Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The depth of the Big Ten has emerged as conference play nears

                                                    Photo Credit: Geno Green

In a season full of twists and turns, the Big Ten Conference has emerged as a refreshing storyline this season.

Heading into the first full weekend of conference play, the Big Ten can boast about having five teams in the current Associated Press Top 25—  No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 16 Northwestern, No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 22 Michigan.

On top of having five ranked teams, Indiana and Iowa march into Saturday's action with 4-0 records, but will be tested out of the gate against Ohio State and Wisconsin, respectively.

In Tuesday's weekly conference call, several coaches reflected on the depth from top to bottom thus far.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on the exposure of fellow Big Ten teams:

"I have seen some of the other teams on television and noticed how well they are doing and getting quite a bit of deserved recognition in terms of polls, etc."

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst on the overall quality of the conference:

"I have always thought the Big Ten is a great football conference and it doesn't surprise me when you have five teams ranked in the Top 25."

On the importance of rankings going into conference play:

"The rankings will mean more now than in the beginning of the year and mean the most at the end of the year. That's why our players come here because they want to play in the Big Ten and know that each week is a big week."

Nebraska coach Mike Riley on competing in conference play:

"It looks like everybody in the league is competing, getting better and I think you will see a competitive year in our conference. There's been a lot of teams that have done well early and showing signs of improvement from a year ago."

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio on any team capable of winning in the Big Ten:

"Everybody's got players and what you have seen in this conference is anybody can win at any given time. You need to play well and respect that aspect of every football game."

On the depth of the conference in terms of branding: 

"It is good for the Big Ten brand across the nation and it only makes the brand stronger."

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