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Mailbag: Will The Minnesota Golden Gophers Test the Iowa Hawkeyes or Not?

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Welcome to the mailbag. This week we look at whether Minnesota will be a test for Iowa, or just a minor bump in the road. We have lots of answers for your questions.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Mailbag. This is a chippy one, with Speth contributing his usual hot taeks. Buckle up. Here we go...

Q: What’s the stupidest possible season for Northwestern? I think it goes something like winning the next three, with a huge upset over Iowa returning hopes of bowl eligibility, only to drop the next 4 games.This would enter the @Purdue, @Minnesota, vs Illinois home stretch with 6-6 tantalizingly close to reach. At this point, of course, NU would beat Purdue only to lose to both Minnesota and Illinois in consecutive and increasingly bizarre ways. - MountainTiger

Speth: Going 1-11 and the one win being to keep the home winning streak against Wisconsin alive. It'd be stupid because not only would they suffer a terrible season, but they'd have to build a new stadium after I finish burning Ryan Field to the ground.

MNW: Northwestern will win the next 9 games and then lose the HAT, costing Mick McCall a shot at B1G OC of the Year. That is the stupidest timeline.

Candystripes: Win the next 4, get blown out by #ChaosTeam, take one other game before HAT, and then go quad OT with the Illini, before derping the game tying 2 point conversion to finish 5-7, HAT-less, and likely bowl-less as well.

LPW: what MNW said.

Thumpasaurus: Wow, they may be trying to author a stupider season than 2014.

GF3: Any season that results in Fitzgerald remaining employed.

Q: With Northwestern looking...ummmm...not good, is Minnesota the first real test for Iowa? LIkewise, for all of the undefeated B1G teams, what’s the first (presumed) real test they’ll face? - chitownhawkeye

Speth: Well Wisconsin already played LSU so they've already faced a test. OSU is at Oklahoma this weekend and MSU is at Notre Dame while Nebraska is at home against Oregon so those are definitely tests. Michigan doesn't play anybody til they play Wisconsin. Iowa doesn't either. The rest of the undefeated Big Ten teams are irrelevant

MNW: If NDSU brings their game this weekend, they’re Iowa’s first real test. Failing that, I suppose it’s Minnesota because something something rivalry games. That’s a niiiiice schedule.

Townie: Minnesota as a "test". Well, I like test better than challenge. Iowa has the softest schedule. It’s like the Wonder Bread of schedules. Wisconsin is going to be the real test.

Q: How many B1G teams in the top 10 after this weekend? Top 15? - beezer07

MNW: I think (3) Ohio State, (4) Michigan, (8) Wisconsin, (9) Michigan State, (12) Iowa. Nebraska climbs to about (20) with a win over Oregon.

Townie: Ohio State, Michigan Wisconsin and Michigan State will stay in the Top 10. Iowa stays in the Top 15.

babaoreally: 3 and 4.

Speth: I'm gonna say OSU jumps FSU for no particular reason. Michigan stays at 4 and Wisconson moves up to 8 because college football is chaos and somebody gets upset. MSU moves up to 10 and Iowa comes in at 11. That's 4 B1G teams in the top 11. This must be what the SEC feels like.

GF3: Probably 2. OSU after a close loss and Meeeechigan


Q: How about after week 3 [it’s actually after week 4] of the conference schedule (after Wisconsin has played MSU, UM, OSU)? - beezer07

MNW: (3) OSU, (9) Michigan, (10) Michigan State, (12) Iowa, (18) Wisconsin. Wisconsin will be 1-2 in those 3 games.

Speth: I’m too lazy to look at who all plays but I'll answer strictly from the Wisconsin perspective. Wisconsin’s going to be sitting between 10-12. I don't see a glaring weakness on this team and think beating MSU and one of Michigan/OSU is definitely on the table. Michigan’s overrated and OSU has to come to Madison. Go 2-1 in those 3 and depending on how much chaos happens a 6-1 Wisconsin team is probably fringe top 10.

