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Mailbag - Is OSU Really Going to Disappoint Us?

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Okay gang, here's your weekly mailbag, back after a week's hiatus. Hope you like it.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Mailbag:

Q: Team most likely to surprise/disappoint in their bowl games. - Hoegher

C4B: Indiana. Whether they’ll surprise or disappoint is entirely unknown; however, they will do one or the other.

Stew:  For the sake of the question, I’m going to use Vegas to determine surprise/disappointment.  For surprise purposes, I think it’s either Iowa +6, UNL +6.5, jNW +7.5, and PSU +6  I think all of these teams have a better shot at winning than MSU does against ‘Bama.  Of those teams, I think UNL may have the best chance at winning.  UCLA has had a pretty disappointing year, fails to show up sometimes, and probably isn’t terribly motivated to play a 5-7 UNL team.

As for disappointing team.  I think it’s got to be OSU by default.  I mean, there are only 3 bowl games where the B1G team is favored, OSU, IN, and MN.  IN is only +2, and they’re #TEAMCHAOS, so they really don’t count.  MN is against Central Michigan, but think they’ll blow them out.  So, by default, I think the answer is OSU.

Graham: I like Michigan to surprise, assuming players are healthy. They struggle against teams with passing attacks...which Florida doesn’t have. Throw everyone in the box, force Florida to throw against Lewis and the excellent secondary. Michigan can win this game.

Jesse: I think Stew uses the logic I was going to use for Nebraska, but then I think, "but uh, hasn’t Nebraska been disappointing a lot this year?" and move on to not predicting things Nebraska does so as not to get excited before sadness. Anyhow, I’m thinking the team that will most disappoint is probably Indiana - sorry C4B. Duke isn’t a worldbeater in 2015, but I think they will pull this game off as underdog. Which, it’s weird to me that Indiana is favored in this game.

WSR: Surprise? Minnesota, obviously.  We might have nearly a full compliment of players.  That’s a huge surprise for Minnesota this year.  And we might even win!  And as for disappointment, it’s always wisconsin. They’re boorish, crass, and represent the conference with the grace of a Mongolian hoarde.  Wait, did you mean on the football field?  I’m worried that it could be Sparty.  They do have a few interesting matchups to exploit (Calhoun is gonna cause problems any time he doesn’t have to fight through a double-team), but I worry that they won’t be able to out manball Bama.

Townie: I think Sparty is going to shock the college football world. We don’t think much of them, because they won ugly this year. Repeatedly. But the key word in that phrase is "won".  I think they shut down the Heisman trophy winner and compete for all the marbles.

I think our disappointments will be in California. While I’m not sold on Wisconsin’s ability to beat a decent USC team, I think Nebraska is walking into a buzz saw. UCLA could embarrass the Huskers in Santa Clara.

Q: Team most likely to be over/under rated coming into 2016 - Hoegher

MNW: By pundits? I could see Northwestern, especially if they get to 11 wins. We could be looking at a mini-2013 all over again...but hopefully only 6-6 this time. Underrated…[to be continued]

Stew:  Iowa and jNW are the obvious answers for overrated.  Though, I could see MSU and MI (new QBs, and MSU loses a shit ton of seniors) as well.  As for underrated, WI and UNL seem likely candidates.

Jesse: I think Michigan State will potentially be overrated going into 2016, and that is because I think the ‘reload’ part of the equation for the Spartans is a little questionable. I’ve been impressed by their ability to snag a QB that goes to the NFL year after year, but I’m also curious if this offense can continue to hum in a new, very different situation. I would also argue that Nebraska will end up being overrated despite proving nothing yet on the backs of, "but they were so close so many times." I think they can be better in 2016, but someone is going to call them a darkhorse B1G contender and it will be dumb.

As for underrated, I’m going with Penn State. That’s an elite defense, with a filthy cadre of talent on both sides of the ball, and a new OC. If - huge if here - the offense shows some signs of life, a team that was a quiet 7-5 could easily improve a few games in 2016.

WSR: I think a lot of the overrated part of the equation comes down to what happens in the Bowl games.  If Michigan beats Florida handily, look for the hype machine to kick into an even higher gear.  If wisconsin beats USC, they’re ready to take the next step.  If Minnesota beats Central Michigan, look out 3rd place in the West!

As for underrated, that’s tough too.  If Purdue or Illinois get to 5 wins, does that mean we had them underrated?

Townie: Over-rated teams will be OSU and MSU. Both teams were senior heavy. They will also lose folks to the NFL (a la Playskool). I also think that Coach Tantrum will have the wolverine hype machine going full blast.

