Hanging out in SEC country this weekend, but the Big Ten is always on the brain.
Let's check the inbox ...
Greyson from Lansing, Mich., writes: Hey Adam, I believe those fans who are calling for Brady Hoke's head need to simmer down a little bit. If they look back, Lloyd Carr lost four games in each of his first two seasons, and that was without having to go through a complete overhaul of the offensive system. The Sugar Bowl gave a false sense of accomplishment, but Michigan has an excellent defensive coordinator, and five players on USA Today's All-USA High School Football Team. It is ugly growing pains with the offensive line this year, but with all the youth there, as well as who is coming in, I think if Michigan fans can sit on their hands for another year or two, they will be extremely happy they did.
Adam Rittenberg: Some really good points here, Greyson, especially about the Sugar Bowl inflating the expectations for Hoke. The hard thing to reconcile is the exceptional recruiting and the mediocre results, although many of those players need more time to develop. The other difficult thing for Michigan fans is seeing a team that doesn't reflect the values Hoke preaches about, especially toughness along the line of scrimmage. Michigan should always be able to run the ball, but Hoke's teams have had a hard time doing so the past two seasons, and especially in recent weeks. It will be interesting to see how the season ends, but I don't think a coaching change makes much sense now.
Lance from Greensboro, N.C., writes: Adam, as a B1G fan I'm actually pulling for 'Bama and FSU to win out. Why? Because I think it would be better for the B1G to have Ohio State beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl while Wisconsin and Michigan State beat good SEC teams in Florida than to have the Buckeyes serve as the next sacrificial lamb for the Tide. I know some think FSU can give 'Bama a game -- but they are no better analysts than those who thought ND would last year. I live in ACC country and the ACC is atrocious this year. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg: Lance, if your assumption is Alabama would smash Ohio State, then the scenario you outline is certainly better for the Big Ten. A Rose Bowl win, one of few for the Big Ten in recent years, would help perception, and so would a strong overall bowl record. I think Michigan State and Wisconsin could hold their own against good, but not great, SEC teams in the Capital One and Outback Bowls. And this scenario would prevent Big Ten teams from moving up a spot, creating potential mismatches.
Grant from San Francisco writes: Hi, Adam. I feel like the Taylor Lewan suspension (or lack thereof) got glossed over last week. In 2011, when William Gholston was suspended, it was all we heard about in the days before, during, and after the ruling. What was the difference exactly between the two actions (there was a face mask twist, a punch to the head and extracurriculars in both cases) that led them to not suspend Lewan? And if there is not a true difference, what does this say about the priorities of the B1G brass? When Hoke called Lewan's actions "unacceptable," I at least expected some punitive measures from either Michigan or the B1G. I guess I just must not understand the definition of the word "unacceptable."
Adam Rittenberg: Grant, my apologies for not addressing this earlier. The difference with William Gholston is a punch was thrown and caught on camera. If you recall, the Big Ten referenced the punch and not the face mask twist in its ruling on Gholston. Does that mean the league condones what Taylor Lewan did? You could argue it considers face mask twisting part of the game, while a punch clearly crosses the line. I'm not saying it's right, and I thought a partial-game suspension would have been warranted for Lewan. But his display wasn't as blatant as Gholston's, regardless of the circumstances.
Chris from Madison, Wis., writes: Very hypothetical situation here, but if Ohio State wins out and makes the national championship game, Michigan State loses to OSU in the B1G championship game and Wisconsin wins out, MSU is 11-2, UW is 10-2* and both are in the top 14 of the BCS. Assuming the Rose Bowl wants the 100th Granddaddy of them All to be a B1G/Pac-12 battle, which team do you see getting the at-large spot?
Adam Rittenberg: Chris, it's pretty unlikely both teams would be in the top 14. But if so, I think the Rose Bowl would go with Michigan State. The Spartans haven't been to Pasadena since after the 1987 season, while Wisconsin has been each of the past three years. Michigan State would be a more appealing choice even if it lost its last game.
Derek from Eden Prairie, Minn., writes: Hi, Adam. I have not been overly optimistic about the Gophers bowl chances. I have been a loyal fan all my life and know the realities. So my question is a BIG "what-if." What if the Gophers win the legends and lose to OSU. Are they in contention for an at-large BCS bid? Again. it's just a what if, from a daydreamer in an off week.
Adam Rittenberg: Derek, that's probably a pipe dream, as Minnesota still doesn't appear in the BCS standings. The Gophers would have to rise into the top 14 after beating Wisconsin and Michigan State and then stay there after a loss to Ohio State just to remain eligible for at-large selection. That's not happening this year, but Minnesota still should go somewhere nice for its bowl.
Fatback from Newark, Ohio, writes: Just trying to figure out how Carlos Hyde isn't getting any love for any awards. He has 701 yards with 7.3 yards a carry in only five games. Yes he has played in six games but had just five carries in the game against FAMU. He is on pace to have 1,122 yards and he will become the first Urban Myer back to gain 1,000 yards. Is the reason he is getting no love due to the fact that he missed the first 3 games?
Adam Rittenberg: The suspension definitely hurts Hyde when it comes to national awards consideration. Other backs simply have better numbers, and while anyone who has watched Hyde respects his game, it's hard to give him the edge when others have played in more games. It's more about what the other backs are doing throughout the entire season than what Hyde hasn't done. He'll certainly be in the mix for All-Big Ten honors.
Mike from Ossian, Iowa, writes: All right, Rittenberg, you coward. So what's the scoop? The week that I send you a question about how you can justify ranking Minnesota ahead of Iowa even though Iowa has the head-to-head victory over the Gophers and four losses to teams with a combined three losses, you don't have a mailbag? Huh? No answer? I think I know why. It's because you know I'm right. You know that you can't defend your ranking. You know that Iowa should be first, but you were just looking at records. Shame on you, Rittenberg. Shame on you. Boom. Lawyered.
Adam Rittenberg: Boom, lawyered? What does that even mean? The mailbag has been there every week, pal. The power rankings always have been how a team is playing right now, not how a team was playing in late September. I've made that clear since the power rankings started on this blog. Iowa has dropped three of its last five games; Minnesota is on a four-game win streak with a victory against Nebraska. You can't use head-to-head results as the sole mechanism for determining power rankings. If Iowa wins its final two games, then there will be a debate about which team should be ranked higher. But Minnesota is the hotter team right now.