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Friday, November 5, 2010
Big Ten Friday mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

As always, you can contact me here, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter.

Kevin from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam, as a lifelong Buckeye I've always liked your take on the Big Ten - you've never led me astray. Until now. In this week's Rooting Interest, you said the Buckeyes should root for Indiana to upset Iowa. Can't do it. I trust Ohio State to take care of business in November, which would mean beating Iowa and knocking them out of the race. But it has to be an impressive victory (our "signature" win so far is at Illinois). Beating an Iowa team that loses to Indiana and ends up 8-4 instead of 9-3 isn't as strong a statement.

Adam Rittenberg: That's a good point, Kevin, and you're showing confidence in your team. But from a purely objective perspective like mine, Ohio State should want the other league title contenders to lose so it can win the Big Ten outright and reach the Rose Bowl. If the Buckeyes indeed win out, they should want Iowa to keep winning to improve their place in the BCS standings, which could break a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Michigan State. Note that for Ohio State's rooting interest to earn a BCS at-large berth, I write that the Buckeyes should root for an Iowa win Saturday, which would make a win on Nov. 20 all the more impressive.


A.J. from Bergenfield, N.J., writes: I love what Matt McGloin did vs UMich, every team needs players like him. But let's keep in mind that he faced the worse Big 10 D I've ever seen, while Bolden faced the 2nd, 8th, 12th & 19th ranked scoring D's in the country. I believe Bolden (and Silas Redd, who needs more carries now!) is the future and present of PSU football.

Adam Rittenberg: Good points here, A.J. Rob Bolden and Silas Redd certainly look like the future for Penn State. I just felt that McGloin provided a confidence boost for the offense last game that could carry over into another emotion-charged game as JoePa goes for No. 400. I certainly won't throw a fit if Bolden starts, which appears to be the case, but I'd keep riding the hot hand with McGloin until he struggles, and then put Bolden in the game.


Lyndon from Mission Viejo, Calif., writes: Northwestern prides itself on pulling out close games and even cites a 28-8 record in the last 36 games decided by 7 points or less. However, having watched their last 3 games (4th-quarter losses to Purdue & Michigan State, and a much closer outcome than it should have been w/Indiana), I'm thinking the "Cardiac Cats" are a product of their own doing. I love Fitz, but it feels like their offense tightens up when in the lead. It seems like they strive to drain the clock to win by 4 rather than closing out the game to win by 14. Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Totally agree, Lyndon. Northwestern has never shown killer instinct for as long as I've covered the team. The Wildcats have been a couple of plays away from some much more lopsided wins, but they're not to be trusted with big leads. It's no mystery why they were on the losing end of the biggest comeback in NCAA history. Northwestern has to stay aggressive on both sides of the ball when in front, but this has been a struggle. There's an art to playing with the lead, and while Fitzgerald has done a lot of good things for NU, he has yet to master this.


Jon from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: Adam, In reading your blog, there's been a lot of talk since Saturday about Big Ten tie-breakers, which may come down to BCS standings. In looking at the BCS after this weekend, as a Buckeyes fan in MI, there's a head-scratcher that I can't figure out: OSU beats Minn 52-10, LSU has a bye, and yet LSU jumps OSU from the 12 spot to the 10 spot with OSU staying put at 11. Can you help me understand this?

Adam Rittenberg: The BCS computers simply don't like the Buckeyes, who have an average ranking of No. 16. A win against a one-win Minnesota team, regardless of the score or the location, doesn't help your computer profile. LSU, meanwhile, has an average computer rank of No. 6, which is helped by the strength of the SEC, a win against No. 20 Mississippi State and its lone loss to No. 2 Auburn. So it comes down to the computers, because Ohio State is well ahead of LSU in both the Coaches' and Harris polls. If LSU falls to Alabama on Saturday, the Buckeyes will move up for sure.


Joseph from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Adam,Why is it that Denard Robinson has fallen off in the heisman voting so much. He has more yards rushing than LeMichael James (widely considered as #2 in the race now) as a QB! He is #23 in passer rating AND the nation's leading rusher. I understand that often as a team goes, so goes their heisman contender, but is it really fair to penalize Denard for the high school caliber defense he has been placed with?

Adam Rittenberg: Michigan's slide certainly has hurt Robinson, who turned into another amazing performance last week at Penn State. Robinson's passing numbers aren't nearly what they were in the first five games, but his rushing totals continue to be incredible. Like it or not, perception largely shapes these awards races, and the perception about Michigan right now isn't favorable, which in turn hurts Robinson. His numbers are great, but he ultimately needs the wins to go along with them to catch Cam Newton, LaMichael James and Kellen Moore, each of whom plays for an undefeated team.


Alexander from Los Angeles writes: Adam - Love the blog, especially love that it focused on michigan state for the last few weeks here. Anyways, you responded to Matt from Champaign (my roomate from east lansing), that MSU was not in firm control of the Wisconsin game from the start and that he must not have watched the game. Anyone can read the box score and say that wisconsin was up 10-3 in the second quarter- how about that MSU smashed wisconsin all game in total yards, 3rd AND 4th down conversions, and time of possesion? A true fan of football and someone who actually watched the game would know that msu showed no signs of losing that game at any point. No hard feelings, keep up the good work!

Adam Rittenberg: None taken, Alexander. But I'm someone who actually watched the game as I was in the press box at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State absolutely deserved to win as it made the key plays in clutch situations. I just refuse to call it a total domination when Wisconsin trailed by only three points midway through the fourth quarter. No sign of losing? What about when Michigan State led 27-24 and faced third-and-11 from its own 28? People were a little nervous at that point. Yes, Michigan State finished with a sizable edge in total yards (444-292) and possession time (36:24-23:36) but had only four more first downs (19-15). It came down to playmaking, and the Spartans made more when they had to.