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Big Ten Friday mailblog

As always, send me your questions and comments. And follow me on Twitter. And enjoy the games this weekend.

That is all.

Stephanie from Lewis Center, Ohio, writes: Does it seem like that Ohio State's offense, at least the past few years, resembles a potpourri or a variety plate? Something like they try to execute too many things and can't execute just one good? Why is that and how come there isn't an identity with what seems to be a perennial power (does this go back to a true OC debate)?

Adam Rittenberg: Excellent point, Stephanie. The identity question has been there with Ohio State for most of Terrelle Pryor's term as the starting quarterback. It was a little easier to figure out the identity when Ohio State had a traditional drop-back passer and a featured running back. Not a knock against Pryor, but they've definitely tried a lot of things. Is Ohio State a spread offense? A pistol offense? A traditional under-center offense? Probably a bit of everything, and you saw it in the Wisconsin game. The Buckeyes clearly were most effective in the pistol formation, but they didn't go to it enough early in the game. On the other hand, I thought Tressel's play calling was superb in the third quarter. But you contrast Ohio State with Wisconsin, a team fully aware of its offensive identity, and it doesn't make the Buckeyes look good.


Dave from Milwaukee writes: Hey Adam, I was looking over your predictions for this week and saw your impressive record (49-8 (.860))Is your prediction record a factor of how far along we are in season? Just like our Big Ten teams, does your record benefit from the non-conference schedule? The chalk?I am impressed with the near perfect record from last week so I won't push too hard. Just like the conference slate, that is where a record really means something.

Adam Rittenberg: I'd love to say I've predicted all the big games correctly, but I won't lie. My record is definitely a product of the nonconference slate, which featured quite a few cushy, lopsided matchups. I hit on some of the tough games like Michigan beating Notre Dame and Michigan State beating Michigan in Ann Arbor, but I've yet to have a perfect week in Big Ten play. Also, unlike many folks who predict, the ESPN.com bloggers don't go by the point spread, which makes it a lot easier for us.


Vicente from Dearborn Heights, Mich., writes: Hey Adam, love the blog! Thank you for making the work week much more manageable. I'm a Michigan State grad and alum from the depths of the Bobby Williams era and the one "good" John L. year. With all of MSU's new found national attention, one moniker keeps rearing its ugly head in the anticipation of Spartan failure: S.O.S. Same Ol' Spartans.With everything the Spartans have been through this season, as long as it doesn't end with a five game collapse, would you say this team has finally gotten out of the shadow of failure because of Mark Dantonio? He has done so much more for this program than most people give him credit for. It sometimes sounds as though that even winning a national title wouldn't be enough to remove the S.O.S because the second they slip, the images Bobby saying "I don't know" or John L. slapping himself rise up. What is it going to take for the Spartans to rid themselves of this negative connotation? Can they ever escape the dark days of their common mid-season free fall?

Adam Rittenberg: Vicente, it's going to take consistent success, strong finishes to seasons and establishing Michigan State as a top-tier Big Ten program. Michigan State isn't the only Big Ten program to deal with a label like this. Indiana will be called a basketball school until the football program starts making bowl games. Minnesota will be the butt of jokes by Iowa fans and Wisconsin fans until the Gophers start winning rivalry trophies. Northwestern is still called a Big Ten doormat even though most of the evidence since 1995 suggests otherwise. Mark Dantonio certainly has the MSU program on the right path, and a BCS bowl appearance this year would go a long way toward eliminating the S.O.S. tag. But it probably won't evaporate entirely until Michigan State strings together five or six good seasons in a row.


Jonathan from Washington, D.C., writes: Hi Adam,Former IU Hoosier alum here. Just curious about what Indiana Football will do at the end of the season if Lynch can't get the team into a bowl game. Is it possible for Fred Glass to pursue someone like Mike Leach or take a chance on a big time name like Bill Cowher? The team today is impressive through the air but when does a historically mediocre to awful team make the jump to try and bring in a world class coach? Thanks for your time.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Jonathan. Glass will have an interesting decision to make, but he really wants Bill Lynch to succeed and be Indiana's coach for the long term. Glass understands that Indiana's lack of coaching continuity has really contributed to the team's struggles since the Bill Mallory era. He'll be more patient with Lynch than a lot of IU fans might be. Bill Cowher isn't coming to Bloomington, and it would take a hard sell to get Mike Leach there. The good thing about Lynch is he's extremely loyal to Indiana and gives the program an excellent public representative. But it ultimately comes down to wins and losses, and Lynch must prove he can win in the Big Ten. The next two weeks will be very, very telling for the IU program.


Greg from New Brighton, Minn., writes: What do you think about Don Treadwell as the next coach for Minnesota?

Adam Rittenberg: Treadwell certainly is helping his case to be a head coach, but Minnesota has all but said it will hire someone with previous head-coaching experience. You always hire opposites, and Minnesota can't afford to bring in someone that hasn't sat in the hot seat after firing Tim Brewster. It's unfortunate in a way because there are some good coordinator candidates out there, but I'd be extremely surprised, after hearing AD Joel Maturi on Sunday, if Minnesota doesn't hire a current or former head coach who has some name recognition. I'd still expect Treadwell to garner some interest elsewhere.


Dan from Duluth, Minn., writes: Adam, I noticed on your Stock Down report that when you talked about UM's 3rd down Defense you called out Greg Robinson the UM D coordinator. You seem to be guilty of the same thing many UM fans are claiming these days, RichRod gets all the credit for a good offense, but Greg Robinson gets all the blame for a poor defense. Isn't RichRod the head coach for the ENTIRE team (poor kicking game as well)?

Adam Rittenberg: Coaches are judged on wins and losses, and Rich Rodriguez is no exception. But he has given control of the defense to Robinson and the other assistants, while his focus remains where it always is -- on the offense, which has improved this season. You bring up the kicking game, and that's a fairer area to criticize Rodriguez. Head coaches typically have a large role in the special teams, and Michigan has really struggled in that area this fall. But Robinson is a veteran defensive coach brought in to boost a struggling unit, and it hasn't happened yet.


Mike from Las Vegas writes: Making my first trip to Evanston on Sat to watch my Spartans play NU. What shouldn't I miss seeing on campus and where is the best place to go after the game to watch LSU/Auburn and Iowa/Bucky?Thanks

Adam Rittenberg: Mike, I'll open this up to everyone in the comments section, but I have spent a bit of time in Evanston. If the weather is nice, check out the lakefill on the east edge of Northwestern's campus. It's a great area to walk around, and you can get views of downtown Chicago on a clear day. There aren't many must-see campus landmarks, although if you're a "Major League" fan, stop by Deering Library and you might recognize it from one of the scenes. You can also check out what's painted on the rock this week. For postgame, there are quite a few more bars in Evanston than when I was there, and there's a new Buffalo Wild Wings that has all your TV needs. But my pick would be Tommy Nevin's Pub. There will be a ton of MSU fans there, so I'm sure they can point you in the right direction. Enjoy your trip.