1. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg recently ranked the top 5 rivalries in the Big Ten and there were some controversial results (Illinois v Ohio State as #3?). Clearly Ohio State vs. Michigan is the #1 rivalry in the Big Ten, but give me your next three. Your school does not have to be included in this list, but regardless of who you choose defend your picks.
I would have to go with Michigan v. Michigan State at #2. Not too many times you get to have a game in the Big Ten with both teams from the same state. I was never really aware of this rivalry's intensity until I moved to the Great Lakes State. I always knew they had a dislike for each other, but not to this extreme. UM-tOSU is the de la creme of rivalries, but don't tell the Sparty that.
After that, I'll say Indiana-Purdue. Again, in-state rivals mean so much more. It's not that they're ever really competing for anything. They are both typical middle-conf teams, if not worse. But that does not downplay the rivalry here, in fact, it might add a sense of bitterness. Last year's game that Indiana won on a last second field goal was a great game.
And my #4 Big Ten rivalry is Wisconsin v. Minnesota. I know nothing of this rivalry, other than it is one and that people care a lot about who wins. Packers v. Vikings is the pro-version, but college is better. Sooner or later Minnesota has to crawl out of the cellar.
And while we're at it, We'll round out the top 5 with tOSU and whatever school from Ohio they are playing that year (Akron, Cincinnati, Ohio, Toledo, BGSU, Youngstown State, Kent State). I know its not two Big Ten teams, but tOSU is so desperate to play a fellow Ohio team every year that I will include it in this list. Penn State does not get a Big Ten rival yet, as only being in the conference for 15 years does not mean you automatically have "tradition". So they will have to wait.
2. Obviously winning every game is important and beating really good teams sends a stronger message than beating Minnesota. Assume every team is .500 this year and the outcome of your next two games means nothing outside of pride and a year's worth of bragging rights. Give me the two schools you would want to beat (in order) and why. What makes beating School's A and B significant?
Well, tOSU is obviously #1. But after that it gets interesting. I could go about 3 different ways with this. MSU is a very important game. And with Dantonio not able to shut up about us for more than 5 minutes makes it even more so. But I would have to go with Oregon.
Oregon just simply took Michigan and made us their biotch last year. They beat us in almost every sense of the word. It was one of the worst games I've ever seen Michigan play...and that's after the Appy State game, which is saying something. Playing Oregon again and winning would not only save some face, but talk some of the most die-hard, blow-hard Michigan fans off the edge.
3. Take the two teams from above that you claim are your biggest rivals and give me a new mascot for them.
The Ohio State "Buckstaches", and the Michigan State "Little Brothers".
4. There are some new rules in college football this year. My favorite is the Big Ten experimental rule which states that after every win this year you get to pluck one player off their roster and bring them back to your campus. Looking at your schedule give me two players you would pluck (assuming a win), why you would take them and what would you do with them?
I would take Terelle Pryor and slap a Michigan jersey on him. And then I would take Wisconsin's coach (not a player, I know) Bret Bielema and call him names until he cried. I don't know, he just always looks like he's close to tears.
5. Brian at mgoblog was kind enough to post a diary entry which gives us and new coach Rich
Rodriguez a list of Michigan traditions that maybe we were not all aware of. This has inspired two final questions...
5A - are there any Michigan traditions that he missed? (here is your chance for some Michigan cheap shots)
He pretty much nailed 'em. I would love to add something about Michigan Replay and the 3rd down key jingling...but I'm not that clever.
Oh god...I could go for days. Here's a brief synopsis: Always winning BCS title games, amazing record against the SEC, stylish silver helmets with gray pants, band uniforms that don't in any way resemble salvation army uniforms, well-mannered and respectful fan-base, great player discipline, clean recruiting reputation, pretty stadium, super-tough non-conference schedules, humble and talented marching band.
Those are just off the top of my head. I mean, seriously, what is tOSU not good at?