Indiana safety Mark Murphy picks off Penn State's QB Christian Hackenberg for a touchdown.

Indiana Blocks PSU FG

November, 8, 2014


Indiana special teams comes up with a blocked kick to keep Penn State from scoring.

Judge to review Penn State emails

November, 8, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A judge has ordered the NCAA to turn over 477 internal emails relating to the sanctions imposed on Penn State over the university's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey said Friday that she will review the emails to determine whether they can properly be withheld under attorney-client privilege or other grounds.

A state lawmaker and the state treasurer have sought the material as they prepare for a January trial on a lawsuit over a state law ordering fine money collected under the 2012 consent decree to be kept within Pennsylvania to address child abuse.

College sports' governing body last month called the state law "blatantly unconstitutional" but has said it would allow the money to stay within the state. The case, however, has morphed into a wider look at the legality of the consent decree. The state Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down the NCAA's bid to prevent the case from going to trial as scheduled.

Sandusky, the former assistant football coach, was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys and is serving decades in prison. Afterward, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, imposed a temporary bowl ban and took away 112 wins the football team had under longtime coach Joe Paterno. The NCAA recently ended the bowl ban and restored football scholarships earlier than scheduled but hasn't reinstated the wins.

The plaintiffs said documents were improperly withheld as protected by attorney-client privilege, such as email exchanges on which a lawyer was one of a number of people copied. The NCAA said lack of an attorney's identification at the top of the communication was "an insufficient reason to justify the intrusion" of review by the court, but the judge disagreed.

(Read full post)

The SEC has a table for one, and perhaps two, reserved at the College Football Playoff cafe. Even if things get really wacky (see: LSU beating Alabama on Saturday night), some team from the league that has produced seven of the past eight national champions will claim a spot in the final four.

Does the Pac-12 have the same luxury? My colleague Chris Low thinks it does, arguing on Thursday's kickoff show that the Pac-12 champ will make the playoff no matter what. I think the Pac-12 champ should make the playoff, but I'm not as certain as Chris that it will.

The question here is whether Pac-12 depth truly resonates with the playoff selection committee. I recently spent five days in Pac-12 country, and coaches repeatedly pointed to the depth the league has this season.

"If you played all the teams in the Pac-12 and all the teams in the SEC, it would be harder to go through the Pac-12 undefeated," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez told me.

Big Ten morning links

November, 7, 2014
Your attention span is short on the Friday before a huge football weekend, so let’s get in and get out quickly with a final take on the three Big Ten games most likely to impact the league title race.

In East Lansing, Ohio State’s defense is likely the unit most overlooked in the marquee matchup of the Big Ten regular season. Most of the talk in advance of Saturday focuses on the offenses led by Connor Cook and J.T. Barrett. And no one can really look past the Pat Narduzzi-directed Michigan State group. But what about the Buckeyes on defense? It might hold the key to victory for Ohio State, and it’s a revamped bunch under first-year co-coordinator Chris Ash. Cornerback Doran Grant says that the Buckeyes’ defensive showing last year against MSU in a 34-24 loss won’t factor on Saturday. But it should. Ohio State ought to draw energy from it. The best defense is often fueled by emotion. OSU can use recent history to its advantage. Just don't ask Brady Hoke who's got the edge.

Speaking of defense, the group at Wisconsin is better than the sum of its parts. Safety Michael Caputo and linebacker Derek Landisch figure to contend for Big Ten postseason honors, though neither looks like a top candidate for Big Ten defensive player of the year. How, then, to explain the Badgers’ ranking as the No. 1 defense nationally in points and yards allowed? It’s about a selfless approach, epitomized best perhaps by safety Peniel Jean. The Badgers haven’t played a great schedule, but they dismantled decent foes in Maryland and Rutgers the past two weeks. We’ll see this week at Purdue if the Badgers open their critical three-game final stretch with more momentum -- thanks to that defense -- than any other contender in the West.

