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BTB Roundtable, week 3.

Michigan Sports Center is hosting the roundtable this week and will have a summary post up by the end of the week.

1. Now that two weeks of play are behind us, what is one encouraging surprise and one downing disappointment from your team?

The most encouraging surprise for the Hoosiers has been the defense in general, particularly the run defense and pass rush. Certainly, IU hasn't played a tough schedule. Indiana State was one of the worst teams in I-AA last season and Western Michigan is breaking in quite a few new contributors. Still, IU somehow leads the nation in sacks with 13. IU's defense registered only 14 sacks all of last season, so even considering the competition this is a positive development. Greg Middleton has three sacks. Last season, Kenny Kendal led the team with four.

As for the rushing defense, IU has allowed only 76 yards and 1.3 yards per carry. I'm not quite as enthused about this, because IU had similar performances early last season, and ended up allowing about 4.5 per carry for the season.
I don't really have any major complaints. Kellen Lewis is 32-61 (52.5) and I would like to see him make some strides re: accuracy (on the other hand, can you imagine the hype if Isaiah Williams, the Illini's direct-snap tailback, ever completed 52.5 percent of his passes?). Marcus Thigpen is a magnificent kick returner and dangerous player, but I'm not sold on him as a starting tailback. I'm concerned about IU's ability to mount any sort of conventional run offense against a quality team.

2. A look at the current Big Ten standings shows things dead-locked record-wise for the most part. Once conference play actually begins, which two or three teams pull away from the rest of the pack?

Not a clue. Regardless of what has happened and what might happen against Notre Dame, I can't rule Michigan out. Penn State has looked the most impressive, but I just don't know. Other than Michigan's performance, nothing has shocked me yet, and I agree with Lake the Posts that this could be one of those seasons where someone backs into the Rose Bowl at 6-2.

3. Has your team ever played in a game that was just downright boring and impossible to watch? I ask this because going into the Michigan-Notre Dame game, looking at it on paper, it is shaping up to be one of the ugliest we may see all year.
I'm an Indiana fan. The answer is self-evident. I'm not sure that a Michigan-Notre Dame game can ever be really ugly. First, regardless of record, those two teams--the helmets, the classic uniforms--just look right on the football field together. It's a highlight of September even for fans with no connection to either team. Neither team is as bad as the records suggest. The two top QB recruits in the country will face off. Count your blessings if that game is the most boring or painful you can imagine.
While IU's 2006 season was often encouraging, two of last season's games fit the bill. First, the 14-7 pillowfight that IU lost to Connecticut on a dreary, drizzly day. A Marcus Thigpen kickoff return accounted for IU's only points. Second, the penultimate game of the season against Michigan. It was an ugly day, Michigan was ranked #2, and IU had fallen down the week before in its first shot at becoming bowl eligible, giving up about 150 points and 2000 yards to a lousy Minnesota team, squandering all of the positive feeling generated by IU's 46-21 spanking of MSU the week before the Gopher game. Ball State had given Michigan a scare the week before, so we didn't even have a glimmer of maybe-we'll-sneak-up-on-them hope. The result was as predicted.