1a. The press and the coaches will be predicting the Big Ten champ at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago on Wednesday. That's fine, but overdone. In lieu of boilerplate predictions of who will come out on top, which Big Ten team will be the most surprising? Remember, surprises can be good or bad; the underdog who comes out of nowhere to share the title is just as surprising as the favorite who winds up with five losses and no bowl bid.
PSU, Michigan, Tosu, and Wisconsin all come into this season with high hopes, while not all of these hopes will be realized none will suffer a crushing let-down. Similarly, Indiana, and NW roll in with similarly certain expectations....except in reverse. This leaves a healthy middle ground in Illinois, Iowa, MSU, Minnesota, and Purdue in the meaty part of the curve. This is where your surprise will lie. If I had to choose, and I do, I'd go with Purdue. They have ND, and Tosu at home and they really have a great shot at besting in-state-rival ND. If they can go undefeated in their out of conference schedule (Toledo, E. Illinois, C. Michigan, & ND) then they have a great shot at being a player at the end of the year.
1b. Imagine it's December, and the consensus in the media is that your team's season was "surprising." Is this a Good Thing or a Bad Thing? What would have to happen for you to consider your team's season surprising?
Well, most of the things I've seen have PSU going 10-2 to 8-4. That pretty much leaves 11-12 wins being surpising and below 8 wins devestating. Really, I would be more surprised if PSU went 7-5 or worse. If this happens, I would be a useless-slug-of-depression and I would also be very, very surprised.
2. A preseason player of the year will also be dubbed in Chicago. For your team to succeed, which player or unit is going to have to put forth a "player of the year" performance? What's the one position that would take your team to the next level if it performs above expectations?Definitely Anthony Morelli. His performance really improved as 2006 went along, however, for PSU to really be an elite (undefeated) team in 2007 he is going to have to play markedly better than he did in 2006. Of course, Austin Scott will also have to shoulder a lot of the loud but Morelli doesn't contribute more than he did las tyear PSU is going nowhere.
3. Which Big Ten team's out-of-conference schedule would you most want to have this year? Why? Do you think your team will have out-of-conference losses this year?
I am going to go with Michigan. They have both Oregon and ND on the schedule. In my eyes, the more big, fun games you have on your schedule the better. Conversely, I think Iowa plays the least challenging, least interesting schedule in The Big Ten.
4. Here's a chance to look like a complete genius in a few months: pick the biggest in-conference upset that will happen this season. Justify your prediction!
Michigan vs. Michigan State. This is a rivalry game, late in the year, and with the Wolverines on the road. To make things a little more interesting, the Wolverines could be looking ahead to their final two weeks (Wisconsin and Tosu). Granted, the Wolverines are a better team and it looks like they should own the Spartans; but that's what'll make it an upset.
5. Say something nice about the Big Ten school whose name precedes yours alphabetically. Say something mean about the one that comes after.Ohio State is good at.....(random groaning)....beating Michigan? I envy them in that regard, isn't that enough. I also envy the fact that they have a rival who truly hates them back. (sigh) I've also heard that Columbus is a great place to party on game day. Purdue is a lot of fun. West Lafayette is a lot better than East Lafayette. A good time on the open plains!
6. USC: great football program, or greatest football program? Also, how about that SEC? Damn, those guys are fast!
Groan. USC is in an upswing. They are a great team and I have a good time watching them play. However, they are far from unbeatable and while they have had great success it isn't unparalleled. I think SEC speed is one of the greatest myths in college football. Every school recruits kids from all over the country. I find it hard to believe that the SEC has the speed market cornered. Last I checked Justin King, Ted Ginn, and others were pretty fuckin fast too.
Hooray for the kickoff of The Big Ten Bloggers!