You want answers? You’ll get answers about Iowa. The Hawkeyes looked downright dangerous last week against Northwestern. And really, it’s been a three-game surge for Iowa on offense, interrupted by an off week and hidden somewhat behind an ugly defensive showing at Maryland on Oct. 18. But last week, wow, it all came together, even the big plays in the passing game. The Hawkeyes have had this in them all season, with receivers Tevaun Smith, Kevonte Martin-Manley and Damond Powell all capable of stretching a defense. But Minnesota leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth nationally in allowing 5.6 yards per pass attempt. If Jake Rudock can throw over the top of the Golden Gophers in the cold, Iowa will roll.

Around the rest of the league:

East Division
West Division

Corbett: Joe Paterno wrongly fired

November, 6, 2014
[+] EnlargeTom Corbett
AP Photo/Matt Rourke"They probably shouldn't have fired him, they probably should've suspended him," Tom Corbett said of Joe Paterno. "He probably should have been given the last three games, not on the sideline."

Joe Paterno "probably" should have finished out the 2011 season instead of being fired, outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday.

"They probably shouldn't have fired him, they probably should've suspended him," Corbett told the Inquirer. "He probably should have been given the last three games, not on the sideline."

The longtime Penn State head coach was fired Nov. 9, 2011, via phone call in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Paterno had announced hours before that he planned to finish out the 2011 season and then retire.

Corbett's comments come on the heels of seven pages of publicly released NCAA emails, revealing that the organization attempted to "bluff" Penn State into accepting the sanctions. According to one official in the July 2012 emails, the NCAA was banking on the fact that the university "is so embarrassed they will do anything."

Penn State accepted unprecedented sanctions in July 2012.

(Read full post)

Big Ten morning links

November, 6, 2014
The wait for Nov. 8 is finally almost over. It's becoming increasingly clear that Ohio State and Michigan State have been waiting for this date just as much as everybody else.

Fighting words?: The comments clearly weren't meant as an insult to Braxton Miller, but he certainly took offense to the assessment Taiwan Jones provided in comparing the skills of Ohio State's injured quarterback and current starter J.T. Barrett. Even after clarifying that Miller was the better athlete between the two, the fact that Jones suggested Barrett was the better quarterback and more suited to running the offense for the Buckeyes obviously bothered the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Miller returned fire on Wednesday through his Twitter account by writing that Jones had gone "unnoticed" on the field over the last four years. As far as feuds and bulletin-board material go, this seems pretty mild and unlikely to do much to fire up either side, despite Mark Dantonio's ability to motivate his team through perceived slights. Plus, Miller isn't even going to be playing on Saturday thanks to his season-ending shoulder injury. Based on the success of the Ohio State attack with Barrett at the helm and his better passing numbers, it's hard to even really argue with Jones' point anyway.

West Eliminator, Round II: Iowa survived its first matchup in a month stocked with critical division games in what amounts to a round robin tournament in the West, and its reward is another one on the road this week against rested Minnesota. The Hawkeyes are playing their finest football of the season at just the right time, and it appears to have things figured out offensively after a less-than-impressive start. They seem to be a legitimate contender again in an unpredictable race, but it remains to be seen if the Gophers are going to be a factor past this weekend. Jerry Kill had some extra time to work through some issues on offense that hurt the Gophers in the upset loss at Illinois, and it will be interesting to see how they respond to the loss that knocked them out of first place in the standings. If Minnesota can hit on just a few more throws in the play-action passing game, it can be a real threat down the stretch with Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin all still looming on the schedule. And based on the way Iowa is moving the football, the Gophers had better be able to put up some points this weekend as well if they're going to stick around near the top of West.

