What's on your mind?
Curt from York, Pa., writes: Adam, don't you think the B1G jumped the gun a little bit by taking Paterno's name of the championship trophy? I mean, no one knows the whole story yet. Delaney is basing his decisions on assumptions and media reports. I think it's total B.S. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg: Curt, I understand the anger from those who wanted Paterno's name to stay on the trophy. While you can argue the move was made too soon, there are several factors in play here. The Big Ten is preparing for its first league title game, a signature event for the league that will generate national attention. Given what has happened at Penn State, it looks bad to be awarding a trophy with Paterno's name on it right now. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has a lot of respect for Paterno, and the decision to remove JoePa's name wasn't an easy one. The Big Ten wants to see how things progress at Penn State with both the internal and external investigations. But the timing and the attention on the title game and the trophy makes it very difficult for the Big Ten to keep the name. You can argue Delany caved to the pressure, but he needs to look out for the Big Ten first and foremost, not just one school or one individual.
Andrew from Ossining, N.Y., writes: No one wants to lead the B1G this year! 4 weeks in a row the highest ranked team in the conference has lost. Do the Hoosiers pull the stunner of the year and make it 5 in East Lansing?
Adam Rittenberg: Andrew, anything is possible in the Big Ten this season and Indiana has been playing better, at least offensively, since Tre Roberson took over at quarterback. But if Michigan State plays at or near its potential, the Spartans will win. They need to control their emotions and avoid the slow start we saw against Minnesota a few weeks ago. Michigan State has been very solid on its home field this season, so I would expect the Spartans to take care of business.
Matt from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: If you had to give the B1G a letter grade on the season what would it be? It seams to be missing a National Title contender but the depth is pretty good if not the best in recent history.
Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Matt. I'd give the Big Ten a B-minus. The overall depth actually is better than it was last year, when you had three 11-win teams at the end of the regular season and no other squad with more than seven victories. While the lack of a nationally elite squad is concerning, the Big Ten could be set up for a much stronger performance in the bowls, depending on the matchups.
Glenn from Kilburn, Ohio, writes: Adam, While wearing my PSU hat at an Ohio Wal Mart, a man wearing a Buckeyes sweatshirt told his young children to back away from me and said, "here comes a child rapist". What do you think the fan reaction will be when the Nits run onto the field at Ohio Stadium? I've been to most BIG stadiums, and it's no exaggeration to say that Big Ten fans consider OSU to have the most rude and arrogant fans in the league. I can only hope and pray that the Buckeye team shows as much class as Nebraska displayed last week. PSU's players are hurting over this terrible incident, but are completely innocent of any wrong doing. I would like to think those attending the game will acknowledge that. Do you think the OSU AD and/or President will ask the fans to show respect?
Adam Rittenberg: Glenn, I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I think Luke Fickell and his Ohio State team will show respect toward Penn State on Saturday, much like Nebraska did this past week. How will the fans at Ohio Stadium react? I'm sure there will be some idiots, as there are at any stadium, but I would hope most folks realize that the Penn State players had NOTHING to do with what happened. They don't deserve any ill will for something adults should have handled better. It will be interesting to see if Gordon Gee or Gene Smith issues any public statement urging fans to act respectfully toward Penn State, which will be playing its first home game since the scandal broke. Might be a good idea for Ohio State to say something.
Jim from Okemos, Mich., writes: Although I think this scenario has at most a 0.0000023% chance of actually happening, do I have the tie breakers right if:(1) Penn State loses out to OSU and Wisconsin (both on the road)(2) OSU beats Penn State but loses at Michigan(3) Wisconsin loses at Illinois and beats Penn State(4) Purdue beat Iowa at home and Indiana on the roadPurdue, Penn State, and Wisconsin would all be 5-3 while Illinois and OSU would be 4-4. In addition, the three teams at the top would all have identical 3-2 division records. So, is the next tie breaker how each of the three teams did against OSU and Illinois (or just OSU since OSU beat Illinois and would have a better division record)?If so, Wisconsin would be 0-2 (0-1 against OSU), Penn State would be 1-1 (0-1 against OSU, and Purdue would be 2-0.If you look at the head-to-head results among the three teams, Wisconsin would be 2-0, Penn State would be 1-1, and Purdue 0-2.Would Purdue really be heading to the title game?
Adam Rittenberg: Jim, you're skipping a step that would prevent Purdue from heading to the title game. Before going to how the tied teams fared against the next best in the division, the tiebreaker is how the tied teams fared against one another. Because Purdue lost to both Penn State and Wisconsin, it would be eliminated and a head-to-head tiebreaker would go into effect, which Wisconsin would win if your scenario plays out.
Connor from Miami writes: Adam,First of all, I love the blog...keeps me sane during the week. My question is how is Russell Wilson and Montee Ball not getting more Heisman love? Also, How can the Badgers still be so low in the computer polls?!?! Who are these people and what planet are they from?!?! Four out of the six don't even have the Badgers in the top 25!!
Adam Rittenberg: Connor, don't get me started on the BCS computers. They're based on questionable metrics, and Wisconsin's nonconference schedule hurt the Badgers significantly with the machines. The Big Ten as a whole isn't a highly rated league, and every Big Ten team in the BCS standings is doing better with the humans than with the computers. As for Wilson and Ball, I think both men should be getting more recognition for the Heisman. Ball has been an absolute machine who has had only one mediocre performance (Ohio State) this year. While Wilson wasn't spectacular in Ohio State's two losses, he didn't make the mistakes Andrew Luck did against Oregon. But people saw those two losses and basically wrote off Wilson and Ball. They can help themselves with some big performances down the stretch.
Bryce from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: So neither of you want to talk about or even acknowledge the blatant flopping by MSU in the win over Iowa? Why is that? Yeah the game was mostly in hand but isn't it curious that it happened when Iowa was driving in the second half? The Giants did that with the rams, and the NFL put the kibosh on that real quick. Any thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: It's a topic worth discussing, although I didn't think we saw a sequel of Cal-Oregon from last year (and I'm a Cal fan). There did seem to several Spartans defenders going down and then returning to the game moments later. Coach Mark Dantonio was asked about it and said the injuries were real, but again, most of the players returned. Asked about the injuries, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, "I don't know. I mean, it was a high number. Seemed like a high number, but I wasn't counting. Don't know if it disrupts us or not. No way to measure that one." I'm sure the Big Ten will examine what happened. Either way, it's notable that we're talking about the possibility of opposing players intentionally trying to slow down Iowa's offense. Who saw that coming before the season?
Ben from St. Louis writes: Why do you always list the Insight Bowl ahead of the Gator Bowl in your bowl projections? It was my understanding that the picking order for Big Ten teams was BCS > Capitol One > Outback > Gator > Insight > etc.
Adam Rittenberg: Ben, I'm glad you asked this because Brian and I actually had listed the wrong order for the first few weeks of projections. The Gator Bowl and Insight Bowl flip-flop the No. 3 and No. 4 Big Ten selections after the BCS bowls make their picks. So the Gator Bowl will pick first in even-numbered years (2010, 2012) and the Insight Bowl will pick first in odd-numbered years (2011, 2013). The order you've seen in the last few weeks of projections is the correct one.