Dienhart's Mailbag: You Ask, He Answers

Have a Big Ten football question you want answered? I’m Tom Dienhart and I want you to fire off an email to me. This is a great place for us to interact with each other, sharing our passion for all things Big Ten as the season prepares to hit the home stretch. This week, readers want to know if Purdue will qualify for a bowl, what the tiebreaker procedures are for divisional play and how Russell Wilson was able to be eligible right away at Wisconsin, among other subjects.

I can’t believe I’m asking this, but does Purdue still have a legit shot at a bowl bid? The only game left that they likely will be favored in will be at Indiana. Who else do they have a shot at beating so they could clinch that sixth win needed for bowl eligibility at Bloomington? -  Cameron Smith

Dienhart: Yes, Purdue still does have a shot at the postseason—really. I know things looked bleak after that 38-10 pummeling at home to Notre Dame on Oct. 1. But Danny Hope has rallied the Boilermakers to two victories in their last three games. Purdue is 4-3, needing two more wins to get bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. As you said: Many people like the Boilers’ chances in the Old Oaken Bucket game to end the season. But where would win No. 6 come from? There is a lot of heavy lifting before the Indiana game, beginning with consecutive trips to Michigan and Wisconsin. That’s followed by back-to-back home games vs. Ohio State and Iowa. It won’t be easy. I think Purdue’s best chance may be at home vs. Iowa. A big reason to be optimistic is the continued development of quarterback Caleb TerBush, who must continue to become a better passer. And the defense appears to have turned a corner, especially a line that has looked strong in recent weeks. So, circle the Iowa and Indiana games.

In determining the winners of each division, is it the conference record or the division record to determine first place? – Tom Antioho

Dienhart: This is straight from the honchos at Big Ten HQ in Park Ridge, Ill.

If two teams are tied, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the representative.

If three or more teams are tied, there are a series of seven steps used to determine the representative for the Big Ten title game. If only two teams remain tied after any step is applied, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the representative.

1. The records of the three tied teams will be compared against each other.

2. The records of the three tied teams will be compared within their division.

3. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed teams in their division in order of finish (4, 5, and 6).

4. The records of the three teams will be compared against all

common conference opponents.

5. The highest ranked team in the first Bowl Championship Series Poll following the completion of Big Ten regular season conference play shall be the representative in the Big Ten Championship Game,

unless the two highest ranked tied teams are ranked within one spot of each other in the BCS poll. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the Big Ten Championship.

6. The team with the best overall winning percentage [excluding exempted games] shall be the representative.

7. The representative will be chosen by random draw.

I’m a Spartan, and after that incredible Hail Mary win over Wisconsin, I want to know the scenario of who goes to Rose Bowl with the new divisions and a championship game. Is it whoever wins the inaugural championship game? – John Macksood

Dienhart: This is a simple one. I like simple ones. The winner of the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis on Dec. 3 will get the Rose Bowl bid. One big caveat: The winner of the league title game wouldn’t play in the Rose Bowl if it finished Nos. 1 or 2 in the BCS standings and played for the national championship.

I am interested to know how wins and losses to teams in the other division effect a team’s standing within its own division. – Keenan Simpson

Dienhart: A win or loss to a team from the other division is treated the same as a win or loss to a team in the same division.

Will you be publishing your “Winners and Losers” (lucky guy, poor guy, desperately seeking a clue, etc.) column each week on this website, like you did with Yahoo? I really enjoyed reading those each week. Thanks! – Shannon

Dienhart: That was a fun item to do each week! And readers seemed to get a kick out of the simple, quick analysis/summation of the week’s games. Since I no longer will be covering the national scene, I just don’t think the Big Ten offers a big enough body of work to do a Winners and Losers column like that. But maybe I can come up with some type of variation. Stay tuned!

How could Wisconsin recruit Russell Wilson from N.C. State, where he was a starter? When did the NCAA allow intercollegiate recruiting? Also, why doesn’t he have to sit out a year, like other transfers? I’ve heard that the coach from Wisconsin “wooed” him. Why isn’t that against NCAA rules? -Dawn

Dienhart: Wilson was able to leave N.C. State immediately and play at Wisconsin because he already had graduated. And the advanced degree he is pursuing at Wisconsin isn’t offered at N.C. State. Those are the reasons why Wilson is playing in Madison this fall. It’s a rule the NCAA instituted a few years ago. Several others players have done the same thing in recent years, but none with a profile (or impact) as high as Wilson.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.

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