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Thursday, July 23, 2009
Big Ten mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

I'll be off most of Friday, so your regularly scheduled mailblog comes to you a little bit early. 

Andy from Cullom, Ill., writes: I really doubt there is a "movement" for 9 conference games.It is impossible to do with 11 teams. I repeat IMPOSSIBLE. I have heard Jim Delaney mention this.10 teams will have played 9 games and leave 1 with 8.Lets just take this year's schedule for example. We will add an extra week where teams will play one of the two conference teams they missed.Illinois vs IowaIndiana vs Michigan StMichigan vs MinnesotaOhio St vs NorthwesternPenn St vs PurdueWisconsin BYESo the 10 team who played now have 9 conference games, but Wisconsin still has 8. If Wisconsin then plays one of their two misses (Illinois, Penn St) that would give that team 10 games.You see, the math doesn't work. The schools know this and have discussed this. That is why there is no "movement" from any serious person in the conference.Lets end this myth before it gets started

Adam Rittenberg: It's not a myth, Andy, and serious people are behind it. Michigan athletic director Bill Martin expects to see it happen in the near future, and Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez said it has been discussed. Everyone is aware of the mathematical problem it presents, and one team would have one fewer league game than the rest (and one more non-league contest). It doesn't make a ton of sense to me, but Big Ten ADs are more likely to approve a ninth conference game than to truly get behind a 12th team, which would make things much easier schedule-wise.


Nathan from Plymouth, Mich., writes: Adam, great work on the blog! I bleed green and white and carry season tickets to MSU. We look to have a solid defense and of course the questions go to the offense at quarterback and running back. Both quarterbacks look great, at this point from what you may have seen, who do you think would be the better quarterback for MSU's offense? Regarding the RB position, the spring game had little running. With incoming freshman Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, who do you think will come out as the starting RB? Caper seems to be more of an every down back if I'm not mistaken, although Baker is the more touted back. What are your thoughts on these two positions?

Adam Rittenberg: Quarterback and running back are the two big positions to watch in East Lansing next month. The starting quarterback will largely be determined by what type of offense Don Treadwell and Mark Dantonio intend to run. Keith Nichol certainly seems more suited to a spread system where he can use his legs, while Kirk Cousins operated well in the offense last year and has terrific mechanics for a drop-back passer. Both guys will play, and this could drag on through September. As for the running back spot, I've seen both freshmen being projected as starters. I really like Caper's size, but you're right about Baker getting a bit more hype. I'd really like to hold off on predicting a starter there until I see them perform in camp.


Tom from Vernon, N.J., writes: Adam- is it true Penn State is one of the teams that will be playing in Yankee Stadium?

Adam Rittenberg: There are a lot of rumors going around, Tom, but right now nothing is imminent. A team official tells me it's just rumors for now, but things can always change. It'd be interesting to see if Penn State's game at Rutgers in 2014 could be moved to the Bronx. I'd have a hard time imagining Penn State giving up a home game in front of 107,000 people to play before half that many people at Yankee Stadium. 


Mike from Phoenix writes: Very interesting and funny tweet made by Matt Mayberry referring to Sean Weatherspoon's comments about Juice. Thought I would let you know because it is pretty good.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, sir. Mike is referring to a recent tweet where Mayberry stands up for Juice Williams and the Big Ten, writing, "The big ten is a new conference this upcoming year WATCH! As far as tweet bout my boy juice, he will make pulp out of u! Who yall got?" It's nice to see some Big Ten solidarity after the struggles of the last few years, though trash-talking through Twitter is a little lame. I wouldn't expect Juice to fire back at Weatherspoon until Sept. 5.


Tyler from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Hey Adam, How do you think the Big Ten will do in the non-conference as well as the bowl games this season?

Adam Rittenberg: I'd expect a better performance in some of the premier non-league matchups. Illinois has a good shot against Missouri, and several factors favor Ohio State against USC. Who knows, maybe Minnesota upsets Cal? Iowa should handle Arizona and Michigan and/or Michigan State will beat Notre Dame (mark it down). As for the bowl game, the Big Ten will get only one BCS team and benefit from it, posting a record of .500 or better in more manageable matchups.