My #1 under-rated team is Indiana. These guys were on the cusp this season and I think they have a breakthrough year in 2016. They will have a solid offense in Simmie Cobbs, Zander Diamonte, and Devine Redding. On defense, they’ll get Marcus Oliver and T.J. Simmons back. Those guys were the best players by far this season.

Q: Thoughts on both Army and Navy having special helmet designs based on specialty groups? - Pariahwulfen

C4B: Special helmets are sweet, as long as they’re done well.

Stew:  Loved them.  I love that they do special stuff for the Army/Navy game.  They do a great job just about every year.

Jesse: Those were neat. I think that it almost only works for those two teams, though. Like, can you imagine a team from the quadrangle doing that? We’d totally have different crops or types of cattle or something, and no, that would not be cool.

WSR: I loved them. Army-Navy is just a fun game, and I don’t have any complaints about anything they do in it.  But just for fun, I think Air Force should buy the entire ad block for next year’s game.

Townie: I hate fancy unis. Now get off my lawn.

Q: The man who dragged Buttgers out of obscurity is now DC at tOSU. Was this Urbz throwing shade at Buttgers for taking Ash? - Pariahwulfen

Stew:  Not specifically that.  I doubt Urbz gives Buttgers a second thought on most anything.  It seems much more likely that Schiano is known for being a pretty damn good defensive coach, and a damn good recruiter in NJ.  The rich get richer.

Jesse: Throwing shade? Mabe not… However, I like to pretend that Urban made the offer and kind of said, "Hey, if you shut out Rutgers, I’ll give you a bonus of $100,000." You know, just to kind of eff with Ash. All fun and games and whatever, right? Right.

Townie: Urbz doesn’t recognize Rutgers as competition, so no. I am disappointed that Larry Johnson Sr. wasn’t moved to DC.

Q: How well will Joe Moorhead be able to implement his Oregon-style offense at Penn State? - dbl5030

Stew:  He won’t.

Jesse: THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTIONS IN THIS MAILBAG.

Ahem, anyhow, I think it will take time. So much of the offensive woes at Penn State have been predicated on so many changes. The way you teach an offense like the Oregon-style game is by repetition and that will take some time to get going. I’m not really well acquainted with the PSU roster, so I’m also not sure if they have the high-efficiency QB on staff with a OL to protect him yet. That will be the difference maker. The skill positions can - and will - get better in a scheme like that, but you need the right trigger guy. Get that in place and I think Penn State is a great place to have an offense like this.

WSR: Nope.

Townie: I don’t see his offense at Penn State looking anything like Oregon. What I expect is a faster tempo offense that will use passing routes to take advantage of defenses. I expect to see more of a zone blocking scheme that allows his players to win blocks and spring the running backs. He has to work with what he has.

Q: What will the record of the B1G be in bowls? Name the winners. - Bschim23.1

MNW: 4-6: Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana. I think close losses will be Iowa, Michigan State, and Northwestern, and then you have Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Penn State.

Stew:  5-5, OSU, IA (HOMER ALERT), MN, IN, MI.  Although, I think PSU and UNL also have a shot.

Graham: 5-5 (MSU, Michigan, OSU, Indiana, Minnesota) I like a lot of these matchups. But I also don’t have any faith in Penn State’s offense or Wisconsin’s passing game.

Jesse: Would it be bad if I said 3-7? I don’t love the matchups in a lot of these bowls - as opposed to Graham who likes a lot of them apparently. The B1G is favored in four of the bowls, with some pretty gnarly matchups in the ones where we are the dog. I’ll hedge a bit and go 4-6 with Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan, and one of the NY6 participants (probably Ohio State).

WSR: I think OSU, Indiana, and Minnesota can/should win.  Um. Well.  Yeah, let’s go with 3-7.  I don’t like the matchups with the SEC at all.  Michigan is the best shot at a win there, and I don’t really see that happening.  Sparty winning isn’t impossible, but I hate the jNWU and PSU matchups. Those are just trouble waiting to happen.  I also don’t like the matchups with the Pac-12, particularly Iowa’s showdown with what should be their patron saint (a fast, versatile white guy).  Nebraska could win if UCLA’s guys decide to freelance to improve their draft stock individually.

Townie: As the resident optimist of the "writers", I’ll say 7, possibly 8 bowl wins. OSU, Iowa, Indiana, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern all win. I’m on the bubble with Minnesota and Wisconsin (if pushed I’d put Minny in the W column and Wiscy in the L column). I think Nebraska is overmatched against UCLA. Nothing against Big Red, I just don’t think they match up well against a good Trojans team in what is essentially a home game for them.

