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B1G mailbag: Michigan QBs, Purdue's bowl chances

8/12/2015

It's been a while -- far too long -- since we dipped into the old mailbag around here. But with training camps in full gear, the time has come once again to answer your questions.

As a reminder, you can submit questions to me at any time via Twitter; if I don't get to them in the mailbag, I still may answer them with a tweet. Now, let's get to it.

Brian Bennett: This is ostensibly an open competition, and we may not hear much more about this for a while as the Wolverines are in their "submarine." (Are khakis appropriate attire for deep-sea submergence? They don't seem all that waterproof). But I'd be shocked if Jake Rudock is not the starter for the Utah game. Michigan wanted Rudock for his experience, which includes two years as a starter in the Big Ten, and his ability to manage the game without making mistakes. I simply haven't seen enough out of Shane Morris to believe he'll be the guy. Whether Rudock keeps the job for the entire year is another matter, but he's going to be the guy to start the year unless we're all missing something here.

Brian Bennett: It's a fair question. I think it's because A) Michigan has nowhere to go but up after a dreadful 5-7 season a year ago, and Jim Harbaugh is a proven winner; B) Wisconsin has shown that it can keep winning at a high level despite coaching changes, and its system won't deviate much under Paul Chryst and C) Nebraska is undergoing by far the most radical transition, in terms of personality and scheme, and it had established itself as a consistent nine-win team under Bo Pelini. I don't know if the Huskers actually do go backward -- they're still the biggest mystery in the league -- but the chances of them slipping against a schedule that includes BYU, Miami, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota seems higher than either the Wolverines or Badgers falling below expectations.

Brian Bennett: I think I'm higher on the Boilermakers than anyone else in our blog crew. I like the veteran offensive line. I like the young linebackers. I think Danny Anthrop is the real deal at wide receiver, and D.J. Knox is going to be one of the league's surprise players at running back. I sensed a level of confidence from Darrell Hazell at Big Ten media days that wasn't quite there the past couple of years. All that said, it's still a steep climb from three wins to six, especially with a nonconference schedule that includes an opener at Marshall and home dates versus Virginia Tech and MAC power Bowling Green. (Seriously, why schedule like this when you're Purdue?). So I think that limits the Boilers' potential for a bowl game. But I believe they will be improved and could definitely get to four or five wins.

Brian Bennett: If you follow Thomas on Twitter, you'd know his response to that question would be, "#shhh." But I'm not afraid to say I do forecast the Buckeyes' junior for a 1,000-yard season in 2015. He had 799 receiving yards in his first year as a full-time starter last year, and while that did come over the course of 15 games, Ohio State is a fairly safe bet to play at least 14 times this year. He's their best option right now at wideout, and I would rank him among the top five receivers in the league this season. Look for big things.

Brian Bennett: 80 percent. There's a better-than-decent chance that Nebraska is in the title mix, especially since the Huskers host Wisconsin in early October. But I would almost guarantee that the final week will have division championship implications for either Minnesota or Wisconsin, and quite likely both. That's how it played out last year, and I think history will repeat. Of the many flawed teams in the West, the Gophers and Badgers have the fewest question marks.

Brian Bennett: Indiana doesn't really want to make a change -- and there's certainly no guarantee it could hire a better coach than Kevin Wilson -- but this is Year 5 of this regime. The Hoosiers at least have to show they're making some progress this year. If they finish, say, 5-7 but play well at times and are competitive in the Big Ten, that might be enough to cement a sixth year. But then 2016 would have to be bowl or bust. It doesn't matter where you are -- and Indiana is definitely one of the hardest jobs in the Power 5 -- you have to get to a bowl game in your first six years to continue employment. But I'm going out on a limb and saying the Hoosiers get to 6-6 this year to end that chatter.