Friday, December 29, 2006

Hurricanes Love Snow

Since it's a ruse already to have an ACC-affiliated bowl game hosted in Idaho each winter, one of the running jokes (or "storylines") for the press is to watch some big ole' Southern boys getting their first taste of snow.

The Idaho Statesman, and no doubt some of the local news broadcasts have had their fun, and ESPN will surely run some cute, good-natured tape of its own to document this noteworthy encounter during its telecast of the Micron PC Bowl on Sunday.

Sure, "the snow is cool" for now, but what effect, if any, will it have on the Hurricanes come Sunday? Only time will tell, but Vegas doesn't seem too concerned spotting Miami 3.5 points as the favorite. At a wobbly (even in Florida) 6 and 6 coming into what amounts to a cold, hostile environment in Boise (only 5 hours by car from Reno) I've got my doubts.

I may be tacking the Pack in this one.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Big Ten, Little Results?

After three terrible years for the nation's premier football conference, will this finally be the year that the Big Ten rises to the occasion for Bowl Season? (I just christened "Bowl Season" as a proper noun)

The past three Bowl Seasons have been lackluster for the Big Ten, and the conference hasn't survived with a winning record since 2002 (which was the last time the mighty Buckeyes won the national championship, I might add):

2002/2003 Bowl Season: 5-2
2003/2004 Bowl Season: 3-5
2004/2005 Bowl Season: 3-3
2005/2006 Bowl Season: 3-3

This year could prove to be different. Before we dive into some of the Big Ten's seven bowl games, let's look at a reason WHY the Big Ten might fare better.

Most convincingly (to this guy) is the overall strength of the teams. The Big Ten has 2 of the 3 top teams in the nation, even though the Big Ten is admittedly top-heavy. But there are also 3 Big Ten and 3 SEC teams in the Top 10. All 3 of those teams have a great chance to win their games.

The second issue is the players. It's a little disappointing that we won't get to see two of the best players of the Big Ten future (Juice Williams of Illinois and Kellen Lewis of Indiana) in these bowl games, but we're going to see a hell of a lot of them. Why?

In sticking with the tradition of picking on the SEC, nine of this year's ESPN All-Americans are from the Big Ten, compared with six from the SEC. In addition, nine of this year's AP All-Americans are from the Big Ten, compared with four from the SEC. The Big Ten has almost every part of the football field covered in the All-American selections, from quarterback to offensive line to linebackers and secondary. You're going to get to see some stellar players take the field in the next couple weeks.

On to the games themselves. What would be better than a sweep for the Big Ten in bowl games against the SEC? This year, we're getting three great SEC/Big Ten matchups in the bowls. Maybe these will help sort out what is the best conference this year:

Penn State vs. Tennessee
Penn State was mediocre this year, and it's too bad that JoePa didn't leave after last year's amazing run, ending with a victory over co-dinosaur Bobby Bowden. Not sure how good this game will be, but I just hope JoePa makes it through the game with his pants intact.

Arkansas vs. Wisconsin
People don't yet believe in Wisconsin, because they didn't have to play Ohio State this year and their toughest game, against conference heavy Michigan, they lost. But I think first-year coach Bret Bielema has done a hell of a job stepping into the very-hard-to-fill shoes of Barry Alvarez. And McFadden is a beast. I guess we'll see what happens, but I think the Badgers can gain some street cred for the Big Ten with a win in this game.

Ohio State vs. Florida
This is just too much for me to think about right now. But I will definitely be addressing this game, along with the other Big Ten bowl games, within the next few days.

Stay tuned.

Oklahoma Bored With Boise State

As a generic Knight-Ridder (now 'McClatchy Company') publication The Idaho Statesman is really stretching its creative power on the wings of Boise State's recent success. Judging by the above-the-fold hype, this must make business sense from the standpoint that the Broncos are the hottest gig in town and are no doubt pulling in lots of eyeballs for advertising sales. Yeah!

From the fan's perspective it's also yielding some interesting journalism. For example, Statesman reporter Chadd "Double D" Cripe's foray into enemy (Sooner) territory. For the sake of generating more than the standard, speculative rehashing of available internet-data and hot-air pre-bowl game coverage, the Statesman has embedded Mr. Cripe in Norman, Okla. to get a pulse on the enemy team, its fans, and their general ennui at this match up.

You can view the dedicated coverage here.

The articles are colorful and highlight the significant back story, which is starting to read something like unrequited love.

The Broncos are thrilled to be here. They've embedded a reporter. They sold their allotment in record time. The riff raff in Idaho are mortgaging their homes and shelling out $1,400 each for booze-soaked charter airplane/tailgate/ticket packages. Coach Chris Petersen may be offered the governorship.

The Sooners not so much. For their part they're not reflecting back any of that love. This seems odd for a community so steeped in college football lore. They've sold their allotment of 17,500 tickets, but needed help to get there with less than 25% of season ticket holders partaking. OU Fiesta Bowl merchandise is gathering dust on the shelves as the rout (34-10 trend early, Norman-based predictions) is expected.

The Norman Transcript website is giving this game none of the above-the-fold love of the Idaho Stateman, apparently more concerned with the seasonal Christmas Story Contest. Meanwhile its OU Sports Page (for Chrissakes!) is busy covering basketball, in December!

Maybe they're right to be so blase. Maybe the Fiesta Bowl is a no-win situation for Oklahoma. And if this attitude remains the same they sure are looking like the early losers.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ian Johnson Scored 24 Touchdowns This Season

And they're all here in an easily-enjoyed compilation.

There's a lot of bad image quality going on here, but that doesn't diminish the fact that Ian Johnson led Division I-A in scoring this season with 24 touchdowns. Amazing. Three of those he got wearing a flak jacket after breaking his ribs and collapsing a lung.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sooners Intimidate with Acoustic Guitar, Mellow Musical Stylings

How's this for mid-tempo intimidation?

If the rest of the Sooners fans are this chill in their vitriol I'd say the State fans should dominate them in the stands.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Adrian Peterson Back for Fiesta Bowl, and Pete Fiutak Hates Boise State

It's true that you can't spell Pete Fiutak without a big F.U. In his CFN Q&A, Mr. Fiutak lambasts Bob Stoops for his declaration of Adrian Peterson's health to play in the Fiesta Bowl (see How much does Oklahoma care about its players?) against Boise State.

His objection to this move is that it could endanger Peterson's draft status on the off chance he gets injured:

"But Oklahoma isn't playing in the national championship, or even the Big 12 title game, which would then be more than understandable for Peterson to come back to play in. The Fiesta Bowl against Boise State is nothing more than a glorified exhibition game, and certainly isn't worth jeopardizing this great kid's future.

What if he blows out a knee like Willis McGahee in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl? What if he breaks his leg like Michael Bush in the season opener against Kentucky? We're talking about a top ten pick in next year's draft, and possibly number two behind Brady Quinn, and he's going to risk it against Boise freakin' State?!

It's Peterson's place to say he wants to play and nothing can keep him off the field. It's up to the adults to do what's best for him and his family."

(*bold emphasis added by me)

So we're calling on Stoops to stop and consider Peterson's NFL future before considering his team's need to win this game? Forgive me for asking when a college coach, whose primary responsbility is to win games for his university (and his job depends on it), has ever or should ever give precedence to the future NFL career of player during the process of gameplanning, especially when it comes to benching his best player.

