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Mailbag: The Fate of Michigan State Edition

You’ve got questions about Big Ten teams, and we’ve got... guesses.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Washington at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last night, I started a task I’ve been dreading - and no, it wasn’t writing the intro for this, or grading, both of which were things I probably should have been doing instead. No, in what is undoubtedly my dumbest idea ever (really saying something for someone with a PhD in history and a trail of ill-advised relationship attempts), I’ve taken in a rotting, decrepit vintage camper to completely rebuild. It’s a 1967 Serro Scotty (13’) and he spent a lot of time rotting in a Missouri field, and then a couple of years sitting at my uncle’s home waiting for a ride to central Nebraska. I named him Darryl, and he’s a disaster.

The task I’d been dreading was cleaning out the trailer, as today is trash day and I wanted to get a start on things without having this stuff in my trash area for half a week. There were foam cushions in there, with mold and other things I don’t want to think about, and I don’t like touching yucky stuff. Unfortunately, this camper is pretty much only yucky stuff in his present condition. However, I persevered, and now my trash is on the curb, overflowing in a very redneck way, and I wait with baited breath to see if the sanitation crew will actually take all of it away. The camper is still a wreck, but you can walk inside of it now (taking care to miss the hole in the floor, of course) and it looks substantially less like someplace someone would get murdered. Yay!

Anyway, trash bags, mail bags, it’s all the same when your conference is as bad as ours. Enjoy the rot!

“Will Michigan State:

1. Win any more games this year, and;

2. Name a new head coach (give your best guess as to whom) before college bowl season ends?”

—greenie71

Buffkomodo: 1) Though there are opportunities, probably not. Michigan State Spartans was already going to struggle to get to 6 wins, and this situation is going to knock off a couple of those opportunities just by existing and having players transfer out of the program. My guess is no. 2) Yes, they’ll name a new head coach before bowl season so they can get SOME traction in the first recruiting window. I haven’t the foggiest idea who they’ll go after.

WSR: I took a glance at Sparty’s schedule, and that does not inspire much hope for getting another win. I think that Rutgers, Nebraska, and Indiana, are all next to Sparty in terms of being trash, but I can’t believe they’ll find a way to get up off the mat after they get pounded the next two weeks and then have a bye to think about their life choices.

I don’t think they’ll have a new guy in place before the bowl season ends, because the person I think is perfect for them won’t be done with his season. Although I’m not sure which bowl game Colorado will go to, so there will be an opportunity to land Deion Sanders before the end of the Fiesta Bowl.

BRT: I agree with WSR that there are a few decent opportunities for a win - personally, I sure hope it isn’t Nebraska. I think they’ll probably manage to grab one of those three, though if morale is low (and it surely must be) the mounting demoralization and plans to transfer could keep them winless. Rutgers and Indiana are both on the road, so... crap, the win is Nebraska.

Kind of...: There’s enough talent to get off the mat and win a game. Sure, there might be a record for in-season transfers set, but that might be just the thing that inspires an “us-against-the-world” performance the vanquishes Indiana or Rutgers. You know, exactly the scenario the powers that be had in mind when raining cash on Tucker. I remember a “writer” here declaring the MSU had no ceiling under Tucker. Life comes at you fast.

No idea if MSU was really talking with Matt Campbell, but Iowa State just lost to Ohio, so if they want Campbell, I bet he’s willing to come on before the season is up. If Colorado loses a few because the defense is horrendous, maybe Sean Lewis leaps at the chance to coach back in the Midwest (the Deion press conference explaining the concept of loyalty makes me really root for this outcome). But, if Sparty is looking to land a big fish, it might take until the season ends. TL; DR: I don’t know.

RockyMtnBlue: No program on earth does “The world is out to get us, let’s get it first” like Michigan State. Shoulder chips are practically a DNA attribute for them. They’re at serious risk against elite passing attacks, but how many of those do we have in the Big10? They’ll win 5 or 6, with the swing being the Michigan game.

As far as their next coach, I have no earthly idea. I don’t really follow college football outside of the Big10. Just look for the the best combination of success and amorality and you’ll be close. So I guess Urban Meyer?

