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Big Ten Friday mailbag

You’ve got questions. We’ve got stuff written below your questions. It’s mailbag time.

Doc from Scottsdale, Ariz., writes: The B1G has six 1-loss teams right now. If only one team could run the table and make it to the CFP, which team doing so is best for the league? Not the most likely, but best result for a conference looking to earn national respect...



Dan Murphy: Interesting question. If the most likely teams (Michigan State or Ohio State) win out the nation sees that there is at least one big boy in the conference. On the other hand, if one of the four teams beats the Spartans or Buckeyes en route to a one-loss season, would it demonstrate more depth for the league or just make the rest of the country believe there is no national powers in the Big Ten?



My guess is popular opinion would be the latter. The best-case scenario for the Big Ten isn't about who gets to the playoff (if anyone does), but how do they play once they get there. If a one-loss Iowa team gets blown out by the SEC champ in a semifinal game that won't bode well. If Michigan State wins a national title, it will definitely increase the conference's street cred.



Stephen J from New York writes: Big wildcat fan here and was wondering what your thoughts are on Justin Jackson for B1G freshman of the year? Or is J.T. Barrett the runaway favorite here? Also Mike Dudek should garner some votes for being one of the few bright spots on the illini.



Dan Murphy: The trio of standout freshmen at Northwestern -- Jackson, Solomon Vault and Godwin Igwebuike -- have been a lot of fun to watch the past few weeks. I don't think any of them stack up to what Barrett is doing for the Buckeyes right now, though. He's the star on a successful team that doesn't have any other really marquee names in skill positions. Right now, he's a candidate for national rookie of the year award, or at least All-Big Ten consideration let alone the freshman of the year award for the conference.

Dan Murphy: The buzz around Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah dropped off a little bit after the loss to Michigan State. He can get back on the level of Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman attention by putting up big numbers at Northwestern. Coleman has some tough sledding ahead of him against the Spartans defense and Gordon is off this week.



But who has the most to gain? Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby. If the Boilermakers upset Minnesota Saturday he'll be cast as the difference-maker for a team that has steadily improved during its second season with Darrell Hazell.

Dan Murphy: My first experience with Nebraska fans was in 2000 when they turned Notre Dame Stadium red for an overtime victory against the Irish. It was overwhelming. The crowd during my few trips to Ryan Field has been, at its best, average. It's hard to think of a fan base that travels better than Nebraska's. Maybe Kentucky basketball fans? I would expect the Cornhuskers to feel pretty comfortable in Evanston this weekend.

Dan Murphy: This has been a topic of debate on the blog for the past couple of weeks now. My stance is that it's not impossible, but it's a long shot. Minnesota's offense isn't built to come from behind, so a few early mistakes in any game could cost them in a tight race for first place. The biggest obstacle for the Gophers is a brutal November schedule: Iowa, Ohio State, at Nebraska, at Wisconsin. If they get through that stretch intact, Jerry Kill is your national coach of the year.



Kev In Las Vegas writes: Ok, so it's been a while since a realignment question or autonomy has been asked in the mailbag. So here goes, the talk out here in the Mountain West is about the impact that autonomy will have on non-Power 5 conferences. There is noise that some schools will elect to move down to 1-AA and some appeal to join a power conference. What are your thoughts about the B1G and the surrounding conferences such as the MAC? Could we see a break-up of these conferences for some schools to join the conferences aligned with the championship?



Dan Murphy: If I were running college football, here's how it would look by 2015: Each Power 5 conference would be paired with a "B league" (Big Ten and the MAC, ACC and the American, Big 12-Conference USA, SEC-Sun Belt and Pac-12-Mountain West). The champion from each of the smaller conferences would move up at the end of the season and the last-place team from each Power 5 league would move down, like relegation in European soccer leagues.



How much fun would that be? All of the sudden Illinois games in late November are incredibly relevant. The MAC Championship would be a must-see event. The playoff system, even when we move it to eight teams -- five conference champs and three at-large bids -- under Commissioner Murphy, won't be accommodating to the smaller leagues. Relegation rewards a smaller school like Marshall with a chance to prove itself against better competition the following year while making sure a one-season run wasn't a fluke.


We'll also have a strict policy that any fan over the age of 18 years old caught purchasing memorabilia signed by a college student will receive a one-year ban from watching or attending any college sporting events so they can re-evaluate their priorities.