Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 13, 2014

You have questions, and I have answers in this week?s Big Ten Mailbag. Let's come up with a nickname for Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, OK? And can the Ohio State at Michigan State get here already?

Melvin Gordon could have had rushed for over 300 yards vs. Illinois if Gary Andersen hadn't sat him down and let backups play. Wisconsin will be ready for your Hawkeyes. But Iowa and Minnesota will be tough games. – Gary

No doubt, Gordon could have piled up the yards vs. Illinois. As it was, he ran for 175 yards. Yes, I picked Iowa to win the West back in the preseason. That pick isn?t looking great, as the offense remains a work in progress. Still, by the time Iowa meets Wisconsin, both teams may have their quarterback situation figured out. The defenses for each is good. Ditto Minnesota. FYI: Wisconsin finishes the season at Iowa on Nov. 22 and vs. Minnesota on Nov. 29.


Will some of the horrendous calls against Minnesota in its game vs. Northwestern get reviewed? – Carol Keers

?Horrendous? is a subjective word, but I feel your pain. At one point, Jerry Kill got so hot that he was assessed a penalty for complaining about a call. Man, was he upset. Schools can alert the league office about calls they object to. Any ruling by the Big Ten office isn?t made public.

If reference to your objection to two-quarterback systems ? How many head coaching jobs did you say you have had? – Jan Selge

Well, none in football. But I was the head coach of my 11-year-old daughter?s church basketball team last year. And, we did go unbeaten. So, there?s that. But, it?s not about the wins, I am told. (Ya, right. Never believe that.)

We need to call Melvin Gordon "Flash Gordon." He needs a nickname. – PW

Sounds good to me. I love nicknames. And ?Flash? is a good one for Gordon.

Do you find Kirk Ferentz to be one of the most guarded, stubborn and consistently conservative coaches in the B1G? Who knows how the QB situation will play out? But it is hard to watch. C.J. Beathard needs to spread his wings, so to speak. Hoping he gets the chance. – Paul McMorris

Ferentz is set in his ways. But, why not? He has had a lot of success doing things his way. We?ll see how the quarterback situation plays out. Jake Rudock looked good in dispatching Indiana on Saturday, hitting 19-of-27 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Beathard played sparingly and tossed just five passes. But slicing up the Hoosier defense isn?t a great feat. Iowa will face some tough defenses in the second half of the season: Northwestern ? Minnesota ? Wisconsin ? Nebraska. Stay tuned.

Do you think Ohio State is looking past its next three games against Rutgers, Penn State and Illinois? Rutgers may have a great opportunity to knock off the Buckeyes. – Dennis Cremo

I don?t think Ohio State will overlook anyone. Urban Meyer can point his players to upsets across the nation to let them know that all teams must be taken seriously. Rutgers is playing well and arguably has been the biggest surprise in the Big Ten. This team is just a three-point home loss to Penn State away from being 6-0. Each team has a nice defense, so it may come down to the quarterback who plays best. This could be a special season in Columbus. And OSU will be dialed in toward the three-game run-up to the Nov. 8 tilt at Michigan State.

If Ohio State wins out, will it earn a spot in the playoffs? – Casey

I think most agree that if the Buckeyes do win out and go 12-1 with a Big Ten title, they likely will earn a spot in the postseason. Of course, much depends on what happens in the other leagues. Still, even having said that, most think a one-loss Big Ten champ is almost a lock to make the playoffs.

Could you see Ohio State giving Michigan State a good game when they meet in East Lansing on Nov. 8? And with Braxton Miller eligible for another year and J.T. Barrett coming on strong, what do the Buckeyes do next year as far as a starting quarterback goes? – Mate Jonas

The Buckeyes not only can give the Spartans a good game, they can beat MSU. Ohio State has three more games to develop before playing at Michigan State. The offensive line is developing a hard edge with Ezekiel Elliott running behind it. And Barrett looks like a future star. The defense still has to show it can consistently stop the pass. Still, Urban Meyer?s team is rising.

As for OSU?s quarterback situation in 2015, it?s a nice problem to have. It sounds like Miller will be the man. But we all know his injury history. Whatever happens, the Buckeyes have a nice situation under center next year. But let?s get through this season first!

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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