply caught up? What so you think and why?
I'd normally roll out the "this happens from time to time, it's cyclical, we'll be better next year" schtick, but my partner in crime JHC is right: Watching football anywhere but in the Big Ten/XII (particularly the SEC) is like watching the game in the bizarro world. There is nobody in the Big Ten doing anything close to what Meyer/Spurrier/Miles are doing in the South, or what Tedford/Carroll/two-headed Belotti-Kelly monster are doing out west. Three yards and a cloud of dust is not just boring; it's been rendered completely ineffective by the spread offenses and zone blitzes and freakish things I can't even describe that are coming out of the better conferences. It's why I think Big Blue's demise will be good for the conference in the long term. UM is talented enough to be scary with Scrooge at the helm; they become downright Freddie Kruegger terrifying with a little creativity from someone outside the program. We need drastic, massive, pull-our-collective-head-out-of-our-fat-Midwestern-ass change to stay at the top, and we sure as hell aren't getting it from the coaches and coordinators we have right now.
And now, if you will pardon me, I’m going back to my whiskey and Morrissey...