Posted on: November 8, 2010 2:33 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It just wouldn't be a normal week in the college football world if we didn't have to wonder what the status of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was for the coming weekend. Robinson had to leave Michigan's video game triple-overtime victory over Illinois during the third quarter on Saturday, and experienced concussion-like symptoms. Robinson had a headache and was dizzy, so Michigan trainers felt it best to keep him out of the rest of the game, and Tate Forcier filled in admirably to lead the Wolverines to a victory.
But what about this Saturday's game against Purdue?
Well, Rich Rodriguez did his best to avoid the word concussion during his news conference on Monday, but did say that Robinson should be "good to go" after going through tests on Sunday.
"All's good," Rodriguez said. "There are no issues."
Which means that Robinson is likely going to start against Purdue on Saturday, break off a big run, take a hit, and then have to leave the game. Then next Monday or Tuesday we'll be writing the same post here again about Robinson's status for the game against Ohio State. So I guess we'll see you then!
Posted on: November 7, 2010 2:32 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 2:58 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. Michigan doesn't do "boring." The game of the week, beyond any doubt, was Michigan's 67-65 squeaker over Illinois. The game featured 132 points scored, 1237 yards from scrimmage, 58 first downs, and 60:00 total time of possession. Okay, so the last one is normal.
Down the stretch, Michigan was led by Tate Forcier under center, as Denard Robinson was knocked out of a game once again. Forcier effectively reprised his role of "4th quarter dynamo" from 2009, proving yet again the rare value of an experienced backup quarterback. Forcier is clearly not Denard, but the fact remains that Forcier is good enough that he should be spelling Robinson periodically throughout Michigan's game regardless of Robinson's health. Michigan has two starting-quality quarterbacks, and as Robinson's accumulation of minor injuries demonstrates, they clearly need to use them! It's just up to Rich Rodriguez to use both on his own terms, rather than waiting for Robinson to get knocked out of the game first.
Thus, the only game that Michigan has participated in that didn't result in at least 50 total points was its season-opening 30-10 win over Connecticut; since then, whenever Michigan takes the gridiron, the points fly; on average, a Michigan game features almost 73 points per game. In fact, after today's circus act, Michigan leads the Big Ten in both points per game and points allowed per game. Is it "good football"? Lord, no. Is it exciting? Of course. If that's the role Michigan is destined to play under Rich Rodriguez, it's certainly a step down for the Wolverines, but it's not necessarily worse for the conference as a whole.
2. The road is awful hard. It don't take no guff. No. 9 Wisconsin went on the road to Purdue and trailed until the second half. No. 16 Iowa went to Indiana and needed a horrific dropped touchdown on 4th down (more on this later) to escape with an 18-13 win. Northwestern blew a 21-0 lead at Happy Valley, Minnesota got smacked by Michigan State, and Illinois couldn't win in Ann Arbor even after scoring 65 points.
All of which is to say, winning on the road in the Big Ten is still really difficult. It's something to keep in mind when prognosticating the Rose Bowl berth endgame. Regardless of how good the four teams at the top of the conference are, odds are that at least one (and probably more) will go down on the road yet this season, and we shouldn't be surprised when it happens.
3. Nothing's really changed at the top. Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa all won, and we're still waiting on a score from Ohio State and Brigham Young East (we assume that's what BYE stands for). The tiebreakers remain exactly the same, then, with the only difference being that there is now one fewer game for the first three teams mentioned to lose. With a finite -- and indeed, extremely limited -- amount of games to play, the passage of one week without a dropoff from the top four is in and of itself important, even if the stipulations and situations themselves don't change. Perhaps this isn't something to "have learned," per se , but for the top of the conference, the maintenance of the status quo is still meaningful.
4. Penn State's offense might actually exist. When Northwestern went up 21-0 on a sensational Drake Dunsmore* touchdown late in the first half, it would have been perfectly logical to assume that the Penn State offensive attack, led by former walk-on Matt McGloin, didn't have much of a shot to make up the deficit. After all, it would have tied the largest deficit a Joe Paterno-coached Penn State team had ever made up in his previous 399 victories, and that's a lot of victories.
But of course, Penn State did exactly that, scoring the final 35 points of the game to win 35-21. McGloin poured in four touchdown passes, but the real heroes were on PSU's oft-maligned offensive line; the front five paved enough holes to let both Evan Royster and Silas Redd top 100 rushing yards on the day, and McGloin's 225 passing yards simply wouldn't have happened if he had faced the pressure that regular starter Rob Bolden has become used to in this, his freshman season. Imagine that: when given time and space to operate, a previous all-conference honoree once again looked like an all-conference player, and a walk-on quarterback was able to execute to the best of his ability.
