B1G 2012 // OTE's Wisconsin Potluck: Holy S%*&, We Finally Figured It Out: Bret Bielema is the B1G's Steve Spurrier

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Salt 'n Pepa's "Push It" was not quite as comfortable as "Jump Around" in Camp Randall

Wisconsin. Biggest offensive linemen. Biggest team on the B1G block in 2011. Biggest jerk of a coach. Biggest fans (by girth/tonnage).

And now, biggest potluck. Over 5600+ words from your OTE staff (Hilary even took a break from studying for the bar exam and eating baffles to weigh in!) on 2011's B1G Champion Wisconsin Badgers.

Follow us below the jump for four courses (links to actual recipes!) as we discuss why "Sweet Martha's Cookies" is JDMill's response to Montee Ball's 2011 campaign, two separate writers determine that Bielema should be shopping for visors, we hide Danny O'Brien's Lucky Charms, we all make predictions of how the B1G will shake out in 2012, and I ask you, our readers, for questions for a reader-centric Potluck.

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Montee Ball doesn't carry the football....the football follows Montee Ball.

1. Buffalo Chicken Cheese Balls: Let's take a moment to appreciate Montee Ball: 1923 yards rushing, an astonshing 33 TDs, gashing all but one B1G conference opponent (Ohio State) for at least 100 yards rushing, plus an additional 306 yards receiving and 6 TD catches on the season. And this while sharing time in the backfield with two other pretty decent running threats in Russell Wilson and James White. That's an all-time great season, no matter how you slice it. Now, though, the work gets tougher -- Wilson is gone, Nick Toon isn't around as a dep threat anymore, and the offense is sure to have some disruption by the departures of offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, TE coach Joe Rudolph, and OL coach Bob Bostad. Can Montee replicate his astonishing 2011 production? Or does he slip, and if so, how far?

Hilary Lee: He almost certainly slips. I would be shocked if he duplicates or exceeds the production of last year in the upcoming season. Now, this isn't a reflection on Montee -- I don't really think last year was a "fluke" or some such. Rather, last year lal of the pieces on offense clicked. Wisconsin had a great line, a mobile QB threat, a deep wideout who exceeded my expectations, a crafty offensive coordinator, AND two more than adequate backs. This year.... well we don't really know what's going on with Danny O'Brien, and we really won't know until a few games into the season. Meanwhile, the OL is just as big as ever, but is young, and the lack of cohesion may stall efforts in the backfield just enough to lower Ball's totals. Really, if Montee Ball meets or exceeds last year's numbers this year, it will be an even greater feat than the first time around.

Ted Glover: Of course his production is going to drop off, because like you said, that was an all time great offense and that's not going to be the case this year. That said, Ball is still an amazing, All American talent, and he will have a Heisman-like season. He will have a very good to great line to run behind, but the thing that makes me think he won't get as many yards as last year is because of Danny O'Brien. He doesn't run at all, so teams don't need to gameplan for that, and although he's a good passer, he's not on the same level that Wilson was. Early on teams are going to load the box and make Wisconsin beat them with the pass. Until O'Brien shows he can do that consistently, defenses will be geared to stop Ball. Even if he can pass, defenses will still be geared to stop Ball. And because they don't have to worry about O'Brien scampering 30 yards, Ball's numbers will go down.

KennardHusker: Montee Ball is a beast and I appreciate him coming back and all, but it seems crazy considering what he's up against this year. I am going to go ahead and say that he is not going to have the same statistics as last year. I know that teams already stack the box against Wisconsin, but the reality is that they always had to respect the pass. Count me in the, "I Don't Trust DOB" camp and without Toon, I just don't think Ball gets the space he got last year. I also don't think there are as many goal line opportunities. With that said, I still think he's the best back in the conference this year (you know, until I inevitably say he's not).

