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Big Ten bloggers' roundtable week 2

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There are some odds and ends to clean up before we get to the first Big Ten Bloggers’ roundtable of the regular season, so here we go, in mini-Boilermakings style:

· The week 1 Blogpoll is out, and Purdue didn’t even make the Others Receiving Votes category. Even if we beat Northern Colorado by 145 I don’t expect to, either. It will take an upset of the Ducks to even come close to cracking the top 25.

· The men’s basketball schedule was officially released today. Since I don’t have the money to buy season tickets or drive to West Lafayette 18 times in the middle of winter I can hope for a two game package of Duke and Indiana. Since the Blue Devils are coming to town, I finally have a game I want to go to more than Indiana. I will be at Mackey on December 2nd. I think getting Georgia before New York is a very harsh road as a number 1 seed in the preseason NIT. There is no reason we can’t win at least 10 games against a much tougher non-conference slate.

· The women’s volleyball team is 3-0 after winning the Mortar Board Premier with an upset of #14 Kansas State at the IAF. This upped its ranking to #18 before heading to a tournament at Ball State this weekend.

· If our men’s football team can’t beat the Ducks, at least our women can after a 3-1 win in Eugene Sunday. The women’s soccer team is ranked 25th and stands at 2-1 with wins over Oregon and Eastern Illinois after a season opening loss at Kansas.

· The noted Oregon blog Addicted to Quack participated in a Pac-10 roundtable this week that seems very high on the Ducks in its questioning. I’m keeping an eye on the Ducks as we both essentially have byes this week, them with Utah State and us with Northern Colorado. We seem to be their first true test of the season.

· Finally, after getting back from Chicago and the Indiana Dunes this weekend, Off the Tracks was greeted to the Big Ten Network on channel 76 via Brighthouse Networks in Indianapolis. The reason for Brighthouse is that I don’t have any other options. I cannot get dish or U-verse at my apartment and Comcast only recently became on option. As Mrs. T-Mill said when I found out the channel worked, "Good, now maybe you’ll stop bitching."

· Now on to the Roundtable, hosted by the Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants (God help us all).

1. Week 1's in the books. What surprised you about your team? Are you optimistic? Disappointed? (NOTE: Purdue does not apply here, so these fans must talk about Wake Forest instead)

Boy, that was a great win over Baylor, wasn’t it? It should count as half a win, since Kirby Freeman, formerly of the University of Miami, is now quarterback at Baylor and continues to struggle with the concept of throwing to the guys on his team. I’ll leave the Boiled Sports guys to take over the true analysis of that game.

Wake Forest is a bit of a bad word around these parts. When I hear of them I can’t help but think of the game that Purdue handed them in 2002 with 5 fumbles and three missed fourth quarter field goals at Ross-Ade. Despite, we still only lost by 3, and it started the frustrating 2002 season of close losses.

Seriously though, there isn’t much surprising about Purdue because there is really nothing to report. We had an off week and we’re preparing to play one of the worst Division 1-AA teams in the nation from a year ago. They are so bad that, according to my GBI this week, their defensive line is a major issue and it still managed eight sacks in the spring scrimmage against its depleted offensive line.

I guess the greatest surprise that we have had so far is the move of "quarterback of the future" Justin Siller from quarterback to running back. In the spring Tiller was so high on him that he was expected to get some snaps during the season before starting next year as a dual-threat. A bad spring put him further behind Joey Elliott for the #2 position, and the injury to Jaycen Taylor was the impetus behind the move to running back. Tiller insists that is where he is staying, but right now he is behind Kory Sheets, Dan Dierking, and Frank Halliburton.

2. Beanie Wells' foot is definitely the top story in the conference. What's #2?

As bloggers, aren’t we required to remark how it is obvious that Michigan will struggle offensively this season because it lost at home to a very good Mountain West team, but will be an unstoppable juggernaut when the right recruits come next season?

Why is this a guarantee?

Didn’t Notre Dame reportedly recruit everyone perfect for its system before last year, yet had the worst season in school history? Why won’t Big Ten defenses learn to defend this as Michigan learns the offense. Think of it this way: if Big Ten defenses can learn to stop it at a much slower speed with poor execution, wouldn’t that be a building block to stopping it when it is at full speed.
Leading into question #3, I guess this is where I make a comparison of Rich Rodriguez to Hitler in terms of the number of crimes he has committed against humanity. The bottom line is he is a football coach. Yes he has bent some unspoken rules, but it has happened before with other coaches and will happen again. We just happened to have an ornery old coot off a coach that spoke up about. I don’t particularly like him, but not because of this. I don’t like him because he is yet another coach that has jumped around cashing in contract after contract without actually accomplishing much of anything yet. He has basically had success in what is generally regarded to be the worst BCS conference and his team had one phenomenal half and held on to beat SEC champ Georgia in a bowl game. He’s far from Hitler, but he is far from the second coming of Christ as well.

3. Admit it: you loathe DickFraudROFL (*né* Rich Rodriguez), but when Michigan scored that last touchdown, you were rooting for them to make the 2-pt. conversion.

Actually, I was at Wrigley Field watching Geovany Soto strike out looking with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning down by three runs. I had waited all summer to go to Wrigley, and the Cubs were on a 7 game win streak before I showed up. Now I feel like I jinxed everything because they are on a four game losing streak (at home, no less) and Carlos Zambrano left last night’s game with arm soreness. I fear that if I see he is visiting Dr. James Andrews on the ESPN crawl I’ll have to do something drastic.

What does this have to do with RichRod? I don’t know. I have always felt rather neutral toward Michigan. When Purdue plays them I have been conditioned to get beaten (except in one of the greatest football miracles of all time when Jim Colletto beat them). If it’s possible for the coach himself and not the program to get a healthy dose of Schadenfreude I hope it happens. I have nothing but respect for the Michigan program as a whole.

4. Is this weekend's slate of games actually *less* interesting than last week's?

Well, we have round 2 of the unofficial Big Ten/Pac-10 challenge when Oregon State comes to Penn State. This looked like it would be a good game and a chance for the conference as a whole to save some face before the Beavers lost at Stanford. Now, if they win in Happy Valley, it will make matters even worse. The Miami (OH) game against Michigan took a hit as well when the Redhawks got owned by Vanderbilt. We’ll really see how much Michigan will struggle this year if they have trouble with a team one of the worst SEC teams handled easily. Minnesota goes into a game at Bowling Green that could be mildly interesting if the Gophers actually win.

Nationally, the best game of the week will be Miami (FL) at Florida. The Gators have been talking a lot about how they are going to run up the score and beat Miami for the first time in over 20 years. The Canes are extremely young, but very talented. I don’t like how Robert Marve is going to start after being suspended for the opener last week. This gave Jacory Harris more experience, and to me showed that Marve is uninterested in being the starting quarterback. Miami has to play a nearly perfect game, but they have enough talent to pull the upset. Florida has been talking a lot of smack this week about running up the score, so we’ll see if the old Canes of the Swagger respond or not.

5. Don't you hate pants?
Only because I have to wear them because of "dress codes" and I can’t wear basketball shorts year round.