Q: Which new coach do you think will do the best (and which one the worst): Tracy Claeys, DJ Durkin, or Chris Ash? - SpartanHT

Stew:  I think Durkin and Claeys have the best opportunities.  Durkin because of MD’s resources and recruiting grounds.  Claeys because of stability and better competitive opportunity in the West.  This is where I also say that I don’t see any of them ever winning the conference.

Graham: DJ Durkin has an uphill battle and we all know it. Recruiting, offensive weapons, basic depth...I liked what he did early-season with his Michigan D, but he was coaching some big-time players too. Claeys has a stable program and knows the deal, so I’ll bet he has the best record of the three in 2016.

Jesse: What are we judging by? Like, completely on record? Because Minnesota is just setup to succeed in comparison to the other two. Better continuity, better current recruiting, and better schedule. Minnesota avoids the heavies of the B1G East (Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan) and has an OOC against Oregon State, Colorado State, and Indiana State. Now, if we’re talking about improvement year over year? I’m going with Durkin. There’s only room to go up. Ash is unfortunately in no-man’s land on both metrics, but I would also argue he’ll have the best record if all coaches survive to year four.

WSR: Worst is a tie, because neither of the new kids in the East are going to amount to anything for quite a while.  I’m sure there could be a hiccup and somehow either Maryland or Rutgers finishes top 3 at some point during their new HC’s tenure, but I just don’t see how it happens without sanctions or shenanigans.  I guess that makes Claeys the future best of the bunch, which is damning with rather faint praise.  I’d like to see what he has in mind for OC before I get too excited about our future 2nd place finishes, but things aren’t terrible for the Gophers long-term right now.

Townie: I have to agree with WSR here...Maryland and Rutgers are tire fires. While there are pockets of talent, neither team is remotely competitive next year without lots of help. We got a glimpse of Rutgers without Carroo...it was ugly. That leaves Claeys by default.

Q: Which is best: Die Hard 3 (Jeremy Irons), Naked Gun 3 (33 ⅓), Star Wars 3 (Revenge of the Sith), Fast and Furious 3 (Tokyo Drift), or another third movie from a multi-movie franchise? - beezer07

MNW: Toy Story 3. Stop asking stupid questions.

Stew:  So we’re counting Episode III a the third movie instead of Episode 6, which was actually the third movie to come out?  Because I’d say Return of the Jedi.  Return of the King is also on the list, and gets my vote if Jedi doesn’t count.  Also, I have to mention Goldfinger.

C4B: I’m sorry, the third Star Wars movie is Return of the Jedi. Also, what MNW said.

Jesse: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was pretty great, Toy Story 3 was great. Does the Cornetto trilogy count as a multi-movie franchise? Because I was a fan of the World’s End. Of these, I’m leaning Toy Story 3, but I’m also sure I’m missing something. (Of course, I loved Tokyo Drift, so that’s something to take into consideration when looking at my movie choices)

WSR: What? Where’s Major League 3? Where’s Slap Shot 3? Where’s Godfather 3?  I’m kidding.  It’s the Bond III: Goldfinger.

Q: Is Dantonio channelling the Light or Dark side of the force? - SpartanfromGod’sCountry

Stew:  It’s pretty obvious it’s the Dark side.

Jesse: Neither specifically. I see him as the closest thing we have to Thrawn in the Big Ten. Like, he’s this weird guy who scowls a lot, has a huge brain, probably is okay with preventive attacks, and is sort of the badass nobody wants to mess with. Oh, and he has a penchant for the dramatic.

Q: Will Ferentz get yet another contract extension after the bowl game? - ziowa9

Stew:  He better.  His current contract runs through the end of 2020, so for recruiting purposes he’s due for a roll over extension.  I mean, only ADs that are completely incompetent have coaches’  contracts for less than 5 years.

Jesse: Better question: How long of a contract extension will Ferentz get after the bowl game?

This year was obviously the payoff year to the commitment Iowa has shown him, and he coached like there was an incentive to not mess around. That said, I look forward to a 12 year extension with a buyout clause that dwarfs the previous extension, the defense of said extension, and the eight years of annoyance Iowa fans will feel when Ferentz kicks back and goes into, "man, I really enjoy not having to worry about contracts," mode.

WSR: After? I wouldn’t be surprised to see news this week that Iowa’s giving him a 15 year extension with an even bigger buyout.

Townie: I don’t know...if he coached at Georgia, he might be out on his ass. What’s to keep Iowa from looking for a younger, fresher version if he doesn’t win the conference next year. When Les Miles is on the hot seat at LSU, I don’t see any stability at head coach.

And there you have it, your questions answered definitively...

From your "friends",

The OTE "Writers"