What we're seeing here is a disgraceful lack of respect being shown to Boise State. If it were any other BCS program this wouldn't be a question that would cross Fiutak's nimble mind. He thinks that the win over Boise State is such a forgone conclusion that Stoops should bench Peterson. Well, by that logic let's suggest Stoops bench any player with pro-prospects and see how they do.

While I can see the knee-jerk appeal of this type of thinking, it's flawed. Playing Boise State is a no-win situation for a prestige program like Oklahoma. They are expected to win and win big, since eeking it out and God forbid, losing, are both calamities of a high order. There is no reward for beating Boise State, since it's expected, and a high degree of punishment in the offing should they lose. For this reason I would expect Stoops to pull out the stops and give Boise State the shot they deserve - Oklahoma's best shot. That's the only intelligent move he can make and if Adrian Peterson gives him a better chance than :who's the backup running back" that's a move Stoops had better make.

Now, if you still don't agree, let's entertain Fiutak's advice and say Stoops lets Peterson watch the game in street clothes. Boise State can play and they take the lead, by halftime people are asking questions about Stoops' decision and he looks like a turkey. If it's close or the Sooners lose, Stoops looks like a pretty big turkey. Solution? Eliminate the uncertainty, give Boise State the respect they're due and play Peterson if he's really healthy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Can the Rose Bowl Recover from the Cold?

There is the fact that I partied too hard this weekend, consuming drink and smoke in abundance and impairing my immune system. Then I was out in the elements as well, climbing a remote peak in central New Hampshire in bitter temperatures and howling wind probably without the proper attire. Third is that emotionally I've been dragging since USC blew the pure, 'Trojan-paved' road to Glendale and Michigan was dissed on style-points in favor of Florida. The collective effect of all of this is that I'm sick and tired. The controversy has finally grown exhausting.

It's weird to admit this but the Rose Bowl is feeling like an all around letdown. I would guess that a lot of this has to do with the fact that both USC and Michigan are coming off losses to back pedal into a Granddaddy of Them All whose pre-game energy are so far actually fitting the geriatric nickname.

The feeling is remarkably different from a week ago when LSU was OMG excited to have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. When USC was headed to the Nat'l Championship, and Michigan seemed pumped to play a worthy foe in LSU. But now, there seems to be zero excitement for this game. (I would bet this extends to the Sugar Bowl as well where it's kind of a glorified home game for LSU against a glorified high-school squad in Notre Dame, but I would differ to the Bayou Bengals fans to expand on that sentiment.)

For Michigan it's the political letdown. The system failed again. The voters suddenly freaked out at the idea of a rematch. Urban Meyer lobbied shamelessly while Lloyd Carr remained, silent, stoic, dignified. Tressel didn't vote.

For USC it's the no-less hard hitting body blow. They were the masters of their own destiny and choked in a very big way to an inferior team. They are left not only dealing with the damage of a bad loss but also the haunting spectre of what might have been had they kept their shit together.

In the end we're left wondering if USC is really that good a team, and whether Michigan can recover from the handicapping feelings of victimhood. Will this be a good Rose Bowl or will both teams show up feeling sorry for themselves?

In any other year this is a marquee matchup, a classic Rose Bowl. Three years ago this was the game that launched USC back to dynastic, National prominence in a win over Michigan. And the deck appears to be stacked to launch the winner of this game onto an urgent and real campaign for pre-season #1 and championship expectations next year.

That's the glamorous storyline, but so far the glitter just isn't there. There's one month left to let these wounds heal and like me, these teams and their shell-shocked fanbases have a long way to go to get the energy levels back up and recover from the cold.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Miami Hurricanes to Micron PC Bowl

Yesterday the University of Miami (and not of Ohio) accepted a bowl bid to play in the Micron PC Bowl on December 31 in Boise, Idaho. As a native son and outspoken supporter of the Boise Broncos I am proud of that program and everything it has achieved, so it is no reflection on my love for Boise, the Blue Turf, or the Broncos when I say that objectively it's not the most glamorous bowl game. And its usually fucking cold in Boise right around New Years.

Still the bowl, known as the Humanitarian Bowl before it wrangled corporate sponsorship, has played host to all kinds of fish out of water teams, mostly from the ACC including Clemson, Georgia Tech and Virginia. (It's always fun to see Southern boys running around confused in the cold.) There is a National Championship team among these ranks, but none so far has matched the prestige of the U and they are coming humbly to Boise on the heels of their worst season in a long, long time.

But they won’t play the Broncos, who more often than not play in their home-town bowl game, because there’s also a rarely seen degree of poetic symmetry at play. Boise State is on the rise, while Miami has fallen on hard times and their post-season destinies have crisscrossed. Boise will be visiting the BCS playing on a stage as grand as the Orange Bowl, which Miami calls home. Miami is making the opposite trip to play the Nevada Wolfpack.

For me it highlights a great subplot to this season: the continued delicious demise of the dominant Florida programs.

You will remember that both Miami and Florida State really began their downward trends last season. Larry Coker was a pre-season hot-seat occupant (and a dead-on prognostication to the college football media’s credit) while Bobby Bowden was beginning to catch some of the same aging-legend-can’t-coach-anymore-and-better-retire flak that Joe Paterno was so used to.

It’s interesting to point out here that Paterno shook this by winning last year, going 11-1 and beating FSU in the Orange Bowl. Now, you could say, hey, FSU won the ACC and made it to the Orange Bowl last year, and you’d be right. But at 8-5 we all know it was bunk as the new-look ACC has sort of gotten into the habit of turning out tepid champions. Take your pick this year, Georgia Tech or Wake Forest.

In any case both teams were highly-ranked pre-season for no other reason than that they are Miami and Florida State. And they played early ranked #11 and #12 in the country. The game without offense sucked and that’s when we got the first whiffs of putrification.

But it's been a refreshing kind of putrification, refreshing like seeing the neighborhood bullies finally get their comeuppance. You don’t see a lot of justice in the world, particularly in the conflict between the haves and the have nots. But now two of the most thuggish, arrogant haves of all of college footballdom are groveling at 6-6 and it's awesome.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chat Transcript: Boise State for National Championship Game!

switters: PTI yesterday
wilbon said that Boise State should play OSU in the NC

i love it

he said the big schools are afraid to play the little guys

there's not much in it for them
beating boise state is expected
losing to them is a calamity

how do you feel about the fact that troy smith is going to win he heisman, the maxwell award, the davey o'brien award, and the walter camp award

nastyb: i'm smiling about that

would USC give us a good game
do you think?

i don't know
i didn't think illinois would give you a good game
but hey
they're a good team
they'll be in it
unlike notre dame

switters: well they definitely beat notre dame

: yerp
there's kind of a groundswell to keep notre dame out of the BCS
which i support
and at the same time, some people are calling for the ascendancy of boise state
some people want them in the rose bowl
that would be a vexing problem for me

switters: haah
that's awesome
you gotta love *hometown newspapers

: i know
they get so excited

*Austin American-Statesman: Boise State to BCS Title Game
*The Tacoma New Tribune: Boise State to Rose Bowl

Rolling Rock Beer Ape

I've got nothing today and Switters apparently doesn't blog anymore, though you'd think he'd have a lot to crow about with the Buckeyes following the Trojan-paved road to Glendale.

Anyway, I like this commerical combining hot girls, beer, apes and rock music to an amusing affect. I'll come up with more football related bric-a-brac later.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Will the Rose Bowl Please Appreciate LSU?

LSU wants it badly. And the world deserves Michigan/LSU rather than another bland spoonful of Michigan/Notre Dame. We get that dish every September and in this case I think Weis could do with the extra months to prepare...

