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Big ten bloggers Roundtable week 4

It's my second week ont he segment and I can't thank the guys enough at the Big Ten blogger's roundtrable. They have been very supportive and helpful so far, and I am glad to add a Purdue perspective to the proceedings.
1. Time to break out the crystal ball. I want to know what happens at the END of the season. Give me your offensive and defensive Players of the Year in the Big Ten along with Coach of the Year and why.

Offensive player of the year: Mike Hart

With all due respect to Curtis Painter at the moment, Mike Hart is doing a lot more for his team as the only consistent offensive weapon. He's putting up massive numbers in an inconsistent offense and his team is certainly not struggling on his account. It could end up being an Andre Dawson winning NL MVP for a last place team type of year for him.

Defensive player of the year: Dan Connor or Jim Laurinaitis

I'm a sucker for a good linebacker and these two guys in the middle of those great defenses are two of the best. It will be fun to watch their competition all year long.

Coach of the Year: Bill Lynch

I went with this one simply because he could be the first coach to take Indiana to a bowl game in 13 years. He is also leading the team through the Terry Hoeppner tragedy, and both are incredibly difficult tasks.

2. With the upsets, close games, and head scratchers so far, every game we thought was going to be important has changed. Michigan State is 3-0, for Pete's sake, and they look good doing it. Pick the three games on the Big Ten Schedule that will determine the Big Ten Champion. Bonus Points for not picking three games on your own schedule.

Ohio State at Penn State

These two are the two best teams in the Big Ten right now, and they both could be undefeated coming into this game before that though Penn State must get past...

Wisconsin at Penn State

Something has been off with the Badgers the last two weeks, but P.J. Hill certianly played a good game against the Citadel.

Ohio State at Purdue

I couldn't resist not picking this as a critical game, as it is an extremely rare night game at Ross-Ade Stadium. Five of the last six games between the two have been decided by less than a touchdown, and its a great offense against a great defense. A Purdue win announces that the Boilers will have a role to play in the race, especially with their best shot at winning at Michigan in 40 years the next week and no Wisconsin on the schedule.

3. How many games, this season, have you been to? How many games have you tailgated at? If you have tailgated, name your beverage of choice. If you answered no to the previous questions, hang your head in shame, or at least give a good story about watching the game in enemy territory and giving the bouncer the finger when he asked you to quiet down.

LOL, So far I have been to just Purdue's home games, but I will be going to their remaining five, the road games at Michigan and probably Indiana, and we will be flying to Miami for the November 3rd final homecoming game in the Orange bowl against NC State. My beverage of choice is a Boiler-rita, a heavily intoxicating concoction made with a massive margarita machine powered by a generated that gets cheers every time it is fired up. And we tailgate at all Purdue home games except this year opener because of the weather and work commitments afterward.

Bitter/Angry Bonus Question!
4. As the Big Ten Season kicks off, the Conference is in somewhat of a difficult position nationally. Needing some momentum after a horrid BCS performance, the Conference needed some momentum early in the season. It hasn't gotten it. The first three weeks have been abysmal. Is this just a down year for the Big Ten, is there a change Nationally that the Big Ten just hasn't picked up on, is there some truth to the "Big Ten Style of Play" that everyone harps on, or has college football simply caught up? What so you think and why? I may be beating a dead horse, but no one looks good this year and I'm at a loss as to why.

Every year that Michigan or Ohio State is down we get the "What's wrong with the Big Ten" rhetoric going. It's almost like people cannot believe that anyone else in the conference could possibly have a good season outside of maybe Penn State and Wisconsin. The bottom of the conference is always going to be dismal, and it looks like this year it is just Indiana and Illinois finally cycling out and Minnesota and Northwestern cycling in.
It also doesn't help that no one played ANYONE of not in non-conference play except Michigan vs. Oregon, Illinois vs. Missouri, and Ohio State at Washington. In 33 games to date the Big Ten team has been favored in 32 of them, so every loss other than Illinois' was an upset. It's just hte nature of the upsets that has made the conference look bad.
The real measuring stick, as always, will be the bowl season, where we have two games against the SEC and two against the Big 12. If we have a good bowl season things will turn around. I don't think it is so much that other conferences have caught up, but things just go in cycles. The Big Ten is never down for long and will be back. Remember, we've put two teams into the BCS more than almost any other conference.