Big Ten Mailbag: Fans sound off on bowl games

Big Ten Mailbag: Fans sound off on bowl games

The New Year is here. And, what better way to kick it off than by answering some of your question in a mail bag. Warning: This is college football bowl-heavy content as fans critique their team’s performances as well as a few of my latest posts.

So, here you go!

You keep saying “undermanned” Georgia team when discussing the Gator Bowl. Don’t you think Nebraska was undermanned, too? – Dante

Was Nebraska undermanned as much as Georgia? Were the Cornhuskers missing many key players? Offensive lineman Spencer Long was out. Taylor Martinez has been out for a while, allowing Tommy Armstrong myriad starts. The Bulldog quarterback was making his first career start. BIG difference. And the team’s top two receivers were out. Plus, the team’s top running back had a gimpy ankle. Look, I’m not trying to diminish Nebraska’s win in the Gator Bowl or what it overcame injury-wise. But, Georgia was far from itself and in worse shape than Nebraska.

You do remember that Tommie Frazier was only a 49.6 percent career passer, don’t you? As a freshman, Frazier hit only 44 percent of his passes. Why make such a big deal out of the fact that Armstrong was only 53 percent for the season? – Dan

Neither is or was a good passer. That’s the point. And, to even put Armstrong’s name in the same sentence with Frazier’s is laughable.


Bowl Location Date (All ET)/TV Coverage
Texas Bowl
Syracuse 21, Minnesota 17
Houston, TX
Reliant Stadium
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Kansas St. 31, Michigan 14
Tempe, AZ
Sun Devil Stadium
Sat., Dec. 28 10:15 p.m./ESPN DIENHART | AP RECAP | GALLERY | VIDEO Gator Bowl
Nebraska 24, Georgia 19
Jacksonville, FL
EverBank Field
Capital One Bowl
S. Carolina 34, Wisconsin 24
Orlando, FL
Florida Citrus Bowl
Outback Bowl
LSU 21, Iowa 14
Tampa, FL
Raymond James Stadium
Rose Bowl Game
Michigan State 24, Stanford 20
Pasadena, CA
Rose Bowl
Discover Orange Bowl
Ohio State vs. Clemson
Miami Gardens, FL
Sun Life Stadium
Fri., Jan. 3 8:30 p.m./ESPN Preview | Scores


You give Iowa’s defense a “D” in the Outback Bowl? LSU averages 38 points, 420 yards and 25 first downs.  What did Iowa hold them to? Iowa blanketed their receivers all night. Give Iowa a little credit! – Bob Niederhauser

Did you realize LSU wasn’t playing with star quarterback Zach Mettenberger? Had Iowa held the Tigers to those numbers with Mettenberger under center, it would have been impressive. But LSU started a true freshman quarterback who was making his first start. Everyone on the globe knew what LSU was going to do: run. And, Iowa couldn’t stop it.

Thank you for a wonderfully written article on Bill O’Brien’s departure from our Penn State program. While I am so disappointed he is leaving, I am anything but disappointed in him. He resurrected our program after so much sadness. We are forever grateful and the true PSU fan can only wish him well. – Pam Fleck

Thanks for the kind words. And well said about what O’Brien did. In just two short years, he righted the Nittany Lions’ ship and has the program pointed in the right direction. Yes, some rough sledding still may be ahead, but O’Brien shepherded the program through its darkest days.

Good thoughts about Bill O’Brien. I would have liked to have seen him stay two more years. What are we teaching our young people about commitment? I feel bad for the players. He told them to come to PSU. I will be there! We Are! – Pat Arnold

I can understand why some Penn State fans may be rankled about O’Brien bolting after two years. I thought he’d stay four, to walk one class all the way through. But, he did a lot in two scant seasons. And the school should be pleased with that. We all have to do what is best for us professionally.

Although I do agree with some of what you have written (about Bill O’Brien leaving), I don’t think that it is your place to tell people whether they have the right to criticize Bill O’Brien or not. According to some of the recruits and current players (the people who are really impacted in all of this), he allegedly told them that he would stay for a specified period of time. If O’Brien really told the players and recruits that he would be there during their time at PSU, what does leaving now say about the man? – Ecnypsufan

Good points. But, next time a school fires a coach who told parents and recruits he would “be there,” rip the school for not honoring the coach’s contract. The door swings both ways.

I’m a huge Wisconsin fan, and I was wondering why the Badgers consistently have success recruiting running backs but never seem to land decent QB prospects? Wouldn’t recruits be interested in a program like Wisconsin? – Daniel

I understand why you may have angst about the Badgers quarterback situation after this season. But don’t forget: Some good quarterbacks have matriculated through Madison in the last 10-15 years, many of whom went on to the NFL. Darrell Bevell, Jim Sorgi, Brooks Bollinger, Scott Tolzien and Russell Wilson, among others. So, my point: Good quarterbacks do find their way to Wisconsin. Just, be patient.

I was at the Gophers bowl game. I agree with your thoughts. The Gophers really played poorly. I also thought they were out coached. I was really disappointed in the game plan as well as the execution. It appears we do not have what we need at the QB position and really need to look elsewhere. Thank you for your honest opinion all year. – Archie

Minnesota’s need at quarterback was apparent well before Jerry Kill arrived for the 2011 season. This never has been a school that has had stellar quarterback play. Give the Gophers coaches credit for maximizing the talent that is on hand and squeezing as much talent as possible from the roster. Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner still have time to develop. And redshirt freshman Chris Streveler is a promising prospect. Kill and Co., have developed good quarterbacks at other schools (Hello, Jordan Lynch!). Count on them doing it again.

Maybe someone should watch Brandon Taylor at PSU. To me, he is the MIP in the BIG. -John

No doubt, the 6-7 Taylor remade his body his freshman season, losing 30 pounds, and impacted last season. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 2012-13. Now, he’s averaging 11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds for a Nittany Lions program that is on the upswing.


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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