Election Day edition.
Peter from State College, Pa., writes: I was wondering if you could explain why Manti Te'o gets so much love from the media while Michael Mauti is left out to dry. Mauti is better in most statistical categories (except INT's) yet everyone feels Te'o is worthy of the Heisman. I just don't understand it.
Adam Rittenberg: There are several forces in play here that unfortunately work against Mauti. To seriously be considered for the Heisman as a defensive player, you need to be on a team either in the national title hunt or the league title hunt. Otherwise, a player simply won't generate enough attention and hype to resonate with the voters. Charles Woodson was on a Michigan team that won a national title. Ndamukong Suh was on a Nebraska team that was a second away from winning the Big 12. You then might ask, isn't this award supposed to be about the most outstanding player? Well, yes, but the Heisman is totally driven by hype. Te'o is on a team that everyone watches that has an undefeated record and has played several national showcase games and is led by its defense. Mauti is on a team that people haven't paid a ton of attention to after the first two weeks. People know Penn State is doing well, but the attention on the Lions doesn't come close to what Te'o is receiving. Also, Te'o has had signature performances in some of those national showcase games like Michigan and Oklahoma. Mauti was good against Ohio State, but his team lost the game and he didn't have a signature moment that grabs voters' attention. From a national perspective, no one cares what Mauti did against Illinois. I know that sounds harsh, but that's how the Heisman works. I'm a Heisman voter and I obviously pay much more attention to Mauti and think he's having an All-America-type season. But most people need more obviously evidence to seriously consider a defensive player from a 3-loss team that lacks many signature wins. That's just the way it goes.
Art from Boston writes: Thanks for your great work on the blog!Question about B1G bowl lineup and picking order: In your Indiana piece you said that BWW picks ahead of Gator (change from what you had thought). BWW site says they pick 3rd or 4th, but not which one for 2013. Gator has this on their site:Selection Process BIG TEN CONFERENCE: Gator Bowl will have the third selection after the BCS in the January 1, 2013 game. SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE: Gator Bowl will have the fifth selection in the SEC after the BCS selection.Trying to figure out which is correct, although as NU fan (Wildcats) hoping they can win out and get to either Cap 1 or Outback. Please let me know what you find out.
Adam Rittenberg: The Gator Bowl picks ahead of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl this season. The Big Ten confirmed this to me. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is the fourth selection after the BCS pick (Rose), meaning it goes Capital One, Outback, Gator and then BW3. So if the Big Ten title game loser has a winning record, it cannot fall lower than the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, according to league rules. My point with Indiana is that the Hoosiers would fall under NCAA bowl selection policies if they were to lose the Big Ten title game and fall below .500. If that's the case, the Hoosiers would be sweating out the bowl selections.
Rich from Powell, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam. After reviewing Ohio States future schedule, I'm still surprised that Nebraska is off it the next few years. I would think that these two powerhouses would be a marquee game everytime they played. Not to mention, given both programs loyal fanbases, a ratings bonanza. What exactly is the Big Tens reasoning (if there is such a thing) here?
Adam Rittenberg: It's just a simple schedule rotation, Rich. Other than the protected rival, crossover opponents will rotate off of the schedule for two years -- across the board. We didn't have Michigan-Penn State or Michigan-Wisconsin the last two years. We won't have Ohio State-Nebraska the next two years. We didn't have a great rivalry like Wisconsin-Iowa in 2011 or 2012, but it returns in 2013. I get what you're saying about the appeal of the Nebraska-Ohio State game, and the Big Ten certainly will miss it the next two years. But that's the nature of an eight-game league schedule with only one protected crossover per team. Nebraska fans can look forward to facing Penn State every year, but other Leaders Division teams will come and go.
Seth from The United State of Iowa writes: If I understand the tiebreak rules right, Iowa just has to win two games and they play in Indy. I know it seems impossible, but two games? If I have learned anything, especially in collegiate sports, any team can win two games (assuming Northwestern loses another Legends game), so why you guys automatically counting them out? Don't count out the Hawkeyes.