MikJones24: Montee Ball is a very good RB but I think he (along with every other RB to come out of Wisconsin in the past 2,000 years) had the advantage of rushing behind multiple NFL Draftees. To add, the guy who was molding offensive linemen into NFL Draft picks is now in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I'll go ahead and say: No, Ball won't replicate his production and he'll rush for at least 500 fewer yards. I say this because I don't think DOB is anything like Russell Wilson, the passing game will struggle and defenses will key in on the running game. Furthermore, I don't think they'll develop linemen at such an astounding rate now that Bostad is gone.

JDMill: If the question is "Can Montee replicate his astonishing 2011 production?," then the answer from the B1G has to be "Sweet Martha's Cookies, I hope not." But I tend to think it's going to be more difficult for Ball to recreate those kind of numbers because of what you mention in the question: no more Russell Wilson, no more Nick Toon. Defenses will still have to contend with a great offensive line, but they won't have to deal with quite the glut of talent at the skill positions that took some of the scheming focus off of Ball last year. Having said that, despite the fact that his numbers will be down, Ball will still have a very productive year by any other standard. Expect 1,200 yards rushing & 20 TD's.

MSULaxer27: First things first: Montee Ball is a damn good back and has a very lucrative NFL career ahead of him. I just don't see how he can have a season anywhere like this one past one again. Will he have a great season and put up impressive numbers? Yes. Will he put up Super Tecmo Bowl numbers again? No. UW has lost too much of the complimentary pieces that enabled him to have such historic numbers last year. Like I said, phenomenal talent...the Heisman (today) is probably his to lose, but I can't see a repeat of last season. Back of the envelope prediction: 1,450/15 150/3 (rushing yds/tds receiving yds/tds). I'm not sure there are many college backs who wouldn't take that season in a heartbeat.

Brian Gillis: No chance Ball duplicates his performance from last year. This isn't a slam on Ball, but rather a testament to how great his 2011 season was. Ball is a top flight back playing in an offense in which he'll be featured, and will most likely have another outstanding season. He could even approach 2,000 yards rushing and head back to New York as a Heisman finalist again. But another 39 TDs? No chance. He'll be lucky to reach 20 (which would still be an outstanding season). It's simple statistical theory. I'll save you the explanation in terms of standard deviation and the like, suffice it to say that something as unusual as Ball's 2011 season is extremely unlikely to be repeated. Just ask Tennessee Titan RB Chris Johnson.

Graham Filler: There exists no universe where he puts together those kinds of numbers. It was literally the perfect storm of healthy, rampaging running back and viciously effective offense.

Let's just remember though, Wisconsin pounds the ball and it doesn't look like anything will stop them from trying that again this year. So I say: 1400 yards rushing, 20 rushing TD's.

I think it's a big stat fall off as defenses stack the line against O'Brien and White gets more carries. Ball made a Heisman run once, why put all that wear and tear on his body again?

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"W" stands for "WhatAPrick" (and note -- The Card? Safely tucked under his arm. Never lose "The Card.")

2. Grilled Potato and Goat Cheese Napoleon with Basil Vinaigrette: Much has been made of Bret Bielema's bro-centric style: his shades, running up the score, Iowa tattoo, "following the card," importing free agent QBs (Russell Wilson and now Danny O'Brien), and general "douchy" nature seem to rub opposing fans the wrong way. Then again, ball don't lie: two straight Rose Bowl appearances, three straight 10+ win seasons, and a stretch of dominance over its primary rivals (Minnesota....sorry no-longer-as-frequent-rival Iowa) make Bielema a highly successful (if not respected) head coach. Has Bielema built on/advanced the Barry Alvarez legacy at Wisconsin? Has Wisconsin jumped up to elite or near-elite level (a packed Camp Randall on game Saturdays says it has)? And will Bielema's negative reputation (at least among fans) have a negative impact on Wisconsin's continued effort to push into the elite ranks?

