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 email@example.com.
The Big Ten Tournament starts today, so if you're a basketball fan, this is an exciting day to be affiliated with the conference. Sort of makes up for the football season, right? Right???
Let's get to it.
I'm glad you asked. We're plenty early in the spring process and those unexpected tough positional battles have yet to really blow up.
But in terms of just pure numbers, it's hard to imagine a bigger fight than what Wisconsin's got lined up at quarterback. It was already a crowded situation with three returning QBs with 2012 starts (Danny O'Brien, Joel Stave and Curt Phillips), and a 4-star redshirt freshman (Bart Houston).
Then the Badgers went ahead and brought in the best dual-threat JUCO QB in the nation (Tanner McEvoy). You don't bring in JUCOs to have them sit on the bench.
Stave was the most productive of the three starting quarterbacks in 2012, but he's a former walk-on and his skills are a bit limited (though he did have a nice rapport with Jared Abbrederis). Phillips finished the year as the starter, even when Stave came back from his collarbone injury for the Rose Bowl, but even though he's got a sixth year, he's not terribly productive as a thrower.
Houston's got some serious skills. He's legit, and he's had plenty of time to recover from the torn ACL that sidelined him last season. One even has to wonder whether a healthy Houston sees the field at some point last year, given the litany of problems Wisconsin had under center. It's definitely not out of the question.
But Houston's not a Gary Andersen guy. He's a Bielema guy. Heck, he's a Paul Chryst guy if you want to go that far back, and if Wisconsin can't find room for Houston, a move to Pitt might be in order. Either way, there's a real battle shaping up here and it's worth watching.
I'm glad you asked. That is a very funny joke! But as we all know, the actual answer is...
(frantically searching Michigan's jhowell.net page)
(now frantically searching Ohio State's jhowell.net page)
C'mon, there's gotta be a big win by the Big Ten over the SEC somewhere. AHA!
LEGENDARY BIG TEN POWERHOUSE NEBRASKA 62, FUN-AND-GUN FLORIDA 24. THAT COUNTS. IT TOTALLY COUNTS. WE GET ALL THE PAST NEBRASKA STUFF.
B1G! B1G! B1G! B1G! (clearing throat) Let's move on.
Oh, this is a good question. I'm glad you asked.
First, we should look at who these non-BCS opponents actually are. Big Ten team names link to the 2013 schedule.
|TEAMS||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5|
|Illinois||Southern Ill.||Miami U.|
|Indiana||Indiana State||Bowling Green||Navy|
|Iowa||Northern Ill.||Missouri State||Western Mich.|
|Purdue||Indiana State||Northern Ill.|
We see a couple repeats with Indiana State and NIU, and while we don't figure anyone's going to lose to the Sycamores, there is some danger with Northern Illinois, the team that fought its way to the Orange Bowl last season (and let us never discuss what happened there).
Then again, that same team lost to Iowa at Soldier Field, so while one single game from a previous season isn't exactly overflowing with predictive value, it did go to show that even in its best season ever, NIU was capable of losing to a mediocre Big Ten team.
We're selecting Purdue as the most likely to lose one of these games. Illinois only has two games against non-BCS opponents, and neither look particularly difficult (though this is Illinois we're talking about). Indiana has a potential stumbling block against Navy, but the Hoosiers are probably the strongest of the four teams in question and that helps.
With Purdue and Iowa, both teams face NIU at home, so location is a wash. Iowa gets the slight advantage of having seen NIU before, though the departure of Dave Doeren means the Huskies' schemes will probably change. Purdue's big detriment here is that it'll still be in the early stages of implementing Darrell Hazell's schemes, whereas Iowa can be focused on scouting and adjustments.
Honestly though, these are by and large bad teams. And bad teams can find new and exciting ways to lose to undertalented teams when you least expect it—especially when those non-BCS schools are better coached and work harder. It happens. So yes, our answer is Purdue; we're just not going to be surprised if it's anyone else.