Under-the-radar matchup: Neither team is in the hunt for a division title, and there are obviously no national implications with Michigan visiting Northwestern. But a bowl game remains in reach for both programs heading into the weekend, though that probably won't be the case moving forward for the loser on Saturday. The Wolverines and Wildcats have both already lost 5 games, and while they can technically lose twice before being eliminated from postseason consideration, the schedules don't really do them any favors late in the year -- particularly for Brady Hoke's club, which will host Maryland and then close the year on the road at rival Ohio State. Any remaining bowl projections for either Northwestern or Michigan would be contingent on a victory this weekend, which should be a nice motivator and could provide a hard-fought battle worth watching.

East Division
  • Michigan State may have linebacker Mylan Hicks back in action for Saturday's showdown with Ohio State.
  • Finally, officially, the season for freshman cornerback Jabrill Peppers has been confirmed as over by Michigan.
  • Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova didn't practice on Wednesday, but that was by design.
  • After successfully pushing the tempo with its "NASCAR" package under Bill O'Brien, Penn State has tapped the brakes on its offense this season.
  • Already suspended for a game, Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs appears to also be dealing with an injury.
  • Kyle Rowland asks: Is Indiana a 3-9 football team?
  • The memory of last year's failed fourth-and-2 against Michigan State doesn't haunt Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, but short-yardage and red zone plays will be critical again Saturday.
West Division
  • Despite missing a finger, Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli doesn't have any problems catching the football.
  • Without even playing this week, Nebraska may become a top-10 team.
  • The bye week gave Minnesota time to "digest" its loss to Illinois, and it's ready to get back on the field against Iowa.
  • Iowa is preparing for a balanced offense, even if the numbers don't suggest Minnesota has one.
  • Purdue needs a wide receiver to step up. Who will it be?
  • Too many mistakes are dooming Northwestern.
  • The chance to hit the road for some recruiting during the bye week appears to be paying off for Illinois.

Big Ten Wednesday mailbag

November, 5, 2014
Welcome to another edition of ye olde Wednesday mailbag. Let's get to your questions.

Brian Bennett: Penn State was 2-0 when its bowl ban was lifted, and the Nittany Lions went on to win their next two games. But since then, they've lost four straight (with three of them coming down to a final possession). Getting to the postseason is certainly not guaranteed, but I really like Penn State to win this weekend at Indiana, which is struggling mightily. Unless you think James Franklin's club will upset Michigan State at home in the season finale, then that means it will have to beat either Temple or Illinois (on the road) to become bowl-eligible. Both those games are close to toss-ups, but I would favor Penn State slightly in each. So I think this team will get to six wins, though it probably won't be easy.

Brian Bennett: Hey, no fair using two tweets to get your full question in! No doubt, the momentum has slowed for Northwestern, which at the time of last year's game with Ohio State had won 14 of its previous 17 games and notched its first bowl victory in half a century. Since then, the Wildcats are just 4-12. Just when it looked like they were starting to turn things around with wins over Penn State and Wisconsin this season, the bottom dropped out again. Pat Fitzgerald's team has lost its past two games by a combined 62 points, including last Saturday's embarrassingly bad 48-7 whitewash at Iowa.

It's hard to tell what exactly has gone wrong in Evanston, as Fitzgerald hasn't changed much since the highly successful 2012 season and supposedly more athletic recruits were on the way. The team certainly lacks consistency and, apart from that two-game stretch earlier in the year, hasn't shown much toughness. According to ESPN Recruiting Nation, Northwestern has 17 commitments so far for 2015, and 16 of them are rated as three-star prospects. This isn't a team that usually reels in more than the occasional four-star and five-star player. More so than recruiting, Fitzgerald has to figure out why things have gone so far off the rails and how to get them back on track.

Brian Bennett: Let's not shortchange the Badgers' 52-7 win over Maryland. Sure, the Terrapins are impossible to figure out week to week. But they have also beaten Iowa and Penn State and came within a field goal of beating a very good West Virginia team. So that win was the best Wisconsin has looked all season, by far.

