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Blogpoll Roundtable II

Burnt Orange Nation, the outstanding Texas Longhorns blog, is hosting the second Blogpoll Roundtable of the season. Here goes:

Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite, who is?

IU's chances are really, really remote. Nevertheless, for the first time in a couple of decades, it's possible to construct a non-batshit scenario in which it could happen. IU's home conference games are against Illinois, Minnesota, Penn State, and Purdue. The road games are at Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Northwestern. Michigan and Ohio State are off the schedule. Suppose IU loses to Wisconsin and Penn State. While I'm certainly not anywhere close to predicting that they will win all of them, it's not a stretch to think that IU could win any of the other six games. If that happens, and no one else is better than 6-2, and Penn State and Wisconsin both end up 5-3 or worse, the tiebreakers would work in IU's favor. Assuming a November home win against Ball State, IU will have a perfect non-conference record. In a tie with Michigan and/or Ohio State, the non-conference record and "longest Rose Bowl drought" tiebreakers would favor IU. Again, way less than a one percent chance that this all happens, but the scenario does not require a crazy outcome in any single game. IU is a home dog this week against a team that went 2-10 last season, so trust me, I'm not going to get ahead of myself.

I would consider Penn State and Ohio State the favorites. I still would not be surprised if Michigan played a role. Wisconsin? Well, I was skeptical at the beginning to the season, and nothing the Badgers have done so far has convinced me that the Badgers are a legitimate top 10 team. If anything, Wisconsin looks better in comparison to teams like Michigan and Iowa because of those teams' stumbles, but I'll be surprised if UW beats Penn State or Ohio State.

Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for your team.

It's IU football, so losing out is always a possibility. Realistically, however, IU plays Illinois, Minnesota, and Ball State at home and Northwestern on the road. Even if IU stumbles, it's hard to imagine that the Hoosiers won't find two wins there. That would make 5-7 the realistic worst case scenario, which would say more about the schedule than about the caliber of IU's team. Best case? As I note, the conference champions scenario above is a stretch. I do think 8-4 is probably the best case realistic scenario. If IU continues to play well, the Hoosiers should beat Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Ball State to get to seven wins. If IU does that, it's not hard to imagine one win out of the following: Penn State, Purdue, @Wisconsin, @ Iowa, @ MSU.

We're only three games in to the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.

It's not really a fable or fairy tale, but more of a recurring theme. I have to go with Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. IU looks promising, but just when IU fans start to believe, that's when someone like Zooker hangs 60 on us.

Imagine you're the coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.
I hate this question. I'm not an x-o guy. Bill Lynch, whatever his future, knows lots more about football than I do.
1. Marcus Thigpen. I would find a way to put the ball in Thigpen's hands other than lining him up as a running back. He's a dangerous kick returner and the fastest guy on the team, and he should be on the field, but I don't see him as a traditional running back. Thigpen's numbers are solid right now, but I'm not sure that will continue as we play bigger, faster, better teams.
2. Fullback. IU has struggled in short yardage and goal line situations. Perhaps we should work out of a two back set more often, with Josiah Sears at fullback and Demetrius McCray at tailback.
3. Eh. That's all I've got. It's early in the morning. I'll edit if I think of something else.