HWAHSQB: The B1G should figure out a way to get an MSU-Nern matchup this year because that’s the kind of depraved individual I am. Yes, they’ll win another game this year because there is a lot of squishy middling teams in the B1G this year and someone will fire enough rounds into their foot against Sparty for them to pick up a win. I don’t know who will be the next coach, but I’m rooting for Ron Zook because I will always root for Ron Zook. The world is a better place with the Zooker coaching.

Larry31: Yes. The proper question is who will suffer the the embarassment of a loss. Maryland is only a 6.5-point favorite at MSU. Bill Connelly’s SP+ only gives Maryland a 62% chance of winning. To assume MSU doesn’t get a few wins is ludicrous. I think some folks are underestimating how good the Huskers are. They are a legit FBS Playoff team.

misdreavus79: It’s unlikely that they go 2-10. But don’t ask me to tell you which team(s) they’re going to beat the rest of the way. As per the new coach, well, it could come before bowl season ends, but wouldn’t expect it.

“In what way will MSU’s AD screw up the hiring of our next football coach? Related question: How many starters on MSU’s current squad hit the portal before the end of the season?” — waw

Buffkomodo: They’ll probably hire someone with a winning past and questionable morals...and my guess is there’s a handful of starters that’ll leave off the bat. However, it also wouldn’t shock me to see the team stay together mostly. It’s a weird firing that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual functions of Tucker’s job, so I could see a world where the locker room isn’t super divided aside from the whole “spotlights on us” aspect of this. BUT they do have I think 30 days to enter the transfer window from when Tucker gets terminated so I suppose it’ll hinge on how these next few games go.

WSR: It depends on how much self-awareness they have. If you hit the portal as a bad P5 player, you have to know that it’s very possible that you’re not going to end up at the same level. While it’s possible that they could end up at a lower-level P5 program like Pitt or wisconsin, they’re just as likely to end up in the MAC or at Iowa State.

Kind of...: Gotta thing other programs will be active in boundary-pushing ways. I expect to see a fair amount of movement, though maybe not until late October. As for the Sparty AD, I don’t think I have enough space to list the ways, but could I refer you to Tuck’s contract for starters?

RockyMtnBlue: I really don’t know what to expect regarding transfers. Do you really want to transfer in the middle of a season? You have to know you’re more likely to see playing time if you stay, and then do better in the portal after the season. I’m not going to throw stones at the glass house that is MSU’s AD. Michigan’s got no leg to stand on, there.

Larry31: Yeah. Next year’s team is gonna suck unless they knock it out of the park with this hire. I was poopoo-ing the question aboveas it applies to this year’s team because MSU isn’t bad. The question above is very legit for next year’s team.

misdreavus79: I don’t know and I don’t know.

“How ‘last year of the West’ would it be for a two-loss team to win the division and then sneak one out against the East conference champion, ruining their national title aspirations?” - Drysil

And elaboration - “What’s your ideal scenario for the last year of the B1G West?” - BRT

Buffkomodo: Uhhhh, it’d be very cool but it definitely won’t happen. My ideal scenario...let’s see....all teams lose their crossover games (so all 0-3 off the bat), some sort of janky tiebreaker scenario happens to where a 5-7 (or 6-6, I’m not greedy and also not researching) Nebraska team wins the crown and goes to the CCG would be ideal for me. Just for the lolz.

WSR: Only two losses? My ideal scenario involves Minnesota backing into the B1GCG not knowing if they’ll have a shot at the game on Thanksgiving before getting a lifeline from Iowa losing to Nebraska again and then pummeling wisconsin.

BRT: I agree with BuffKomodo that maximum chaos is the goal here. As a fan of a team that hasn’t been a contender for awhile, this is always my hope. Some are embarrassed by the excesses of the West’s ridiculousness, but I find this to be its charm. I like the “worst possible record tie-breaker” model, and also beating the East champ, unless the West rep is Iowa, in which case I want them to lose badly, or by just the right amount of points to keep them under the Ferentz Line (yes, I know BF isn’t getting fired, nor am I sure I want him to, but I do look forward to the explanations of how 21 is basically the same as 25.)

Kind of...: Yeah, given the West’s record in the B1G title game, it would be not very West-like at all. Now. a 7-5/5-4 West champion pulling the trick? Sign me up for that.