What we've learned about the Badgers is that their defense is playing at an unbelievably high level, currently ranked No. 1 in the FBS in yards allowed and No. 3 in scoring. The return of Warren Herring at defensive tackle has been huge, and in retrospect, his injury -- not Melvin Gordon's disappearance -- might have been the biggest reason Wisconsin couldn't hold on against LSU in the opener.

Now, for the bad news: While Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy did a pretty good job throwing the ball against Maryland, the passing game against Rutgers was virtually nonexistent (albeit in tough weather conditions). When the Badgers take on Nebraska and Iowa, they can't simply be one-dimensional on offense, no matter how good Gordon is. They won't win the Big Ten West unless Stave, McEvoy and their receivers can elevate their performance in the final month.

Brian Bennett: Nebraska sits at No. 13 in the latest playoff poll and has a great shot to move into the Top 10 if it wins its final three regular-season games. Would that be enough for a big six bowl if the Huskers then lost in the Big Ten championship game? Possibly, but I'd say no. The committee doesn't appear to have much respect for the Big Ten based on the current rankings, so another loss could send Nebraska tumbling back down the poll. I'd say it's more likely Big Red heads to the Holiday Bowl, mostly because the Big Ten wants to avoid sending the Cornhuskers back to Florida for a fourth straight year.

One thing that could really help the Huskers' cause, however: A Miami win over Florida State.


Big Ten awards race tracker: Week 10

November, 5, 2014
There are just four weeks left in the regular season, a month to go for players to build their cases for individual awards.

We've been tracking the races all season and have unanimous picks right now for our offensive and defensive player of the year honors. And this week's bonus category is also unanimous: top placekicker.

Here's how we see it after 10 weeks:

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year

1. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon (six first-place votes): Gordon just keeps chugging along, with six straight 100-yard games. He's got 1,296 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season.

2. Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah: It's not his fault that he had only 1 yard vs. Purdue, as Abdullah went out with an early knee injury. But in a close race among elite tailbacks, that hurt his case.

3. Indiana RB Tevin Coleman: He has 4 more yards on the season than Gordon, and we can only hope that the Hoosiers' struggles elsewhere don't overshadow his outstanding year.

4. Michigan State WR Tony Lippett: The best receiver in the Big Ten will get a showdown with Ohio State's revamped pass defense on Saturday night.

5. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett: He has great numbers on the year but wasn't as effective on the road against a good defense at Penn State. Can he get it done in East Lansing?

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year

1. Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (six first-place votes): Top five nationally in sacks and tackles for loss. Yep, he's a beast.

2. Penn State LB Mike Hull: He leads the Big Ten and is seventh nationally in tackles per game, at 11.5.

3. Iowa DE Drew Ott: He's second in the Big Ten behind Bosa in sacks with eight on the year. With him, Louis-Trinca Pasat and Carl Davis, Iowa has a formidable defensive line.

4. Penn State DT Anthony Zettel: He has been an absolute force at defensive tackle; will he and Hull split votes in this category among Nittany Lions defenders?

5. Nebraska DE Randy Gregory: He's at 5.5 sacks, so he's got some work to do to reach double digits in that category for a second straight year.

Others receiving votes: Michigan LB Jake Ryan, Wisconsin S Michael Caputo, Minnesota LB Damien Wilson.

Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year

1. Maryland's Brad Craddock (six first-place votes): He hit the game-winner last week at Penn State and is a perfect 14-for-14 on the year. Should be an All-American.

2. Penn State's Sam Ficken: If not for Craddock, Ficken might have been the hero last week in State College. His comeback story continues to impress, and Ficken is 17-of-19 on field goals this season.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Even on Tuesday night, as Happy Valley slept, two small candles burned brightly atop a patch of grass outside Beaver Stadium. One, painted in blue, spelled out “WE ARE,” the other was marked with Joe Paterno’s initials, “JVP.”

It’s been three years since Paterno’s rolled-up khakis swayed on that Beaver Stadium sideline, 36 months since he was fired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. But the community here can’t forget.