As for the argument that Notre Dame pays out, well the proud people of Louisiana are showing they can do the same and have already sold 15,000 tickets to two bowls (Rose and Orange) to which the Tigers have yet to be invited to.

The Story

That's enthusiasm that's got to count for something. Book 'em Rose Bowl.

Grievances to Air

Switters is right. I’m fucking stewing on this terrible new idea that Notre Dame might get a rematch with Michigan in the Rose Bowl. He can sit back and laugh while tOSU awaits their draw for the Championship game, but these weeks are stressful outside of Buckeye Country.

But now I’ve collected my thoughts and courage to air my grievances:

*I was already leery of the idea of any rematch in a big bowl game, including Ohio State/Michigan, considering the idea of double-jeopardy an ill reward for a team that’s already put another down like a lame horse. So why should anyone in Michigan have to worry about their Bowl game sucking ass because of an unchallenging opponent whom they have already shellacked and whom in fact doesn’t even belong anywhere near the January bowl games? Despite the fact that these are rhetorical questions, meant to imply obvious answers, Ivan Maisel and a groundswell of lesser, mostly Internet-based ‘experts’ are on board here. If the big question is why? I’m going to give them the why not, as in the reasons that nobody wants to see this game again. Not coincidentally, these are also the main reasons Notre Dame sucks this year and should be BCS blacklisted immediately:

-Receivers can’t catch
-Defense can’t tackle
-Smug Ass QB
-Fat Ass Coach
-West Coast Offense Poseurs
-Faustian Deal for Automatic BCS Bowl Appearance (This is kind of making me thing the Devil sort of sucks too. I mean he’s the Master of Darkness and all, but this is more evil than I thought even He could be.)
-Has’t Won Big Since 1993 (see Florida State)
-Impressive Wins? Comebacks at Michigan State and at home against UCLA.
-47-21 in South Bend
-44-24 in Los Angeles

*Best remaining possible match-up for Michigan: LSU, and it’s not even close.

*I know we all agree that Brent Musburger is no Keith Jackson, so it’s not just my fear of change that makes me want to barf every time I hear the latest stillborn sentence that guy aborts from his shriveled old pie hole. So did anyone else cringe when he concluded that the “road to Glendale, Arizona is paved with Trojans!” on Saturday night? Aside from the number of disturbing visualizations that can go with that specific choice of phrasing, the whole idea of it is just stupid and not cool to say. His sidekicks, including Kirk Herbstreit and his smart, frosted-tips, were shocked speechless. What is there to say to that? How can you possibly respond? “Yes. You’re right Brent.” Get that old guy off the air before he poisons all of our minds with the idea that it is okay to say whatever bullshit passes through our minds as momentarily appealing. The worst part is that he’s getting paid for this non-sequitur blather and setting a poor example of how the elderly should descend quietly into obsolescence, particularly as Alzheimer’s (or old-fashioned, on-air drunkenness) spices up his speech with a wacky palate of off-color inanities.

*I know this isn’t appropriate in the least, but who’d have ever though it would be just $20 on the Clemson/South Carolina game that would separate the Quick and the dead. [Insert Comedic Drum Fill Here]. Read the story here if you don’t get it. And even if you do it’s probably not so much funny ‘ha-ha,’ as funny ‘peculiar’ or ‘tragic,’ actually.

*So far Youtube has failed to give me video of Kyle Wilson’s strip in the BSU/Nevada game. This would have made yesterday’s post a lot more EMPHATIC, and of course there’s also the truism that the world just needs to see a sweet strip like that whenever they get the chance. One of the best plays of 2006, bar none.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Boise State Style Points

What a win for Boise State on Saturday. The smoked Nevada like a Cuban cigar and are on their way to Tempe for the Fiesta Bowl.

I want to point out a few things that made this victory so sweet I almost cried while watching Ian Johnson wave a Tostitos Scoops bag in celebration.

1.) Bullshit Naysayers: Kirk Herbstreit, Stewart Mandel and all the oddsmakers that set the line at -3. Both of the pro analysts picked against the Broncos and should be eating a hearty serving of crow right about now. Mandel, as a mincing butt-wadd, I would expect this from. But of Herbie, for whom Switters carries a plantonic man crush and exalts as the most objective college football analyst, I would have expected better. He's seen Boise State in the flesh, calling their absolute dismantling of Oregon State back in September and I thought that would have given him something to consider, objectively at least. On Gameday he fell back on the blue-turf/kryptonite argument (which seems a little to metaphysical for an objective analyst to believe) in calling a Nevada win. I guess he didn't learn after the world picked Utah to win at home too.

2.) Intimidation: Nevada looked like a high school program and the only thing the once fearsome 'pistol offense' shot was itself in the foot. The game was a turnover fest as Nevada players choked frequently and coughed up the pill whenever they heard Bronco players closing fast. Highlights included the Austin Smith hit shown above, Nevada QB Steve Rowe's scrambling fumble and the cleanest open-field strip since Maurice Clarett in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl by corner back Kyle Wilson. Then there was the Bronco offense moving the ball at will. Awesomeness everywhere and Oklahoma or Nebraska better take heed!

3.) Class: Boise State won this game with class. While roid-ragey Nevada player Zach Shapiro let his frustration get the better of him, throwing punches, getting ejected for personal fouls and fighting with his coach and teammates. This was an emotional game that got 'chippy' as the color commentators like to say, and I'm proud of State for keeping its cool and shutting Nevada down with class when it would have been easy to go Miami and flip out.

The Broncos have broken the AP and Coaches Poll Top 10s for the first time in school history and are a solid #8 in the BCS Rankings. The BCS bid is in the can, along with a huge BCS pay day and a chance at some real national respect.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Smoke Clears

But the landscape remains fuzzy.

I've been pretty much tapped-out since Saturday evening trying to think all this through. Ohio State is #1. Michigan is #2 . But for how long? And is a re-match a good idea? Is it Ohio State's just reward to put them in double-jeopardy? Or, having beat the clear #2 team in the country should they get a team they would be virtually guaranteed to pound en route to a gift-wrapped National Championship? (This refers mostly to Notre Dame).

Should USC, Arkansas or Florida get a shot if they win out, even though they have all lost to teams less able than the team Michigan lost to (on the road in the most hostile of environments by 3 freaking points)?

I'm hemming and hawing on the rematch idea, and/or who I like to play Ohio State if that can't or shouldn't happen.

Basically I can't think straight. That's how exhausting Saturday was.

But the good news is Switters and I are talking after nearly coming to blows over my inappropriate application of the term 'wind bag' late in the 4th quarter.

It was a crime of passion, but I said it in Switters house (where the party was BYOTV) and that was wrong. In return for my apology he has agreed to frame (rather than deposit) the $50 I owe him for Michigan's loss.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bo Schembechler Dies

ESPN is reporting that Bo Schembechler, on the eve of the biggest Game ever, has died.

Our thoughts go out to his family and the Michigan community that loved him.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Let's Move Beyond Coaches

NastyB has a great point, there is no ownership in the coaching sphere for this game. Let's move on.

As's Pat Forde points out, there is ownership on the field for one football player that readers may or may not have heard of.

Forde writes today:

"The guy making the plays that have deepened Carr's worry lines into crevasses the past two years is not Jim Tressel. If there's a single Ohio State player who has roamed freely through the Michigan coach's nightmares the past two years, it has to be Troy Smith.