Hilary Lee: I read over on Bucky's 5th Quarter the other day that Vegas has Wisconsin as favorites to win its division, and second overall to a somewhat terrifying Michigan team to win the B1G. I'd say that, at least in terms of the B1G, Wisconsin has certainly made the jump to elite status, and that has much to do with Bielema's repeat success and building on Barry Alvarez' legacy. Now, if you want to ask whether Wisconsin is elite in the national sense.... that's more debatable. Sure, back-to-back Rose Bowls have occurred, but as any rival fan or non-B1G partisan would be quick to remind me, "scoreboard." That is, we haven't won those Rose Bowls. And close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and certainly not in college football perceptions. The Badgers are a tough team. They are a team that likely scares any reasonable fan of any other B1G institution.... but until they start winning the upper level bowls (or this new fangled playoff) they won't be reliably in the national title conversation, and they won't be truly elite.

Ted Glover: At a minimum he's kept the program where it was under Alvarez, but I'm not ready to say he's advanced it. Alvarez brought Wisconsin into the limelight, and Bielema has kept it there. To say he's 'advanced' the Alvarez legacy is kind of a stretch for me, though. Alvarez took a dead program and brought it roaring back to life; Bielema hasn't let it go back into the abyss. 3 B1G titles, 3 Rose bowl wins, and an 8-3 bowl record > 2 B1G titles, 2 Rose Bowl losses, and a 2-4 bowl record, especially when you consider the status of the program when Alvarez took over compared to what Bielema inherited. Is Wisconsin elite? Elite teams don't rebuild, they reload. If they can keep the train chugging with all the turnover they have in so many key positions this year on the field and in the press box, and win the B1G again, then yeah, they're elite. If not, they're not elite, but very good.

KennardHusker: Let's start with elite. I think Wisconsin is in the upper-ish tier of teams in the B1G right now however, can you call them elite until they win a Rose Bowl? I'm not even trying to be a hater, but it just seems like we throw around these titles because it's sensational. Wisconsin is a good bordering on great program, but until they break through, I think they're still just on the edge. As for Mr. Brotastic? Look, we all love to hate on the guy, but he has an eye for talented coordinators, has the ability to recruit and is pushing Wisconsin in the right direction despite Alvarez being gone. While his in-game management is still being crafted, he will get there and his talk-like-a-bro attitude won't matter if wins keep coming. The other thing, sadly, is that most football players at major colleges probably relate to him. It's just kind of how these things work. Fans may hate him, but we also hated Spurrier in a similar manner and it didn't really seem to go too bad for him.

MikJones24: Aside from being good football coaches I don't think Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema should be compared for any reason. From the little time I saw Barry on the sideline I remember him being a standup guy and not a complete whiner. Bielema is a bro bag, immature, score running up dick. I base my opinions on a coach by how their act on the sideline and whether or not their playcalling says "I'm a complete asshole." Pete Carroll? Asshole. Jim Hargbaugh? Asshole. Bret Bielema? Asshole. Do I think him being an asshole is "holding Wisconsin back" from becoming an elite team? No, I think the fact that Wisconsin has won two Big Ten titles in the past 10 years is what's holding them back from being labeled "elite." Once you start winning the conference as frequently as Ohio State and Michigan is when you can talk about being "elite."

JDMill: Bielema has only built on Alvarez's legacy in the sense that he has continued to win at a pretty high level. But Bielema is no gentleman.

Tough to say that Wisconsin has jumped to any kind of elite level in the B1G quite yet, but that's only because the standard of elite in the B1G is so high. Ohio State, Michigan & Penn State have enjoyed decades of winning B1G titles and on a national level as well. By contrast, Wisconsin football has only existed since 1993, so they just don't have the longevity yet to boast elite status. However, if you took purely the last decade in the B1G, Wisconsin certainly has to be in the discussion, especially considering the drop-off of Michigan under RichRod, and the scandals at OSU & PSU.

