This week's Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable is presented by Michigan Sports Center (poor bastard)
1. Now that two weeks of play are behind us, what is one encouraging surprise and one downing disappointment from your team? (Easy answer to the latter part of the question for Michigan bloggers)
Well, when you've played such college football juggernauts as Northern Illinois and Syracuse, it's difficult to gauge just how well things are going. I don't think we know enough to definitively state surprise/disappointment, but that never stopped me.
The obvious surprise has been the offensive line, what with the inexperience and injuries and whatnot. But I'm even more surprised with the secondary. Sure, we've been starting three seniors and a junior in the defensive backfield, but these guys just weren't very good in the first place. Charles Godfrey has been a lockdown corner, the safeties have looked fantastic, and even Shutdown Shada has avoided his prior lack of talent to contribute.
The disappointment? The solid secondary play has largely precluded the inevitable ascendance of Cedric Everson. You know who stops the pass? Crazy stops the pass.
2. A look at the current Big Ten standings shows things dead-locked record-wise for the most part. Once conference play actually begins, which two or three teams pull away from the rest of the pack?
Obviously, it's Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan. OK, maybe not.
1. Penn State - They get Michigan early (I think we might see a Big Blue resurrection come mid-October, but not anytime soon), and the other contenders (Wisky, tOSU, Iowa) come to Happy Valley. They have a quarterback who makes Drew Tate look stable, but I don't see how they get knocked out of the top three.
2. Wisconsin - I was on the bandwagon early, but I'm fading slightly on their chances. The Wazzu game was closer than the score indicates, and the UNLV game was damn near a disaster. Still, Donovan has looked capable at quarterback, P.J. Hill has returned to form, and the defense will eventually find its form. I don't think they can win the conference with their schedule (@PSU, @tOSU followed by Big Blue), but they'll be up near the top.
3. Iowa - It's by default. Ohio State is hopelessly flawed (I will not change my mind on this point). Michigan is done without Henne (and, for that matter, with him). Purdue doesn't have the guns on either side of the ball. Michigan State is...well, Michigan State. Iowa has a good-nearing-great defensive front seven, two top-notch backs running behind the aforementioned surprising offensive line, and even a half-decent secondary for the first time since Bob Sanders left. Plus, the often-mentioned schedule is conducive to a run at the top of the standings. So why not?
3. Has your team ever played in a game that was just downright boring and impossible to watch? I ask this because going into the Michigan-Notre Dame game, looking at it on paper, it is shaping up to be one of the ugliest we may see all year.
Oh, come on. We were involved in the ugliest Big Ten game of this millenium. Take a trip with me back to October 23, 2004. Beaver Stadium. State College, PA. Two chip shot Kyle Schlicher field goals were enough to beat two Penn State safeties (one of which was self-induced) as the Hawks won 6-4. To top it off, the game was called by Pam Ward and Mike Tomczak. That, my friends, is the epitome of ugly football.