Mailbag: What if Michigan beats Ohio State?

Mailbag: What if Michigan beats Ohio State?

There is a lot to talk about as the season winds down. Ohio State and the BCS are on the minds of many, as is the always-anticipated Buckeye-Wolverine clash this Saturday.

So, let’s dig into this week’s cards and letters in my mailbag.

[ MORE: Get Tom Dienhart’s latest Big Ten Power Rankings ]

If Michigan can beat Ohio State this weekend, will the Wolverines crack the Top 25? Also, what bowl do you see them possibly playing in if they get the job done? – Eric

No way Michigan cracks anyone’s top 25 with a win over Ohio State. Yes, it would be impressive and a stunning upset. But the 7-4 Wolverines, losers of four of six, have had too many tough losses to get into the Top 25. Still, to ruin Ohio State’s 23-game winning streak and kill its BCS title game hopes would ease some of the pain for Wolverines fans. Heck, who am I kidding: It would ease all of it!

Why would the Buckeyes not leap Florida State in the BCS standings if they win out? – Anthony Brown

Yes, the Buckeyes have better foes left to play (Michigan and Michigan State) than Florida State (Florida and ACC title game), but pollsters (Harris and Coaches) won’t penalize the Seminoles if they win out. And, that’s two-thirds of the BCS formula. I can’t speak to what the computers would do. No one knows!

With all the talk about the strength of the SEC and its schedule, I couldn’t help but notice teams like Idaho, Chattanooga and Georgia Southern on the schedules of what we would consider to be traditionally top-ranked SEC schools. This late into the season, should there be a rule prohibiting these type of non-conference matchups? – Mark Harris

Look, the Big Ten just chooses to play non-conference patsies almost exclusively in September. The SEC opts to spread non-league cupcakes throughout the three-month schedule. That allows for some enticing SEC matchups in September. It’s a good idea. And it’s an idea the Big Ten may adopt.

[ MORE: Where does your team land on our latest Big Ten Bowl Projections? ]

Both division winners deserve to go to a BCS bowl. The team that loses the BIG Championship should not be penalized. This is what happened two years ago when MSU won the division but lost to Wisconsin in the league title game. Michigan ended up going to a BCS bowl—and Michigan State didn’t. – D. Glowacki

I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s a joke that a team gets knocked down for losing its league title game. Meanwhile, a team that doesn’t even win its division is rewarded a BCS bowl slot over a division winner. Huh? You are better off not winning your division than winning your division and losing the league title game. It just makes no sense.

You think Nebraska would have won a few more games with Ron Kellogg III as starting quarterback? I don’t. This squad is being held together with tape and bailing wire due to the inordinate amount of injuries. You wrote that to induce controversy. The truth is, the NU coaching staff handled the QB situation after the Taylor Martinez injury as well as possible. – Mark Luebbe

I just think it would have been interesting to see what would have happened with Kellogg at the controls. He’s a much better passer than Tommy Armstrong. And this offense needed a passing threat more than an athletic quarterback who could run, what with Ameer Abdullah already in the backfield.

How tough will it be for Ohio State to go from playing four consecutive games vs. lesser foes to playing a rival like Michigan? – Stephanie

A breeze. Ohio State is coming off relatively easy wins vs. Penn State, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana, outscoring those teams, 221-63. I don’t think that will impact the Buckeyes one iota when they play Michigan. This is a rivalry game that OSU wants to win not just for bragging rights—but to stay in contention for the BCS title game. The Buckeyes are playing their best football of the season, hitting on all cylinders on offense and playing great defense. They’ll be ready for the Wolverines, who aren’t playing well.

[ MORE: How did we do? Week 13 Big Ten picks revisited ]

Best food scene you’ve seen (for purchase, not tailgating) within walking distance from a Big Ten stadium? School with the best food for the media (hoping it’s not generic/boring pizza)? – Jonathan

Great question! You can walk to Mickies Dairy Bar from Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium. It’s a great breakfast place. There are myriad places in the Haymarket section near Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. Barry’s is a good place. Stella is a good joint that’s in the shadow of Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Those are just a few. What Big Ten press box has the best grub? I’ll go with Ohio State. No hot-dog-and-chips meals in Columbus. No sir. Always a top-notch spread. And they hand out McFlurry’s the entire game. It’s a fat man’s dream.

Can Michigan State beat Ohio State in Big Ten championship game? – Don Swanson

In a word: Yes. That Michigan State defense gives the Spartans a chance in every game. And, you know the adage: Good defense typically stops good offense. The Spartan offense also is playing well, as Connor Cook is developing as a passer and Jeremy Langford has emerged as one of the Big Ten’s top backs. He has 1,076 yards rushing and leads the Big Ten with 15 rushing TDs. Gotta like the Spartans’ chances.

Carlos Hyde missed three games and has played in eight. Against Florida A&M, he had only five carries. And he had just eight carries vs. Purdue. So, basically, Hyde has played six games but has rushed for over 1,000 yards. How is Hyde not considered the best RB in the Big Ten? Had he played in all 11 games, he’d be going after 1,500. – Charlie McNeil

I think if Hyde had played in every game, he may be approaching 1,800 yards. The guy has been a beast when he has played. He has 138 carries for 1,064 yards and 13 TDs, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. No doubt, Hyde could be considered the Big Ten’s top back. Too bad he was suspended for the first three games. But most feel Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah should get that honor. He leads the Big Ten with 1,483 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per tote with seven scores.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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