- Josh Moyer, Penn State/Big Ten reporter
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Big Ten football kicks off in 26 hours. Let's get you ready with a mailbag:
@ESPNJoshMoyer upset alert week 1 in the big ten?
— Matt Finnigan (@Finnarious) August 26, 2014
Josh Moyer: Hmmm ... it's a bit tricky this week since only three of 14 games don't feature huge double-digit favorites (Rutgers-Washington State, UCF-Penn State, Wisconsin-LSU). Out of those three, though, I like Wisconsin the most as an upset pick. LSU has a new quarterback and running back and its run defense shows a few cracks. The Tigers ranked 94th in the nation last season in stopping ball carriers behind the line and were No. 35 in run defense. And you know what happens when Melvin Gordon finds room on the outside (hint: touchdown). Wisconsin has fared well against better run defenses, so they should be able to keep the ball moving Saturday. We'll see if that's enough.
— Michael Blount (@MichaelBlount1) August 27, 2014
Josh Moyer: After a sub-par freshman campaign, it sure looks as if Derrick Green is on pace to be Michigan's feature back. Brady Hoke named him the starter, although he added that De'Veon Smith will be "1A." But if you look at how Doug Nussmeier and Brady Hoke have approached running backs since 2010, the top guy has always received at least twice as many carries as the backup. (One exception: Alabama's Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon split carries in 2012 but combined for 66.5 percent of team carries.) Green had 27 percent body fat last year and naturally looked sluggish; he's at 9 percent right now. He'll be better. As for Jabrill Peppers, count me among the believers. Devin Gardner said recently that Peppers and Devin Funchess are the best athletes on the team. That's big praise. So sure, Peppers has generated a lot of hype -- but I think he'll live up to it.
@ESPNJoshMoyer why so down on the Gophers? 5-7 (2-6) seems low. Not saying they are winning 9+, but no bowl? Really?
— Darren Michael (@HaloKitty343) August 27, 2014
Josh Moyer: In our season predictions this morning, I was the only Big Ten reporter to pick Minnesota to win fewer than six games. Everyone else said six or seven. I'll admit I waffled slightly between choosing five and six wins, but the Minnesota passing game -- or lack thereof -- really concerns me. The Gophers ranked No. 105 in the nation last season in total offense and, without a playmaker like Ra'Shede Hageman on defense, I'm not yet sold on the defense being as good as last year. In some ways, last season's 8-5 record was a best-case scenario -- especially with surprising wins against Penn State and Nebraska, and close wins against Norhtwestern and Indiana. When I look at this season's schedule, I see seven losses: at TCU, at Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa, Ohio State, at Nebraska, and at Wisconsin. Northwestern was the toss-up for me but, as it stands, I see the Wildcats winning a close one.
@ESPNJoshMoyer How big of a concern is the Penn State O-line?
— Sean Banks (@seanbanks3) August 27, 2014
Josh Moyer: It's the biggest question mark on the team, and I think it's going to be the determining factor in whether Penn State finds success. I picked the Nittany Lions to win seven games and, honestly, I think that's even slightly optimistic with this line. (Two players who were defensive tackles in February are now starting inside as offensive guards, and absent is basically any quality depth.) This offense has for which to be excited: Christian Hackenberg, two terrific running backs, my pick for B1G tight end of the year and a plethora of talented young wideouts. The only thing that's missing is a solid O-line -- and all the talent in the world doesn't mean anything if Hackenberg and Co. can't find time. If last season's O-line returned, I might even pick Penn State to win 10 games. The potential is there, but the offensive line is going to act as the cap.
Oppressive heat returns to the Midwest. Must be almost time for the start of football practice. Josh Ferguson’s role in the Illinois offense must continue to grow.
College football preseason awards watch lists are, at best, little more than a summertime curiosity these days and, at worst, an easy punchline.For one, there are far too many awards -- only country music likes to give itself as many trophies as this sport.
Saw Jack White perform "Seven Nation Army" live this weekend. Felt like I was back in a Big Ten football stadium. Soon enough. A pair of freshman wide receivers left Wisconsin, which needs all the help it can get at that position.
Pre-fireworks links: Additional filings are due today in the Northwestern labor dispute. Braxton Miller is not yet 100 percent, but Urban Meyer says he's close.
It's the dog days of summer, so we're desperate to see some football. Of course, not all football games are created equally.As we've done in the past around here, we're ranking the 2014 Big Ten nonconference games from worst to first.
Lots to digest here. As the Big Ten welcomes its two members, celebrations take place on campus at Maryland and Rutgers. Rutgers has come a long way to reach this point.
Happy Maryland and Rutgers Day. What Rutgers can expect in its new home. Ten reasons for the Scarlet Knights to be excited. Who will be Maryland's rival in the Big Ten?
Today marks the birthdays of Mike Tyson and Lizzy Caplan, the anniversary of the merging of East And West Germany's economies and, of course, Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.
So, the USA outlasts Spain, Italy and England? Losing never felt so good. Former Indiana QB Tre Roberson addresses his transfer and believes both he and Nate Sudfeld can benefit from it.
USMNT, let's do this. Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman discusses the network's East Coast cable distribution agreements. BTN will have an on-campus presence for the Penn State-Rutgers game in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Tackling the second of three mailblogs this week. Have questions? Send them here or tweet me here.What's on your mind?@mikemagnus via Twitter: Would there be as much pushback adding Maryland and Rutgers if they were added at the same time as Nebraska rather than separately?
It's OK, these links don't bite. More on the Big Ten presidents' list of athlete welfare reforms here and here. A good piece from the Chicago Tribune on how Big Ten schools could afford to pay their athletes.
The World Cup's been great, but I'd still take football over fútbol any day. Maryland associate athletic director Ryan Bowles is helping to oversee Maryland's transition to the Big Ten -- and making changes and tweaks to athletics in preparation of the July 1 move.
Back from vacation. Nice to link up again. A good look at the real reasons behind the Big Ten's latest expansion. League commissioner Jim Delany might have hurt the NCAA in the O'Bannon case.