MSULaxer27: The best test I can suggest for "elite status" is if UW was in the same position that UM/VT were in at the end of last season, would the Sugar have taken them. I'm not sure. UW has a great program but much like MSU, are they a "move the needle" program yet? As our fine readers were so generous to point out last week MSU is not a at this level and I don't think UW is either. If Bro-lema can win a NC then I think he has built on Alvarez's work, otherwise all he has done is maintain what someone else built. As far as negative impact; he's shown an ability (or at least his coaches have) to recruit and also to attract free-agents...Everyone who doesn't chant ESFU probably thinks Brett is one dandy bro and doesn't care what other people think. I do think it speaks volumes about a coach that a large part of his staff left with a coordinator rather than stick around at a major school (Pitt is a downgrade). But ...jump around....jump around...were you talking brah?

Brian Gillis: Did Steve Spurrier's and Urban Meyer's negative reputations negatively impact Florida's ascent into the ranks of the elite? Did Jim Harbaugh's reputation around the Pac 10 negatively impact Stanford's ascension? How Big Ten fans - or any fans, for that matter - view Bielema is irrelevant. Bielema has built one of the most consistently competitive programs in the nation, averaging ten wins a season during his tenure, and that's unlikely to change. In fact, you could make the argument that Bielema's consistent success puts him ahead of his predecessor, Barry Alvarez. Of course, you'd be wrong. What Alvarez did at Wisconsin - taking a program that had gone to six bowl games in the century before he arrived to 11 bowl games during his two decades at the helm - is one of the most impressive coaching feats in recent memory. But Bielema has continued this success, which is no easy feat, and for that he deserves credit. And whatever fans think of Bielema has no bearing on his future success. A victory in the Rose Bowl would help, though.

Graham Filler: I always thought douchey was spelled with an "e" in there. Someone needs to figure this out. Anyways, Bielema has taken Wisconsin to Top 5 rankings, riding a great transfer quarterback and veteran linemen. His staff, which is all gone, did a wonderful job of taking talent (Ball, JJ Watt) and turning them into absolute stars.

So yes, Wisconsin has the potential to be a Top 10 team year in and year out. But I think EVERYONE is concerned that because some of the building blocks to Bret's success are gone, living up to that potential just got a little more difficult.

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Not only did Danny O'Brien flee a mediocre football conference, he also fled a disastrous uniform

3. Bacon and Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts: Danny O'Brien becomes the second free-agent/graduate transfer QB at Wisconsin in as many years. Unlike Russell Wilson, though, he doesn't have quite the running ability, he's not as accurate, and he won't have the benefit of the experienced receiving targets that Wilson had in Toon (plus, there are only 5 returning starters on offense overall). Can O'Brien be a good enough QB for Wisconsin to lead them to a third-straight B1G championship? And does the "free agent" QB system in place recently at Wisconsin become a drag on Wisconsin's ability to attract top QB recruits in the future? Is Bielema sacrificing Wisconsin's future for its present with the free agent transfer QB solution?

Hilary Lee: He could. Or he could not. Honestly, I think he's the biggest wild card on the year. I have absolutely no idea how he's going to function in the Wisconsin system, or whether or not he'll meet or exceed Russell Wilson's contributions to last year's team. As to the free agent QB question... I completely disagree with those who would say that this hurts Wisconsin's QB recruiting potential. The way I think about it, college football (in terms of player development and opportunities to start) has much in common with major league baseball. When an upper level program recruits players, only the very exceptional are likely to start regularly during their freshman year. Most require a bit of seasoning, either in the form of red shirt seasons or only limited second or third string playing time, to develop into the players they projected that they some day could be.

This is similar to the minor leagues in professional baseball. And this is one way that the major league clubs produce talent. The other way, of course, is by free agent signings of established players. Now, when I think of baseball, there are several teams that I associate with major free agent acquisitions. The most successful team at this is a no-brainer -- the Yankees. Not only do they shell out vast sums of money to lure the most coveted free agent players, but they're almost universally reviled for it. Now, I'm not a Yankees fan, but even if I have to admit that they do free agent signings well. And yet, they also develop their own talent in their farm system. And, if I had to venture a guess, I'd say that there are few prospective minor leaguers out there that look at an opportunity to join the Yankees farm system and turn it down because of their reputation for making free agent signings. Why? Because by and large the Yankees are successful. They win. And if you are talented enough to make it to the major league level with them, you'll play, regardless of which avenue you came from.