The first time Smith ran for 100 yards in a college game, it was against Michigan in 2004. Score: Buckeyes 37, Wolverines 21.

The first time Smith threw for 300 yards in a college game, it was against Michigan in 2005. Score: Buckeyes 25, Wolverines 21."

Smith's statistics in 2 games against That School Up North:

2 wins, 0 losses

723 yards
5 touchdowns
0 interceptions

182 yards
2 touchdowns



If you have the unfortunate lot to be surrounded by Ohio State fans, as I do (God help me), you probably hear something like this more often than you'd like: "Tressel owns Carr. He's in his head." This is the reasoned judgement of OSU fans now that Tressel has won 4 of 5 versus Michigan after Carr "owned" Coach Cooper over the ten seasons leading up to the glorious tenure of Cheaterpants McSweatervest.

I've always had my suspicions as to the validity of "ownership" in this context, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it until the undisputed champion of Michigan bloggers, Brian of MGoBlog, came up with this:

If you subscribe to the idea of "ownership," you are dumb. And I bet you wander by the roulette table, see four of five red, and go bet on black because it's a sure thing. Tressel's won four of five because his teams have been better over the last few years. Was it ownership when Michigan's worst team in the past 20 years was defeated with a last-second touchdown? Or when a sophomore John Navarre threw four interceptions? Ugh. The staggeringly fanciful idea that Carr, who neither goes on the field nor calls any of the plays, somehow becomes a much worse coach because he sees Tressel on the other side of the field is the sure sign of a diseased mind. Even if OSU wins this year it will be more because of that whole senior-Heisman-winning-QB thing than some sort of mystical Sith crap Tressel uses to tighten Carr's sphincter.

This pretty much sumts up why I don't think ownership is a factor either. Michigan's been on a pretty tough streak since the late '90s just at the same time as the Ohio State program has enjoyed an upward trend. Streaks of winning and losing, which, if you look back at the 102-year history of these teams, are more common than trading victories, are to me more like the natural cycles of the moon. About the inexplicable, or cosmically-ordained, but not because Tressel has mind power over Carr.

A growing number of experts appear to be unmindful of this ownership factor too, as Michigan's creeping up as the trendy pick in this game if you ask Scouts or CFN. Still, the line has fallen from OSU -6.5 to -7, which would seem to suggest that there are still more OSU fans out there believing in ownership. As a mere function of the relative size of the schools, it's not hard to imagine that's the case.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Revisiting the Past .... and the Future

I'd just like to draw a little attention to my post from August 7, 2006.

Dreams have become a reality.

Nostradamus lives

Shit Talk: Tradition as Big as The Game Itself

In light of Chris Perry’s vitriolic blather, and amid a whole symphony of chin music from other Michigan football alumni, including the sartorially-refined Dhani Jones, I feel compelled to comment on this underappreciated art. (It's the compulsion afterall, or the inability to deny it, that keeps the shit storm going.)

While shit talk isn’t the engine that fuels the hate in a rivalry, per se, it is, like a mushroom cloud, the visible and destructive manifestation of the white-hot hate that exists in rivalries as a phenomenon and this rivalry in particular.

What’s noteworthy about this year isn’t just that there is shit talk, so much as its elevated level of voracity. As a rule, facts and reasoned logic are not present in good shit talk; which makes this year exemplary of excellent shit talk. And this is justified by the on-field quality of both teams. So it is another, more startling trend that sets 2006 apart: in bucking the traditional flow of this 102 year old rivalry, most of the smack is coming from Michigan, whose classy fans are better known for sipping chardonnay and whispering than chugging beer and belching.

The Michigan gravitas (what some might call 'swagger') being pumped through the system of tubes we call the Internet is something we really haven’t seen before in this rivalry. Traditionally, ignition of the rhetorical inferno was left to the flamboyant Buckeye, whether that was Woody Hayes, David Boston or Maurice “Thug Life” Clarett. (Ken Yon Rambo had a good name for the task but never uttered a peep, while Andy Katzenmoyer was literally too dumb to talk.)

Some of these firebrands’ opening salvos are now classics. And as Switter's said yesterday, you can trace it back to the coaches. It wasn’t so much what Woody said, as what Woody wouldn’t say. By refusing to refer to the state or school of Michigan by name, he coined the classic trash talk term ‘that school up North,' and the seeds of hatred were sewn.

So far Michigan’s offensive language has not lived up to the standard established by the Ohio State cannon, but maybe we're seeing that scale start to tip thanks to the Chris Perrys of the world. And as they say, the shit rolls downhill, so maybe it’s about time.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chris Perry: Nothing But Respect

Photo: You can see a pic of Chris Perry looking at the final scoreboard in his last game against OSU in Columbus (2002), when OSU won 14-9.

Here's what former M_ch_gan RB Chris Perry had to say about this weekend's game. Very eloquent, I might add:

"It's a blowout. Ain't no ifs, ands or buts about it. (Defensive tackle Alan) Branch is going to knock the stuffing out of - what's his name - Troy Smith. You all set that (Heisman Trophy talk) up anyway. That's some BS to begin with. He shouldn't even win the Heisman. He's not going to win his league or the national championship. We all know what's going to happen. We're going to win it. It's been long overdue. Tressel's been cheating. So, hey, we're going to keep it real. There ain't nothing else to say."

Perry said two of Michigan's touchdowns "are going to be scored by the defense. (Ohio State wide receiver) Ted Ginn's going to get off, but he's not going to be able to win the game for them."

"We've got a defense with Branch. He's the D-tackle, man - 6-6 330. We've got (defensive end) LaMarr Woodley, (linebacker) David Harris, (cornerback) Leon Hall. You want me to keep naming names?"

It's Always Been About the Coaches

The Ohio State vs. M_ch_gan game has always been about the coaches. From Woody and Bo on to Tressel and Carr, there is no greater matchup in The Game than the coaches. This is the case for several reasons:

1. The geography of the rivalry itself -- During this week every year, if you live in Ohio or Michigan you feel as if the ground itself might just implode from the pressure of The Game. When you add on the fact that Bo was an assistant to Woody at THE Ohio State University, it gets even more intense.

2. The parity of the teams -- Both of these schools go through their ups and downs, but overall these teams are evenly matched. When you have similar talent, it comes down to what you do with the talent, which is what's going to happen on Saturday.

3. The Big Ten -- As the hardest and toughest conference in the country (suck it SEC fans), these two coaches are fighting for the Big Ten title and overall supremacy in this rivalry, and therefore, in this conference.

This is going to be a classic.

An Email From the Michigan Administration

Leaked by a Michigan insider and now all over the Blogosphere, excerpted here for maximum hilarity...

From: "Sue Eklund, Steve Grafton, Nicole Stallings" <>
Date: November 13, 2006 7:07:57 PM GMT-05:00
To: "U-M Students":;
Subject: Invitation for OSU Game

We are sure that you are excited about this Saturday's football game versus Ohio State, and the possibility of capturing the Big Ten conference title and playing for the national championship.


We know that it can be uncomfortable being in an opposing team's environment, especially when the stakes are so high. We would like to offer a few suggestions in order to help you stay safe and have a positive experience this weekend:

--Try carpooling to the game; if possible, drive a car with non-Michigan license plates.
--Keep your Michigan gear to a minimum, or wait until you are inside the stadium to display it.
--Stay with a group.
--Know and obey the laws regarding alcohol use.
--If you are of legal age to drink, use alcohol in moderation. Stay in the blue.
--Stay low-key; don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
--If verbally harrassed by opposing fans, don't take the bait.
--Avoid High Street in Columbus.

