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.