Townie: Hell, I have no idea what this season is going to bring. There’s a good chance that we have some bad teams in the top tier, skating through the offseason. Which ones are they? Ohio State? Michigan? Michigan State? Iowa? Wisconsin?

Those games are going to be really fun to watch (as long as you don’t have a rooting interest).

Q: Will Maryland win 7 games this year? With our remaining schedule, I think we can blow out Purdue, UCF, and buttgers. Then we’re probably equal to Minnesota, Indiana, and Penn State, with those being tossups except for PSU, where I"m leaning towards a loss because that’s on the road in front of 100,000 person cult. There’s probably 6 or 7 wins in there if you combine that with our first 2 gaes. MSU, Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio State are probably impossible, but I think MSU is more beatable than the other 3 so far. Nebraska is on the road, which makes that game as hard as Ohio State and Michigan, which we have a 0% win probability. 7 wins, with one good win would probably put us in a non-Detroit bowl. - MarylandPrideinMA

MNW: That’s a great, well thought-out question. No.

LPW: lol I

Townie: You have two wins already. I agree that you can beat Purdue, UCF, and rutger. That’s five. Can you pick up two more out of Minnesota, Indiana, and Penn State? That’s going to be tough. I think you have the talent. Can you get perfect play out of your team? I guess we’ll see. I think it’s 50/50.

Speth: No. 6 wins looks doable, but I don't think you beat 2 of PSU, Minnesota and Indiana.

Zuzu: Lol. Oh wait, you’re serious. No. Maryland will be lucky to get 5 wins. MAYBE 6. Rutgers is at a closer place to you guys than you think, so don’t look at that game like it’s going to be a blow out. Also, Washington is much tougher than FIU, so you’re 2-0 vs our 1-1 isn’t actually much of a difference. I would say you are not equal to Minnesota. Maybe Indiana, possibly Penn State, but they played a good Pitt, so PSU may be better than they look.

GF3: LOL at Zuzu's answer. Maryland is playing a clear level above Rutgers. Especially defensively. The Terps have a great shot at 7 wins. Your bowl will still suck because you don't travel well.



Q: Will the Hat Game have the added dimension of determining bowl eligibility of both teams this year? - Hoyagoon

Candystripes: Yes. But only if Illinois doesn’t get back on track before then.

LPW: sadly yes

MNW: I think it will determine the bowl eligibility of one team. At least one of them will only have 3 wins. The more we go, the more fearful I am that it’s Northwestern.

Thumpasaurus: For Illinois, it’ll depend on our next two games (vs WMU and at Nebraska). Lose both of those and we’re probably not even knocking on 6 wins unless something very unexpected happens, such as a win at Wisconsin or at home against MSU or Iowa.

Townie: Hat? You guys have a hat? Is it like a bowler or a Stetsont? Why do you have a hat?


Q: Will the B1G be recognized as the world’s best CFB conference? Will hype for this year’s OSU-Michigan lovefest surpass that of 2006? - terp_derp

LPW: I can see it, especially if Harbaugh through his booger eating sheer force of personality wills the Wolverines to an excellent season.

GF: Yeah, that possible OSU-UM game has HYPE written all over it. Let’s look at 2006, shall we?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVqltXbBWBo

And now folks, we sit back, and settle down for the matchup, everyone has been debating...SINCE MID-SEPTEMBER.

Townie: Oh yeah, this is going to be fun.

MNW: The trick is going to be both teams surviving their Wisconsin and Michigan State dates unscathed. If they do, then you’ll have (2) OSU vs. (3) Michigan and the universe will fucking explode because HARBAUGH DUN DUN IT PAWWWWWWWL NOW CAN HE BEAT URRRRRRBZ?

I don’t think they both will be undefeated. As a result, I do not think it will have the same hype levels.

Thumpasaurus: Let’s hope not. The Mythigan Man religious fervor for Harbaugh has already surpassed that of Llooyydd Ccaarr.

Zuzu: The B1G may have teams in the top 15, but overall I think those teams are weaker this year and it will start to manifest itself later in the season. Intra-conference we may look fine, but I think bowl game season will be cruel to the B1G when we start playing powers in other conferences.

GF3: Best? No. Narratives don't die that easy. The B1G looks good this year, despite Sparty regressing. But we don't loop appreciably deeper than the SEC West, and OSU isn't Bama.



Q: More likely to lose Saturday: Iowa vs North Dakota State or Penn State against Temple? - B-Town Bigman

Candystripes: Por que no los dos? But seriously, it’s Penn State.

LPW: PSU

Townie: Wen I taught, I had to tell kids that there are no stupid questions. That's a lie...this is a stupid question. Penn State lost to Temple last year, so yeah, you dummy, we’re most likely to lose.

MNW: NDSU is ranked 4 places higher in the Sagarin ratings than Temple. Iowa is ranked 30 places higher than Penn State. By virtue of math, I hereby decree Penn State to be 7.5x more likely to lose to Temple than Iowa to Penn State.

Speth: NDSU isn't the same NDSU they've been. Temple's a threat because this is a huge game for them and Franklin’s probably telling his guys this game doesn't matter so they get trucked in the first half. I mean that's probably the stupidest thing I've ever heard so why would anyone ever do that.

Zuzu: I second MNW. Quantification man! The numbers don’t lie.

GF3: PSU and Iowa both have had trouble finding their defenses at times. That said, PSU will take a page out of Army's book and run right at the middle all day. If an Army fullback can get 7 yards a carry...


Q: When do the torches and pitchforks come out for James Franklin? - greenie1971

MNW: I’ve been offering them to State fans for like, over a year now, but none of them seem to want to take them!

LPW: don't be hasty PSU fans

Thumpasaurus: Maybe when they reap the 250-rush-yards-allowed-in-a-half rewards of hiring Tim Banks, a defensive coach that TIM BECKMAN FIRED.

Speth: After they lose to Temple. Army>Temple>Penn State

Zuzu: If they lose to Temple. That means that their "dominate the state" thing was a legitimate failure for the 2016 season. Any remaining Franklin fans will light their torches if they lose to Rutgers or Maryland, or both.

Townie: You guys just have no idea what goes on in State College. Nobody wants a new coach there. Not the AD, not the administration, and not the fans...not yet anyway. So nope.

GF3: they aren't already?

Q: In all seriousness, are Penn State fans happy w/ competing for 4th place in the B1G east? With all the money he’s getting paid and the recruiting classes being hauled in, at some point coach hype has to start beating harbaugh, aosu, and msu to remain employed in state college. - ziowa9

Speth: It sure sounds like it.

Zuzu: Penn State fans have pretended to be complacent as Franklin builds up his recruiting classes with the "promise" of eventually rising in the B1G to non-mediocrity. However, he stacks talent without coaching them to genuine greatness. No talented PSU player is great because of Franklin, they’re great because they’re natural. This makes the team fine, but not outstanding. This particular weakness in Franklin is starting to really show and that’s the factor he lacks as compared to Meyer and Dantonio-- the ability to turn great players into greater players.

Townie: You just don’t get it. Nothing happens that quickly. You can’t rebuild a program in an hour. What place should Penn State be competing for today? You do realize that the NCAA wanted our program to resemble Rutgers at this point, right? So, fourth with bowl trips? That’s pretty good right now.

Ask me in a couple years. An uncompetitive fourth place won’t be okay forever.


Q: Given their offensive woes, who should jtarpwestern hire as its offensive coordinator to fix things: John Donovan? Mike Locksley? Kyle Flood? Bill Cubit? Mark Mangino? - ziowa9

MNW: Give me Mark Mangino on the sideline THIS GODDAMN INSTANT. I would watch the hell outta that offense. In all seriousness, have you ever asked a Mailbag question that’s not related to one of the same 3 or 4 tired OTE memes? Christ on sale, dude.

