Intriguing Big Ten Storylines: BoPe, JoePa, and Randall’s Camp

Posted: August 30, 2011 in Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

First off:

Nebraska Arrives in the Big Twenve

Writing about the Big Ten conference is a new experience for me.  I used to deride the conference, in part because I’m a complete and utter homer and in part because it has fluctuated in its competitiveness on the national scene, but now that I find my favorite team the conference’s newest member I feel compelled to do the particularly homer-ish thing. 

Namely, pump my fist like a Jersey Shore castmember at a rave and hoot like a howler monkey, “The Big Twenve (*Author’s note: my proposed name for the Big Ten) is here to stay, son.  Hoo. . .hoo. . .hoo.”

In reality I was too hard on the Big Ten before and now I’ll more than likely be overly proud of the Big Twenve.  Regardless, I have found myself thoroughly excited and intrigued by virtually everything involving Nebraska’s move to the new conference.  Here are the most intriguing storylines of the Big Twenve’s impending season.

Alfonzo Den(n)ard Robinson

These two players don’t have that much to do with one another, other than a name that is almost spelled the same.  So why combine the two?  Because both of them are key components on their team and a lot of their upcoming seasons depends on their health.

Will “The Fonz” heal his pulled leg muscle up soon enough to be effective against Big Twenve opponents?  We can only hope.  Husker coach Bo Pelini holds his cards closer to his chest than a bluffing Phil Ivey and has merely said that “The Fonz” is healing and that it could be a while or not.  Typically candid Pelini.

If Dennard is healthy, he could be one of the premiere corners in the Big Twenve as well as the country.  He has lock-down skills, high-draft-pick-worthy athleticism and decent enough size.  A pulled leg muscle certainly isn’t the end of the world for Dennard but, with two sophomores potentially starting at corner in his place, his health early has Husker fans anxious.

The other, more nationally recognizable piece of this equation?  Well, he was to his offense what a one-man band is to his musical number.  He did everything but kick extra points for Michigan last year and was dinged up here and there as a result.  Coach Brady Hoke is switching Michigan’s explosive spread-style attacked to a more conventional approach this fall but claims that his offense will still utilize Robinson’s talents.

Make no mistake about it, Robinson is an elite runner and threw for more yards than people remember.  I’m not entirely sure why he fell out of the Heisman discussion last year, despite playing on a bad team, after he threw for 2500+ yards and 18 TDs and ran for an astounding 1700 more yards while picking up 14 Touchdowns.

I can’t believe I typed those numbers. 

I didn’t rack up that much yardage with my NCAA 2010 quarterback against “Easy” level opponents.  I’ll say one more time, how was he not up for the Heisman?  Idiot voters.

These two talented Den(n)ards will certainly be worth watching this fall.  They’ll go head to head November 19th and it promises to be a can’t miss game provided both of them can stay healthy.

A Rising Power in the North

Last year Wisconsin went 11-2 and looked like the best team in the nation at times.  Offensively their power run game was nearly unstoppable and defensively they were pretty good as well.  Junior Montee Ball was 4 yards shy of being the Badgers’ third running back with 1,000 or more yards rushing and each of their platoon of 3 rushers got at least 14 TDs.

But, to the rest of the Big Twenve’s collective dismay, the Badgers went out and got themselves an upgrade at the quarterback position this offseason.  They landed the coveted former N.C. State QB Russell Wilson and he’s had enough of an impact there already to have been chosen captain by his teammates.

With the steady, in unspectacular, Scott Tolzien manning the offense last year the Badgers still managed to average 41.5 points per game and they have a solid defense returning that only gave up 20.5 points per game.  The Badgers seemed poised for a breakthrough year last year, but ended up slipping up in crucial games against TCU and Michigan State. 

They drew Nebraska at home, but play Michigan State and Ohio State on the road.  Russell Wilson’s development and understanding of the offense will be a key piece of the puzzle.  Watch out for the Badgers to be in the hunt for the national title if they can emerge victorious against the Huskers to open Big Twenve play.

Coaching Mania

There are new faces at several of the Big Twenve schools, most notably Luke Fickell at Ohio State and the aforementioned Hoke and Pelini, and there are some old faces at others.  Some really, really f-ing old faces at one.  In fact one face in particular might be legally dead and is wandering around the sidelines due to some kind of Weekend at Bernie’s II style hijinks.

(*Author’s note: Yes, there is a Weekend at Bernie’s II.  Yes, I have seen it.  No, you should not.  And. . .yes I will show you a clip of what I envision happens behind the scenes at a Penn State coaches meeting.)

Seriously.  I have a conspiracy theory that JoePa has been dead since 2006 and that somehow the coaching staff at Penn State has used a voodoo spell on him so that anytime he hears the Penn State marching band or whistles blowing his corpse limps back to life like some string-less marionette.

In Conclusion

There’s a million more subplots, and I realize that I just squandered valuable writing space by referencing Weekend at Bernie’s II and taking potshots at JoePa, it will be intriguing to see what happens.  With the blessed entity known as the Big Ten Network broadcasting every game and rehashing them endlessly, I fully plan on inundating myself in Big Twenve coverage. 

Join me, revelers, as the season draws ever closer.  Rejoice.  Football is almost here.



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