Big Ten Wednesday mailbag
@ESPNJoshMoyer Wisconsin seems like a complete mess right now, do these PR blunders (Gordon/Stave) scream lack of control for GA?— #thedad (@lukemill) September 3, 2014
Josh Moyer: Lack of control? No. Lack of communication? Of planning? Of credibility? Yes, yes and yes. The thing to remember here is Gary Andersen was trying to protect his players - but he just did a miserable job at it. It's been a bad daytime soap opera the past few days: First, Melvin Gordon was not injured and then he was. Then, Joel Stave was injured and then he wasn't. The perception here isn't good, but it's perception. I don't buy that the controversy itself is going to impact the Badgers; I'm more concerned of the truth sandwiched between the controversy. And by that I mean, "When will Stave be OK?" It looks as if his problems are mental, so no wonder there's no timetable for his return. If Wisconsin is a mess on the field, it's not because Andersen lied to the media -- it's because the quarterback situation is a mess.
Josh Moyer: Brady Hoke would've liked to see more of a payoff than four stops in the backfield, but a more aggressive defense has really been the plan all along. Big-time players like DEs Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer are going to be on the field more this season -- as opposed to last year's constant rotation -- and we should continue to see a more aggressive secondary that presses a lot more often than 2013. Players are still getting accustomed to their new roles, but this has to be the year Michigan finds success. Nine starters return on defense so, if Greg Mattison is going to improve upon last year's rankings in scoring defense (No. 66), sacks (No. 66) and total defense (No. 41), it has to come now. In the short term, the Wolverines better tighten up the middle of their defensive line; Appalachian State had too much success there.
Timmy from Quimby, Iowa, writes: Michigan State is a 13-point underdog as of Tuesday morning. I understand that it's based on bets that are put on the game, but don't you think that's kind of big for a matchup of two top-10 teams?
Josh Moyer: Yes and no -- let me explain. Personally, I'm surprised the Ducks are favored by that much. But this also isn't the first time there's been a heavy favorite in a top-10 matchup. There is some precedent. In 2012, No. 2 Alabama played No. 8 Michigan and the Tide were favored by 11, for example. (Alabama won by 27.) Just last year, in Week 10, No. 3 Florida State was favored by 21 points over No. 7 Miami. (FSU also won by 27.) So, it does happen. Connor Cook and Jeremy Langford aren't as explosive as Oregon, obviously, but they can score. So 13 points does seem high to me -- but it's not like this is the first time a result like this has been predicted, either.
Josh Moyer: Slow your roll there, Eric. Akeel Lynch will almost certainly be the guy next year, but I think it's pretty premature to declare him the best back right now. He's a speedy player and a nice change of pace, but there's more to running back than just carrying the ball. Remember Curtis Dukes? Now, I'm not comparing Lynch to Dukes - but Lynch isn't as refined in other areas of his game as Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak are. Plus, with this offensive line, you can't pin the low rushing totals on either of those two. Lynch likely wouldn't have fared any better. I'm really high on Belton and think he might be one of the true sleeper running backs in the Big Ten, but it's difficult to find success when there are no holes. So, Lynch isn't the answer to the running game improving; the offensive line is.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET Illinois Northwestern 12:00 PM ET Purdue Indiana 12:00 PM ET Michigan 6 Ohio State 3:30 PM ET 10 Michigan State Penn State 3:30 PM ET 18 Minnesota 14 Wisconsin 3:30 PM ET Rutgers Maryland