No need for a flowery introduction, let’s see what Rock, Belz, Tyler and Ryan had to say about Week 2 of the Big Ten season!
On a scale of 1-10, how hot is Jim Harbaugh’s seat?
Rock: What’s amazing to me is that it’s probably a seven or eight, but even if Michigan had the money to pay his buyout right now I don’t know if you can fire him. This was supposed to be The Guy At Michigan after the dueling three year stints of Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. Five plus years in, the gap between Ohio State and Michigan continues to grow larger and larger, and the Wolverines are competing more with Penn State and Wisconsin for “second-best in the Big 10” crown, and only hit that mark in 2018. He hasn’t won a bowl since 2015, and now he’s back to .500 against a reeling Michigan State program.
But then if you need to fire The Guy At Michigan, who can you hire to fit that spot? It’s a little like Nebraska’s identity problem - just because you used to be good doesn’t mean you’re going to be good right now. You’re big rival is one of the top-five teams of the 2010’s, and you can’t figure out how to get to that high level. So as hot as that seat is, I think Michigan would have to lose four more times this year before they really consider yanking him. So, that seat’s going to be really, really uncomfortable, and neither party can do much about it.
Belz: Probably like a four. While I think the media, myself included here, generally overreacts to Harbaugh’s highs and lows, the University of Michigan power brokers seem pretty reluctant to move on for various reasons. I personally think his woes against Michigan State are unacceptable, and that this most recent loss is potentially his worst one of them all. Let’s not forget that MSU got beaten handily by Rutgers last week and have a brand new coach in an abbreviated off-season. Harbaugh was clearly out-coached on Saturday by Mel Tucker, and that is pretty tough to stomach considering he is getting paid a handsome eight million dollars this season.
Tyler: Five. To me the problem seems to be who else is Michigan going to get? The divorces between coaches that come back to their alma matter can get messy. When it works you get UW/Chryst and when it doesn’t you get Harbaugh/UM.
Ryan: Seven? It seems like it’s been tepid for a while, but I think with each loss this season, it will get hotter and hotter.
Should the Wolverines think about replacing defensive coordinator Don Brown?
Rock: Either coordinator is more likely to be on the chopping block, but I’d go with the offensive coordinator first. Michigan’s defense has been ranked higher in S&P the last few years.
Belz: The Michigan secondary looked really vulnerable against MSU and Minnesota, and some of that blame definitely falls on Brown. However, I only see this being the move if Harbaugh needs to deflect blame at the end of the season. Right or wrong, Brown is one of the most well respected DC’s in the game, and would be quickly picked up by someone else if he is indeed chopped.
Tyler: I think you have to if it continues to trend downward, but I still think he’s a pretty sharp football mind. If the ship goes down he’s probably on it.
Ryan: I think like Harbaugh, his seat will continue to heat up as the season goes on.
Now that we are two weeks into the B1G season, would you change any of your picks to win each division?
Rock: Right now, Wisconsin may not hit the minimum number of games to win the West. The number of players and staffers with COVID, and unable to participate in practice, is getting close to “how do you even prepare for a college football game?” But then, who do you fill that slot with? Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota all have two losses already. I’m terrified the game that determines the West is Nebraska - Northwestern.
Belz: Like Rock mentioned, I think it will depend on if the Badgers get to play six games. Purdue and Northwestern could make it interesting, but the Badgers looked like the best in the West when they were last on the field.
Tyler: No, assuming UW gets enough games in I think they’ll be there.
Ryan: If Wisconsin can play enough games to qualify, no. However, if they aren’t able to, it looks like Northwestern could steal the West. OSU is still firmly my pick to win the East.
Which B1G team has surprised you the most so far (good or bad)?
Rock: For a single play, obviously The Reach. But in two games I’m really surprised at how many points Northwestern put up on the board already. It took them six games to score 41 points in conference play last year, and they put up 43 against Maryland, and followed that up with 21 against Iowa. They could not move the ball last year, and firing their OC looks like it helped immediately.
Belz: For me it has to be Rutgers. Greg Schiano has them competitive despite obvious flaws on their roster including quarterback.
Tyler: Minnesota being that bad is surprising. I never expected that. Penn State I expected to be meh, and I thought Indiana would be pretty solid so so far it’s going as planned in my opinion.
Ryan: Indiana. The Hoosiers are for real this year, at least they appear to be so far. They showed quite a bit of moxie in beating PSU the way they did and then they steamrolled Rutgers.
Which team impressed you the most outside of the B1G this week?
Rock: Auburn. They had a good lead at halftime, and then put the game away in the third quarter. Bo Nix made great decisions all day, and the defense really did not let LSU move. Which, at some point there’s going to be big concerns about what’s happening in Baton Rogue. There was a huge exodus of talent after their national championship, but those losses to Mississippi State and Missouri are looking worse and worse.
Belz: BYU has played a cupcake schedule so far this season, but Zach Wilson has been on fire this year. I am excited to see the Cougars go up against Boise State on Friday to see if they are for real. Their offense has been very strong and this past weekend was no different.
Tyler: Cincinnati. They’re legit. Their defense was great in 2019 and returned a lot, but QB Desmond Ridder is taking them to another level right now. Memphis is down after opt outs, but that was an ass whoopin’.
Ryan: Texas taking down Oklahoma State was a big upset. I was also impressed with Boston College and the way they opened their game against the Trevor Lawrence-less Clemson Tigers, but unfortunately for them, the Tigers are the Tigers.
If you had to pick your CFP final four today, who would be in it?
Rock: Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State are in until proven otherwise. Notre Dame might have a chance if they can beat Clemson next week or in a conference championship game rematch (and oh please let Notre Dame win a conference in their one attempt). Cincinnati and BYU are tempting, but their schedules are pretty soft (although BYU - Boise State might change that!) I’ll say Oregon cleans up the Pac-12 and gets the sacrificial lamb spot in the playoff.
Belz: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, (insert team that will get crushed). I guess if you need a definitive answer either Oregon or Cincinnati depending on whichever squad is able to run the table.
Tyler: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Cincinnati
Ryan: I have to go with the top four teams at the time I am replying to this… Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame.