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Big Ten All-Stars Replace Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl

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The Gopher program is a mess right now, so let’s pick a new team to face Washington State in their place.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

There is a very messy situation at Minnesota right now. Earlier this week 10 players were suspended from their football team indefinitely for issues related to a Title IX investigation related to an earlier sexual assault investigation. Today it was announced that several other players are threatening to boycott the bowl game as a result of the suspensions. Without going into further detail it is not a clear situation on either side.

Still, there is a bowl game to be played and it is looking like Minnesota may not show up. So what happens? How about a unique situation where the Big Ten still sends a team to play Washington State, but it rewards some players who had good individual seasons even if their teams did not.

That’s right: Let’s send an All Star team comprised of players from Michigan State, Purdue, Rutgers, and Illinois: the four Big Ten teams that did not qualify for a bowl game. This way players get more valuable practice time and Washington State still gets an opponent. It is win-win while Minnesota figures out its situation.

So what would such a team look like?

Offense

QB: David Blough (Purdue) Tyler O’Connor (Michigan State) – Blough lost the passing title to Trace McSorley by 8 yards, and McSorley played an extra game. O’Connor did not reach 2,000 yards with MSU, but he at least had more TDs than INTs.

RB: LJ Scott (Michigan State) Kendrick Foster (Illinois) Markell Jones (Purdue) – Smith finished in the top 10 in the Big Ten just short of 1,000 yards. Foster had a good season with over 700 yards. Give Jones a good offensive line and he can produce as well.

WR: DeAngelo Yancey (Purdue) R.J. Shelton (Michigan State) Malik Turner (Illinois) Bilal Marshall (Purdue) Jawuan Harris (Rutgers) Cameron Posey (Purdue) – You give Blough three other decent receivers to go with three that had a good season with him. Yancey was by far the best receiver on a bad team in the Big Ten, and finished second in the league in Yards and touchdowns. If Purdue had any kind of season he is a First Team all-B1G selection.

Offensive Line: None of the four teams had a first- second- or third- team all-Big Ten lineman, but surely something can be pieced together from four offensive lines with Big Ten players. Jordan Roos and Jason King would be solid guards. Someone has to have some serviceable tackles, too.

Defensive Line: Malik McDowell (Michigan State) Dawuane Smoot (Illinois) Carroll Phillips (Illinois) Jake Replogle (Purdue) Julian Pinnix-Odrick (Rutgers) Gelen Robinson (Purdue) – Individually all of these guys were solid to excellent. McDowell, Smoot, and Phillips even made all-Big Ten teams. Put them together and you have a pretty good line.

Linebackers: Trevor Morris (Rutgers) Riley Bullough (Michigan State) Hardy Nickerson (Illinois) Markus Bailey (Purdue) Chris Frey (Michigan State) Tre Watson (Illinois) – There are six very good linebackers to build around. All were at or near 100 tackles and effective all over the field.

Defensive Backs: Darian Hicks (Michigan State) Da’Wan Hunte (Purdue) Blessuan Austin (Rutgers) Darius Mosely (Illinois) – This was the hardest area to pick, but this isn’t a terrible back four. There is more than enough up front to cover up their mistakes.

Kicker: Michael Geiger (Michigan State) – All four kickers made at least 10 field goals, but Geiger was a solid 15 of 19 with a long of 52.

Punter: Joe Schopper (Purdue) – Schopper downed 24 of 56 punts inside the 20 and had only 6 touchbacks all year. He was great at spot punting and had a long of 57 yards.

Kickoff Returner: Janarion Grant (Rutgers) – He had a kickoff return for a touchdown, so he gets the nod.

Punt Returner: Janarion Grant (Rutgers) – Grant also returned a punt for a TD and averaged 16 yards per return.

So there is the basis for your team! Grab a few more reserves from the roster of all four teams and we can take on Washington State!