Obviously, my ideal scenario is for the pieces to fall in place and UW to win out. However, in the sprit of the question, my ideal scenario is for UW to go 9-3/7-2, win the division because they go unbeaten vs. the Quadrangle, and then avenge the regular-season loss to OSU with a Kinnick 2017/Purdue Harbor 2018 style win over the Buckeyes. To top it off, Fickell spurns overtures from Columbus and commits to UW long-terms.

RockyMtnBlue: If I take this to basically mean, “what’s the most fun and most chaotic result possible?”, it would be for Illinois to somehow crawl into the CCG at 7-5. Then for Maryland to somehow come out of the smoking mutual destruction of the East, providing what everyone thinks is the West’s best opportunity to win the conference since the division realignment. But then Maryland wins the CCG by four scores, setting up a 66-3 loss in the playoff. PSU wins the natty and OSU wins the Rose Bowl while Michigan gets relegated to some 2nd rate bowl which they lose because “Michigan” and “bowl game” were used in the same sentence. Oh sorry. This was supposed to be about the West, wasn’t it?

HWAHSQB: I know I’m an Illinois fan so I’m clearly both biased and delusional, but I think any unbiased observer would want BERT to ride off into the sunset with the final B1G west crown.

Larry31: I get a creepy vibe from Ryan Day. It’s just me. But, OSU has been so good for so long, it’s easy to root against them because everyone else is an underdog. Harbz and Franklin are way up there on the unlikeable scale, so its hard to root for UM or PSU. Despite this scenario giving the entire Big Ten a black-eye, I wouldn’t be mad.

misdreavus79: That depends on two things:

  1. Which 2-loss team comes out of the West. Say it’s Iowa, and their only losses are Penn State and some other team. They’re ranked today and will likely be ranked by season’s end in that scenario, so the game itself might be between two highly ranked teams.
  2. Who and how comes out of the East. Say, because I’m me answering this question, it’s an undefeated Penn State coming out of the East, after having already beaten Iowa. We could have a Notre Dame/Georgia scenario (the former in 2020 and latter in 2021), where both teams still made the playoff after losing the championship game, by virtue of their only loss coming against a highly ranked team in the championship game.

As per “how west could the west get in its final season,” well, we’ve had:

  • Team without an offense wins the division.
  • Team without a non-conference victory wins the division.
  • Team without a win against the East wins the division.
  • Team with an 8-4 record wins the division.

The only thing missing is Illinois or Minnesota making the championship game with a 6-6 overall record and 4-5 Big Ten record, due to a convoluted 7-way tie for the division. Now, I know that’s unrealistic because ain’t no way Northwestern is winning four conference games, so a six-way tie will have to do.

“Which of the 4 Western Bloc teams do the ‘writers’ most want to see on their team’s future schedules; and which current B1G teams would they most want to see off their team’s schedules (to make room for Southern Cal, UCLA, Oregon, and/or Washington)?

And a bonus question: how many times will Maryland and Rutgers be answers to part 2?”

— ziowa9

Buffkomodo: Oregon and UCLA have up and down recent pasts. Yeah, programs are humming now but give it time. So initially, as the Hoosier here, I want to go to UCLA because ROSE BOWL BABY. I also would like UCLA at home because they’re the weakest of the 4. Either way I DEFINITELY don’t want to play Washington because DeBoer >>>> Allen.

WSR: All of them? We had a couple fun games with USC during the Kill era, Oregon fans were awesome in the pair of Sun Bowl matchups we had around the turn of the century, Washington and Minnesota had a bit of a rivalry back in the ancient days (and I want to go to Husky Stadium), and UCLA means the Gophers finally making a Rose Bowl trip. I understand the frustration for softball and gymnastics and the like, but I love all of the new additions for football (and basketball and volleyball).

BRT: We seem to play Ohio State a lot, and it’s never been much fun. No more OSU, we’re full, thanks. UCLA gets my vote—I don’t have a (lady) boner for the Rose Bowl like most of you all, but I could see myself enjoying a trip to LA in November, certainly. I’d actually enjoy visiting all of the west coast schools, but I’ve barely visited any of the existing Big Ten schools, so maybe I should start doing that first.

Kind of...: Give me Oregon and Washington Huskies. I want to see stadia full of real fans. Been to the Rose Bowl...for a Rose Bowl, so catching UCLA is not much of an inducement. USC? Whatever. If the home team fans are fair weather, why do I need to care? I live in the Great Philly area, so I’ll be the guy who says keep Rutgers and Maryland on UW schedules.

RockyMtnBlue: Give me UCLA. Partly because I like our chances against them most years, and partly because that’s the only one of the four I’m glad joined the Big10. I like Rutgers, Maryland, and even Nebraska more than I like any of those other three. Take OSU of the schedule. The new era of “no divisions” + “expanded playoff” ruins these classic rivalry games and I’m not fucking interested in Fox Sports Presents Diet “The Game” Presented by Clorox”. OSU will play in 85% of CCGs in the new format, even with the new power programs added. If we want a piece of them, we need to earn the other spot. Then it’s on. Fuck all the rest of this.

HWAHSQB: I don’t want any of those teams on my schedule. I’m just barely coming around to having the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Big Ten. Now I gotta go yell at some kids to get off my lawn!

Larry31: UCLA or USC. These two teams are guaranteed to sell-out SECU Stadium. Our goals at Maryland are modest. We’re not looking for a win as much as enthusiasm with the fanbase. Please get rid of OSU, UM, and PSU on our schedules for eternity. We have been equally as futile with Wiscy, so getting Wiscy off the achedule would also be nice.

misdreavus79: Given that Penn State was the only team without a permanent opponent in the initial iteration of the new schedule format, I’mma go with “everyone everyehwere, all at once.”

“I know we did this in 2020, as well, but there’s nothing like the classics, and we should get this one in before they play Michigan:

Is it time to talk to your kids about undefeated Rutgers?”

—Transient Buckeye

Buffkomodo: You’d be wasting your breath. You should instead talk to them about #9Win’Gers

WSR: If it’s past week 1 and they haven’t lost, it’s time to talk to your kids about undefeated Rutgers.

BRT: I don’t have kids, and the cats don’t seem very impressed about Rutgers.

Kind of...: The time to talk to the kids about Rutgers Scarlet Knights is when they’re 5-7 and a (semi-)prestigious bowl has a team with a Covid outbreak.

RMB: Rutgers is coming around. They might be a dark-horse contender in the West if they had favorable crossovers. They’re not ready for the big3 in the East, though, and Maryland is a bad matchup for them. Plus, their remaining two West games are probably the best two teams in the west, and both are on the road. Their record at the end of the season isn’t going to suggest this was a decent team, but they are.

Larry31: Rutger plays Michigan this week. Ask me this Sunday. I think your question will be moot by then.

misdreavus79: Undefeated now? Eh. Undefeated in a week? Yay! Undefeated at the end of the season? Ugh, but not possible anyway.

“I don’t know a thing about volleyball but apparently Rutgers is 8-2. Are they good, or have they just played crap teams in non-conference and they’ll get smoked in conference play? Even if that’s true, is that still a step up from where they were? Is it worth a trip to see a live game?” — rusjl98

WSR: It doesn’t matter if it’s an illusion from a soft schedule, go. Go and cheer on your volleyball team. It’s a blast, the sport is awesome, and there are some winnable conference games (Michigan and Ohio State). And even if you don’t go to those, there are a ton of really good teams coming to Piscataway and you can dream about Rutgers getting good and putting up a fight against Nebraska, PSU, and a wildly inconsistent and new coach-led Minnesota.

BRT: They do indeed play a stunningly soft non-con, so I expect a pretty big drop-off when they hit conference play. That said, they were genuinely improved last season, and they’re not the complete disaster they were a few seasons ago. I always am in favor of giving volleyball an audience, and you can see some incredible play in the Big Ten. I’d either recommend going and seeing one of the top teams playing even though Rutgers probably won’t fare well, if you’d like to see how magnificent the sport can be, OR picking one of the matches against the bottom third of the conference, where I think Rutgers is going to get some W’s this year. Check out Kindof’s “State of B1G Volleyball” piece from earlier this week!

