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Big Ten Bloggers’ Roundtable week 11

It’s Wednesday so that means another step up to the plate for the Big Ten bloggers’ roundtable. Since there is no Michigan State blog in our little group I am a little short of my usual content. This week’s host is the Big Ten Chronicle, a blog that really has no real affiliation with any specific team in the league, but does a good job each week in its "Where are they now" segments of former Big Ten athletes. They’ve been kind to the Boilers this year to say the least.

1. Every year we hear that the quality of play in the Big Ten is "down" and that the conference as a whole is "weak". This season most pundits would consider the Pac 10 or SEC as superior conferences. Give your best argument for the over strength of the Big Ten and evaluated how your team would be doing if they were placed in either the Pac 10 or the SEC.

I have been saying all season this is crap, but a weak non-conference schedule has lead to this conclusion. The conference normally derives its strength off of a 3-4 game stretch against Notre Dame, but got no help from the Irish this year. In the two best inter conference matchups (Oregon-Michigan and Illinois-Missouri) the Big Ten team lost and the other losses against inferior competition have added to this view. It will take a bowl season of at least five or six wins to reverse this view, and Ohio State will have to win the national title to really get rid of the stigma.

In the SEC I think Purdue would be in serious trouble, but not so much in the Pac-10. I think the Pac-10 has more weak teams (Stanford, Washington, Arizona, and Washington State come to mind) than the Big Ten does, and only Oregon is showing they are truly dominant right now, so what makes them so special and feared? They are literally inches from being unbeaten, and the other top teams in the conference (California and USC) are fading fast. I think Purdue would be in a similar middle of the pack position in the Pac-10, struggling against Arizona State, USC, and Oregon, but able to beat anyone else. In the SEC with the strength of so many defenses and improving offenses we would be lucky to be above .500.

2. Pick your team's Most Valuable Player to date and tell us why he should be in consideration for Big Ten Player of the Year.

The most obvious candidate at the moment is Dorien Bryant, who has done pretty much everything asked of him and is having a great year as expected. Jaycen Taylor is in the doghouse at the moment for his critical fumble against Penn State, but I would like to see if he would have made any difference against Michigan or Ohio State. Bryant gets my vote though because he has been a receiving threat while being a dangerous kick returner. He’s given us some great field position at times, and he’s always a threat to answer a score. Against Minnesota the Gophers were afraid to kick to him to start the game, so they kicked to Desmond Tardy, who also ran it back for a touchdown.

The only reason I can’t really lobby him for Big Ten Player of the Year is because he has too many dropped passes at inopportune times. To me a Big Ten Player of the Year does not drop wide-open balls as much as he does, but man his catch against Northwestern in the back corner of the end zone was impressive. He’s also become a more vocal senior leader for us, and that will be really tested over the next two weeks and the bowl game as we search for something to play for. Playing for a 10 win season may not be much at other schools, but since this could be only the second such season in school history it is a big deal. I don’t care that it may come at the expense of beating no one of note, 10 wins is still 10 wins and since every win has been by two touchdowns or more it’s still a big deal.

3. Sure it's the time of year that has most fans looking ahead to Bowl games, but we covered that last week. Plus, basketball season has officially begun! If you plan on covering basketball, give a brief analysis on your team and how far they will go in this year's postseason (Final 4, Sweet 16, NIT, friend's couch, etc.).

I may do a few things on basketball, but I write for two newspapers and do a weekly feature for HickoryHusker.com during basketball season so I am not sure how much time I will have for basketball. I might approach Boiled Sports about joining their coverage but I don’t know yet. I believe that this question was also asked in a previous BTB roundtable.

For Purdue it’s very simple. They are extremely young, but very talented. They brought in the #2 rated class in the country and each player seems to mesh very well with each other. Our leader will be captain Chris Kramer, who is only a sophomore but has demonstrated a leadership beyond his years. He’s the type of player many Big Ten teams will hate for years because of his scrappy style of play and not being afraid to back down from anyone as evidenced from when he took on D.J. White last year.

The year-long suspension of Gordon Watt for a drunk driving incident takes away some much needed experience, but it does set a precedent for the future. Newcomers Chris Reis, Nemanja Calasan, JuJuan Johnson, Robbie Hummell, E’twaun Moore, and Scott Martin will be called upon very early, but if they mesh will this team can make the NCAA tournament. Since all four freshmen may likely stay for four years Purdue could have one heck of a team by the time they leave. There is only one senior on the roster, so what you see will be there for awhile.

Bonus Question:It's time again for annual "rip on the BCS" party! In your opinion, what is the best way for college football to determine its National Championship?Current BCS system, current system plus one, 16-team playoff, 4-team playoff, something totally cool I've never even thought of before?

I am going to be very radical and say an 11 team playoff. I know it is an odd number, but here is my rationale. There are 11 conferences out there and in football if you can’t win your conference title you shouldn’t be allowed to win the national title. Nebraska couldn’t even win their division in 2001 and they got to play for the title over more deserving teams, and that is one of the most ridiculous things ever. Naturally in this scenario there would be byes for higher ranked team and everything, but as I said, if you can’t win your conference title, you don’t deserve to be in it.

Oh, and if you’re independent and want to play for the title, then too bad. Join a conference and earn it.