Now, of course the whole free agent concept is relatively new to college football. And, given that player compensation isn't really a thing, playing time probably plays a slightly bigger part of recruiting discussions than it does in professional sports leagues. But..... I think any recruit who is willing to work hard and has talent wants to play on successful teams. They all know they have competition from other players no matter what (returning starters, fellow recruits, future younger recruits, etc.). Transfer QBs are just another source of that. And I'd rather not have players who fear extra competition on teams I cheer for anyway.

Ted Glover: Saying O'Brien 'doesn't quite have the running ability' Wilson has is akin to saying 'a spoon doesn't quite have the dirt moving capacity as a front loader'. In two years, O'Brien has a total of 11 yards rushing. I think Wilson eclipsed that on his first two carries last year. But I digress. In a normal year, no, O'Brien couldn't get it done. But this isn't a normal year. OSU is ineligible for the title and will be adjusting to life under Urban, and PSU is going to be distracted by the continuing Sandusky fallout and will be adjusting to life under BOB. Can he lead them to a division title? Yeah, that should be easy. I just don't see the remaining Leaders division teams being on par with Wisconsin, unless O'Brien goes all Joe Bauserman on us, or Purdue or Illinois go on a Vegas streak run. Will they win the Conference Championship game? No, they'll get smoked. Is it a drag on recruiting? Tough to say, because apparently Bielema hasn't recruited for shit at that position, or he wouldn't be going after all these transfer kids. So my question is what's wrong on the recruiting trail to make you look at eligible transfers? As to sacrificing the future, no. He'd be doing Wisconsin a disservice if he didn't try and get the best player available at each position to give his team the best chance to win, and you could argue as tough as it has been to find good QB prospects, it would be a lot tougher if he was coming off a 7 win season without Wilson than an 11 win season with him.

KennardHusker: I know we've hit on this in the past. I believe I'm on record for saying DOB is overrated, but considering the alternatives for Wisconsin, this isn't such a bad deal. This may deter some kids from wanting to come to Wisconsin or it might encourage some who think they might be the next longterm starter (you know, because nobody is quite good enough on the team to the point of needing free agents). We get all hyped up about how coaches recruit against this stuff, but the reality is that it probably only matters a small bit. Anyhow, I think the question was if DOB will lead the Badgers to the Rose Bowl. I'm going to go no on that one. It might not even be his fault... It's just not as good a team as it was last year.

MikJones24: I don't know much about Danny O'Brien. All I know is the following. Danny O'Brien played at Maryland. Maryland isn't any good. Therefore, Danny O'Brien must not be any good. I think he'll do one thing well at Wisconsin: hand the ball off. And no, I don't think Bielema going all Fred Hoiberg with his quarterbacks will dissuade "top QB recruits" from committing in the future. I think the fact that Wisconsin isn't exactly a passing school will dissuade top QB recruits from coming to Wisconsin. What's that? Your best known QB alum is Jim Sorgi? LOL.

JDMill: Wisconsin can win a B1G championship but it's got nothing to do with O'Brien. Wisconsin can win a B1G championship because the Leaders Division is theirs for the taking. OSU can't go to the post-season, PSU & Illinois have new coaches and therefore growing pains, and Purdue & Indiana are... well, Purdue & Indiana.

Make no mistake that O'Brien, although no Russell Wilson, is a better QB than anything the Badgers had in the stable coming into this year, but I think we're right to question how this is going to affect the program and recruiting. QB recruiting is tricky in college football. You're recruiting the best athletes on their high school teams, but that doesn't always translate to the QB position in college. Kids who head to college with the talent, acumen, and perhaps more importantly, the expectation, of playing QB at the next level tend to look at who else is on the depth chart and/or being recruited by that school for the position. If they don't think they are going to get a shot at starting during their career, they are probably going to look elsewhere.

