Big Ten mailblog

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Scott from Lansing, Mich., writes: Seriously Adam, what this week separated Michigan and Michigan State in the power rankings? What?

Adam Rittenberg: Michigan is more dynamic on offense and has a quarterback that pretty much won a game single-handedly (Denard Robinson at Notre Dame). While I love Michigan State's offense as well, especially the run game, Michigan has more firepower right now. I also want to see Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins win a big game in the clutch. I'm a huge Cousins fans, but he needs to make plays under pressure. It could happen Saturday against Wisconsin. Listen, there isn't much separating Michigan and Michigan State, or Michigan/Michigan State and Penn State. But I vowed to eliminate the ties in the power rankings, so you have a little separation.

Bill from Plowville, Pa., writes: Eliades' injury seems like a pretty important event, given the run game the past few weeks. Any reason why he didn't make it to the news roundup?

Adam Rittenberg: I already addressed Lou Eliades' season-ending injury in lunch links, in case you missed it. This is certainly a blow for Penn State, which is still building chemistry along its offensive line and certainly could use Eliades' experience and leadership. The timing also is unfortunate, as Penn State faces arguably the nation's best defensive line Saturday night in Iowa City. Galen Hall and Jay Paterno need to get creative in finding ways to protect freshman quarterback Rob Bolden from the Hawkeyes' D-linemen. Penn State also must the ball effectively to keep the pressure off of Bolden in a tough road environment. Not a good situation.

Scott from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: Love the blog but Best BigTen stadium: Ohio Stadium? And then you mention Camp Randall basicly as a number 2 choice. What about THE BIG HOUSE...are you kidding me? Your explanation was of the environment...but that was already a topic of "Game Day Atmosphere". I bet you all 113,090 fans on September 4th would be appalled by this choice!

Adam Rittenberg: Trust me, Scott, doing this blog for two plus years, I'm used to having tens of thousands of people mad at me. It was unquestionably a great atmosphere in the Bigger House on Sept. 4, but Michigan Stadium has a ways to go before matching Ohio Stadium in terms of the intimidation factor. In building my program, I want the most intimidating home venue possible. Right now, it's The Shoe, followed by Beaver Stadium and Camp Randall Stadium. Michigan is getting there, and the introduction of night football in 2011 will help the process.

Tim from Austin writes: Northwestern: Still not ranked?? Are you kidding me?

Adam Rittenberg: The Wildcats don't deserve to be ranked just yet. If they take of business against struggling Minnesota and Purdue the next two weeks, they'll be ranked when they host Michigan State on Oct. 23. I was a bit surprised to see Northwestern receive only four votes in this week's AP Poll (the coaches give the Wildcats a little more love). Northwestern could have helped itself with a more convincing win against Central Michigan, a team it led 30-13 in the fourth quarter before allowing two late touchdowns. Then again, the Wildcats will take any win they can get, especially one that preserves a spotless nonconference record for just the second time since 1963.

Kelly from Manassas, Va., writes: I think you took it too far when you said Iowa enters Saturday's game with most of the advantages. Penn State holds many key advantages. Penn State enters the game with the better defense and for the first time in several years, an edge on special teams, which cost them last year's game against a lesser Iowa squad. Penn State also has a big advantage in team speed which they haven't used the last two years against lesser Iowa teams due to field conditions and the weather is looking ideal for Saturday. They also have a big edge in terms of talent, especially at the offensive skill positions and in the secondary. If Penn State wins on Saturday, it will not be an upset.

Adam Rittenberg: Here you go again, Kelly. Penn State doesn't have the better defense at this point. Iowa has a more dynamic defensive line and better safeties, led by Tyler Sash. I give Penn State the edge at cornerback and maybe linebacker, although I need to see more from both groups. Penn State certainly has a better situation at kicker entering the game, as Collin Wagner has been excellent. But Iowa has the better punter (Ryan Donahue). The return teams are about even. As for the "big advantage in team speed," I don't agree. Both teams have speed, and I'd like to see a lot more of Devon Smith with the ball. Penn State doesn't have a big advantage. While I really like Penn State's receiving corps, Iowa has Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt, plus a better tight end in Allen Reisner, who already has 14 receptions. Can Penn State win at Kinnick? Absolutely. But Kelly, you're just wrong on this one, and most of your fellow Penn State fans would agree that a win Saturday constitutes an upset.

Mark from Minneapolis writes: Adam--Who lasts longer? The Twins in the playoffs or Tim Brewster at Minnesota?

Adam Rittenberg: Wow, Mark, that's harsh. Despite my White Sox ties, I'd like to see the Twins finally make a good run into the playoffs. The Twins have owned the Sox, but their playoff performance has been pretty pathetic. As for Brewster, there's still a lot of time to get this thing turned around, but he has to beat Northwestern on Saturday or archrival Wisconsin next week in Madison. If not, I just can't see this Gophers team turning things around. I'm not a proponent of in-season coaching changes, and Minnesota's situation with the president and AD seems a bit up in the air. I don't think we'll see any decisions until November.