If at any time you feel unsafe, you should call 9-1-1 for assistance. U-M campus police also will be available in Columbus to support our fans. You may call them with non-emergency concerns at (734) 216-9159.

We look forward to a tremendous game on Saturday. Let's help the Wolverines win with spirit and class.

Go Blue!

Sue Eklund, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students
Steve Grafton, President, Alumni Association
Nicole Stallings, MSA President

Monday, November 13, 2006

Week 11: Football Armageddon

Football Armageddon is here and you cannot underestimate the wave of euphoria that must have overtaken ESPN and the greater, ABC/Disney media kingdom on Saturday as both Ohio State and Michigan took care of business (with authoritay) and made it to The Game undefeated 1 and 2. The Game has always been a big deal for ABC, but since the Michigan Notre Dame game, the emphasis on undefeated has pointed to November 18 in Columbus as the crux of the entire college football season. With the increased national awareness, The Game is the ad-selling extravaganza of the year since the Super Bowl. Nobody wanted this to happen more than ABC, since they don’t care how The Game shakes out as long as 100 million drunk eyeballs are watching at kickoff. The Hype this week is already reaching unbelievable levels.

I’m not sure if this is the right word or not, but I’m going to say it’s a bummer that BSU finally rises into the guaranteed BCS ranking (#12 this week) in the wake of what to me is the team’s least impressive win of the season. There is also the unfortunate matter of Ian Johnson’s collapsed lung, a serious-sounding injury that went sort of under the radar if you were watching the game or any of ESPN’s summative coverage on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a bummer because a lot of this was achieved by 1-loss teams losing (Texas, Cal, Auburn) and not the Broncos' play on the field. This isn't the way to arrive in the BCS and does not bode well. I’m afraid the Broncos may be trending down going into the end of the season. Fortunately, they get a break with Utah State at home before finishing at Nevada in two weeks with a Wolfpack team that seems more dangerous to me than San Jose State (though the Broncos have a history of tripping up in Silicon Valley).

Boy was I wrong about Cal. Florida is back as the BCS #3 and that’s no good as it took everything they had (a miraculous double-blocked field goal game) to best South Carolina. The Gamecocks are feisty and all, with Steve Spurrier calling the shots on offense, but the #3 team in the land beating them by just a point didn’t enhance my appreciation for the team voted most likely to play the winner of The Game, even if it is a bunch of lousy computers doing the voting.

After this weekend, you have to doubt every team with a loss. Florida is suspect #1. You have to have doubts about the rest of their season in the SEC, which leads me to believe that the winner of USC/Notre Dame has the inside track on the National Championship game by virtue of not having to play in The Game.

Finally, did anyone else hear Lee Corso absolutely shitting on the Big East on Pardon the Interruption (Nov. 10 Podcast) the other day? He hates the Big East (even before Louisville lost). He may look nuts on TV but I knew there was a reason I liked him.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rutgers: Respect

I've got an early nominee for the biggest goat of the week, the Gay Louisville defender who jumped offsides right before Rutgers shanked their first attempt at the game-winning field goal last night. He gave them 5 extra yards and that all important second chance to make the field goal and win the game, which they did.

Despite the fact that we will never know what might have happened in OT, I'll hand one to Rutgers and the state of New Jersey, who, let's admit, has been down for a long time. Probably since they and Princeton invented college football. It looks like someone High and Mighty wanted them to win this game.

And that Guy, whomever he may be, is not a fan of the BCS. Because now we've got a problem on our hands. Admittedly, I welcome this problem, because it takes care of the whole Big East issue: Louisville getting a Nat'l Championship Game Bid. They demonstrated their unfitness last night, thank you Rutgers. And Rutgers, as another example of the unjust ranking and BCS system, probably doesn't have a chance of getting to the Nat'l Championship game even if they go undefeated.

But it's looking bad at the top as iBlogForCookies (Permalink, Man!) points out the new nightmare scenario for the BCS :

1. Ohio State / Michigan winner
2a. Ohio State/ Michigan loser
2b. Notre Dame or Texas

Take the case of Notre Dame. If Ohio State beats Michigan on the 18th, neither option is palatable. Notre Dame being selected for the title game over Michigan despite Michigan's 26 pt win in South Bend would make a mockery of the notion that you are trying to pit the two best teams against each other, while Michigan being selected for an immediate rematch with Ohio State not only is unappealing but has the potential to expose the futility of any system that tries to definitively answer the question "who is the best team"?

If when Ohio State beats Michigan you take that as proof that Ohio State is the superior team, then there is no reason for Michigan to get a second shot. If you don't accept it as proof, then what do you make of a potential Michigan win in a rematch. Surely that's no more conclusive than the first matchup.

That's if Ohio State wins. What if Michigan wins? A Michigan vs. Ohio State rematch still has the same problems, while a Michigan vs. Notre Dame rematch has those problems + the likelihood that even if Michigan does beat OSU it will not do so as conclusively as they beat Notre Dame. If, say, Michigan beats Ohio State by 4 points then how can you justify selecting Notre Dame over Ohio State for a title berth?

A similar problem arises should Texas be the other option for the 2nd berth in the title game.

I couldn't have said it better myself, so I didn't. But I will object to iBlogforCookies suggestion of Florida as the best opponent for the Michigan/OSU winner, at least until such time as they dominate the rest of their SEC season and win the SEC Championship game with authority. Their wins just haven't been that impressive.

So now I'm looking West. I'm putting my faith in Cal who's a different team since losing to Tennessee back in September and lighting up the Pac 10. I think they're primed to whip USC for total Pac 10 domination and get my nod as the next best team in the land thanks in part to Erik Ainge's bad ankle and their freedom from the circle of sticky injustices mentioned above re: Texas and Notre Dame. Go Bears!!!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mortality Rears Its Head

At the beginning of the season the big quandary was parity. Remember? There was no dominant team that everyone could agree on as being the force in the land that was going to run the table. Ohio State was as close to a consensus #1 as we ever got, and they had questions on defense, but then won at Texas and we never looked back. The talk about unquestioned dominance began and that was that. We forgot our early (and dead on) assessment of a wide open race this season. There was no USC, Oklahoma or Miami powerhouse program back for a return trip to the Nat’l Championship game.

After Saturday’s 17-10 victory at Illinois, in which the Illini outgained Ohio State's vaunted offense, the Buckeyes are still the #1 team in the country, but we are reminded that we were right about our hesitations about every team in the country way back in August. It’s still anybody’s game.

Look at #2, Michigan. Last year this was a 7-5 team that couldn’t play defense and few people were talking about them in the Top 10 let alone challenging for the National Championship. Since the win over Notre Dame the D has been stifling and the bandwagon has been picking up people at every corner. Until Saturday, when Michigan took all of 60 minutes to beat Ball State by an 8 point margin (34-26) that felt closer than it looks on paper.

Great teams stumble. Many have to be tested unexpectedly in route to greater victories. When a team isn’t ready for this challenge they lose, and in former seasons Ohio State and Michigan may well have, though I expect both teams will treat their latest humbling wins as wake up calls. With the exception of the remaining undefeated teams, every team formerly in the National Championship discussion has lost. This includes every team in the SEC, Big 12, Pact 10 and ACC. The only Big East team anyone mentioned in that discussion was West Virginia (claiming myself among that group) and look where that got us.

