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The 2016 Big Ten Conference Championship Preview Part 2

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It’s the coaches, the playoffs, and the #BoldPredictions

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

In case you had not heard, the Penn State Nittany Lions and Wisconsin Badgers are playing for a Conference Championship on Saturday. Part 1 of 2 was dropped earlier this morning and took a look at the journeys each of these teams went through to get here. This post looks more at the coaches of each team, the implications this game has on the College Football Playoffs, and finally asks our writers to provide some #BoldPredictions. Buckle in folks, there’s a lot here.

Townie: I know hating Penn State and Franklin is a meme here at OTE, but you’ve got to be kidding me. Seriously. This team was a dumpster fire when O’Brien bailed for the NFL. Franklin was hailed as clown-fraud-hype-trash when we hired him from Vandy. Penn State was universally relegated to rutger-ville. Our prospects of ever seeing repping B1G East in the Championship were the same as being bitten by a shark while being struck by lightning in Detroit.

Then we lost our starting quarterback, our DC got poached by Tennessee, and we brought in a new OC to completely change our offensive system.

Yeah, I’m way more impressed by Chryst...GTFO

I’ll take status quo at Penn State over Chryst and his crew. Wait until that defense graduates and let’s have this discussion again.

GF3: I lean Chryst simply because he lost probably the best DC in the country (then beat him) and barely lost to two great teams despite lacking a great QB and missing his franchise back every other week. I think if you gave Franklin someone like Houston under center and made him play without Barkley a lot, they would be a 3 or 4 loss team at least. Granted PSU had injuries, but Franklin always had his offensive playmakers (and you don't lose 49-10 because of a few linebackers). Overall, I think Chryst has a better resume this year. As to which I'd rather have...neither.

Graham: The quarterback play in Wisconsin has been horrendous in general...So kudos to Coach Chryst for surviving the difficult schedule and game-managing well enough to pull off a bunch of close wins.

BRT: I’d lean Chryst at this point, simply because he’s been in far more big games this year and performed reasonably well in them. There are no 49-10 shit-stompings on his 2016 resume, which is notable, I think.

Candystripes: Franklin has definitely been more impressive this season. I don’t think that’s even a real question; Franklin deserves Coach of the Year for taking Penn State to where they will be on Saturday. All of that said, I think I want Chryst going into the 4th quarter. Can’t really point to a reason, just a gut feeling that the 4th is Wisconsin’s quarter to lose.

Thumpasaurus: Let’s not sell short what Wisconsin did against Ohio State. They went toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes but they didn’t quite do enough. I honestly believe that Ohio State’s epic against the Badgers put them in a spot where they were ripe for a loss.

Unlike Wisconsin, Penn State has a multidimensional offense. Saquon Barkley doesn’t have to do as much as Corey Clement is asked to do, so he’s often fresh late in the game. McSorley has improved over the course of the year and Chris Godwin is a legit Big Ten receiver. Penn State has a defense that can compete with the best, but I think their special teams will provide an advantage over Wisconsin as well.

Aaron: Chryst has been more impressive this year because his team faced a tougher schedule than Penn State’s and he nearly stole a win at Michigan Stadium. In the long-term, though, Franklin gets the edge for quickly building his roster into a winning one. I’ll take Franklin in the fourth quarter because of how money the Lions have been in the final period this season.

Ted: Let me answer the question this way. If Penn State hired Paul Chryst, would Penn State be playing in the B1GCCG this weekend? I don’t think so. You can question Franklin’s in game coaching decisions, and you can say Chryst might be the better game day tactician. But, Franklin is a good coach, and he can recruit like Hell, and Chryst walked in to a program that was already solid with a good foundation. Franklin walked in to a shitshow that was about as low as a program could be, both in terms of talent on the field due to scholarship resrictions and morale off the field. You can’t discount that when comparing the two coaches, so until Chryst shows he can bring in players to replace the ones he’s losing I’m going to lean Franklin.

Speth: Who would I rather have at a random school? Honestly probably Franklin because he’s such a good recruiter. Although the Nard dog did beat Franklin (and Clemson) with Chryst’s players…

At Wisconsin? Chryst was literally made for this job. If you told me that Barry told Andersen to GTFO because it was time for Chryst to coach here I’d absolutely believe it. Dude’s 20-5 and hasn’t lost to a team that’s won less than 10 games. That’s top notch preparation and coaching. The only other team in the conference that hasn’t derped a game to a team it had no business losing to in the last 2 years is Ohio State. There’s 2 coaches in college football I’d trade Chryst for and they’re at Ohio State and Alabama. Also, is Franklin going to be at Penn State forever? Because Chryst isn’t leaving Wisconsin unless it’s to coach the Packers or something, which I wouldn’t be too mad about at the moment.

Stew: I still don’t think either is a very good coach. However, I think Chryst is more in control of his team, whereas Franklin has smartly given a lot of control to his assistants. I could see a scenario where both screw up some clock management in a tight game, though.

MNW: Stew is onto it here. Kudos for Franklin on turning it around this season. Seriously. But if I'm judging based on what I actually think they do for their respective programs, Chryst seems more engaged in every aspect of the program.

Townie: I think, on paper, Wisconsin’s defense matches up well against Alabama. The problem is that offense. I think the result would be a slobber knocker, like the UM and OSU games. A tough, smashmouth affair where Alabama takes advantage of one Wisconsin mistake…a pick, a fumble, a bad punt…to win the game.

