Now, not every Big Ten team looks like a WAC wannabe. Wisconsin's offense is still built around the ground game, and probably always will be. Yes, the Badgers had Russell Wilson last year, but that was an oddity. The year before, when Wisconsin was scoring in bunches, it was thanks to a behemoth offensive line that bulldozed such big holes the Badgers almost couldn't help but score.
But the league is no longer running different own versions of the same offense, either. Look at Ohio State. The school that produced Eddie George and Archie Griffin has opened things up under Urban Meyer, and is scoring 30 or more points in all but two games this year with its spread offense.
Nebraska runs a lot of option out of the shotgun. Illinois' aim is to run the spread. Michigan State and Iowa are more traditional.
And then there's Michigan, which changes from week to week depending on the kind of game Denard Robinson is having.
That variety, rather than the offenses themselves, are what has the most impact, Dantonio said.
“It's not that one particular philosophy is good, bad or indifferent. It's that every week in college football, offenses change dramatically,” he said. “You only have three, four days max to prepare for that offense, and what you're seeing is people not executing on the defensive side of ball as well due to the complexities and changes. … It's tough for a young player to (adapt).”
In the end, though, good football will always trump glitzy schemes. Just look at last year's Big Ten title game, which featured Wisconsin and Michigan State, two of the conference's most traditional offenses.
“If you can control the football and play good defense, play great on special teams, good things are going to happen for you,” Dantonio said. “There are all different ways of getting to the top. It's just a matter of, philosophically, what direction you're going to take. In the end, it's about how you execute and your ability to adapt.”