Halftime for the Legendary Leaders: Big Ten 2011 Midseason Summary (Part 1)

Written Ramblings by AH and DJ

This picture will be shown for a while around the Big Ten.

Gameday got it right this time around. The Bucky – Huskers game had all the hype about a month ago with Fowler’s crew roaming the streets in Mad-town. But that was a terribly disappointing game in terms of sheer entertainment value. Four weeks later, Gameday ventured out to Big Ten country again and this time NOBODY was upset about the way the game finished. Obviously Bucky fans weren’t too happy about the outcome but the game was legendary. Big Ten Network will show the heck out of this game for years to come. The game had everything … or did it??

There was only one move that could have made this game better – Gus Johnson. I love the Herbie/Brent combo but the last call and the entire 4th quarter was made for the Gus. This was the perfect game that could use Gus as a “pinch announcer” towards the end. This theory has been mentioned in the past and I hope someday it will come to fruition. If you know the game has the making of a classic, then you ought to be able to pull the current announcers and bring Gus from the bullpen. He doesn’t even need to be there, he can just call the game from the studio. Even better, the viewers can have the option to listen to the current announcers or switch the Gus call on their TV. No idea why anybody would use the other option but there are some interesting people around I suppose. DirectTV can make this happen; it is only matter of time. Comcast/AT&T or any other cable provider will have no chance to compete if DirectTV ever made this move. All you need is Gus to be ready in the studios all day on Saturday. It can be called the “Gus Johnson Redzone Channel” . . . instead of just touchdown calls; the viewer can have him for the entire 4th quarter for the selected games. The producers will decide which game gets Gus but I think the logistics can work out. We potentially could have had this call last Saturday:

“Cousins steps back. Avoids the rush. Heaves the ball …”

“Knock it down, knock it down … A!@#%%$#%^#$^^%$&^” (static on the TV b/c Gus potentially exploded) … “Keith Nichol!! Unbelievable … unbel …” (more static)

One can only hope that this channel will come around someday.

We are almost at the halfway point of the Big Ten season. Three games for some teams, four games for the others. It is time for the half time report on the Legendary Leaders conference. Because not every team has reached their halfway point in the Big Ten season, we will split the midseason summary into two parts. The second part of this post will be continued after this weekend’s games. And there are some pivotal games this weekend. Here is AH’s view of the conference season so far …

Best Surprise Team

AH: Lots of options here. But the designation has to go to a team from Michigan at this point. Which one of the two? Sparty. Why Michigan State? Because they are only one victory from being undefeated in the conference with their lone loss on the season against Notre Dame. They get it done with defense and turnovers. Kirk Cousins was somewhat overlooked in the Big 10 after a decent 2010 and isn’t doing anything to hurt the Spartans. But the defense is bringing it and ranks first in the conference in points against and seventh in the country. With games against Minnesota, Iowa, Purdue and Northwestern to end the year, their season comes to the matchup with Nebraska this week.

Worst Surprise Team

AH: This has to go to the (the) Ohio State University. Is it no Terrell Pryor? No Jim Tressel? The real surprise is their depth … or lack thereof. They have had a Top 25 recruiting class the last 4 years and had top 5 recruiting classes in 2 of the last 3 years. The schedule wasn’t great to start the Big Ten with games against Michigan St. and Nebraska but with a win against Illinois, maybe the Buckeyes are on their way. In their way, however, are matchups with Wisconsin, Penn State and a road game at Michigan at the end of the year.

Offensive MVP

AH: Montae Ball, RB, Wisconsin; probably not the pick most would take but Montae Ball seems to be the reason that Russell Wilson is so successful. With 6.1 yards per attempt, Ball is only 200 rushing yards and a rushing TD from matching his monster 2010 season and still has a little less than half the season left. Ball even has a chance to get into the records book if Wisconsin continues to give him the rock near the goal line. Russell Wilson has been awesome in most games, but the RB is forcing teams to bring defenders up and with the huge offensive line up front, he gets into the secondary. DBs don’t have a chance with his size and strength. Being only a junior, it’ll be interesting to see if he leaps to the NFL next season but his talent looks like something that would transfer well to the next level.

Defensive MVP

AH: Whitney Mercilus, DL, Illinois. He has dominated offensive lineman for a lot of the year and is probably somewhat of a surprise as he wasn’t that highly ranked coming into 2011. The Lombardi trophy nominee has been the anchor for a surprising Illinois defense. He is a QB hawk, forces fumbles and just causes chaos in the backfield of opposing teams. He is leading the nation in sacks and doesn’t appear to be slowing down as we move into the early part of the Big Ten schedule.

Stay tuned for the second part of the mid-season report AFTER this weekend’s games along with the predictions for the Big Ten championship game …

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