Florida, as another good example, I used to think was the best team outside of Ohio State or Michigan (and maybe they still are). They beat Vanderbilt by just a touchdown on Saturday 26-19 in the kind of not very dominant performance which has become typical for Urban Meyer’s team this year. And that’s weird if you consider the Utah program he came from was a point-scoring nightmare with less talented athletes. Admittedly that was in a conference that doesn’t play D quite like the SEC, but the last great coach at Florida proved that scores can be run up in the SEC too and Urban Meyer’s game should be well suited to that effort.

The point is Florida, a serious contender for best team in the SEC, is like many good teams not all that dominant this year. Just like the Texas team that limped past Texas Tech last week and the USC team that lost to Oregon State. (This particularly leads to a great impossible chain of transitive victories: Boise State > Oregon State > USC > Arkansas > Auburn > Florida > Tennessee > California …)

As for this season Michigan and Ohio State are the best of what’s around, but nothing’s a sure thing. And maybe it’s even better this way, it’s more college to win in a season where nobody’s running a junior NFL program that automatically stuffs the opposition.

In the end I think the game is better when there is room for both tragedy and miracles. Who likes a forgone conclusion? Who likes a last second Doug Flutie bomb putting down the Miami juggernaut? It's that kind of season.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Other than the fact that I lost money and respect (to Switter's no less), I'm left with two thoughts after last night's WVU/Louisville game.

1.) It's a distinct possibility that Louisville will finish undefeated and end up playing in the National Championship game

2.) That sucks

With all due respect to the Big East, West Virgina and of course Louisville, I have to say that I don't believe Louisville is or will be this season the #2 team in the land (in the true, cosmic meaning of #2), though they may wind up ranked there. No matter what happens in Columbus on November 18 or how the SEC shakes out there are at least four, maybe five, six or even seven one loss teams better than Louisville. So from the perspective of wanting a good game for the National Championship, Louisville, meh. But they might go undefeated and trick the computers into thinking the Big East champion has the mettle to hang.

To its credit the Big East has done a good job of scheduling its real teams, WVU, Louisville and Rutgers (TBD), such that they rack up a nice fat start to the season before facing each other late and have otherwise a real lack of quality opponents. Louisville got lucky drawing a terrible Miami team early, and has only played WVU since. Do you see an upset out there in Rutgers, S. Florida, Pitt or UConn? God I hope so. WVU's best win prior to getting exposed last night was Maryland. And then Rutgers. God, what happens if Rutgers wins out?

Hopefully the Big East is really as paper tigery as I'm saying, and we'll see a round of losses dealt out down the stretch that make Rutgers, WVU and Louisville all 1 or 2 loss teams. Since we saw last night that neither of the Big East's best teams plays DEFENSE, this may be in the offing.

But still, if undefeated, should Louisville get to play in the Nat'l Championship? Are they better than Florida, Auburn, Texas, Tennessee, USC, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Boise State and the eventual one loss Ohio State or Michigan?

I've aired my doubts.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ian Johnson for Heisman

Yesterday was my birthday, meaning I was due for a little luck so I took Boise State at home at -23 against the formerly mighty Fresno State Bulldogs. My birthday luck was apparently the extra boost the Broncos needed as they won by 24 pushing me up and to the right on the season. Now let's see if WVU (+1 at Louisville tonight) can take care of biznass and buy me a new pair of shoes.

But I've got a serious issue to discuss here, reps from the Orange, Fiesta and Sugar bowls were in the house last night and apparently liked what they saw. So apparently did Mark May (whom I usually despise), Rece Davis and the increasingly Yoda-like Lou Holtz. Suddenly ESPN is televising Boise State's November 11 game at San Jose State, as well as their season finale at Nevada, and it looks like the big media muscle is gearing up hype the shit out of a potential Boise State BCS Bowl Berth. They'll at least squeeze every bit of dramatic coverage that they can on the way.

Everyone in Boise is happy to jump on the bandwagon too, and the Boise State athletics department is even going so far to stir the pot as launching an official Heisman campaign for inexplicable tailback Ian Johnson. They've launched a new web site as part of the effort and their PR dept should be lauded for getting the ESPN analysts talking about it was well. Check out the website, and some of Ian's niftier moves ... here. Shit. Look at him go.

With 136 yards and 2 TDs against Fresno State, Johnson's now at an NCAA, second-best 1,317 yards on the season and is leading all players in scoring with 120 points, or 20 touchdowns. Maybe even better he hasn't fumbled in the last two seasons. Not once in 257 carries. He's a Rock. Star.

Those are good looking stats and I am proud of State for taking up the good fight against larger forces that would conspire to keep Ian Johnson and a start-up program like Boise State out of the BCS and out of the Heisman race.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Death Knell for John L.

And it's official. Michigan State coach John L. Smith will be resigning in shame at the end of the season and peddling his wares elswhere.

You kind of had to expect it. Two weeks after State's miracle comeback at Northwestern, which gave some hope that the lackluster season was an abberation, they shat the bed like an insolvent grandparent against Indiana this past weekend. And now this.

You can relive the sad, slow decline into irrelevancy in this poignant slideshow courtesy of YouTube user maples1189.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blathering Incoherently?

Today is thick with irony. My noble and worthy comrade NastyB suggested that we "shut up and enjoy the season like gentlemen" instead of pointing to how much Michigan and Ohio State beat common opponents by. The one thing I never got the answer to is "don't confuse the issue," which implies that there is a real issue somewhere in there?

If I ever hear the "real issue" perhaps I can stop confusing it with my fake issue.

At any rate, as I prepare to heed my friendly colleague's advice, it is a tad bit ironic to implore me to "shut up and enjoy the season like gentlemen" while calling your number one ranked opponent "Bumpkins."

If calling fans of your rivals "Bumpkins" while posting hilarious videos of them is being a gentleman, then I'd rather be an incoherently blathering idiot.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Buckeyes + Pumpkins = Bumpkins

How do Ohio Bumpkins amuse themselves this time of year? By dropping a 900 pound pumpkin on a Michigan minivan of course!

Happy Halloween!

Betting Post Mortem and Rock Paper Scissors (It All Makes Sense)

I'm not sure if anyone followed along at home, but on a whim of stupidity I decided to overlook the fact that Stewart Mandel is a mealy wimp with Cheetoes-stains on his t-shirt and bought into his picks to inform my bets for the weekend. (I should have given more creedence to the alarm sounding in my head once I noticed his uncanny resemblence to Jared from the Subway commericals.)

Here's what I took.

Missouri -1.5 at home against Oklahoma
UCLA -1.5 at home against Washington State
Florida -13.5 against Georgia
Georgia Tech -5 at home against Miami
Texas Tech +10.5 at home against Texas

And after going 2/5 and finishing down in the money sector, here's what I'll take away: nobody's got a fucking clue how a game's going to play out. From here on out I'm going with my gut. That's the same gut that said the Trojan's were in trouble, and the same gut that says Switter's "analysis" of the "numbers" pertinent to Ohio State/Michigan (below) is about as well researched as the skidmarks in his underwear.

Or, the Bush Administration's reasoning for starting the Iraq War as Dave at Michigan points out:

As recently as Monday, Cheney said in a speech that Hussein "had long-established ties with Al Qaeda."...later that year, "We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein had either direction or control of 9/11."

We've seen this tactic before; stop trying to confuse the issue.

Looking at how teams did against common opponents (particularly when they are all victories) is just silly...pointing to it at all is confusing a comparison of two teams. Is there any difference, at all, between beating a team by 21 or 14? What about playing two of the three games you mentioned w/o your best offensive weapon? 2 of the three on the road? It just makes me sad to see a once proud college football blog, like collegefootball.blogspot denegrated with such Corsoian analysis.