5. One quiet moment for Damario Belcher. We mentioned this play in passing earlier, but it's worth mentioning in more detail; with less than 30 seconds on the clock and the Hoosiers facing a 4th and 10 at the Iowa 18, Indiana QB Ben Chappell found wideout Damario Belcher open in the middle of the end zone. Belcher, already the team's leading receiver on the game with seven catches for 50 yards, made an athletic move to catch the ball with nobody on him and got both hands on it, leading most in the stadium to assume Indiana had scored the putative winning touchdown.
Alas, as an eagle-eyed referee (and several optimistic Iowa players) noticed, Belcher bobbled the pass and never controlled it before the ball hit the ground and rolled away ineffectually, making the play nothing more than a drive-killing incomplete pass. Indiana challenged, but it was an easy confirmation for replay officials; it clearly was not a catch. Iowa knelt on the ball, and just like that, Indiana lost on a play Belcher makes probably 90-95% of the time.
Again, this isn't strictly something to learn, but it's something important to remember: Belcher's a human being, and he doesn't need anybody to remind him that he screwed the game-winning play up. There's likely nobody in the world -- like, at all -- who feels worse about the loss than he does. So to anybody who finds it necessary to complain that Belcher "sucks" or is "stupid" or "needs to get his damn head in the game" or whatever arbitrary derogatory remark they think applies to Belcher, one piece of advice: save it. Just don't add to the crapfest that guy's season already became, and strike a note for civility instead. Granted, Indiana football fans aren't generally known to be nasty or otherwise unreasonable to begin with or anything, but still: let's all keep our heads screwed on about this game and this 20-year-old kid playing it.
*Did you know: Drake Dunsmore is a second-generation college football player. His father is Pat Dunsmore, a star tight end who was drafted in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears in 1983 and played two seasons with the team. And where did Pat Dunsmore go to school? Yep: Drake University.
Tags: Ben Chappell, Big Ten, Chicago Bears, Damario Belcher, Denard Robinson, Drake, Drake Dunsmore, Drake Dunsmore Catch, Drake Dunsmore Video, Evan Royster, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Joe Paterno, Joe Paterno 400 Wins, Matt McGloin, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pat Dunsmore, Penn State, Purdue, Rich Rodriguez, Silas Redd, Tate Forcier, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 6, 2010 4:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
At one point, it looked like Michigan had it in the bag, up 38-31 with the ball and driving deep into Illinois territory. Then it looked like they had no chance, down 45-38 with time for only one drive and Tate Forcier in for the injured Denard Robinson , out with either a head r hand injury (again).
But Forcier converted that drive into a critical last-minute touchdown, and Michigan survived three overtimes to win today's nominee for Big Ten game of the year 67-65 when Nathan Scheelhaase couldn't get a two-point conversion passoff. The game featured all kinds of superlatives and records, but maybe the most impressive is that Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree is now the school's single-game record holder for receiving yardage, having hauled in 9 catches for 246 yards. Even considering the addition of three extra frames, the amount of offense is staggering: 676 total yards for the Wolverines, 561 for the Illini. And the game provided some nice redemption for Forcier, the one-time golden boy who lost his job to Robinson in the offseason and began his outing today by setting up an Illini score with an unforced fumble.
But the biggest winner of all is Rich Rodriguez , who has his team bowl-eligible for the first time in his three seasons and could even push to seven wins with a victory over injury-riddled Purdue . As powerful as the Michigan offense looks, it seems unlikely the usually-stolid Michigan administration will rfire him after a bowl season over simply asking him to make defensive staffing changes. RichRod had never been in more trouble after last week's defensive meltdown against Penn State , but he might never have been safer than he is after this week's victory.
That's crazy, but it's also week-to-week business as usual in the college football business.
Posted on: November 6, 2010 1:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The Michigan -Illinois halftime score is already eye-popping enough: tied at 31-31 in Ann Arbor with 30 minutes still to play.
But the box score might be even more mind-boggling: the two teams have combined for the aforementioned 62 points, 706 yards (394 for Michigan, 312 for the Illini), 26 first downs, and five touchdowns of 33 yards or longer. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has completed just 7 passes but for 262 yards, an average of 37 yards per completion. Illinois has run the ball 28 times already but for 185 yards, an average of better than 7 yards a carry. Craziest of all: Michigan has accomplished all of this while turning the ball over three times, Illinois while punting twice (the only punts of the game), losing a fumble, and settling for two early field goals in the red zone. The score could be higher .
