Peter at Burnt Orange Nation was tasked with providing this week's BlogPoll roundtable questions provide he did. Here's our take:
1. Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite, who is?
Ohio State has emerged as the favorite, thanks to the defense, with Penn State and Wisconsin closely in tow. The conference has taken a hit nationally after the Michigan debacle and numerous stinky performances in early games. Penn State plays Michigan and Wisconsin in the first four weeks, while the Bucks get the teams in the last four weeks of the season. Each one of the three could easily have a loss before meeting Ohio State. Given Tress's ability to win big games, I give his boys about a 70% chance of winning the Big Ten.
2. Outline the (realistic) best case and worst-case scenarios for your team.
Best case: Ohio Stateâ€™s offense continues to gel and utilizes all of their weapons, while the defense doesnâ€™t slow down over the next 5 weeks. 8-0 is very conceivable going into the tricky 8pm start at Penn State. Get past the 107,000+ white-out of Beaver Stadium, take care of Wisky and Illinois at home and it should come down to the game in Ann Arbor.
Worst case: The surprise season starts to fall apart in a late drunken start at Purdue, October 6th. Every few seasons the Boilermaker offense gives the Buckeyes fits and an experienced group could start a derailment. Ohio St. continues with losses at Penn State and Michigan. The season ends with an Outback Bowl appearance and another month of SEC speed talk.
3. We're only three games in to the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.
The Buckeyes thus far have resembled Beauty and the Beast. The Beauty has been a prudish defense, ranking 1st in the Big Ten in total defense and allowing only 22 points on the season. The Beast has been an offense that has sputtered at times and a quarterback with an early tendency to throw balls into the waiting hands of enemy defenders. There are signs that the Beast is getting a makeover, though.
4. Imagine you're the coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.
- Promote Brandon Saine to the #2 running back spot. You've got to appreciate the way that Mo Wells has gone about his business without bitching, but Saine is clearly the 2nd best running back on the team and needs 15 touches a game.
- Leave Malcolm Jenkins in as corner. He did snatch one against Washington coming from the safety spot, but as the team's top cover corner, can Tress afford to not having him on the opponent's best receiver one-on-one each week?
- Practice should be nothing but tackling and pursuit angles for a week. One complaint towards the defense from the Washington game is the number of missed tackles and bad angles. I know we're splitting hairs here and Locker's skill caused many of the missed tackles, but if the team doesn't address this, H20-3 could get loose late in the year.
5. USC, LSU/Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as the frontrunners in the early going. Which other team or teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?
It's still so early, but the winner of the Big Ten or the Big East could be potential party crashers. Every year around mid-season, there are about 5 or 6 teams that look like they could finish unbeaten, but the reality is that one or two (sometimes three, LSU fans) end the season unbeaten. West Virginia may have the best chance to get into the mix assuming they can get by Rutgers, who also look pretty tough. I left out Louisville when mentioning WVU stumbling blocks because the Mountaineers could realistically hang 75 points on that defense.