Big Ten mailblog

September, 25, 2009
9/25/09
4:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


While I weave my way through the Pennsylvania back country, you read this.

D.J. from Richfield, Minn., writes: Hi Adam:I was just wondering what your thoughts were on why Eric Decker doesn't get more national pub? Please don't tell me "because he plays for Minnesota", there has to be more to it than that.

Adam Rittenberg: That's part of it D.J., but not everything. Decker has been more of a possession-type guy at Minnesota and doesn't make the 80-yard touchdown catch that often. He's not as flashy as some of the more hyped wideouts (Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, even Arrelious Benn). I've always considered Decker one of the nation's most underrated players. But I'll tell you this: the more games Decker has like last Saturday's against Cal, the more he'll get noticed. Obviously, it would help if Minnesota wins more this season and gets into the Top 25, but people know who Decker is after what he did against Cal.


Eric from Indianapolis writes: How is Iowa's OL suspect? Yes, Bulaga is hurt but Riley Reiff hasn't missed a beat. UA's DE was all Pac 10 last year and had one assist last weekend.Our OL is the least of my concerns Saturday night. My biggest worry is that Stanzi play well the whole game. If he does I see us winning easier than anyone thinks. This Iowa squad has improved each week and we look like a KF team in late October already.Yes, I'm an Iowa fan but I am also pragmatic and really, really like this team.

Adam Rittenberg: Reiff has done a nice job so far, but he hasn't seen a defensive line like Penn State's yet. Arizona boasts a decent defense, but the Wildcats don't really compare to Penn State, which has one of the nation's elite defensive fronts year in and year out because of Larry Johnson. Jack Crawford will test Reiff on the edge. That said, your concerns about Stanzi are justified. He probably can't afford many first-half mistakes on the road and have a chance to rally. Iowa does appear to be hitting its stride earlier than normal, which bodes well for Saturday night.


Dale from San Marcos, Texas, writes: Seriously,dude, what's the deal with Jamaal Berry (Freshman Running Back, Ohio State). Is the kid still at Ohio State because I haven't seen any indication that he is on the team. Is he in Tressel's Doghouse or what, help me out Rittenberg because it doesn't make sense.

Adam Rittenberg: Berry has been slowed by an ankle injury the first three games and won't be ready for at least another week. He definitely is on the team, but he won't be a factor for a little bit longer. It's a good sign for Berry that the Buckeyes are giving Jordan Hall, another freshman, some carries at running back.


Jim from Tolland, Conn., writes: I'm a huge Sooner fan and I completely agree with your OSU/OU comparison. In fact I often wish we would meet OSU in a BCS Bowl, just so OU would finally pick-up a win. I do disagree that OU gets a pass. I routinely get grief for their BCS lapses and the "Big Game Bob" title has been removed, excluding Big12 games, for at least 3 years. I wish I lived where you do and OU still gets love, it doesn't happen in my neck of the woods.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for the level-headed response, Jim. The backlash thing really depends on where you live. Oklahoma fans are going to think they get it worse in their local market; same with Ohio State fans. But as someone who reads a lot of national media coverage, I would say Ohio State takes at least a little more and possibly a lot more criticism than any other team in college football. The one way to tick off reporters is to struggle in the national championship game, much less two years in a row.


Dan from New York, writes: Michigan State over Wisconsin??? Really??? Last time I checked the Badgers took down an underrated Fresno State and they didn't spoil their cupcakes like Michigan State did.Sure, Michigan State looked solid and had a few close loses, but I don't think you should count out Wisconsin (AT Camp Randall) just because Michigan State might "want it more". Do remember Bret Bielema needs to start producing in the Big Ten before angry alumni (like myself) start making phone calls..7-6 last season, thats not Wisconsin.

Adam Rittenberg: If it makes you feel better, it was a very tough call on that pick. I just think Michigan State will be a desperate team on Saturday, and the Spartans have been tested a bit more than the Badgers. Still, I think Wisconsin has turned a corner after emphasizing accountability throughout the offseason, and the Badgers are awfully tough at home. Could really go either way, but Michigan State might be finished if it doesn't win Saturday.


John from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, writes: Please stop blaming Clark QB play last year on a concussion he got two weeks prior. I have had four concussions and never was I still out of it two weeks later (headaches yes). How about start blaming his bad QB play on a great Iowa defense.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for the insight, John, but you don't know how he felt that day. You don't know how much the concussion affected his vision and instincts. Sure, Iowa's defense had plenty to do with Daryll Clark's performance, but he didn't look anything like the quarterback who led a dominant Nittany Lions offense for most of the season. His decision-making was very out of character. There was clearly something wrong with him, no matter the opponent.

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