There's a lot of news around the Big Ten as bowl season approaches, and we discussed it all and more during the weekly chat. Did you miss it? If so, I've got you covered with a full transcript.
Eric from Milwaukee: If Wisconsin wins its bowl game and beats LSU in the 2014 opener, could the Badgers be a legit playoff team if they win out in 2014?
Adam Rittenberg: The Capital One Bowl should have no bearing on Wisconsin's playoff hopes next year, Eric. At least it shouldn't. But beating LSU in the opener and running the table would make Wisconsin a virtual guarantee to make the playoff. Undefeated teams from major conferences aren't going to get left out, especially when they challenge themselves in non-league play.
Henry from Rochester, N.Y.: Adam, I was wondering about Max Bullough. I know he's the QB of the defense, and we won't be able to replace his football IQ on the field, but I trust MSU's coaches to be able to find an adequate replacement. Who do you see the coaches tabbing to fill Bullough's MLB spot? My bet is Darien Harris.
Adam Rittenberg: Henry, you're absolutely right about the difficulty in replacing Bullough's intelligence and leadership. No one can really do that. I think Kyler Ellsworth will get the first chance to replace Bullough, as Harris is a little undersized to play MLB. How odd would it be if Riley Bullough, Max's younger brother and the backup MLB this spring, got a bunch of playing time in the bowl because of Max's suspension?
Jay from Minneapolis: Adam, to most people Iowa was a surprise this season. The should have beaten Northern Illinois and they were in every game they lost. Still they don't seem to get respect for the defense that ranks in the top 10. Do you feel they can stack up to the LSU offense? I remember them shutting down a Georgia Tech offense that was supposed to be unstoppable (under Norm Parker).
Adam Rittenberg: Jay, I think Iowa ended up about where it should have. Sure, the Hawkeyes could have beaten NIU, but they easily could have lost to Northwestern or Michigan. The defense is very strong, and with Zach Mettenberger out, Iowa certainly could stop LSU if it contains the run attack. Although LSU's receivers are very good, Mettenberger isn't the one throwing passes. Iowa typically has been a very good bowl team, and if its offense shows up in Tampa, it should be a very competitive game.
Tony from Richmond, Calif.: How pivotal is next season for Brady Hoke's long term future at Michigan? Does another season with losses to rivals Michigan State and Ohio State within the conference, and likely Notre Dame outside, place him firmly on the hot seat?
Adam Rittenberg: It should be pivotal, Tony. Athletic director Dave Brandon loves Hoke, and as long as Brandon is in place, Hoke might be safe. But by Hoke's own standards, Michigan is failing, not even reaching a Big Ten title game in three years. Next year is huge for him and the Wolverines, and it won't be easy in the same division as MSU and OSU.
Jon from Ann Arbor: If the BIG title game were to ever expand to include more locales, what places would you like to see be in the running to host it?
Adam Rittenberg: I think Chicago, despite its outdoor stadium, would be the next logical spot because of its proximity to so many Big Ten schools. Minnesota's new stadium could be an option as its indoor. Maybe Ford Field, too, down the road. But I wouldn't be surprised if the title game moves for a year to New York or DC because of the new additions.
Thanks again for the questions. I'll keep you posted on the date and time for our next chat.