They can’t forget the pain in his voice when he stepped out of his four-bedroom home on McKee Street and told lingering fans after he was fired , “I love you all.” They can’t forget his raspy Brooklyn-tinged accent or that he started coaching at Penn State 19 years before the moon landing. And, of course, they can’t forget how the NCAA posthumously revoked 111 of his 409 wins, for whatever his role may have been in the Sandusky scandal.

[+] EnlargeCandles
Josh Moyer/ESPNFrom little things like lighting candles to bigger things like getting over 10,000 signatures on a petition to get his wins reinstated, Penn State fans still remember and honor Joe Paterno.
“People talk about bringing the wins back, and that should happen,” said senior Brian Sanvido, president of Nittanyville, a group of student-fans who camp outside the stadium. “But I think half of it is just wanting Joe back. We’re never going to get him back. There’ll never be another Joe, and I think it’s hard letting him go.”

It’s been exactly three years to the day since Sandusky was charged by a grand jury with 40 counts of molesting young boys. The community here has cried together at vigils, raged at protests -- and celebrated together at overcoming the sanctions. The victims haven’t been forgotten, but at some point old wounds start to fade into scars.

The university’s moved on with a new president and athletic director, the football team’s moved on with a new staff -- but the community just can’t move on yet. Sandusky is housed in a maximum-security prison, and several former Penn State officials are awaiting trial. But Paterno will never see his day in court; the coach who was taken away in a blue hearse will have his “trial” meted out in the court of public opinion.

“The people in the camp of, ‘We can’t move on’ and the people who say, ‘We must move on,’ are two distinct groups,” said Eric Porterfield, an organizer with The People’s Joe, which recently set up a petition to return Paterno’s wins. “And I think those lines were drawn recently.”

As time has progressed, so has a growing divide between the community and the university. An invisible line is drawn across College Avenue, where the campus ends and the two-street downtown begins. University officials tore down Paterno’s 900-pound statue in 2012, but fans continue to leave flowers, candles and cardboard cutouts in its place. The on-campus JoePa restaurant (Joegies) was renamed, but a downtown business recently opened with the moniker 409 Win[g]s. Administrators have declined to push the NCAA to restore Paterno’s victories, but a local group received more than 10,000 signatures on a petition of sorts two weeks ago.

Just outside of the campus, across the street from brick dorms and classrooms, it’d be difficult to blame visitors if they believed Paterno was still the coach. You can’t stroll a block downtown without seeing an “Honor Joe” poster or a Paterno knick-knack on display. There’s still a ceramic mug made in the likeness of Paterno’s head, and bottles of Yuengling still sit on “409 Forever” napkins at an off-campus bar.

Paterno’s memory hasn’t faded like a morning fog in State College. On the contrary, activism has only picked up as a wait-and-see approach regarding JoePa has given way to a we’ll-probably-never-know-for-sure mindset.

“People ask me to put the last six months of his life into what it means to me, and I can’t,” Sanvido said. “It’s just something that I think all of us still have a hard time thinking.”

Added local resident and former All-American Kenny Jackson: “I compartmentalize a little bit because I can’t put my mind across those issues -- because I was never involved with those issues. Obviously, I love Joe. I’m always going to love Joe.”

Paterno stands as a Rorschach test of sorts for State College. Most locals look upon him as a symbol of “success with honor,” as a throwback who never bothered to erase his home number from the phone book, who helped transform the school from a cow college into an esteemed university. Others look at that same picture and see something entirely different -- the epitome of a man who did too little, who committed a cardinal sin in sports by putting athletics above the welfare of children.

The problem is there’s no clear answer here. And there’s no telling what the solution might be. Penn State’s Board of Trustees still hasn’t technically accepted the Freeh Report, and several fans were thrown out of a meeting last week for yelling out of turn.

