Big Ten Friday mailblog

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Adam from Athens, Ohio, writes: Adam, Would you say that the strength of the Big Ten is not represented in the BCS standings? Currently it looks as if Auburn, LSU, and even Alabama are given more respect because they are in the SEC, and not only that teams have been jumping in front of Wisconsin and Ohio State all year even though both of these teams only have one loss. Is the Big Ten considered a weaker conference therefore yielding less points and lower rankings?

Adam Rittenberg: It comes down to the computers, which really don't like the Big Ten's top teams, especially Wisconsin and Ohio State. I'm not sure why a win against a team like Iowa, Northwestern or Penn State isn't valued as much as, say, victories against Florida or Georgia. It's as if beating mid-level SEC teams has some far superior value to beating mid-level Big Ten teams. The human voters don't consider the Big Ten nearly as inferior. The BCS computers don't make much sense to me.

David from New Haven, Ind., writes: after the meltdown against wisconsin no sane person can argue lynch deserves to keep his job. his big 10 record and overall record at iu says it all. any ideas who they might get as their next coach? I think they need to aim high and spend whatever it takes to get a name coach. despite what anybody says about a name coach not wanting the job it's all about the money and if it's not then why do all the top coaches get their contracts redone every season or 2?untill 1 of the those guys says iu offered me 5-10 million and I turned it down, then I refuse to belive it is not about the money!besides that if they took the job and won 7-8 games a year they would not have to worry about angry alumni calling for their head.

Adam Rittenberg: David, while 83-20 is totally unacceptable, especially the way Indiana crumbled in the second half, I'd urge you to see what happens in the final two games. Maybe Indiana shocks everyone and upsets Penn State this week. Then, it would only take a win against a banged-up Purdue team to reach a bowl game for the second time in four years. Wishful thinking? Most likely. But Indiana isn't in the best position to go out and spend a lot of money on a football coach. Remember, the Kelvin Sampson mess wasn't that long ago. I do agree that if Indiana can't win a single Big Ten game, a change is necessary. Brady Hoke from San Diego State is a name I've been hearing for several potential vacancies. He has turned around programs at both Ball State and SDSU and has ties to the state of Indiana and the Big Ten. Indiana fans probably want the school to aim higher and it might work, but a lot of those big-name targets will have better options.

Bryan from Tipp City, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam, I see some people predicting OSU meeting Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. Is this still a likelihood? If OSU wins out won't they be a shoe-in for a BCS game, and wouldn't that be the Fiesta opposite of Nebraska/Oklahoma State winner?

Adam Rittenberg: Bryan, if Ohio State wins out, I'd be stunned if the Buckeyes don't end up in a BCS bowl. Ohio State will have a higher BCS rank than Michigan State and boasts a larger fan base and a bigger name. While Ohio State-Alabama would be fascinating because of the names and Ohio State's struggles against the SEC, the only way I see it happening is if the Buckeyes drop one of their final two games.

Eric from Hanover Township, Pa., writes: Adam, Do you believe Joe Paterno has given up on Rob Bolden for the year? I really dont believe he did anything to lose the starting job. Mcgloin does play with more energy and enthusiasm than Bolden, but i think its just a lack of experience. Mcgloin lives not far from my town and I am tired of reading and watching the local television news about how Matt Mcgloin has saved the 2010 Lions from disaster and such.... I believe Rob Bolden is the future and Joe Pa should be getting him as much experience as possible. Any thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: This is a tough call, Eric. It's certainly not the first time JoePa has gone with an older quarterback. McGloin does bring a swagger to the offense, but Bolden was playing well against Minnesota before the concussion and didn't really get a chance to re-establish himself. The thing to remember here is that barring an incredible surge by McGloin, the starting quarterback job will be open when spring practice kicks off. I would use the rest of this season to evaluate both players. The Indiana game could provide the perfect opportunity to get both McGloin and Bolden some reps -- and most likely, some confidence.

Jim Delany from Chicago writes: Your blog battle with David Ubben, and Ted Miller reqarding the #2 conferrence got me thinking. Why don't we settle the comparissions on the field? I should call up the SEC and create a BigTen/SEC throwdown similiar to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in basketball. Line up the conference and have them play there equal. #1vs#1, #2vs#2, etc. Do you think I could pull something like that off?

Adam Rittenberg: Jim, you can do just about anything you want. It's good to be the king. But you won't do this because it will hinder your teams' ability to get to bowl games. You've even said it yourself about the importance of regular bowl trips for teams like Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana. This would make it harder for those teams to get six wins or more. As much as we would love to see some type of conference challenge in football, I don't think you'll pull the trigger. Now prove me wrong!

Josh from St. Louis writes: You talk about Ricky Stanzi not being as clutch this year as he was last year. As a team, I agree, Iowa has not pulled out nearly as many fourth quarter victories, but I don't necessarily think this falls on Stanzi. He lead touchdown drives in the 4th quarter against both Arizona and Wisconsin. In the Arizona game, he played well, but on the final drive he got no pass protection 4 plays in a row, and was never able to perform. The defense in all of the Iowa losses has given up 4th quarter touchdowns with little to no time left. In the Northwestern game, Iowa dropped at least 3 passes on the final drive (despite converting twice on 4th down), despite Stanzi throwing accurate balls. Last seasons Hawks were so clutch because of Stanzi, yes, but this seasons Hawks aren't lacking clutch solely because of his play, are they?

Adam Rittenberg: Josh, the problem is Stanzi set such a high bar for his fourth-quarter production in 2009 and even in the latter part of 2008. He was simply unstoppable late in games. While Stanzi certainly hasn't been bad in clutch situations, he has made some errors, and he'd be the first to admit it. You mention the sacks against Arizona and even the ones he took late in the Wisconsin and Northwestern games. Part of that is on the offensive line, but Stanzi also needs to get rid of the ball faster, especially in critical situations. I think after throwing all of those interceptions in 2009, Stanzi has been a bit tentative at times to let it fly. It's a team game for sure, but fourth-quarter play largely rests on the quarterback's shoulders.

Matt from Mt. Pleasant, Mich., writes: After Michigan State win over Minnesota everyone was saying the bye week for State couldn't have come at a better time. Do you think having the bye week so late in the season for State will hurt them with a BCS bowl game, with having less of a chance the prove themselves? Last week Michigan State dropped in the standings without playing.

Adam Rittenberg: I think not having Ohio State on the schedule is a bigger problem for Michigan State than having the bye week so late. Not playing the Buckeyes hurts the Spartans' strength of schedule, and I can't see Michigan State moving past Ohio State or Wisconsin in the BCS standings even if all three teams win out. How Michigan State comes out of the bye week will be telling, especially quarterback Kirk Cousins. After throwing only four interceptions in the first eight games, Cousins has been picked off four times in the past two contests. It's important for No. 8 to rebound against Purdue before the critical trip to State College.