Look at a kid like Minnesota Freshman QB Phillip Nelson. Born in Wisconsin, family moved to Mankato, MN when he was young, father played for the Badgers, 4-star QB recruit, 2,700 yards and 35 TD's passing along with 1,200 yards and 20 TD's rushing, Minnesota AP high school football player of the year, and a guy who actually said "At the beginning of the recruiting process, I said there was no way I'd be a Gopher." Now admittedly, that statement probably had more to do with Tim Brewster than the overall Gopher program, but the point is it was widely expected he would go to Wisconsin. You think that's the kind of player Wisconsin might want?

Did the fact that Bielema brought in Wilson sway Nelson's decision? Did the fact that Bielema is just kind of an arrogant prick sway his decision? We don't know, but I bet those factors didn't help.

MSULaxer27: I can't fathom how a high ranked QB recruit would consider UW with Bielema as their coach. Russell Wilson really was a once in a life time talent and opportunity for the Badgers. He had a great career at NCSU, won a bowl game and put up great numbers. He was poised (and older than some NFL rookies) when he came over to the Badgers. Danny O'Brien, well, his numbers weren't great, he's fleeing a toxic situation at UMd and coming into a situation where he'll match up with a new O-coordinator and staff (who are new themselves). That just doesn't seem like a recipe for success. I think taking Wilson is something you had to do. UW isn't in the B1G championship game without him. Taking O'Brien is dipping once too often into the same well. I don't think it will have much of an impact and I think it poisons the future at that position.

Brian Gillis: If having a QB who throws for 3,000 yards, completes more than 72% of his passes and connects for 33 TD against 4 interceptions while leading his team to a conference championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl is the penalty for bringing in a "free agent" QB, then I'll take that penalty every time. I wouldn't read too much into the O'Brien transfer. Two years does not constitute a pattern. In fact, credit Bielema for being proactive and making the best of a bad situation. Do you think Rich Rodriguez wouldn't have preferred a transfer QB to the two-headed monster of Nick Sheridan / Steven Threat that lined up under center during his first season at Michigan? Plus, once Bielema finds someone like Scott Tolzien - or even Jim Sorgi - he likely won't be auditioning for free agent signal callers.

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No, this is not a fat joke at the expense of the state of Wisconsin. I just happen to think roasting a pig over a spit is the pinnacle of tailgating achievements.

4. Goat Cheese Cheesecake: Well, we've finished Potlucks on all 12 B1G teams -- over 40K words on the 12 teams in our conference. So I'll ask two dessert questions (it's Thanksgiving! We're eating pumpkin pie AND pecan pie!): (1) Any predictions for (a) B1G/divisional champs, (b) a team that will be surprisingly surpass expectations, (c) a team that will surprisingly disappoint, and (d) biggest upset we'll see this season; and (2) Any final thoughts as we wrap up our B1G preview? For example -- do you have questions that you want us/or the commenters to answer?

Hilary Lee: Graduating from law school and studying for the bar exam has made be a little bit removed from much of the potlucking process this off-season (not to mention the whole trying to find a job thing), but I still feel like weighing in on this last one. Sooo here goes.

Divisional champs: Michigan and Wisconsin, with Michigan winning the conference championship game
Team that might surpass: Iowa
Team that might disappoint: Ohio State (if only for the exceedingly high expectations that Meyer comes with)
Possible upset: I'm going to go with Iowa over Michigan.

Ted Glover: 1) a) We get a rematch, MSU v. Wisky, with MSU finally getting a BCS bid.
b) Illinois--Tim Beckman is a good coach, and he has good players. In the past, all Illinois had was good players.
c) Nebraska--They have another brutal conference schedule, and I can see a scenario where they lose 5 games.
d) Indiana over Wisconsin. They'll pick off somebody, they're at home, and their offense can score. Why not?

