- Josh Moyer, Penn State/Big Ten reporter
- 0 Shares
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.
We're taking more of your mailbag questions from Twitter these days, and we now have individual Twitter handles in addition to the ESPN Big Ten account.
Welcome to another edition of the Monday mailbag. Adam is on vacation this week, so I'm going to attempt to fill his Friday slot as well as my usual Wednesday 'bag this week.
It's mailbag time once again. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter, and you can ask us mailbag questions there.Rob NitLion from Morristown, N.J., writes: Brian, this whole scheduling FCS teams issue REALLY makes me upset as a fan and a season ticket holder.
Only one mailbag from me this week because of the holiday. Let's make it a good one (instead of the usual, wholly adequate ones): Brian L. via Twitter writes: Do you think MSU would be where they are today, including Mark Dantonio, if Mouse Trap and Little Giants had failed three years ago?
By the time you read this, I'll be somewhere over the Atlantic. (Where are the best Big Ten bars in Italy?). But before my Euro trip, I had time to answer your postcards .
I've got less than a week left in my 30s. No time for pithy intros. Hit me:Chris from Augusta, Maine, writes: Michigan fans are clamoring for success.
It's Wednesday. There's nothing good on TV (except for this). It's mailbag business time.Ed from State of Rutgers writes: How would you rank B1G head coaches on the hot seat in 2014?
Sorry for the lack of a mailbag last Wednesday, but I was busy catching up with folks at Ohio State. Never fear: the Monday mailbag is back.D.J. from Minneapolis writes: What happens to the union story if the Northwestern players vote no?
Time for another round of your emails ...@RevDJEsq via Twitter writes: You're made dictator of the B1G with power to implement three changes. What are they?
Let's round out this Monday with another edition of the ol' mailbag. Remember to keep those emails coming or to hit us up on Twitter.Michael from Remsen, Iowa, writes: Do you think that NEBRASKA's young but very talented linebackers will take that step up this year and be the best linebacking group in the Big Ten?
Your second serving of my mailbag for the week has arrived ...@JeffHurdaCow via Twitter writes: Do you think that the Big Ten will get a team into the playoff, and who is more likely?
The Big Ten postman always rings twice (a week, at least during the offseason) ...Rob NitLion from Morristown, N.J. writes: Brian, you made a very good argument in this morning's Take Two -- much better, I feel, than Adam.
There was no mailbag on Monday because of Presidents Day, but I still plan on doing one that day in the future. So keep your questions coming.On to the latest 'bag .
It's time for the second Big Ten mailbag in three days. Lucky you. And here's one last call for comments from Maryland and Rutgers fans. The response from Rutgers fans has been terrific.