It only stings because it's true.

The transitive property doesn't even work in Rock Paper Scissors. Try it for yourself: paper beats rock, and rock beats scissors, so paper should have no problem mopping the floor with scissors right? We know how this game ends.

Admittedly, Rock Paper Scissors is a much simpler game than college football (it's purely logical for instance), but we can still glean something from its simplicity. There's always a paper to someone's rock, a scissors to someone's paper and a rock to someone's scissors.

Knowing this, we can continue to make excuses or elementary comparisons like four year olds matching the right shape with the right hole, or we can shut up and enjoy the season like gentlemen. This is a complicated world, with complicated complications complicating the outcomes of football games. The Game is coming and will be decided on the field where we will see the simplicity emerge, who is rock and who is paper. Any of our conjecture in the meantime is just a way to fend off our own insecurities (assuming we have any).

So I say to Switters, stop blathering incoherently as a way to deal with your fear.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ohio State and Michigan by the Numbers

At this point in the season, Ohio State and Michigan are believed to be two of the best teams in the country, if not the best two.

The only real comparison we can make right now, and I'm not saying it's a fair one, is to look at the scores of the common teams played within the Big Ten. The three common opponents at this point in the season are Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Michigan beat Penn State by 7
Ohio State beat Penn State by 22

Michigan beat Iowa by 14
Ohio State beat Iowa by 21

Michigan beat Minnesota by 14
Ohio State beat Minnesota by 44

Certainly food for thought.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Betting on Football

After going with my gut on Clemson last night and being thoroughly embarrassed, I'm testing out a new strategy this weekend. Rather than follow my own misguided hunches and biased reasoning, I'm going to put my money where Stewart Mandel's mouth is. Each week he posts his picks on SI. This week, I'm going to look at these lines and see where his picks coincide with money-winning spreads or covers and bet on each of those games.

To wit, here are my bets for this weekend:

Missouri -1.5 at home against Oklahoma X
UCLA -1.5 at home against Washington State
Florida -13.5 against Georgia X
Georgia Tech -5 at home against Miami X
Texas Tech +10.5 at home against Texas X

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hype City

Tickets to The Game are maxing out at just under $5,000 for a good seat and averaging around $858 for a nosebleed special on StubHub. In the linked article above, the Detroit News is reporting that this ticket is a good $200 more than World Series tickets and rising toward the $1000 average set by last year's BCS Championship game between USC and Texas.

The fact that The Game is still over three weeks away makes you wonder what astronomical prices the tickets could hit and fuels the argument that Michigan - Ohio State is the greatest rivalry in sports.

It also makes me lament the current state of attending live events, whether sports or music or Wicked the Wizard of Oz Musical. Ticket resellers, thanks to the connective power of the Internet are ripping people off to untold profits above face value.

To some degree this is market-driven. By expanding the number of people who can get a chance to see an event beyond season-ticket holders or those who sleep outside the box office, Internet resellers have expanded the market and given some folks an opportunity to see something they would otherwise have missed. But they'll have to pay for it. And there's the sinister side. At prices like these, even dedicated fans must consider selling out for a quick buck, or five thousand. Hey, you'd probably see the action better at home anyway with your new flat panel plasma screen tv.

I try not to take the stump much, especially on a blog about a happy subject like football, but I want to call your attention to a new force that's threatening this already unfair situation. Simply said, something's got to be done about Ticketmaster, the original event ticket middle man. Currently Ticketmaster is lobbying state governements to make any ticket sold at $1 or more above face value in the secondary market illegal unless it was resold by an issuer with a contract with the event's organizer (like an NFL team or music venue). As a primary market vendor, Ticketmaster already maintains exclusive rights to many of these relationships, while Stubhub, Craigslist and others do not. With the simple signing of a bill, that Ticketmaster is promoting as in the interest of ticket buyers, Ticketmaster could wipe out the competition even before it enters the secondary ticket market.

Think monopoly, price fixing and rampant 'convenience' fees.

Read on for the details and to get enraged!

(Especially if you live in New York, Florida or Massachusetts. I'm sorry Connecticut and Louisiana, you've already been sold out by your Legislatures.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Week 9: Yes

The main story this week is that Michigan has arrived undefeated after the perilous stretch of its schedule and looks prepared to march into Columbus at 11-0 and take on a worthy Ohio State team for the Big Ten Championship and a berth in the National Championship game. If you subscribe to the theory that these are the two best teams in the country, and that the opponent of the winner of this game will roll over like a two bit whore in the Nat’l Championship game for a Big Ten ass pounding, November 18 in C’bus figures to be game, set and match point for this year’s edition of NCAA football. After all, it should be BCS #1 vs. BCS #2.

But then we could also follow the crazy advice of Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon who said recently on PTI that if The Game comes down to the wire and is won by an act of improbability in the waning seconds, that they should let The Game be more than the de facto National Championship game, and make it a precursor to a rematch of the two best teams in the country again, for the actual National Championship a month later.

There’s an idea. And for now I don’t completely reject it because the way these two teams are playing, neither deserves to lose. And if a one-loss team has to go to the National Championship game, it might as well be one of these two should the cards play out that way. There's also an outside chance the BCS computers in their curious mix of insouciance and digitized wisdom could come to the same conclusion, maintaining a #1 and #2 ranking for Ohio State and Michigan even after The Game. This is of course contingent on some other teams losing, but I think we'll get there and live through some strange days in BCS land.

Next I've got to hand it to Boise State. With four games left in their season they are 8-0 with the darkest of dark horse Heisman candidates in Ian Johnson and sitting pretty at #15 in the BCS standings. They only have to move up three more spots to #12 and they are guaranteed a BCS berth (in a loophole only a little less fair than Notre Dame's BCS agreement). The remaining schedule is about as soft in the middle as a cream puff, and so ESPN has projected the Broncos to win out and meet up with Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. Here Boise State would get the crack at a true national power for the first time since its program-rattling loss at Georgia back in September 2005. Meanwhile, ESPN is projecting the fallen Hurricanes of Miami, who, like Texas, have won a National Championship this decade, to take State’s obligatory spot in the MPC Bowl. Remember this used to be the Humanitarian Bowl, but for Miami to show up in mid-winter in Boise, I think the Humiliation Bowl would be a more appropriate name and a fitting end to the kind of season they’ve had.

Speaking of wayward Floridian former powerhouses, I think Florida State’s choice of uniform this past weekend was comically bad PR. A lot has been made of the black color of the uniforms, but I focused more on the details. particularly the choice of a cheeseball slogan reading ‘Unconquered’ adorning the thigh. At 2-3 and in sole possession of last place in the ACC’s coastal division, ‘conquered’ the Seminoles certainly are. It was a bad time to draw unnecessary, and sort of saucy, attention to themselves. Now the FSU Alumni Machine is calling for Bowden’s senile head. He is three years spryer than Joe Pa, but the state of mind is clearly day to day for anyone born in the 1920s and the young alums are putting Bowden on notice.

Quick Shots (Betting Edition)

*Ugh. My call on Vanderbilt could not have been further off. I blame Stewart Mandel, who called them an upset candidate. I agreed because I thought they’d taken some better SEC teams to the wire, and beat Georgia. I was overlooking the fact that they are Vanderbilt. And then they got rocked.