2) Here's my question: After the B1G and Pac-12 announced their competitive alliance, for lack of a better phrase, the Big XII and SEC announced a season ending bowl to take place between their two champions or designated reps if they get sucked up into the semi-final/BCSNCG/whatever it is you want to call it. Earlier this week, it was reported that some Pac-12 schools are balking at this new alliance, wary of playing a BCS school when they could schedule a cupcake. Is this alliance dead before it even begins, and if so, could the Big XII actually in a better competitive spot than the B1G might be after everyone assumed it was all but dead two years ago at this time?

KennardHusker: I hate summer predictions... wait, no I don't. I might be the most hype driven writer here. Let's do this thing!!! Division Champs: Nebraska and Nebraska. B1G Champ: Nebraska. National Champ: Nebraska. Heisman, Outland, Lombardi, Guy, Groza Awards: Nebraska. Best Team Ever: Nebraska... Okay, I'm kidding obviously. I have no clue who is going to win. If I had to make a prediction, I'm going Michigan State for the conference over Wisconsin in the CCG. Team to surprise? I'm thinking Penn State will be better than the pundits have been saying and I think Ohio State might be disappointing, but both are due to expectations. Biggest upset? I don't know... Indiana winning a conference game? That seems like it would be a big deal.

MikJones24: Ok I'll fire these off: Michigan over Wisconsin; Illinois up; Purdue down; Michigan over Michigan State (TROLOLOLOLOL); and um...fuck Michigan?

MSULaxer27: 1 a) Minny/IU because it's June and... it's June and you're asking B1G championship predictions before any team has played a game. I will say that MSU's game against BSU and the UM/UA tilt will help me figure things out on the legends side. I think it's between UW and PSU on the other side but someone might get in at 5-3 from the leaders (Did you hear that? That's a Purdue fan saying, "so what you're telling me is I have a chance?!) b) Lets say IU again. Can they get any worse? What are their expectations now? 2 wins? Can they get to 4? I say they can...Go Get 'em Hoosiers! c) I really don't see how UM lives up to the hype. Everything had to go exactly right to get to 11 wins last year...how lucky can they be? d) Minny gets the either the jug or the axe back (but the pig is going back to Iowa City). 2. This one is for Brian...do you think it is possible for UM and MSU to be good at the same time? With both teams having strong staffs and recent success, what are the chances that MSU/UM put the lockdown on the Legends?

Graham Filler: (a) Wisky v Michigan in Indianapolis
(b) OSU - Off the radar and bowl banned, so no one is paying too much attention to Urban's rebuilding year. So the expectations are low, which makes them easy to surpass. Or maybe it's just me wanting to see a relevant OSU squad again?
(c) Minnesota...will be horrible again. Just a thought. Oh and Purdue is going 1-11, per usual.
(d) Is OSU beating Michigan an upset? That game worries me, especially because it's OSU bowl game.

Chadnudj: I might as well go on the record here....

Michigan State to win the B1G over Wisconsin.

Minnesota to exceed expectations (I think they're a sneaky bowl team this year)

Iowa to disappoint (AIRBHG has struck too often, Vandenberg is missing last year's receiving targets, and I think the defense takes a step back)

As for an upset.....I'll pick two (one with my team, one without). Northwestern over Michigan (people forget that Northwestern had the halftime lead last year, and Michigan's comeback was largely the result of Northwestern's DBs' incompetence in coverage on some Denard arm-punts). And Indiana over Illinois (no particular reason here....I just hate Illinois, and honestly think the Hoosiers get a B1G win this year).

As for my question to the commentariat here at OTE: I wanna know what questions YOU would like the Off-Tackle Empire Staff to answer. Are there any questions you think would foster some good discussion between/amongst our writing staff? Do you want to come up with a question that features subtle digs against a B1G team and force us to answer it? What do you think the big questions are for the B1G in 2012?

Drop a question in the comments. If I like it (hey, the Potluck is my baby - I get to pick the questions), I'll throw it out to our staff for a future "OTE Readers' Questions Potluck" in two weeks.

(Why two weeks? I'm not sure....is it perhaps because we have something special planned for next week? Stay tuned......)

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