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Blogpoll Roundtable - Week 4

I know it gets a little crazy around here with all the roundtables, but they give us an opportunity to discuss several topics. I haven't been good about participating in the Blogpoll roundtables so far, but I thought this one hosted by Burnt Orange Nation was particularly good so I'm throwing my hat in the ring.

Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite, who is?

Right now they are as good as anyone's. Obviously Michigan was the preseason favorite but they have some serious issues on defense and special teams and they are playing a true freshman at quarterback. Looks like they will be rebuilding a year earlier than originally planned.

Wisconsin has had some troubles against UNLV and The Citadel. Ohio State had some troubles against Akron in the first half but got things squared away and carried that momentum into the Washington game. Right now I think it's down to those two and Penn State. The Nittany Lions have dominated all of their competition, but that isn't saying much when your competition is Florida International, Notre Dame, and Buffalo. Right now we're unproven, but we're definitely in the race just as much as anyone.

Between Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Penn State, one of those teams will beat the other two. Whoever that is will be our conference champion. Of course they could each claim a victory and we could end up with a three or four-way tie as well.

Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for your team.

The best case scenario starts with beating Michigan in Ann Arbor this year. Do that and the stars are aligned to run the table as we get Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue and Ohio State all at home.

If we lose to Michigan this Saturday the results could be disasterous. It could send the season into a tailspin that begins with losing to Illinois the following week. The Illini gave us fits in Happy Valley last year. And if not for Michigan, everyone would be talking about how Kirk Ferentz owns Joe Paterno. We could lose as many as four or five games this year. Even though it's a down year, the Big Ten is still a tough conference to get through.

We're only three games in to the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.

We're the Little Engine at the bottom of the hill. I think I can I think I can.

Imagine you're the coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.

1.    Get Chris Bell the damn ball. For all the talk about the talent and experience of Deon Butler, Derrick Williams, and Jordan Norwood, none of these guys is taller than 5'10". (I know the roster says Williams is 6'0", but I seriously question that after seeing him in the huddle standing next to other players.) Chris Bell is 6'2" and 210 lbs. He brings a dimension to the offense the other wide receivers can't. I'm tired of hearing of his lousy attitude about his playing time. He's got the talent. He should be pissed off about not playing. Put him in the game and maybe his lousy attitude would go away.

2.    Pitch the ball outside in the running game. We never come out trying to run outside. We always start off trying to establish the inside run. Consequently we always have zero points after the first quarter. Now, the inside running pays off in the fourth quarter. By then the defense is tired and we're able to run up the middle with success. But why waste three quarters of play to set up one or two drives in the fourth quarter? Shouldn't you be focused on scoring points from the beginning rather than setting the opponent up for one drive late in the game?

3.    I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but do away with the wide receiver bubble screens. They were all the rage in 1999 when Joe Tiller was taking the Big Ten by storm with them, but defensive coordinators have wised up now. The corners are skilled in recognizing them and the linebackers are too fast to react. To me it just seems like too big of a risk throwing the ball across the field like that for a three yard gain.

USC, LSU/Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as the frontrunners in the early going. Which other team or teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?

Well, obviously the Big East and ACC have automatic BCS tie-ins. I could see West Virginia going undefeated through the Big East and playing for the National Championship. Normally I would be fine with that but if an undefeated or even one loss Big Ten, SEC, or Big Twelve team get shut out of the championship game because of it I think it will be a huge injustice.