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Big Ten Friday mailblog

Hope you enjoy the games this weekend.

Stephen from Raleigh, N.C., writes: It occurred to me today after reading another article about MSU being underdogs to ND (Who has 10 turnovers in 2 games) and picked by most of your colleauges to get upset this weekend in South Bend. In almost every single article written about MSU since last year the 49-7 loss to Bama comes up and to a point rightfully so. But just answer me one question please. Being from MI I read about 2 teams MSU and UofM. Why don't we read about UofM's brutal 52-14 loss to Miss St (who by the way isn't nearly Alabama)? Why is it passed over in the media? Why is it just passed over and not brought up in every article like in MSU's? If both teams are looking to gain elite status why does it not get brought up? Is it the media being obsessed and wanting UofM to be great again? Or is it the general media bias against MSU as the inferior or "fluke" team.

Adam Rittenberg: First of all, Michigan State is closer to elite status than Michigan right now. Few would dispute that point. The Spartans were the Big Ten CO-CHAMPIONS when they laid an egg against Alabama. Michigan was a 7-5 sinking ship that had shown itself to be incredibly mediocre during Big Ten play. So that's why you hear more about Michigan State's bowl loss than Michigan's. The Spartans were trying to "measure up," as coach Mark Dantonio likes to say, and prove that they should have been in a BCS bowl game. Alabama was a great opportunity for MSU, and the Spartans didn't capitalize. Although Michigan shouldn't be off the hook for its lousy performance, it was an average team with a lame-duck coach (Rich Rodriguez) that had been crushed in its final two regular-season games (Wisconsin, Ohio State).


Greg from Norristown, Pa., writes: That's it, Adam, I've had enough!!! I can no longer remain silent on this. Why is Penn State getting bashed so bad by the media?! They just lost to the No. 2/3 team in the country by only 16 points in a game they were supposed to lose anyway. Can you please tell me why this is such a big deal!? TCU gets beat by a then unranked Baylor squad and they're still ranked; Miss St. gets beat by an unranked Auburn team and they're still ranked; Mizzou gets beat by an unranked ASU team and, although not ranked, they're not receiving any criticism from the media; and Texas drops their quarterback for a 2-QB system after their struggles but they're climbing up the rankings. Meanwhile, Penn State is being bashed left and right on espn.com and this blog in particular (No. 8 in your power rankings behind Iowa?), Mark Schlabach has them on his "waiting list" for the Bottom 10, and once again everyone is calling for JoePa's head. The biggest criticism seems to be PSU's offense, which did its best against what people are calling the "best defense in college football" but because they struggled in that game, apparently now PSU has the worst offense in college football. Alabama is going to make a lot of offenses look silly, but I gaurantee no other team will get bashed the way Penn State is currently. Again, I ask, why does everyone have it out for Penn State?!!!

Adam Rittenberg: Greg, the outcry isn't so much that Penn State lost to Alabama, which could go on to win a national title. The main complaints I've heard are about the indecision at quarterback, the confusion on the first offensive series (three timeouts used) and the fact that the gap between the two programs has been so obvious the past two seasons. No one's saying Penn State has the worst offense in college football, but when I asked several players about the unit's identity after Saturday's game, they said they couldn't identify one. A lot of that stems from having to rotate two quarterbacks every game. You need to know who you are on offense, especially to have a chance against a team like Alabama. As for the power rankings, you get punished when you lose and you rise when you win. Penn State can help itself with a strong showing against Temple.


Watson from Marshalltown, Iowa, writes: Hey Adam, I was reading the Big 12 blog and saw that David Ubben said Iowa State is the conference's "most endearing program." What do you think is the most endearing program in the B1G (if there is one)?

Adam Rittenberg: Hmmm. Endearing is defined as "inspiring affection or warm sympathy." Hard to pin this to one Big Ten team. I found Iowa really endearing in 2009. I think people have found Northwestern endearing in recent years, as coach Pat Fitzgerald has a strong approval rating around most of the Big Ten and the Wildcats often get the most from their talent. If Purdue turned things around, the Boilers certainly could be an endearing team after enduring so many major injuries under Danny Hope.


Kurt from Arlington Heights, Ill., writes: I've been talking with some family members in Wisconsin, and I think Wisconsin has a scheduling problem. They're OOC is typically a Division 1aa type opponent, a MAC team, and a lower level BCS quality team. In conference play, they are guaranteed to have 2 games a year at home against: Illinois, Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota. Those teams have almost no tradition with Wisconsin, and they are not currently/historically playing well (Minnesota has tradition but not that good as of late). The non-division games makes up one game which in the future may not hold much attention. The only game on their schedule which holds anyone's attention is the Ohio State/Penn State game.So my Question, Why would anyone buy season tickets to get 6 okay to bad games and 1 good game?PS: If Wisconsin would have been in the West (which their athletic director did not want), they would have a much better conference schedule.

Adam Rittenberg: Kurt, I see your point and would love to see Wisconsin beef up its nonconference schedule more in the coming years. But I don't know if I'd include Minnesota among the games Badgers fans would be lukewarm to attend. While Minnesota has struggled recently and is going through a coaching transition, the Gophers-Badgers rivalry is very real. Wisconsin also should get at least one decent crossover home game, whether it's Nebraska, longtime rival Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State or Northwestern. So you get Ohio State or Penn State each year, Minnesota every other year and typically one good crossover home game. It's not going to be the most attractive home schedule each year, but it's not small potatoes, either.


Mark from Wooster, Ohio, writes: "You're in Paris, got the best food in the world, and you're eating a chalupa." Quite frequently I dont understand the opening comments for many of your blogs. same thing with brian's. makes me feel stupid and or out of it. please consider an explanation with these comments. It almost seems as if they are inside jokes. I always felt "inside jokes" were rude to the ones in the room left out.If Im all wrong please advise.

Adam Rittenberg: Mark, my man, do yourself a favor and watch the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" season finale. When you've stopped laughing, you can thank me. Just a head's up: Bennett and I will quote old-school rap lyrics frequently in the lunch links, so don't be alarmed.


Scott from Glenview, Ill., writes: Hello Adam, love the blog. I am confused about how the division champions in the Big Ten are determined. Is it whatever team has the best divisional record goes to Indy for the championship game? Or if another team within the same division has a better overall Big Ten record but a worse divisional record do they go? Please clarify this for me, thanks. Oh ya I almost forgot, SPARTY ON!!!

Adam Rittenberg: Scott, here's a complete breakdown of the Big Ten division tiebreakers, but in the situation you mention, the team with the best overall Big Ten record would go to the championship game. The division games factor in only if there's a tie with the overall conference records.


Jeff from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam: I think we should be giving Braxton Miller a chance to play more. After Joe Bauserman had countless drives that stalled and we were unable to put up points on, Braxton Miller needs to be given the chance to create a spark in the offense with his athletic ability. Do you agree?

Adam Rittenberg: I do agree, Jeff, and it'll be interesting to see how much Miller plays this week at Miami. Although Bauserman deserves a few series to get comfortable, it's important for Ohio State to evaluate Miller in a road setting before Big Ten play kicks off. In all likelihood, Ohio State will need Miller to make plays on the road at some point this season. Ohio State would love to get by running the ball and letting its quarterbacks manage the game, but you need big plays from time to time, and Miller can provide them.