- 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.
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.
If we hit that bull's-eye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate. A basic Big Ten question appears on "Jeopardy," but stumps all the contestants.
Tyrion will be OK ... right? Right?! Former LSU quarterback Hayden Rettig is transferring to Rutgers because he wants "to be somewhere I'm needed, not just wanted.
With incoming freshmen set to report to their respective B1G teams later this month, we thought now would be a perfect time to take a closer look at the 2014 class.
The spring meeting of Big Ten athletic directors is over. Back to the offseason lists and polls. Wrapping up from Rosemont, the “cost of attendance” discussion remains alive.
Fourteen Big Ten programs combined to produce four first-round NFL draft picks. Louisville, Northern Illinois and Buffalo together had five. Eleven of 32 came from the SEC.
Good things come to those who wait ... BTN's Sean Merriman ranks the Big Ten's top 50 draft prospects. James Franklin told Penn State fans that area opponents "don't have a chance" during a stop in Baltimore.
Read up and enjoy the weekend. It's May, and you know what that means. Time to forecast the football season. Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News breaks it down, game by game, for Michigan State.
Gonna have some fun/show you how it's done/TGIF. The result of Northwestern players' vote on whether to unionize will remain private until the National Labor Relations Board rules whether the players can actually unionize.
Spring games on the horizon at Michigan State, Rutgers and Iowa. Read all about it: Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon and Michigan State’s Mark Hollis weigh in against the unionization of college athletes in advance of the Northwestern vote.
Mario + Easter = Awesome. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio wants to see next week's spring game attendance reach at least 50,000, more than double last season's crowd.
Winter is coming ... but not soon enough. Jerry Kill's assistants are getting new deals, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the contracts are expected to be finalized next week.
Nice hook, Marty. Jim Delany said the Big Ten is not looking to add Friday games, but one of its priorities is scheduling more Saturday night games in November.
National Signing Day is just five days away, so this is now in my head. Don't judge me. Illinois OL Corey Lewis knew something wasn't right with his left knee and, as it turns out, he might have played the entire season without an ACL.