Speth: Ron Zook would be good for recruiting. He has a reason to stick it to Illinois. The Packers can't be paying him that much to be special teams coordinator. MAKE IT HAPPEN TARPS

Thumpasaurus: Actually, Bill Cubit worked wonders in 2013. There was a time when he seemed like a brilliant hire. Then the offense got worse every year and he handpicked his quarterbacks, so now all we have behind Wes Lunt is Chayce Crouch.

Zuzu: I mean, jokes aside Kyle Flood was a pretty decent offensive coordinator. And probably wouldn’t have lost to Illinois State or Western Michigan… Sorry Northwestern fans

Townie: Yes, any of the above.



Q: How funny will it be to watch Maryland start 4-0, only to finish 5-7? - ICEICETHATGUY13

Candystripes: About as funny as it’ll be to watch Penn State also finish 5-7.

MNW: Mighty big talk from the second best team in Pennsylvania.

Speth: No one’s sure they're actually the second best team in the state MNW. At least Maryland can start the season 4-0.

Zuzu: Not sure how funny. I’m kind of sympathetic to Maryland right now given the very similar situation we’re in at Rutgers, but…. I could definitely see it happening.

Townie: It would be funny. Ain’t going to happen, but the dumpster fire would be truly epic. What's also funny is these guys talking shit for asking the question. Northwestern isn't even the best team in its town.



Q: Predict the 4 team playoff field. I’ll go OSU, Free Shoes, Bama and Houston right now. - Bschim23.1

MNW: (1) ‘Bama, (2) Ohio State, (3) FSU, (4) ‘Furd.

Speth: 1- Bama’s first string 2- Bama’s second string 3- Bama’s scout team 4- The guys that got "hurt" after Saban over signed.

Thumpasaurus: Tide Nuts Noles Trees.

Let me bring up something that has a real possibility of happening. What if Oklahoma and Houston run the table and the Sooners make the playoff and the Cougars don’t? This is a very real possibility; barring a Texas loss before the Red River Shootout, OU running the table will involve two wins over then-Top-10 teams, while Houston, without another ranked team on their schedule, will slip further and further from the minds of the committee. At the end of the season, a Week 1 loss barely matters in the polls (see Ohio State 2014 and Stanford last year).

Townie: ‘Bama, Texas, OSU, and the Domers

Q: If Tennessee and Georgia dropped almost 10 spots after struggling with cupcakes, how come MSU stayed put after struggling with Furman? Also, how will Mork Digiorno and his team handle this outpouring of #respekt from the voters? - Eddard Stark of Winterfell

MNW: That’s a pretty humorous note. For struggling with Nicholls State, Georgia dropped 7 places (to 16). For struggling with Troy, Clemson dropped 3 places (to 5). I would likely posit that (at least during Week 1) voters looked at Sparty and considered them a better brand than Tennessee or Georgia (oh god please don’t tell #voltwitter).

Speth: Honestly I think it helped they played on Friday. Nobody was watching college football. They saw the score and were like "meh. They doubled them up." The SEC schools were legitimately in danger of losing. MSU was never gonna lose that game.

Townie: Yeah,that’s old news. I was surprised, but I think Speth has the right of it...box scores lie. Now if MSU loses to Notre Dame, I think they drop like rocks. Possibly out of the top 25.


Q: Who is the best food network star? - ICEICETHATGUY13

MNW: Ted Allen and his snarky bullshit. Is Chopped on Food Network? Is that Bravo? I don't actually know.

Speth: Nadia G. Google her. You're welcome

Townie: Alton Brown, but back when he was doing Good Eats. My wife and I went to see his Eat Your Science tour. It was great.

GF3: Alton, no question.


