Big Ten mailblog

August, 4, 2009
8/04/09
10:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Lots of great questions right now. Keep 'em coming.

Ed from Davenport, Iowa, writes: Since nobody else can answer this---Why is IOWA playing at Spartan Stadium two years in a row? By this reasoning, PSU should visit IOWA again this year.

Adam Rittenberg: It's one of the wacky things about the unbalanced Big Ten schedule. Every team has two conference byes each season, and when those byes reset every two years, you sometimes get a situation like this when games are repeated. This season marks the start of a new cycle with byes, so you get repeat matchups like Iowa at Michigan State, Northwestern at Iowa, Indiana at Penn State and Minnesota at Ohio State.


Greg from Cicero, Ind., writes: I believe your ranking of Purdue's defensive line is far off. They will be much stronger than you believe. Kerrigan and Neal are going to have great seasons. I do agree with your linebacker assessment. Purdue needs Werner to stay healthy and Carlino and Holland really have to step it up. Surely, you are going to give Purdue's secondary a better ranking. They should be pretty solid this year.

Adam Rittenberg: Purdue's line could be pretty solid this year, but aside from Ryan Kerrigan and Mike Neal, there are a bunch of unproven players. I really like the 1-2 punch with Kerrigan and Neal, but if guys like Kawann Short and Gerald Gooden don't grow up quickly, opponents will continue to run against Purdue and challenge the front seven. I agree with you that the linebackers are a concern and Jason Werner's health looms large with that group. And yes, I gave the secondary a more favorable review. Purdue's defense, like the rest of the team, is a bit of a mystery and certainly could surprise some people.


Derek from Chicago writes: Hey Adam! In honor of your movie quotes and my IU related question, here's one from "Breaking Away": "I was sure I was going to get that scholarship. My dad of course was sure I wasn't. When I didn't, he was real understanding, you know. He loves to do that. He loves to be understanding when I fail."Anyway, on to the question. According to various sites, thru yesterday Indiana has 17 commitments for the 2010 recruiting class already. What are your thoughts on the increasing trend of recruits deciding early? I personally feel that this may be leveling the playing field. As the big schools are fighting over the highest ranked recruits, schools like IU can evaluate talent and offer guys early who they have a better shot at and feel are Big Ten level recruits. It seems like in the past the type of recruits IU is getting early for this 2010 class would be offered by more BCS level schools after the big fish commit elsewhere. What do you think?

Adam Rittenberg: Well done, Derek! I love "Breaking Away." Actually just watched it a few weeks ago. As for the Hoosiers, their early success is definitely one of the top storylines in Big Ten recruiting. Assistants like Mike Yeager and Billy Lynch have done a great job identifying and offering regional players like Jibreel Black and Logan Young. After a lousy season where Indiana lost a few verbal commitments, it's encouraging to see such a quick start to recruiting. It will pay off if the team improves its mark on the field. I'm a little concerned that Indiana is settling for some prospects rather than waiting a little longer to add better players, but the class overall looks strong and bodes well for Bill Lynch's staff, which is on the hot seat entering the fall.


R.J. from Allentown, Pa., writes: Have you heard anything about incoming freshman Darrell Givens for Penn State? I have seen rumors that he is not going to be on the team.

Adam Rittenberg: Yes, this story broke during the weekend when I was out of town. Givens won't be joining Penn State this fall after failing to meet the school's academic requirements. He re-opened his recruitment and will be playing for Rutgers. Penn State certainly could have used Givens to bolster a very shaky secondary that loses all four starters and could be without veteran corner A.J. Wallace (academics).


Steve from St. Paul, Minn., writes: I saw on today's web site that the 2009 predictions were wrapped up with Northwestern, but I don't recall seeing Minnesota's, and when I went back to previous dates I couldn't find it. Can you send it to me, or perhaps post all the team predictions somewhere, so we can see them all at once?Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg: The Minnesota predictions were posted on July 30. Here you go. All 11 sets of predictions can be found here.


Mike from Ankeny, Iowa, writes: Adam! I've convinced myself that both Iowa and Ohio State will both be undefeated going into their matchup this season. In your opinion, is this the game that decides the Big 10 championship?

Adam Rittenberg: It could be, Mike, but several things need to happen first. The way I see it, three or four games will shape the Big Ten title race, and the first one clearly comes in Happy Valley on Sept. 26, as Iowa visits Penn State. If the Hawkeyes survive, they'll be right in the mix for the league title. Iowa still must clear hurdles at Wisconsin and Michigan State before visiting Columbus, so a lot depends on how the Hawkeyes perform away from home. Ohio State's biggest test also comes in Happy Valley on Nov. 7. My sense is the league title race won't come down to the Iowa-Ohio State game, but it's possible.

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