Perhaps the biggest lesson to take from the game is how good the Wolverines could be if they had a defense with even the faintest pulse; the Illini entered the game ranked 15th in the country in total defense and have been totally shredded. But the other side of that coin, of course, is that Ron Zook 's team also came in ranked 85th in the country in total offense, and have barely been slowed down. Rich Rodriguez may be a certified offensive genius by now, but at this rate he'll be a certified defensive dunce ... if he's not already.
Posted on: November 6, 2010 1:48 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 1:56 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Something is rotten in the state of Indiana, and it's the play of conference leaders on the road. Wisconsin currently trails Purdue 10-6 at the half, and Iowa is tied with Indiana at 6-6.
Purdue has been completely unconcerned with testing Wisconsin's defense deep in the first half, using quick, short throws to move the chains and relying on Dan Dierking to get key first downs. Quarterback Sean Robinson has been surprisingly competent, and he's got a great rapport with Antavian Edison at wideout. Edison caught the only touchdown of the game thus far on a 23-yard catch-and-run, and has five catches for 54 yards on the day; he's the game's leading receiver after two quarters.
[UPDATE, 1:55 p.m.: Wisconsin intercepted Robinson and returned it deep into Purdue territory on the first drive of the second half. After converting a 4th and 1, Wisconsin scored a touchdown and now leads 13-10.]
Meanwhile, the Iowa-Indiana game has been marked by long drives, but no touchdowns; most of the field goals in this game have come in the red zone. In fact, Iowa would be leading 9-6, but kicker Michael Meyer missed a chip shot from 21 yards out late in the first half. Ben Chappell and Ricky Stanzi have each thrown costly interceptions, and each team should feel like it should be leading here in Bloomington.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 8:45 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 8:51 pm
Posted by College Football Blog staff
Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Baylor would ride a huge performance by Robert Griffin to upset Texas OH WAIT JERRY HINNEN NAILED THAT. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever. As you can tell.
Missouri finds itself in some trouble during the second half of their game against Texas Tech. It seems Tommy Tuberville finally has things working on both offense and defense as the Red Raiders hold a 10-6 lead midway through the third quarter. It's Missouri ball when Blaine Gabbert finally has the Missouri offense moving for the first time all day. Then, facing a first and 10 at the Tech 17-yard line, a blitzing linebacker comes free on Gabbert's blindside and levels him. Gabbert coughs up the ball, it's scooped up by the Raiders, and taken back for a touchdown. Gabbert gets happy feet for the rest of the game, short-arms every pass at his receivers' feet, and Mizzou never recovers. Texas Tech goes on to win 20-13. -- Tom Fornelli
Hawaii, feeling unusually frisky after beating Army and thumping Fresno State and Utah State all on the mainland, comes out for their game at Boise State wearing black leather Mad Max-inspired "(Road) Warriors" uniforms, complete with body armor and small spikes on their helmets. As a result, their pregame haka comes across as even more threatening and unnerving than usual, and the rattled Broncos wind up mostly standing around and watching as Bryant Moniz and Greg Salas connect for four first-half touchdowns and a 28-10 (Road) Warrior lead. Unfortunately, at halftime the officials convene and after a close perusal of the rulebook, declare Hawaii's uniforms totally illegal. The (Road) Warriors are told to either change uniforms or forfeit the game. They opt to simply go without uniforms, taking the field in pads, shirts, shorts, and cleats. The Broncos, unfortunately (for them), are nearly as unnerved by this as the Mad Max look, and fall behind 42-13 before a furious rally falls short, 42-41, handing Boise their first loss on the blue turf since, somewhat ironically, the last year Mel Gibson was considered cool. -- Jerry Hinnen
Well That's Just Absurd
Illinois storms into the Big House and Ron Zook continues his Zooker Redemption Tour with a 45-10 shellacking of the Michigan Wolverines. A wearied Rich Rodriguez answers a few questions at his post-game news conference before a familiar face stands up to ask a question. Why, it's Michigan athletic director David Brandon! Much to the annoyance of the collected media personnel, Brandon lobs a softball by asking Rodriguez to comment on his recent exoneration by the NCAA, which RichRod dutifully answers with the usual vague but positive coachspeak. At that point, Brandon responds that he doesn't actually care about the report, and that Rodriguez is fired, effective as of five minutes ago. RichRod exhales for the first time in three years. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson is installed as interim head coach, but only so Brandon can have the pleasure of firing a coach and his successor in the same day; Robinson's tenure at Michigan ends seconds after it begins. Brandon then announces Jim Harbaugh as the next Michigan football head coach ... which comes as a total surprise to Harbaugh, who must then face the awkward task of declining the offer on account of his Stanford team's season not being even close to over. USC coach Lane Kiffin volunteers for the job instead, surprising nobody, and promises at his hiring the next day to "stay in North Arbor for years. That's what the 'N' in 'N. Arbor' means, right? North?" Michigan fans strain to avoid crying in public. -- Adam Jacobi
Tags: Army, Big 12, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbet, Boise State, Bryant Moniz, David Brandon, Fresno State, Greg Robinson, Greg Salas, Hawaii, Illinois, Insane Predictions, Jim Harbaugh, Lane Kiffin, Mad Max, Mel Gibson, Michigan, Missouri, Pac-10, Road Warriors, Ron Zook, Stanford, Texas Tech, Timely References, Tommy Tuberville, USC, utah State, WAC
Posted on: November 5, 2010 1:55 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:05 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
One of the big stumbling blocks that kept Texas from packing up and leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10 this summer was the fact that the school wanted to create its own television network, and the Pac-10 wouldn't let them because the conference had plans to launch a network of its own. So eventually the Big 12 caved and promised Texas that it would get a larger cut of the conference's television revenue and be allowed to start its own network.