Q: Michigan fans can try to explain away the 300-100 rush yard disparity to UCF all they want with their statements about 8 man boxes and what not (surely no other team with an actual P5 secondary will try that!) but at the end of the day getting creamed 3:1 by a mid-major on the ground at home is a bad omen for a team with national aspirations, right? - Jon Ross

GF: Who invited you to this party Jon Ross? Just kidding. I’ve heard that Michigan’s focus was throwing the ball because that’s where the UCF weakness was (which was correct), and that the UCF front 4, plus everyone else who was in the box, was actually not terrible.

Here is the background:

UCF had eight defenders in the box with down safeties almost all game long. The Knights showed it on the first drive and came back with it during the second. Which is why Harbaugh's third play of the second series was a play-action pass that got Jehu Chesson one-on-one down the middle for an easy 35-yard gain.

That said, the Michigan blocking ain’t where it should be to be National Champions. And I think everyone knows it. But it’s extremely positive that apparently the Wolverines have a functioning passing offense and playmakers at wide receiver.

MNW: Oh sure, now the Pitt guy is all chesty.

Speth: Sure. It could be a problem. It could be a problem Wisconsin gave up a punt return touchdown too. They still blew out UCF. Colorado looks like they have a functioning defense (shocking I know) so if it's still a problem then definitely yeah it's a red flag.

Townie: Yeah...not talking to you yet.

GF3: OSU didn't score an offensive TD in a warm and dry first half against Tulsa. And that included settling for a FG after 2nd and goal. Glass houses, Ross. Sure running Barrett less affects the offense, but sometimes your offense isn't clicking. That isn't just a Michigan thing.


Q: Because of my schedule, I’ll be working every other Saturday and unable to watch Northwestern games. My question is this: Do you have any suggestions for things I could do on the remaining Saturdays so I don’t have to watch those games either? - Batman42

MNW: Your OTE writer application is in the mail.

GF: We actually pay pretty well. Come on board!

Speth: Apparently we don't have enough Northwestern "writers".

Townie: Have your butler drive you around town for a few hours.

Q: Which team currently ranked in the Top 15 is most likely to finish with seven wins or fewer and why? - GophersinCNY40

MNW: Admit it. In your first draft, this question was "and why is it wisconsin," wasn’t it?

Speth: You could've just said top 10 and not even pretended to hide your hate boner for Wisconsin. Not hiding that stuff is a Minnesota tradition

Townie: I’m going to say none.


Q: When is Game Day coming to B1G country this season? My guesses are two of the following: October 1 - Ann Arbor (after Wisconsin beats MSU)
November 12 - Iowa City (I’ll put the over/under on combined losses for Iowa and UM at 1 heading into that game)
November 26 - Columbus
-EastLosRandy

MNW: November 26 in Columbus. Alllllll the national coverage boners.

Speth: Ann Arbor for sure if Wisconsin beats MSU. If Wisconsin beats Michigan but not MSU I wouldn't be surprised if they were in Madison October 15. I can't imagine they aren't in Columbus if they're both the real November 26th but do Florida and FSU play that weekend? That could be a big game and if say Michigan has 3 losses they'd probably do that over going to Columbus

Q: Why Brock Spack won’t be the next Purdue coach. Plus, staff picks for who will. - BoilerTide

MNW: (1) Because that would involve Purdue getting out of its own way and making a good hire.

(2) Ron Prince GET THOSE POWER TOWELS READY YO

Candystripes: Because Spack will get a better job offer this winter. Where it is, I don’t know, but someone will poach him, and it won’t be Purdue. The next Purdue head coach will be… Lane Kiffin, because YOLO.


Speth: It's too obvious. Lane Kiffin would be hilarious but no way he goes to Purdue. I say you guys go Art Briles. I mean assuming he doesn't get slapped with a show cause.

Townie: Don't pick on Purdue. I'm sure they'll hire a fine coach. A good coach, who can win...Ahh Ha Ha Ha Ha. Sorry.

Thanks for reading. We look forward to next week. We'll do better, I promise.
Your Friend(s),
The OTE "Writers"