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Golden Nugz for 1.28.09

It seems like everyone is going to have an opinion on Minnesota v. USC. And that's probably a good thing.

Here's a tidbit from an ESPN Big Ten mailbag

Joe from Parts Unknown writes: Adam, My colleague and I have been engaged in a heated debate since word broke of the ensuing USC-Minnesota showdowns, and I'm hoping you might settle the score for us. My buddy Marc, an avid Gophers fan, believes the publicity is a can't-miss boost to Minnesota, even if it means his team is dismantled, pummeled, and embarrassed worse than if they had lost to a D-III school. The exposure justifies the pain in his opinion. My contention is that Minnesota is freely sowing its own demise, and the team would be much better off beating up on a lackluster Washington State team. Minnesota might have the same team colors as USC, but they definitely don't have comparable talent. You thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: I certainly understand your concern about a Gophers beatdown, especially given what USC has done to Big Ten teams in recent years. But for Minnesota to start getting the respect it lacked for most of the Glen Mason era, the schedule had to be upgraded. Too many teams are afraid of scheduling teams like USC, for fear it will keep them out of a minor bowl game. It leads to a largely bland nonconference season for fans to watch and reporters to cover. I understand the need for programs without a long history of bowls to reach the postseason, but we're talking about one or maybe two tough non-league games.

The way I look at it, the Big Ten always has two chances to regain national respect -- September and the bowl season. Conference play simply doesn't matter to people who regard the Big Ten as a down league. So if Minnesota can hang close with USC or even pull a huge upset, it would be a major boost for the program and the league. I agree that beating a solid team like Cal on Sept. 19 -- or even Washington State -- seems more realistic for Minnesota, but the approach of scheduling a tough team or two is a good one. I look at a team like Penn State, which didn't get the respect I thought it deserved for much of the 2008 season. With a weak nonconference lineup for 2009, the Lions might not get any national respect until the postseason. I really hope Penn State considers adding another BCS opponent for 2009, possibly an ACC team. There's definitely a benefit not only for the program, but the league.