Kind of...: Sorry, but they’re not very good. They had a similar non-conference performance two years ago, then went 0-20 in B1G play. I don’t think that will happen this year, but I also don’t think they finish any higher than 11th-12th. That said, there’s more volleyball being televised than ever, and on easy to find channels. It’s one of the most fun sports to watch, whether live or on TV. You don’t have to be an insufferable “well, if you watch the all-22 film, you’d see...” type of fan to enjoy it. If you’re hoping to catch a Rutgers win, wait until Senior Night vs. MSU on 11/18. If you want to see a really good team, #2 Nebraska comes to town on 11/5. #1 Wisconsin doesn’t visit Rutgers this year, alas.

RockyMtnBlue: I refuse to support this notion that volleyball is a real sport and deserves column inches in our fine sportsball blog.

/hides in basement while BRT starts looking for large rocks to throw

HWAHSQB: They’re probably still shitty, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a trip to see a live match. Volleyball is a great sport to watch live and generally the smaller crowds are more fun.

misdreavus79: [puts on nerd glasses] Wellactually, they’re 8-3.

“How high would Rutgers finish in the B1G West this year?” - Badgers & Bruins

Buffkomodo: This is the horseshit that drives Indiana fans up a wall. ‘Gers gets to play Nebby, Minny, and Purdue in their crossovers. I know they aren’t all for sure wins, but damn if those games aren’t all much more winnable than Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan. The BEST team currently in the West is anemic offensively in Iowa with Wisconsin still finding its feet. Rutgers would finish top 3 in the West, perhaps have a shot at winning if they were able to go 7-2/6-3. Death to divisions and good riddance B1G East.

WSR: Weed is legal in 2 states in the B1G West, so 2nd-to-last place Rutgers could get pretty high.

BRT: Those were very hurtful things to say, BuffyK. (Buff: <3 I LIKE MATT RHULE, just not this year)

Kind of...: @BuffKomodo is already high. Rutgers’ crossovers are Northwestern (did you NOT watch that opening week game in a time window all to itself on CBS!!!), Wisconsin, and Iowa. Unless Rutgers wins one of those two, I’m not giving them any benefit of the doubt. Sure, they have a better comparative win over VT than Purdue, but I’ll take any of Iowa, UW, Illinois, or Minnesota over them, and think Nebraka/Rutgers sounds close. So...5th or 6th I guess.

Buffkomodo: ....you know what Kind Of...I wrote this at 6 AM ish and...oh what’s that over there? *gestures at the window

...look over there! A squirrel! *frantically runs away

RockyMtnBlue: I kinda answered this one above inadvertently. They’re not as good as Iowa or wisconsin. If they were in the West right now, they’d be squarely in the morass of flawed mediocrity that is the fight for third place in that division.

Larry31: The only non-rev sport that matters is lacrosse. But seeing women’s volleyball out-draw Nebraska football in their own football stadium was awesome and funny.

misdreavus79: As fun as this hypothetical comes up every time it does with whatever iteration of teams from the East of the day, the reality is that the teams in the East are in the East, and the teams in the West are in the West. We’ll know soon enough how teams will do when they’re not tied to their divisions by virtue of those divisions no longer existing.

‘At the end of the regular season:

How many of the 10 original B1G members will be ranked in the top 25?

How many of the 8 new/soon to be B1G members will be ranked in the top 25?”

—ProveIt

Buffkomodo: NR - Indiana, Michigan State, Rutgers, Maryland, Northwestern, Nebraska, Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota, UCLA

Ranked - Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa; Penn State, USC, Washington, Oregon

WSR: Original 10: Ohio State, Michigan, maybe B1G West champs Minnesota.

Interlopers: Penn State, Washington, Oregon, USC

RockyMtnBlue: What WSR said

Larry31: Old Guard: Iowa, OSU, UM

Young Bulls: PSU, UCLA, USC, Washington, Oregon, Maryland That’s right! Maryland

misdreavus79: UChicago doesn’t play D1 football anymore so let’s leave them out. For the nine, you have Michigan, Ohio State, and possibly Iowa.

The “new member that’s been in the conference for 30 years” will probably finish ranked, barring some major derailment. Maryland can finish ranked if they only lose to the Big 3, and, between Washington, Oregon, UCLA, and USC, the Bruins are the only ones I could envision losing enough to finish unranked.