Big Ten Friday mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

You have questions, I have answers.

Jeremy from Toledo, Ohio, writes: Can you explain why MSU would win the tiebreaker if they finish the season tied w PSU,OSU by having only 1 in-conference loss?

Adam Rittenberg: If more than two teams are tied and they all have the same record (1-1) against one another, the next Big Ten BCS tiebreaker listed is games played against FCS opponents. Since Michigan State only has faced FBS teams, it would win the tiebreaker over both Penn State and Ohio State, which opened the season against FCS opponents (Coastal Carolina and Youngstown State).

Stephen from Newburgh, Ind., writes: What is the QB situation at Indiana? Certainly Kellen Lewis is a great athlete who has put up some great numbers in now his 3rd season at IU. However it seems that the team responds better to Ben Chappell and at 3-6, it's time to look at next year. Both have played a lot this year with Kellen's ankle injury. Should these last 3 games be an audition for the starting role in 2009 because I'm not convinced that this 2 QB platoon thing is giving the Hoosiers the best chance at success.

Adam Rittenberg: It hasn't been an ideal situation this season at Indiana, partly because Lewis has been injured and less effective without James Hardy at wide receiver. But Lewis still has a year of eligibility left, so don't count him out for next season. Chappell did a really nice job in the Northwestern game, but he's had some struggles as well. I like your idea of a quarterback audition these last three games. Head coach Bill Lynch likes both quarterbacks, but I agree that settling on one guy might be the best course of action.

Garrett from State College, Pa., writes: Hey Adam, great job on the blog! I understand that normally the SEC schedules are "stronger" than the Big Ten. But why isn't anyone talking about Alabama's schedule. They have one legitimate win against a ranked team (Georgia). They beat Clemson, but Clemson is obviously not the team everyone thought they would be. They played Arkansas State, Tulane, and Western Kentucky out of conference. And they have one more ranked opponent (LSU). Sounds like an eerily similar schedule to a certain Penn State schedule which includes a ranked Michigan State...(except we beat an Oregon State team that beat USC)...The media bias is kinda ridiculous..

Adam Rittenberg: Scheduling is always a tricky issue because games are usually set so far in advance. In Alabama's case, the Clemson win looked great because the Tigers were supposed to win the ACC. Didn't turn out that way. Penn State doesn't get nearly enough credit for crushing Oregon State in Week 2, but both Penn State's and Alabama's nonconference schedules are comparable. Where Alabama gets the edge is the conference slate. But if Penn State notches a sizable win against No. 18 Michigan State in the regular-season finale, the Lions should be in excellent shape for the BCS title game.

Ike from Atlanta writes: as a UM grad, i'm wondering what on earth leads you to think we'll score 17 points this weekend with Nick Sheridan as our QB?

Adam Rittenberg: Where's the faith, Ike? Just kidding. Tough year for you. Michigan looked pretty decent on offense last week, and though Sheridan has really struggled, he could hit a big play or two with Martavious Odoms or Darryl Stonum. Minnesota's defense is tough, but there were some big rushing lanes last week against Northwestern and Brandon Minor should capitalize. Maybe it will be closer to 10-13 points, but Michigan won't get shut out.

Mike from New Orleans writes: As a diehard Penn State fan it pains me to say this but even if Penn State wins the next three games by 50 points each, we still won't jump an undefeated Alabama or Texas Tech. Though it stinks there's really no argument to be made. The real issue arises if a one-loss team jumps an undefeated Penn State in the final BCS standings. If this happens it creates a terrible precedent where we'll be able to look at every team's schedule at the beginning of the season and determine who will and will not have a shot at going to the title game before a single game is played. For those that want to keep the BCS around they better hope that Penn State doesn't get jumped by a one-loss team because if they do we'll be on our way to a college football playoff.

Adam Rittenberg: It's nice to see a level-headed e-mail like this one every once in a while. Mike is right. Penn State won't jump Alabama or Texas Tech, but the likelihood of both those teams running the table seems slim. I agree about a one-loss team jumping Penn State. As impressive as Florida has looked lately, the Gators still have a bad loss on their résumé (Mississippi at home). If Penn State wins out and gets left out with how impressive it has looked for most of the season, it really sets a poor precedent for the BCS. The Lions have taken care of business on both sides of the ball, and it should be enough.

Jon from Philadelphia writes: Adam, Thanks for the blog, it helps disrupt the monotony of studying. I had heard that Galen Hall and/or Jay Paterno went down to Texas before the 2005 season to learn the spread offense that they used with Vince Young in order to adapt it for Michael Robinson. I was reminded of this watching Texas on Saturday night, seeing the similarity in some of their plays. If we see a Texas Penn State match up in a bowl do you think knowing one an others offense will come into play?

Adam Rittenberg: Glad I can contribute to your education, Jon. A Texas-Penn State matchup seems a long way off, but the offensive connection is interesting. Penn State's current spread differs a bit from the system it ran with Michael Robinson, and Texas' offense also has evolved with Colt McCoy at quarterback. So the two systems aren't carbon copies. But the coaches' familiarity with one another could come into play if the teams square off.

Chad from Chicago writes: Adam, One correction to your chat....if Penn State goes undefeated (meaning MSU gets a third loss) and Ohio State loses a game, there could still be a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl. The culprit? Northwestern -- assuming they're the one team that beats OSU, then runs the table on Michigan and Illinois to finish 10-2. Purple in Pasadena? Perhaps....

Adam Rittenberg: You're right, Chad, but that scenario is pretty unlikely. Northwestern will have its hands full with Ohio State, and all the injuries for the Wildcats make things very tough. And even if Northwestern or Ohio State wins out, there are no guarantees that the Rose Bowl takes a Big Ten team. I don't know how jazzed the Rose Bowl would be with an Ohio State-USC rematch. This could be the year they break from tradition.