Penn State is healing, but it’s not yet fully healed. It’s learned to embrace its future, but it’s still not sure what to make of its past. “We Still Are …” some T-shirts worn downtown say. “Thank you, Joe,” some trinkets near the old Paterno statue spot read.

Happy Valley is approaching normalcy but, until this community finds closure regarding its longtime head coach, it’ll never return to just as it was before. Maybe it never can.

Big Ten morning links

November, 5, 2014
Happy hump day. Another weekend of college football is just around the corner. To tide you over in the meantime...

1. Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah is expected to be back to full health for his next game against Wisconsin on Nov. 15, although head coach Bo Pelini said that's just his best guess at the moment. Pelini better hope he is guessing right, because the Huskers will need all the help they can get from Abdullah to compete with a red-hot Badgers team a week from Saturday. Abdullah disappointed in his first test against a top defense (45 yards in a loss to Michigan State). That game against Wisconsin will be his best chance to redeem himself before a potential Big Ten championship game. If he doesn't have a big day, Nebraska will have a hard time winning the West.

2. An in-depth profile on former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano by's Pete Thamel raised the obvious connections between a coach-in-waiting and the Michigan job expected to open at the end of the month. Schiano left a trail of upset players and fans in his wake in the NFL, but says he's made an effort to become a more likable leader during his year away from the game. There is much left to be decided in Ann Arbor during the next several months, but expect a "How about Michigan?" for every major name tossed onto the coaching carousel until then.

3. The much-ballyhooed Michigan State-Ohio State game Saturday night has the makings of a budding rivalry, but another "R" word has occupied the thoughts of both teams early in the week: respect. For Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, Saturday is a chance to regain respect as a national powerhouse after losing to Michigan State a year ago in the Big Ten title game. In East Lansing, Mark Dantonio seems to always be looking for new ways to convince his players they aren't respected in order to keep a chip on their shoulder. A large contingent of Ohio players on the Spartans' roster who were overlooked on the recruiting trail by Ohio State shouldn't have a hard time fostering that attitude this week. For both teams, the respect they are most interested in this weekend is that of the the College Football Playoff committee. A poor showing from either group Saturday likely knocks them from playoff contention.

And now, on to the links.

East Division

Michigan State's offense is wearing away at some of the Big Ten stereotypes for boring play.

The second weekly College Football Playoff rankings update wasn't good news for Ohio State and the Big Ten.

Maryland's win at Penn State came at too great of a cost for the program.

Penn State is attempting to stay upbeat despite its current four-game losing streak.

Michigan tight end Khalid Hill had surgery to repair the ACL that has kept him on the sideline for most of this season.

Rutgers is keeping wide receiver Ruhann Peele off the field during his pending legal case for assault charges against a female.

Kevin Wilson wants to keep his Indiana offense from going "into a shell" while breaking in a young quarterback.

West Division

Former kicker Eric Lueshen writes about gaining acceptance as an openly gay football player at Nebraska.

On his flight home, Wisconsin running back Corey Clement talked to his coach about hair cuts, iPhones and his growing role in the offense.

Drew Wolitarsky isn't expected to play for Minnesota this weekend in its rivalry game against Iowa.

Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff is one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award, given to the country's top lineman or linebacker.

Akeem Hunt is becoming more of a workhorse at running back for the Boilermakers this season.

Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt is expected to practice this week, giving his team a reason for optimism.

Pat Fitzgerald wants his players at Northwestern to "embrace the suck" from their loss to Iowa.

Bradley returns to the sideline

November, 4, 2014
[+] EnlargeTom Bradley
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsTom Bradley has brought a wealth of knowledge and a passion for coaching to West Virginia.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Tom Bradley doesn't want a story written about him.

"I just don't want to do it," he said. "I'm kind of moving on. I don't want to keep rehashing."

He is an anachronism in SelfieWorld, a guy who loves people and has no interest in tooting his own horn. That said, Bradley's reticence has something to do with his background. He is speaking in his office at West Virginia. Bradley spent 37 seasons at Penn State, where he rose from freshman to starter to team captain to graduate assistant to assistant to defensive coordinator to, three years ago next week, interim head coach.

