Last season a group called “Big Ten Bloggers” was formed to bring together bloggers that cover Big Ten schools, hence the name. The group primarily was created as a way to have discussions about various topics concerning the conference that take place each week throughout the season. BTB has grown quite a bit since then as there are many new blogs in the group, but that only means for more discussion.
Anyways, the staple of BTB is the weekly roundtable that poses a few questions for each blogger to answer. Although there is much more to ask and answer once the season gets started, Gopher Nation has posted a preseason roundtable that focuses on rivalries as a way to get some discussion started. Below you can find the five questions posted by Gopher Nation as well as my answers.
1. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg recently ranked the top 5 rivalries in the Big Ten and there were some controversial results (Illinois v Ohio State as #3?). Clearly Ohio State vs. Michigan is the #1 rivalry in the Big Ten, but give me your next three. Your school does not have to be included in this list, but regardless of who you choose defend your picks.
I’ll have to agree with Adam Rittenberg for the Big Ten’s second best rivalry and say that it is Michigan vs. Michigan State. Being that U-M and MSU are in-state schools, hatred exists between fan bases and players year-round. On the football field itself, Michigan has dominated this rivalry, but that doesn’t mean the rivalry has cooled down at all.
Thanks to a couple poor officiating decisions, Michigan fans think the Wolverines should have beat MSU two more times than the record books show (Desmond Howard no-interference call and Spartan Bob), and in East Lansing, MSU fans have had to watch their team choke away games they had won. Either way, this rivalry will never go away no matter how one-sided it is simply because Michigan and MSU fans just flat out hate each other.
While Michigan and Michigan State play every year for the Paul Bunyan Trophy, Wisconsin and Minnesota play for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. That is actually the oldest rivalry in all of college football, and that only adds to the history behind it. Minnesota and Wisconsin are bordering states, meaning bragging rights are on the line and recruiting prowess is also involved. Throw in the fact that the first thing the winning team does is go straight for the axe and that shows you how badly a win is sought after.
The final rivalry that comes to mind in the Big Ten for me is Michigan State vs. Penn State. I’m not necessarily including this game because of the hatred between the two schools or the competitiveness that exists in every game, but more because of the trophy that is on the line. MSU and PSU play for the Land-Grant Trophy, and I really just wanted to post a picture of it since it is one of the ugliest trophies around. See for yourself:
2. Obviously winning every game is important and beating really good teams sends a stronger message than beating Minnesota. Assume every team is .500 this year and the outcome of your next two games means nothing outside of pride and a year’s worth of bragging rights. Give me the two schools you would want to beat (in order) and why. What makes beating School’s A and B significant?
This is an easy answer for Michigan fans as School A is Ohio State and School B is Michigan State. The significance of beating Ohio State most years means that Michigan just won a Big Ten title, but beyond that, a win over the Buckeyes would be nice just because it hasn’t happened since 2003. I would be utterly shocked if Rich Rodriguez was able to pull off the upset in Columbus this November, but if he was able to the momentum created in the future would be unthinkable.
Just go back to 2001 when Jim Tressel took over as OSU’s head coach. He told an Ohio State crowd during a basketball game that in however many days you will be proud of our football team when they go to Ann Arbor. As it turned out, he was right. Ohio State came into the Big House and won a game that Michigan had no business losing (catch the ball, Marquise!), and the rest is history. I’m not saying that Michigan will be able to do the same thing this November, but an upset in the Shoe would mean so much for recruiting, bragging rights, and the simple fact that Michigan finally did beat Ohio State.
As for Michigan State, beating them is important every year mainly for the bragging rights aspect. Since Michigan and Michigan State fans have to deal with each other on a daily basis, bragging rights mean everything. Nothing is more enjoyable than being able to gloat about a Michigan win to your Spartan friends. And at the same time, nothing is worse than facing those same friends after Sparty manages to pull off the upset.
For this season, beating Michigan State is about more than just bragging rights. Most MSU fans are very confident that their team will come into Michigan Stadium and leave victorious. They’ve been bashing Rich Rodriguez ever since he became the head coach and have become drunk on Mark Dantonio’s Kool-Aid. Not only would a Michigan win shut them all up, but it would mean so much for in-state recruiting.
I will give Dantonio credit for the recruiting class he has put together so far, especially in the state of Michigan. A win for MSU could be that big push that puts them over the top when it comes to recruiting in the next year, so Rich Rodriguez needs to prevent that from happening by beating the Spartans. It would show the state of Michigan that even with a new coach things aren’t going to change anytime soon, and the only way to do that is by winning.
3. Take the two teams from above that you claim are your biggest rivals and give me a new mascot for them.
For Ohio State, there are many options that deal with their supposed dirty recruiting tactics, but I will settle on the Sweater Vests in honor of Jim Tressel. For Michigan State, Maize n Brew already beat me to the punch on this one as the Little Brothers is the perfect nickname for Michigan State.
4. There are some new rules in college football this year. My favorite is the Big Ten experimental rule which states that after every win this year you get to pluck one player off their roster and bring them back to your campus. Looking at your schedule give me two players you would pluck (assuming a win), why you would take them and what would you do with them?
If I had to pick only two, I would probably say Michigan State running back Javon Ringer and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Ringer is a great RB that is poised to have another big season and brings a good combination of speed and power to the table.
My choice of Terrelle Pryor is pretty simple. He would be someone that could come in and run Michigan’s offense this season and beyond, and it would mean that Michigan wouldn’t have to play him in the future. Although I think he is a pretty big douchebag now that he is at Ohio State, you have to respect his athletic ability.
5. Brian at MGO was kind enough to post a diary entry which gives us and new coach Rich Rodriguez a list of Michigan traditions that maybe we were not all aware of. This has inspired two final questions…
5A – are there any Michigan traditions that he missed? (here is your chance for some Michigan cheap shots)
There are obviously many different things to choose from here, but I’m going to focus on one: the recent tradition of the student section not showing up to games on time. I don’t know what it is about the last few seasons, but every year it seems like the student section decides to show up to games later and later. I’m not saying every student does this as most of the section can arrive on time, but someone needs to explain to many students that getting to your seat by kickoff is not that hard.
It isn’t a big deal in the general scheme of things, but it is a pet peeve of mine when I see the team running out of the tunnel to a student section that is only 75% filled on some occasions. Not only does that take something away from the general atmosphere of the stadium, but it looks bad. I imagine the excuse for those that show up literally at kickoff is that they were just out partying, but other schools don’t seem to have this problem. For example, look at Penn State. They are able to fill up their student section before the rest of the crowd even gets there and on top of that they all are wearing the same color. Hell, even MSU’s student section was filled up when the gates first opened for last year’s Michigan game, so it can’t be that hard.
I do think that since Michigan students have specific seats already reserved for them that there isn’t any real incentive to show up early, but I just think it would add to an already lackluster atmosphere if all the students could be there before the game to get the team and the rest of the crowd pumped up. Again, it isn’t a huge deal, but it is a pet peeve of mine that I’ve recently noticed.
5B – Are there any traditions of your school’s rival that we should all be aware of?
In honor of the MZone, if you’re affiliated with Ohio State and have a mustache, tradition calls for doing something illegal, getting caught, and having your legal troubles become public knowledge so all Michigan fans can have a good laugh.