GF3: I don't think either succeed against Bama. I don't think OSU succeeds against Bama. PSU has a passing attack that could challenge Bama, but they can stuff Barkley with their base set and not need to drop their safeties in the box--and that changes the math. But overall I think PSU might match up better. Not well. But better.

BRT: I don’t know...I think they’d both get killed. Having watched the MSU-Alabama debacle in person last year after thinking that MSU had a decent shot, I just can’t predict anything other than that. Bama apparently has another mode they’re able to switch to for such games. I will say that the PSU-Bama matchup would be funnier. ;)

Thumpasaurus: I think Wisconsin would be much more successful against Alabama. Their players and staff are well-seasoned against tough non-conference opponents, and Alabama’s not terribly different from last year’s national champs against whom the Badgers put up a decent fight.

I honestly have no idea what to expect from the playoff committee regardless of who wins or loses what games. With only two seasons of precedent and no situation quite this complex in those two years, I really don’t know what to say.

Aaron: Penn State would have a better shot against Alabama because it can make plays downfield in the passing game. No one can run against the Tide, so you have to take that part of the offense out of the equation. It’s probably not going to work out that way, though. Even if Penn State wins on Saturday, it would take a Washington loss and some other magic to get the Lions into the Playoff. Right now, Michigan is ranked ahead of both Penn State and Wisconsin with head-to-head wins over both teams. The Wolverines also have an impressive non-conference victory over Colorado to their credit. I’m not sure the Lions or Badgers get the nod over Michigan just because they win the conference title over a team that Jim Harbaugh’s squad has already beaten.

Stew: Uh, neither? Talking strictly MOV, it’s Wisconsin, just because of that defense. I really, really hope that the B1G champ gets in, and if that means leaving OSU out, so be it. Win your damn division.

Ted: I think Wisconsin and OSU can beat Alabama. Everyone is slobbering over Alabama, but honestly, THEY AIN’T PLAYED NO ONE PAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWLLLLLL. The SEC is about as down as it has been since the 90’s, and if this team was in any other conference, the ‘experts’ would be talking down Alabama as a paper tiger. Their most impressive win is against...who? Four loss LSU, who lost to Wisconsin? Five loss Arkansas? Four loss Auburn? The SEC sucks, yet no one wants to say the Emperor has no clothes. Both Sconny and OSU have defenses that can largely corral ALabama’s offense, and OSU’s offense is as fast and athletic as Alabama’s defense. Penn State is still a recruiting class or two away from beating them, but yeah, Alabama isn’t invincible, you guys.

Speth: I think Wisconsin or Penn State is in if Clemson or Washington loses without a doubt. I mean Wisconsin would just have to jump Michigan with one dropping and they’re sitting at 4. How much fun would it be though if they both lost and Wisconsin and Ohio State was a semi final as the 2/3 game? I mean stranger things have happened, and Wisconsin/OSU is a huge ratings draw. Plus that’d basically guarantee you get the SEC/Big Ten title game everyone wants to see.

As for who’s a better matchup for Bama, it’s Wisconsin for 2 reasons. 1- Wisconsin hasn’t gotten blown out this year. Wisconsin’s been down to third string linebackers too (I had no idea who Garrett Dooley even was until he was on the field) and didn’t get absolutely trucked by anybody. I won’t disagree that Penn State isn’t the same team it was when they lost 49-10, but at the same time, they are the same team that lost 49-10 to Michigan in a literal sense. 2- Wisconsin played Bama well last year and this year’s Wisconsin team is better than last year’s. Sure, Bama might be better too, but if that cancels out we’re looking at a 35-17 game, and I honestly don’t see Bama putting 35 on Wisconsin.Transitive property says Bama’s 8 points better than Wisconsin. Poor LSU, talk about a murderous schedule.

GF3: Peppers gets credit for 3 TFLs and a 65-yard return. Barkley runs for only 76 yards. Houston completes 25% of his passes. Refs get blamed for loss.

BRT: 12 PSU’ers #BACKing

11 O-lines Crumbling

10 Franklins Leaping

9 Sconnies Jumping (around)

8 Fans a-Drinking

7 Nits a-Bitching

6 Refs a-Flagging

5 WE ARE cheers

4 Clement runs

3 Barkley wows

2 Houston INTS

and an OSU in the Playofffffffff

Candystripes: The game is won on a punt return for a touchdown in the dying seconds of the 4th quarter, as a series of laterals and some questionably aimed blocks springs surprise returner TJ Watt free for the win.

Thumpasaurus: Wisconsin’s quarterback completes less than 50% of his passes for under 150 yards, and the broadcasters talk about the tragedy of the lean times Penn State fans have been through. More on that in the Infographics.

Oh, you wanted BOLD predictions. Sorry. Got none.

Aaron: Brandon Bell gets 20 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. It’s the college football equivalent of whatever Russell Westbrook is doing to the NBA these days.

Ted: Bold? No. It will be a fairly boring game, with Wisconsin’s defense slowly suffocating Penn State’s offense and winning by a fairly pedestrian 24-13’ish score.

Stew: More than half the stadium is full. Hey PSU fans, I thought you said you’d be so ecstatic about getting to play in this game. Tickets are going for <$20 on Stubhub. No, I won’t blame Wisconsin, they’re just horrible, horrible people, and everyone should know this by now.

Speth: Clement runs for more yards than Barkley. TJ Watt has the type of game that makes you wonder why he wouldn’t declare for the draft. Colorado beats Washington and Paul Chryst is gonna spend more time talking about the playoffs than Jim Mora would like.