*For the second week, Boise State failed to cover the spread, and I can’t blame the offense, so I’ll rag for the second week in a row in neophyte DC Justin Wilcox . Your soft scheming antics may cut it in the WAC, but you’re making me worried for the Bowl Game, especially if it’s a Texas or worse in a BCS Bowl.

*Michigan, covering their spread again by 1 point, came through for the seventh week in a row. The only game they haven’t covered this year was the opener against Vanderbilt. I never used to bet on Michigan because of their conservative approach, particularly in the fourth quarter. But this season they’ve been a cash cow. I don’t have any finger nails left, but my wallet’s full.

*On Sunday my mom asked me if I have a gambling problem. I had to think about it, but finally I said, yeah, I didn’t buy points on Clemson this weekend. Let’s see if that drubbing of Georgia Tech gives my friend anymore confidence next time I ask him for insight on his team. Virginia Tech is coming up on Thursday and at and that looks like the next good spread for Clemson at -4.5.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Michigan - 13 home against Iowa.

Vanderbilt +3.5 at home against South Carolina

NMST +20.5 at home against Hawaii

Boise State -20.5 on the road at Idaho

I was also thinking about Clemson -7 at home against Georgia Tech, so I asked my token Clemson fan friend for a little confidence-building insight. Here's what I got:

i'm certainly nervous about it. nine of the last 10 games between GT and Clemson have been decided by five points or fewer. it is homecoming and College Game Day is in town so there's no question it'll be exciting. I just hope we show up. The Tigers are ranked first in scoring in the NCAA right now with an average of 43 points per game so GT is really going to need to bring their D to stop us. the problem is we're going to need to bring our D to stop Reggie Ball, their extremely versatile QB.

Uhh... I'm going to hold off for now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Michigan Fans: Come Back to Earth!!

Consider this my first shot across the bow to the evil pirate ship that is the University of Michigan football team.

Ever since September 16, when Michigan dismantled Notre Dame and disappointed domers across the nation, I've seen a side of Michigan fans I haven't seen in years.

After 5 straight years of at least 3 losses, Michigan is back at the top. In fact, there's some outrage that they're not ranked high enough at #3! But I just want Michigan fans to remember that this is LLLLoyd Carr we're dealing with here.

I love the fanfare, and the excitement involved with the potential of seeing OSU and Michigan play, both undefeated on November 18, but as a Michigan fan, I'd be concerned.

I'm not making any predictions or condemnations, but I have to say that if I'm Michigan, I am frightened of Troy Smith's patience, poise, decision making, and overall athletic ability.

I'd also be scared of Antonio Pittman, averaging almost 100 yards/game, and the double threat of Ginn and Gonzalez.

Remember at the beginning of the year, when Ohio State's defense was a concern? Now it's oft-mentioned among the top five in the country. We're giving up:

*An average of one TD a game
*Less than 300 yards/game
*9 points/game.

Troy has Glendale on his mind, and the rest of the Buckeyes are on board. Nothing is going to get in this team's way.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Watch Out Tate

Since Tate was recently demoted to dwarf-planet status and Albert Young is missing from the Hawkeye depth chart (via MGoBlog) count this news as strike three for the Iowa QB: apparently the first and second string QBs are suffering the lingering effects of Branch, Woodley et al. and have not been medically cleared to play following their respective concussions.

The repercussions, here? Things aren't looking good for Tate and the Hawkeyes this Saturday in Ann Arbor. The D line dominates again. Take Michigan at -13.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Week 8: BCS Rankings, Bullshit, Big Ten Ascendancy

By the way, the BCS rankings seem all out of sorts to me. I just can’t fathom USC as #2 unless historical performance over the last three seasons is taken into account. There’s just no reason for it, they’ve beaten the last three mid-level Pac 10 teams they’ve played by a touchdown each and the wins have seemed eeked-out at that. Meanwhile, Michigan has played superior competition and pretty much kept every team out of the game and is still ranked below the Trojans. Then we have Auburn at #4 (jeesh) above undefeated WVU, Texas and Notre Dame teams that lost to superior talent, and an Arkansas team that beat Auburn head to head. WTF!?!

But the sportswriters have got it right this week, finally elevating Michigan to #2 in the AP Poll, just in time for their final test (Iowa, if they still qualify after this week’s humiliating loss to Indiana) before the lay up lane of games (Indiana, Northwestern and Ball State) leading up to the enormous and much ballyhooed (you can picture the ABC tv execs licking their lips with egegiously early Corso and Herbstreit mention of an undefeated Michigan at OSU) November 18 showdown.

All season long, the #2 ranking has been something of a landmine. Each #2 so far has lost in short order (Texas, Notre Dame, Auburn, Florida) and fallen from National Title relevance. Again, the only test remaining before Michigan/Ohio State is Iowa, who looks to be crumbling right as Michigan is surging. No matter the 17-10 score, going into Happy Valley at night, dispatching the starting and backup QBs, and holding the Lions to -14 yards rushing is a big win. The game was never really in question. Michigan’s on a roll, and if I were Kirk Ferentz I wouldn’t show Drew Tate the tape of this game. The D Line is ferocious. Anthony Morelli can attest (if he even knows what day it is).

Quick Shots

*I for one, am disappointed that Florida lost. Of all the teams out there, they seemed the best competition outside of Ohio State/Michigan for the National Championship. Now, should the winner of Ohio State/Michigan finish unbeaten, who will be left to play that team for the Nat’l Campionship? USC? WVU? Louisville? Gulp. Florida is better than all of those teams combined and it would have been nice to a see a worthy matchup like that in the Championship game. Still I’m getting ahead of myself, and either WVU or Louisville will lose, and I think USC probably will too against Cal or Oregon.

*Switters and I were debating about the fate of John L. Smith after State turned a pretty numb performance against OSU in East Lansing on Saturday. Switters said, fire him on Monday, in the middle of the season. I say, give him a chance to rescue this season. If he can do that, resurrect a team that has basically quit since the 4th quarter against Notre Dame, he’s a miracle worker and must have some coaching promise. Sparty can win out and go 8-4 and make a bowl game, that’s a respectable season and if you look at the state of the program right now, a big victory. So to the Administration at State, give him the rest of this season. If he can make bliss out of this shit, he’s still worth something. If they’re as done as they look now by the end of November John L. gets pink-slipped.

*Iowa and NC State both lost in almost identical fashion on Saturday and not even separated by ten minutes. I was flipping between both games and saw first NC State, then Iowa, throw picks to end promising, last-minute drives and lose the games just when it felt they’d both pull it out. Crazy.

*I think all the rage and frustration that must have been building behind the Zen-like face of Dan Hawkins and his beleaguered Buffaloes, was exercised on Saturday against a supposedly decent Texas Tech team that was rendered helpless against a furious CU team. A win like that is cathartic, and no doubt made up for some of the humiliation they’d amassed in building Colorado’s longest losing streak. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes for the Buffs.

*For the first time in a while, Boise State turned out to be a bad bet, giving up 28 points and 526 passing yards to NMSU. The spread was 26.5. Turns out Boise State's defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, is a pussy when it comes to pressuring the QB and would prefer to drop his LBs in coverage all day and let a lame team hang around. He's also really young for a DC, so maybe we can chalk it up to inexperience. But please, think about a pass rush. Ian Johnson wasn't bad for the Broncos, notching 192 rushing yards and 4 TDs. With that kind of output, the spread should have been safe. Yet, here I am poorer for my faith.

*Notre Dame had a bye week and I didn’t miss them at all.