Adam Rittenberg: Seth, not sure where you got your information, but it's lousy. Iowa needs to win out (that's three more wins), hope that both Nebraska and Michigan lose another game, and hope that Northwestern also loses another game. The head-to-head wins against Nebraska and Michigan only will mean something if those teams have three Big Ten losses, not two, as Iowa already has three conference defeats. Iowa would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Northwestern. Moreover, what has Iowa shown to lead you to believe it can beat teams like Michigan and Nebraska, much less Purdue? I'm still trying to figure out how Iowa beat Michigan State in East Lansing? This isn't a good Iowa team that failed to capitalize on a cake schedule. Maybe the Hawkeyes go 2-1 and squeak into a bowl, but I'd be stunned if they go 3-0. Most likely, Iowa stays home for the bowl season.
David from Perryville, Md., writes: Taylor Martinez just won his 4th B1G Offensive Player of the week award. Does this help him with becoming first team all B1G or does it go to Braxton Miller by default by now?
Adam Rittenberg: David, Miller would really have to struggle in the final two games not to be the first-team All-Big Ten quarterback. He hasn't had a truly bad game all season and has carried Ohio State to victory several times. Plus, he outplayed Martinez when Nebraska and Ohio State met on Oct. 6. The more intriguing debate could be Martinez versus Penn State's Matt McGloin for second-team All-Big Ten quarterback. They are the Big Ten's top two passers, and both have 18 touchdown strikes. Martinez has been a much bigger rushing threat, while McGloin has committed fewer turnovers. You can make a strong case for both, and the two signal-callers could be the two most improved players in the entire conference. The neat thing is that they'll both be on the field Saturday at Memorial Stadium. If Martinez outplays McGloin, I think he'll have the inside track for second-team All-Big Ten QB.
Wayne from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., writes: Adam:As a Northwestern fan, I'm conflicted!!! On the one hand, I'm rooting for a strong finish to the season and a push for a top-tier bowl game. The program visibility would be great, but I shudder at the idea of running into a good SEC team in, for instance, the Gator Bowl. I think we'd be hard pushed to win a tough matchup like that! On the other hand, I want us to break the bowl losing streak, and a little part of me wouldn't be unhappy with a tough loss (or two??? What's wrong with me????) and an easier bowl matchup so that we have a better chance to shed that last, lingering program negative.I know. It's crazy talk. What should I do? What's my better rooting interest?
Adam Rittenberg: Wayne, one thing about Northwestern's bowl losing streak is that the Wildcats haven't truly had a favorable bowl matchup. In fact, they've been fairly sizable underdogs most years, in part because of the Big Ten's challenging bowl lineup and the league's streak of multiple BCS entries. I don't think that will change this year. It's unlikely Northwestern will fall below the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and seems likeliest to go to BW3, Gator or (maybe) Outback. The projected opponents for those games almost certainly will be favored against Northwestern. Colleagues Brad Edwards and Mark Schlabach project South Carolina or Mississippi State to Gator and Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to Buffalo Wild Wings. Colleague David Ubben has TCU in the Wings Bowl. If it's an SEC team, I think Mississippi State is probably the most favorable matchup. With the Big 12, it's a little tougher because all those teams can score but few can play decent defense. Oklahoma State and TCU look like slightly weaker opponents, but the reality is Northwestern will have to elevate its game to end the bowl losing streak this season. The good news: few teams will benefit more from bowl practices than Northwestern, which is pretty young on both sides of the ball.
Ghost of Kevin Cosgrove from Parts Unknown writes: I see the espn.com projections have an Oregon State vs. Nebraska Rose Bowl game. If there is an Alabama vs. Oregon National Championship, what do you think of the chances of a Notre Dame vs. Nebraska Rose Bowl? If the Sugar Bowl takes LSU as their replacement team for losing Alabama to the National Title game, wouldn't a Notre Dame/Nebraska match-up be more attractive to the Rose Bowl than Oregon State in the mix?
Adam Rittenberg: Ghost, I definitely agree a Nebraska-Notre Dame matchup would have appeal, but the Rose Bowl has too much invested with its two league partners (Big Ten and Pac-12) to bypass an eligible Pac-12 team like Oregon State. While there would have to be some discussion given to Notre Dame and what the Irish could do for the game's marketability, I really would be stunned if the Rose Bowl didn't select Oregon State. The Rose took Illinois in 2007 rather than a Missouri team that had beaten the Illini in the season opener that year. I realize Missouri isn't Notre Dame, but I really don't think the Rose Bowl would go away from its traditional matchup.