Big Ten makeup mailblog

Couldn't get to this Friday, but I didn't forget the mail.

The regular mailblog will appear Tuesday, so send in those questions.

Jake from Missouri writes: Since you were just in Happy Valley, I was wondering if you got any hints or ideas on who would be starting at the DE positions for PSU this year due to the injury bug decimating the depth at that position.

Adam Rittenberg: Jake, defensive end is a big mystery at Penn State because of the injury situation. Sophomore DaQuan Jones is getting a ton of reps because of Pete Massaro's season-ending ACL tear and the lingering injuries to both Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore. Jones can really help his cause with a strong spring. Other than Jones, Penn State is looking at several young players at the end spots. As long as Crawford and Latimore get healthy, they'll have a good chance to start with Jones in the mix. It's far from an ideal situation depth-wise, but Penn State should be much stronger at DT with Devon Still, Jordan Hill and Brandon Ware.

Tom from Atlantic City, N.J., writes: Adam, if the Big Ten adds a 9th conference game, do you think it will be a protected rivalry game or just another in the rotation? If it is "protected"... which opponent would be each school's 2nd rival from the opposite division? I'm thinking: Wisconsin-Iowa, Ohio State-Nebraska, Michigan-Penn State, Michigan State-Purdue, Indiana-Illinois, Minnesota-Northwestern.... thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Tom, if the Big Ten adds a ninth conference game, it will be to maintain the intimacy of the league and prevent the four-year gaps we're seeing in the 2011-14 scheduling cycle. You could do a second protected crossover and then rotate the other four cross division opponents every two years (two opponents on, two opponents off). It's something that will be discussed at the Big Ten spring meetings next month in Chicago. If we saw a second protected crossover, your proposed lineup certainly could be the answer. The Big Ten will want to maximize marquee games like Nebraska-Ohio State and Michigan-Penn State, while Wisconsin-Iowa maintains another rivalry.

Tony from Hawkeye Nation writes: Hey Adam, you mentioned in your previous blog post here, that Iowa-Nebraska was going to be a Friday-after-Thanksgiving game. Has this changed in the scheduling for 2011-2014? If so, I think that would be a tremendous mistake. I have already requested work off to go to Lincoln. Plus, this is a valid excuse to not shop with my girlfriend and her mom on Black Friday, so huge win-win for me.

Adam Rittenberg: Ha, it's all about you, right, Tony? Iowa-Nebraska will be played on Fridays the next two seasons (2011 and 2012) -- so you're off the hook for shopping -- but the 2013 and 2014 schedules show the teams playing on Saturday. Now this could change, and a lot depends on how the Friday games go the next two seasons. Here's what Iowa athletic director Gary Barta told The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette about the Nebraska game: "We've committed to two years on Friday to see how it goes. My assumption is that it's going to go well. If it does, my guess is that [Nebraska athletics director] Tom Osborne and I will come together and say should we continue to doing it on Friday?" Iowa-Nebraska could become a Black Friday staple in the Big Ten. Stay tuned.

Kevin from Chicago writes: Adam, great blog. What kind of season does Purdue need to have for Danny Hope to keep his job at the end of the year? Do you think there is a chance he may be fired at the end of the season if the Boilers miss a bowl game again?

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Kevin. If Purdue stays healthy, it should be in the mix for a bowl game and that should be the expectation for Hope. Getting to a bowl in the Big Ten these days isn't overly challenging -- six wins usually will do it -- and Purdue really can't afford another winter at home. Will Hope get the axe if Purdue misses a bowl? Tough to say, and it depends on the circumstances. He has been a tricky coach to grade so far. Both he and the Boilers struggled in the first half of 2009 before a pretty nice finish (4-4 in Big Ten play). Injuries pretty much torpedoed the 2010 season. So we'll see.

Arnold from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, writes: Seriously lacking on the Michigan Content of late. New Offense, New Coaches, Offensive Player of the Year, yet no real updates on how Spring Ball is going. I understand the Ohio State Scandal is huge, so is Nebraska entering the Big Ten but can you give me something on Big Block M?

Adam Rittenberg: Patience, Arnold. I'll be in Ann Arbor this week checking in with Brady Hoke and the guys. Michigan has done very little with the media this spring so far, so there hasn't been much information trickling out of Schembechler Hall. In case you missed it, colleague Urban Meyer recently spent some time at Michigan practice and filed this interesting report.

Steve from Flint, Mich., writes: Adam, love the blog. How do you think that Kirk Cousins stacks up against other quarterbacks in the nation next year? Also do you think he will be a top 3 round draft pick?

Adam Rittenberg: I know this: Cousins will ace any interview he does with an NFL team. He's an extremely high-character guy who embraces leadership. He still needs to take steps forward on the field this fall to work his way into that elite group of quarterbacks. Cousins has improved every year in a system that translates well to the NFL level. His next step is greater consistency in big games against elite defenses. He'll have some showcase opportunities this fall as Michigan State plays a very tough schedule.

Chris from Winter Park, Fla., writes: Adam,As a Husker fan I would like to say I love your blog a lot! I would like to know why your post on the draft picks of Mel Kiper's picks didn't include Nebraska, as well as Dave Ubben's didn't either.Just confused on this and since I am not insiders I would like to see his picks, and can't now. Thanks

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Chris. My apologies for not making it clearer in my post. Cornerback Prince Amukamara is only Nebraska player listed by both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay in their mock drafts for the first three rounds. Both experts have Amukamara going at No. 13 overall to Detroit. I'll be sure and list all Huskers in future posts about the draft.