Big Ten mailblog

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Scott from Warren, Ohio: I just cannot believe you put Boise as #2 and TCU as #4 in your power rankings. I understand such non-sense coming from the talking heads on TV trying to drive ratings, but not you who I didn't have pegged as someone who would go with the trendy picks.Do you really feel, this year that Boise and TCU could legitimately beat the Bucks, Gators, Ducks, Huskers, 'canes etc?Don't get me wrong I respect what Boise is doing, I just don't drink the being rewarded for playing glorified high school programs kool-aid.

Adam Rittenberg: Just checking, when did Virginia Tech and Oregon State become glorified high school programs? Boise State and TCU have done this for years, Scott, and you don't respect what they've done, so don't try and make it sound like you do. I'll give Ohio State and any other Big Ten team its fair shake when it posts some big wins, but right now, Boise State and TCU have two more signature wins than the entire Big Ten (not buying UConn yet, folks). It's amazing to me how many folks can't accept the possibility -- not a guarantee, but just the mere possibility -- that Boise State would beat their vaunted power-conference program. The evidence from the last few years is overwhelming, people. Get used to Boise and TCU being high in the polls because they deserve it.

Tom from Cleveland: Hi Adam - Love the blog. It get's me through my day at work. In particular, I like the Heisman updates on Tuesdays. But, reading this week's update, I had a thought - would it be possible to add a brief category titled "Players on the Heisman Horizon" or something like that. Under this section, you could just list a few players who are making a push (stats-wise, at least) to get into the race. You wouldn't need to detail their stats, but just having the list would give us casual fans more info. on which players to keep an eye on in the coming week(s). Thanks for listening

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for writing, Tom. This is a good suggestion, and one that I thought about using for this week, before holding off. I'll definitely include a Heisman Horizon when there's a stronger body of work than one game. People are putting Michigan's Denard Robinson on the Heisman radar after one great game. That's way too soon for my liking. Another big performance against Notre Dame could put Robinson in the Heisman Horizon category, but probably not until he wins some Big Ten games. For now, I'm sticking with the guys who entered the season with some legit credentials.

Heather from Mechanicsburg, Pa., writes: I bleed blue and white, but I do have to face reality on occasion; after Saturday's game against Alabama, does Penn State fall out of the rankings? If so, will wins against Kent State and Temple really be enough to climb back up into the rankings again? What will it take for Penn State to stay in the top 25 this season?

Adam Rittenberg: Heather, the voters are funny when it comes to losses, so it's tough to predict what would happen. Virginia Tech dropped three spots in the AP poll after a narrow loss to No. 3 Boise State. Oregon State and Pitt paid much heavier prices for their Week 1 losses. Penn State needs to keep things competitive in Tuscaloosa and not lose by 15 points or more. Everyone will be watching, so the Lions need to show they can move the ball against a good team with Rob Bolden and Evan Royster. A blowout loss might drop Penn State out of the rankings, but it's still against the nation's No. 1 team on the road with a freshman QB (Bolden). Even if the Lions fall out, I'd expect them back in by the start of Big Ten play. Enough teams between Nos. 20-25 will lose.

Jeff from Ithaca, N.Y., writes: Adam which game this week are you more excited about tOSU vs Miami, PSU vs Alabama, or Michigan vs Notre Dame?

Adam Rittenberg: Why can't every week by like this one, Jeff? What a great three-pack of games there. I'm really stoked for Ohio State-Miami, given the connection to the 2003 game and all the elite athletes on the field. The Penn State-Alabama game brings so much history with Joe Paterno and Bear Bryant, and a new twist as Bolden makes his first career road start. And I think the best game of the three could take place in South Bend between Michigan and Notre Dame, two historic programs now both running the spread offense. Imagine that!

Kyle from Champaign, Ill., writes: "Indiana and Illinois have been pretty awful for the last 10 years"For Indiana, this is pretty much true, but I have to (mildly) protest regarding Illinois. This is the same ten years that they've won a Big Ten title and been to two BCS Bowls (which equals Penn State, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, and is more than Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Minnesota combined). Please show a bit of perspective: Illinois has been just *mostly* awful in recent history.

Adam Rittenberg: Kyle, thanks for writing the best e-mail of the week by far. You definitely made me laugh, which is always a plus. And you're right, I probably was too harsh on the Illini, who have been to two BCS bowl games since 2001. Any fan who has enough humility to accept the "mostly awful" label being placed on his/her team is OK in my book. I'll gladly adjust my perspective here.

Tom from Los Angeles writes: Adam .....I think the NU coaching staff put the team in harms way by being way to conservative with the game plan. Just like last year at the start of the season the desire to establish the running game is an ill fated strategy. They should have thrown the ball 35 times not 21. The 5 yard pass, bubble screens, and even airing it out would have changed the whole feel. Our run in November last year came about because the took the leash off of Kafka. The poor 3rd down conversion was because they tried to run instead of controlling the game with the short pass. Additionally, our total offensive play count was way off our average from last year. And that means the D is on the field too much. Why argue with success ?

Adam Rittenberg: It's interesting, Tom, because Northwestern offensive coordinator Mick McCall considers short passes as the equivalent to run plays. And yet the Wildcats really tried to prove a point and run the ball against Vanderbilt even though quarterback Dan Persa was on target with pretty much all of his throws. You certainly need to run the ball in that offense, as the 2000 and 2005 seasons showed us, but if it's not working and the quarterback is on fire, why not air it out more? Pat Fitzgerald and his staff need to figure out soon whether or not they have any Big Ten-caliber running backs on the team. Right now, Persa looks like the best ball carrier by far. But I'd expect more of the same Saturday against Illinois State as Northwestern looks for an answer.