On Thursdays on The Big Ten Blog, we will feature questions from the B/R inbox, Twitter and email. Do you have questions for next week's Q&A? Send them to Big Ten lead blogger Adam Jacobi via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @Adam_Jacobi or at email@example.com.
This week, as always, all the questions come via Twitter. There are other channels of communication available, folks—ones where you can use more than 140 characters. We're not really complaining because yay questions no matter what, but it just seems odd.
@adam_jacobi: Q&A: "B1Ggest" disappointment on the conference's young season thus far?— Luke Penca (@Lukateake) September 14, 2012
This is one of those topical questions, isn't it? Since the Big Ten is terrible this year. So we're glad you asked.
The obvious follow-up question is "do you mean teams, players, coaches or games?" And yet, we could easily find candidates for all four, so let's just do that.
Team: Wisconsin Badgers
Lots of candidates here, but nothing's been as shocking as Wisconsin falling back to earth so suddenly this season. Bret Bielema took it out on the offensive line coach by firing him two games into his Wisconsin career; that seems not entirely wise but we'll see how that works.
Honorable mention: Penn State Nittany Lions. We knew it'd be tough this year, but getting worked by Ohio's lines and then choking away a sure road win weren't on the menu even for the tempered 2012 expectations.
Player: Michigan RB Fitz Toussaint
Toussaint took himself out of the running back rotation for Michigan's most important game of the year with an offseason DUI arrest (and eventual conviction for driving while visually impaired), then welcomed himself back to the starting lineup with eight rushes for seven yards. He won't keep getting seven yards a game all year, but this is a horrific beginning to the year.
Honorable mention: PSU kicker Sam Ficken. Sorry kid, but a missed PAT and four missed FGs, including the game-winner, has to be mentioned.
Coach: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
The most tenured coach in the entire conference has what could easily be his worst team on the field in over a decade, and it's not for a lack of recruiting talent compared to his top teams. The Hawkeyes—and returning 3,000-yard passer James Vandenberg in particular—look poorly drilled, hesitant and timid on offense, leading to a one-point win over Northern Illinois and a 9-6 loss to Iowa State at home.
Honorable mention: Bielema. Well, at least he's letting Wisconsin fans cancel their Pasadena hotel reservations early.
Game: Oregon State 10, Wisconsin 7
There were lots of candidates for this game, unfortunately—only Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue have gone two weeks without a shameful performance—but Oregon State manhandling the most physically dominant program of the Big Ten in the last five years was as much a shock to the system as anything we've seen in a while.
This game wouldn't have been as close as the scoreboard said even if the Beavers had preserved the shutout late.
Honorable mention: Alabama 41, Michigan 14. Remember, Big Ten fans thought this game might actually be close coming into the week. What ensued was a show of dominance that put the entire college football world on notice: Alabama has reloaded, and Michigan has not.
Okay. That's out of our system. Let's move on.
@adam_jacobi Can we just shoot B1G football and put it out of its misery?— RossWB (@RossWB) September 14, 2012
Not the worst idea, so I'm glad you asked. There is a way back for the Big Ten, but we fans aren't going to like to hear it. You know what it is?
Accepting the fact that the Big Ten's pretty terrible this year.
No, seriously. We're going to have to do that, since it's pretty much fact at this point. So sit back, don't fight the insults and derision, because what are you going to say? "Yeah, but Northwestern beat Vanderbilt"? Come on. Let's write this season off as a loss, then pray Ohio State doesn't pull a Wisconsin in 2013.
@adam_jacobi what does ND ACC choice say about Big10's clout/status these days? Also: impact on rivalries betw ND & B1G schools?— Mark (@MarkSBJr) September 14, 2012
I'm quite glad you asked, mainly because this gives me an opportunity to link to what I wrote on Wednesday, which is that the move to the ACC was made with consideration to the Big Ten rivalries Notre Dame already enjoys.
There's no guarantee those rivalries get maintained—nothing's a guarantee in college football scheduling except an actual contract—but it does seem as if Notre Dame is at least interested on a philosophical level in keeping them, which is why you see the Irish looking for ACC dates to fill what's usually a lean part of the year for independents: October and November.
As for what it says about the Big Ten, not much except that it's more intractable in its stances on conference affiliation than the ACC is. The ACC doesn't bring more to the table in terms of money and prestige, which is what Notre Dame is after (and let's not kid ourselves, in that order).
That said, the ACC should really look at what a similar arrangement with Notre Dame and the Big East did for the Big East, because the answer is "not much." Granted, it wasn't Notre Dame's duty as a partial member to keep the band together, but do you really think the Big East would go through all that all over again if it knew then what it knows now?
@adam_jacobi If Braxton Miller goes down...?— PlannedSickDays (@PlannedSickDays) September 14, 2012
I'm glad you asked, because everybody needs a disaster preparation plan. It can happen to anyone, including you. If Ohio State loses Braxton Miller ahead of time, it is prepared to deploy an emergency Kenny Guiton to the scene.
Guiton is lightning-fast, perhaps faster than Miller, but he's nowhere near where Miller is as a passer. All of that is to say, he's a smaller version of true freshman Braxton Miller, and that was not the most stellar of options for Ohio State.
Ah well. It'd be 12 games for the Buckeyes this year no matter what.
One last question.
@adam_jacobi What did we do to deserve a PSU/Iowa game this year? Can we stop it?— Brandon Armstrong (@chubs_kgun) September 14, 2012
Good lord, speaking of disaster scenarios. I'm glad you asked, of course, but could it get any darker than this?
At any rate, we do not recommend bomb threats to stop this game from being played. Those are illegal and they draw attention from the actual threat at hand, which is prolonged exposure to 2012 Penn State football and 2012 Iowa football at the same time. It's like mixing baking soda and vinegar in your brain. My friend Tommy says his cousin Ricky's best friend tried and he had to go to the hospital for forever.
Contractual obligations, which are the backbone of the American economy, dictate that this game be played. There's really nothing we as fans or loving citizens of this country can do about that.
But we don't have to watch. Indeed, we owe it to ourselves not to watch. So for this game at Kinnick Stadium, we propose a boycott-out. Rather than everyone wearing black or gold or white or whatever color, everyone should stay home and also keep their TVs turned off. The Big Ten needs to know that it's not allowed to subject its fans to such inhumanity. Not in 2012.
We demand better.