No one knew Joe Paterno better.

Now, after two years in radio and television exile, Bradley is the senior associate head coach for the Mountaineers. His job is to coach defensive linemen and serve as a font of wisdom to Dana Holgorsen's staff, especially defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.

Gibson is one of the reasons Bradley wanted to return to coaching at West Virginia. They knew each other from the recruiting trails in Pittsburgh. Another reason is it's almost home. As a kid, Bradley, a Johnstown, Pennsylvania, native, came to games at old Mountaineer Field. His office is 65 miles from his house in Pittsburgh, the one he bought for his mom after his dad passed away in 2002. Now his mom is gone, too. Bradley still sleeps at the house a couple of nights a week.

(Read full post)

Big Ten bowl projections: Week 10

November, 4, 2014
It's time to get serious about these projections.

Confession: We've been a little loosey-goosey with these in recent weeks, as they really didn't mean much so far out from the actual selections. Well, the Big Ten had a little chat and set us straight on a few things that are worth relaying to you fine folks.

1. The Big Ten champion cannot play in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

2. If a Big Ten team plays in the Orange Bowl, another will not appear in the Citrus Bowl.

3. The Big Ten really wants to avoid repeat bowl destinations and even repeat postseason areas for teams. The league will ask each bowl to submit its top three choices for participants and then match teams based on where they've been in the past, who the opponent could be and other factors. Basically, the Big Ten is in charge here, not the bowls.

4. Each bowl will see a minimum of five different teams in six years (the New Era Pinstripe Bowl is on an eight-year contract).

We've now taken the Orange Bowl out of the possibilities for both Michigan State and Ohio State.

One big debate this week was whether to send Nebraska to a Florida bowl game for the fourth consecutive season (all as a Big Ten member). The Huskers also recently have appeared in the Holiday Bowl (both in 2009 and 2010) but not as recently as the Florida bowls. The Outback Bowl would be the exception, but from what we gather from the Big Ten, Nebraska likely will be leaving the Sunshine State this season.

We're not that confident placing Iowa in Orlando, but Wisconsin went there last year so Tampa seems likelier for Gary Andersen's crew.

Northwestern tumbles out of the projections after its blowout loss at Iowa. We considered dropping Penn State but still have the Lions squeaking into a bowl game. Michigan also was under consideration for bowl placement, but for now the Wolverines are on the outside. Northwestern hosts Michigan on Saturday.

Seven Big Ten teams are now bowl-eligible: Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota and Iowa.

OK, enough rambling. To the projections:

Chick-fil-A Peach/Cotton/VIZIO Fiesta: Michigan State
Chick-fil-A Peach/Cotton/VIZIO Fiesta: Ohio State
Citrus: Iowa
Outback: Wisconsin
National University Holiday: Nebraska
TaxSlayer/Franklin American Mortgage Music City: Maryland
San Francisco: Minnesota
New Era Pinstripe: Penn State
Quick Lane: Rutgers

This is your cue to rip us in the comments section or on Twitter. Ready, set, go ...

Best of Week 11 Big Ten conference call

November, 4, 2014
Questions were asked, and coaches had answers. Here are a few of the highlights from this week's Big Ten conference call.

By the way, if you’re not following us on Twitter, what are you waiting for? Follow along at @ESPNRittenberg, @BennettESPN, @ESPNJoshMoyer, @DanMurphyESPN, @MitchSherman
and @AWardESPN.


Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

November, 4, 2014

The Big Ten had a busy weekend with a few commitments, offers and important visitors. This is the Big Ten weekend recruiting wrap outlining the most important happenings from this past few days.

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Penn State Ruling Not A Victory
William C. Rhoden reacts to the NCAA's decision to restore Joe Paterno's 111 victories that had been vacated following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.