Judging by the looks of things, this was a very good decision for Texas, and could end up being a terrible one for the Big 12's future. According to a report on Orangebloods.com, a television deal the school has struck with ABC/ESPN could see Texas pulling in about $30 million in revenue next season.
The new agreement between Texas and ESPN for the Longhorn Network includes a $10 million payment up front, sources said. It also would make Texas the top TV revenue-producing school in the country, earning close to $30 million next year in TV revenue and more than $32 million beginning in 2012-13, sources said.Now if you're another member of the Big 12 who has already had to agree with letting Texas get a bigger piece of the pie, and now find out that the school will already be getting this much money on its own from ESPN, how would that make you feel? While conferences may tell you that the grand plan to expand and form giant super-conferences is dormant, I don't buy that for a second.
You think the Big Ten or SEC won't go calling other Big 12 schools at this point and let them know that in their conference they'd be an equal member?
So this may work out great for Texas, but it could also mean the end of the Big 12. I sure hope Dan Beebe got the money in his new contract extension up front.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 11:17 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Here are the main story lines to keep your eyes on in Week 10. You will be graded on this. Eyes on your own paper.
Who's the class of the Mountain West? For all the consternation caused by TCU jumping Boise State in the BCS rankings this past weekend, the real drama happens this Saturday at 3:30 on CBS College Sports, when TCU faces fellow unbeaten conference member Utah in a pivotal game that may have national championship implications. After all, if Utah beats TCU but doesn't hop Boise State in the BCS rankings, the Utes would be right to question why that'd be the case. If TCU wins and wins out, though, Boise State's national title hopes are effectively over regardless of the Broncos' undefeated record for the second year in a row.
And past the implications, it should be a really interesting game to watch; these two teams are some of the best-coached, toughest squads in all of college football, "non-AQ" label be damned. TCU quarterback Andy Dalton is having another stellar season, and the Utes are tied for third in scoring offense this season. Oh, and both defenses are in the top six in both scoring defense and total defense ; TCU in particular hasn't even given up more than seven points in a game since September. Something's gotta give ... right?
Will the SEC races be over? The key SEC matchup this week -- almost by default, considering the glut of non-conference games there on Saturday -- is certainly No. 5 Alabama at No. 12 LSU , at 3:30 on CBS. Both teams are 7-1 and ready to make a push for, at the very least, an at-large BCS bid. But here's the thing: if LSU wins, the SEC West is basically over; Auburn would have to lose to both Alabama and Georgia the week prior for LSU to take the division title. Let's at least wait for Cam Newton to be declared ineligible first.
Meanwhile, No. 17 South Carolina could take a commanding lead in the SEC East... or all hell could break loose. Again. The Gamecocks travel to Fayetteville to put their 4-2 conference record on the line against No. 16 Arkansas . If the Gamecocks pull off the win and Florida drops their game against Vanderbilt (tell us it can't happen; go on, tell us.), SC takes the SEC West just like that. It could , technically, happen.
Will off-field distractions doom top teams? So undefeated No. 2 Boise State 's out of the national championship picture the way things look now, and it hosts a surprising 7-2 Hawaii . Drama?? No. 3 Auburn faces 5-3 Chattanooga , possibly without Cam Newton. And OK, technically, the Mocs are an FCS team, but still: intrigue??? Even No. 7 Wisconsin faces plucky Purdue , and Wisconsin has to deal with this blog that clearly makes fun of it and its fans. Chicanery???? Look for all three of these ranked teams to lose by at least 20 points this week as their worlds crash down around them.