The Big Ten chat showed up a day early so I'll forgive you if you missed out on the fun. I received several good recommendations from Minnesota fans, who look forward to hosting one of us next week.
Here's a full transcript for those who couldn't make the chat and for those who just want to relive the magic.
To the highlights ...
Dan from New Jersey: Why does ranking at the time of the game seem to carry so much weight? As you said, Clemson's win over Georgia is now a tight win over a 3-(most likely soon to be 4) loss team, and Miami now has 2 losses, with its only win over a ranked team being, again, a tight win over current 5-loss Florida which most likely won't make a bowl game. I just don't see how Clemson and Miami look that much better than MSU and Wisconsin, especially given the botched ASU game and iffy ND calls. Granted OSU hasn't played MSU yet, but by the end of the season should the Buckeyes win out, their best wins shouldn't be too different, imo. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Dan, it's definitely closer than it has been portrayed. The desert debacle isn't affecting Wisconsin's place in the polls at all, and I don't know what the Badgers need to do to convince people that they're a good team. MSU's loss at Notre Dame -- PI calls and all -- doesn't look great now that the Irish have lost for a third time. But I would take MSU or Wisconsin against Miami, and I think they could give Clemson a good game. It just underscores how non-league wins -- even overvalued ones -- can really affect how teams are viewed for the rest of the season.
Tom from Chicago: I'd make the same argument that Dan is making, but against Wisconsin. A couple weeks ago people were touting the Badgers' win over Northwestern (which is winless in the Big Ten), and staying close to OSU. There's no way they're the second best team in the Big Ten ahead of MSU.
Rittenberg: That's fair, Tom, but I'll counter by saying Michigan State's win against Michigan doesn't look nearly as good now that the Wolverines are in a tailspin. You can use certain wins any way you want, but I don't think anyone can definitively say there's "no way" one team is better than another without those teams meeting on the field. Unfortunately, we likely won't see Spartans-Badgers this season. But Michigan State has a chance to show it's the best team in the league (besides Ohio State) by winning out and going to the Rose Bowl.
Andrew from Fremont, Ind.: Despite the serious struggles Purdue has had this season, I can't help but look at these last few weeks and not see a W somewhere. Penn State hasn't beaten anyone of value in Happy Valley outside of Michigan (and that's even debatable), Illinois seems to being doing all it can to maintain its long losing streak, and last I checked, IU was still IU. Which one seems like the most likely win for Purdue?
Rittenberg: Love the optimism, Andrew, but Purdue hasn't even been competitive in a Big Ten game this season. Tough to see a win, even against weaker competition. Penn State has been much better at home than on the road. Illinois would be the one to watch as the Illini likely will have a 20-game Big Ten losing streak and a lot of pressure on their shoulders. I don't think Purdue can stop Indiana's offense, especially on the road. So it'd be the Illinois game.
Mike from Paris, Ohio: How much of Ohio State's schedule strength is attributed to the Buckeyes being stuck in the Leaders Division? It seems as though the Legends is a pretty good division (top 3 in CFB?), and we were debating on the Buckeye message boards how much being in the Legends would help our strength of schedule.
Rittenberg: Mike, being in the Legends would have helped Ohio State this season, but the Buckeyes also were hurt by a crossover schedule that featured Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa. Ohio State won't face 8-1 Michigan State, 8-2 Minnesota or 7-2 Nebraska during the regular season. It will play one in the Big Ten title game, but for BCS standings purposes, it would have helped to play all three during the regular season.
Mike from Bolivar, Ohio: If the only way to change perception is to win bowl games, then explain how the ACC is getting any respect with their 3-13 BCS record? And how is Ohio State not getting respect considering their 6-3 (or 5-3) BCS record?
Adam Rittenberg: Mike, I've been one of the biggest ACC critics out there. I've noticed that the college football media seems to warm up easier to the ACC than it does the Big Ten. There could be several reasons for this, but I think it's recruiting. The ACC almost always ranks higher than the Big Ten in recruiting. I joke that the biggest day on the ACC calendar is national signing day. The ACC has been dreadful in major bowls, while the Big Ten has been slightly less dreadful. A lot of the love this season is a Florida State team that has finally translated great recruiting to great results on the field. But it's an interesting topic that I'll explore more on the blog.
Thanks again for the questions and the continued participation. Enjoy Week 12!