<
>

Big Ten Friday mailblog

You know how to reach me. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter.

Nick from Chicago writes: Hey adam, I'm looking at the conference race this year and the likelihood of a tie at the top and am wondering who would be in the driver seats of reaching the championship game if the divisions came into effect this year. My best guess is that Wisconsin and Iowa would face off. your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Yes, that's correct. Both Wisconsin and Iowa would have losses to teams in the opposite division (Michigan State and Wisconsin), while both Ohio State and Michigan State would have losses to teams within their division. While we don't know for sure what the tiebreakers will be within the divisions, it's a pretty good bet that record within the division will be paramount.


Esteban from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: Adam, as a Michigan State fan obviously I feel Greg Jones was slighted in the Lombardi finalist selection. He's had a very good year, and I think he's not played to his full potential. But I was very surprised that Clayborn was selected and Kerrigan was left out. And then I realized -- it's not that surprising. Is it just me or are the award selections basically just a mock draft and the finalists are whoever will go highest come April? Clayborn is a fantastic player that will likely have a great career in the NFL, but statistically speaking he's just not been better than Jones, Kerrigan or even Watt this year. Please help us understand how they make this decision.

Adam Rittenberg: I wish I could help you understand, Esteban, because I sure don't get it. Adrian Clayborn is an outstanding football player who will do some major damage in the NFL, and he has had a good year. He's just not having a better year than Ryan Kerrigan. People can talk about double teams all they want, which Clayborn faces on a consistent basis, but Kerrigan is facing those same things on a far inferior defense to Clayborn's at Iowa. And he's still putting up insane numbers. Again, not a knock against Clayborn, who deserves whatever he gets awards-wise, but it was a joke not to have Kerrigan on the list. Reminds me a lot of how Brandon Graham was overlooked in 2009 because he played for a mediocre team. Unfortunately, when you have voters who don't study the league and just remember names, this is what you get.


Michael from Evanston, Ill., writes: Hey Adam I asked a question in the Wednesday chat about when's the last time Illinois had a 4th quarter comeback. Could you let me know when you find out that answer, please?

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for reminding me because this is pretty stunning. Illinois has had a few games where it broke a fourth-quarter tie to win (i.e. Iowa in 2008). But Illinois hasn't rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to win a game since the opening game in 2005, Ron Zook's first game as coach. The Illini erased a 27-10 fourth-quarter deficit against Rutgers and went on to win 33-30 in overtime. It's been a while, to say the least.


Tony from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Hey Adam, I noticed that in your Iowa prediction you said Iowa would score 4 touchdowns (3 from Stanzi, 1 from Robinson) and yet get 27 points. As a Hawkeye fan, I couldn't help but laugh a bit at this since some kick for the Hawkeyes, field goal or PAT, always seems to go askew in games this year. Special teams ...

Adam Rittenberg: I'm surprised how many e-mails I've gotten about this topic, but yes, I see a missed or blocked PAT. Weather could be a factor Saturday, and the kickers might be in for a long day. We'll see. Iowa will take a win, regardless of the score, in this series.


Aaron from Madison, Wis., writes: You wrote in your rooting interest piece that Wisconsin's Rose Bowl rooting interest would be for Both Iowa and OSU to win this Saturday. I don't know why UW fans should root this way. If the sole interest is the Rose Bowl, there are two ways we get there (both assume Wisconsin wins out). Either (1) Michigan State loses and UW is in due to head-to-head with Iowa and OSU or (2) MSU and OSU both win out with Wisconsin staying on top in the polls. The Iowa game this weekend doesn't matter in the least for the first scenario. In the second scenario, shouldn't Wisconsin fans root for Iowa to lose? An Iowa loss this weekend would hurt the Badgers a bit, but wouldn't it be a much bigger blow to OSU who would lose the only truly significant opportunity to catch Wisconsin in the polls?

Adam Rittenberg: Aaron, it's all relative to what you think will happen with Wisconsin and Michigan State. The Badgers' biggest rooting interest by far is to have Michigan State drop one of its last two games. Wisconsin will win the tiebreaker no matter what happens with Ohio State and Iowa. Rooting for Iowa to win out makes sense for Wisconsin, because the Hawkeyes won't pass the Badgers in the BCS standings. The other thing to keep in mind is that Wisconsin's lead over Ohio State in the BCS standings seems to be increasing. There's no way Wisconsin will drop below Ohio State in the human polls if both teams keep winning, and Ohio State winning will help Wisconsin's profile because of the Badgers' head-to-head victory. I feel more confident that Wisconsin will finish ahead of Ohio State in the final BCS standings now than I did a few weeks ago.


Christopher from Gainesville, Fla., writes: Every fanbase has morons that think their favorite team is being slighted no matter what you say. You recently responded to a Hawkeye fan of this caliber on your mailbag. Why do you publish and respond to such stupidity on your mailbag? It really reflects poorly on the fanbase. I can certainly appreciate the fact that responding to your critics validates your objectivity as a journalist, but really? REALLY? And while were at it, why do you refuse to acknowledge Ricky Stanzi's rushing TD's in his player of the year consideration? I understand he has 0 (or worse) rushing yards, but when you put him up against a dynamic game-changer like Denard Robinson every little TD counts. I think at the end of the day Robinson will probably end up deserving the award more (imagine if Michigan had Iowa's defense....) but it would be nice for people to appreciate Stanzi's entire body of work this year.

Adam Rittenberg: Christopher, thanks for making my week with this email. You bring up silly comments from fans -- trust me, there's a lot worse than that guy -- and then you take issue with me leaving out Ricky Stanzi's rushing numbers? My sincere apologies for omitting Stanzi's two rushing touchdowns and two net rushing yards on the season. I'll be sure to include them next week as I continue to push Stanzi as a Heisman contender, pretty much the only national media member to do so. It's getting lonely on this island.