Every week (or so) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello again, friends. It's Valentine's Day, which means we hope you're with that special someone in your life tonight—or special someones, if they're cool with that. They're probably not. At any rate, if that special someone in your life is yourself, then treat yourself right by reading this Q&A. It's a gift from you, for you. And you gotta take care of you tonight.
@adam_jacobi What's your prediction for UCLA vs Nebraska?— Dexter Fishmore (@dexterfishmore) February 14, 2013
I'm glad you asked! We're going to let Special Correspondent* Clubber Lang handle the answer on this one.
The good news is the game's in Lincoln, and the Huskers always have a fighting shot at home. It's been nearly four years since Nebraska last lost by more than one possession at Memorial Stadium, and UCLA has to retool enough—especially at receiver and secondary—that Nebraska has a decent chance at keeping this one close.
But man, things could go awfully bad for the Huskers. We're hard-pressed to find a defense that lost more star power than Nebraska's, and the Huskers weren't great on defense to begin with. So if UCLA can rack up 653 yards of offense last year with redshirt freshman Brett Hundley at the helm, imagine what Hundley's going to be capable with a full season of action under his belt and four of his starting five linemen back.
Again, at the very least, this one's in Lincoln, so we'll put the over-under on UCLA's yardage at 550 on the day—a precipitous drop from 2012, personnel adjustments be damned. That "over" is awfully tempting still, isn't it? Yeah. That doesn't bode well for Nebraska.
@adam_jacobi Can you write a sonnet about Denard Robinson in iambic pentameter?— TH, if you will (@tholzerman) February 14, 2013
I am pretty sure that I can. Thank you for asking.
@adam_jacobi What is the Big Ten's best "secret" rivalry, in which one team does not know they are the other team's rival.— Craig D. Barker (@cdbarker) February 14, 2013
OK, this is a funny question, so I'm glad you asked, and the fact that a Michigan fan asked it leads me to believe you're looking for one specific answer. And you are correct.
The answer to this question is Illinois vs. Michigan, with Illinois' bloodlust thoroughly unrequited (obviously). If you're unaware of this secret rivalry, exactly. I wasn't either until about four or five months ago—not even remotely aware.
But it's a real thing. It has been told to me by an Illinois undergraduate/Michigan grad school student who had to learn the hard way. It has been written about politely by the Michigan Daily, the campus newspaper in Ann Arbor. It was even laid bare by Illinois fan and stellar blogger Frank The Tank, who wrote this:
[W]hen I went to law school at DePaul, the two undergraduate schools that matriculated the most students there by a substantial margin were Illinois and Michigan. Everytime I spewed my anger toward the Maize and Blue, my Michigan alum classmates were sincerely and genuinely perplexed. They had absolutely no feelings toward playing us whatsoever. In fact, a number of them upon moving to Chicago even started cheering for Illinois when they weren’t playing Michigan. They simply didn’t think about us at all as any sort of rival – we might as well have been Northern Illinois. While learning about this apathy was initially even more enraging from a personal standpoint, it also made me realize that Illinois vs. Michigan was a fictional rivalry and we, as Illini fans, look pretty petty into making the matchup into something more than what it actually is.
Isn't it wild and wonderful that the Big Ten can foster such odd relationships between its member institutions? Illinois hates Michigan. Huh. Who'd have thunk it?
We've got time for one more.
@becky_mi: Match the B1G coach to dog breed, and please award Best In Show.
You'll have to excuse the lack of formatting making that tweet pretty, but it's from a protected user. I promise it's a real question, and I wish I'd thought of it myself. Full disclosure: I'm a dog person. I love all dogs mentioned here, and so if you feel like I'm being unfair to a certain breed, please realize I only say these things out of a loving acceptance of their faults. As all dogs have.
Let's go alphabetically by school:
Illinois: Tim Beckman, beagle. Like Beckman, a beagle is bright-eyed, energetic, optimistic and completely overmatched mentally for the world around it.
Indiana: Kevin Wilson, bullmastiff. Big, jowly and determined. You can try to keep a bullmastiff from sleeping on your bed and you can try to keep Wilson out of the bowl games, but we all know it's going to be a losing effort.
Iowa: Kirk Ferentz, weimaraner. Marked by an unmistakable, magnificent gray look, and if there's ever a dog breed that would punt from its 39 or kneel on the ball with two minutes left, it's a weimaraner.
Michigan: Brady Hoke, Neapolitan mastiff. Big, jowly, fantastic at what they do and definitely the type you don't leave unsupervised with a freshly cooked steak sitting out.
Michigan State: Mark Dantonio, bloodhound. Perpetually droopy and dour, Dantonio and the bloodhound both have superior senses of smell. Maybe. Pure guess on Dantonio, actually.
Minnesota: Jerry Kill, Boston terrier. Boisterous, earnest and more than just a little goofy-looking, Kill and the Boston are a perfect match.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini, rottweiler. Working off a largely undeserved reputation for viciousness, Pelini and the rotter are stubborn, deceptively smart...and with one mean look, just about the last person/dog you want to cross.
Northwestern: Pat Fitzgerald, Anatolian shepherd. The dog and coach look pretty clean-cut, but make no mistake: They do not mess around. They are large, fit, fearless and could probably de-cleat most of the running backs in the Big Ten right now.
Penn State: Bill O'Brien, English bulldog. Short, stocky, no nonsense. There's a bit of a resemblance in the faces, too. Just a bit.
NOTE: We're skipping Purdue's Darrell Hazell and Wisconsin's Gary Andersen, as they're new in town and we're not familiar enough with them to do something as in-depth as assigning them a dog breed. Ask again in 12 months.
Annnnnd drumroll please...
Best in show: Kevin Wilson, bullmastiff. Kevin Wilson resembles a bullmastiff more than any coach has resembled any breed ever.
As always, thank you for reading.
*This is not an official title.