Tag:Michigan State
Posted on: October 23, 2010 9:15 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:13 pm
 

Wisconsin does just enough to pull out 31-30 win

Posted by Adam Jacobi

This was more than a football game; this was a 12-round heavyweight slugfight, one befitting a spot in the Rocky series. Wisconsin won this fight, 31-30, and the one-point margin only underscores how closely matched Iowa and the Badgers were. But in the end, this was about Wisconsin going that extra inch to get its win -- and the Heartland Trophy.

Just ask J.J. Watt , the Badgers' standout DE, and defensive hero for the second straight week. In the first quarter, Watt swung the momentum of the game by blocking an Iowa extra point and keeping the game at 6-3. After 52 more points scored in the rest of the game, that one single point would prove to be the margin of victory.

"I've always told my defense that to me, the truest test of what a defense is all about is how they play PAT, because any time you're on the field and it's a PAT situation, it means that you were just scored upon, and how are you going to react?" Bret Bielema said. "The reaction was unbelievable and ends up being the difference in the game."

That blocked PAT wouldn't have been of much significance if Montee Ball hadn't stretched across the goal line by three inches with about a minute left, and Ball probably wouldn't have been able to score that touchdown without a crucial fake punt call on fourth and 4 from Wisconsin's own 26. With everyone on Iowa's punt return team playing for the return, Badgers punter Brad Nortman streaked up the middle of the field for 17 yards. Afterwards, Nortman and Bielema confirmed that it was the coaches' call to fake it from the start.

"It was all the coaches, all the coaches," Nortman said. "When I got the snap, I saw the wide-open field, a couple blockers in front of me, and I just ran. Once I got down the field, I knew it was a great call."

Watt also came through in the fourth quarter. With Iowa holding a first down near midfield with 35 seconds left, Watt finally broke through for the Badgers' first sack of the game, dropping quarterback Ricky Stanzi for a loss of 11 yards, running nine seconds off, and forcing the Hawkeyes to burn a timeout. And sure enough, Iowa's drive ended on the Badgers' 35-yard line, running out of time just outside of field-goal range because the Hawkeyes had burned their last timeout.

After the game, Watt wore his battle scars proudly, the bridge of his nose still freshly bleeding, as he reflected happily on what he considers the high point of Wisconsin's season so far.

"I really think it tops last week," Watt told reporters. "We had so many guys banged up, we're here in a tough environment against a tough team; to come here and do what we did is so unbelievable and a testament to our team."

Watt admitted that with a bye week coming up next, he's going to savor this Badger win that puts them in a dominant second-place position behind the still-unbeaten Michigan State Spartans.

"I'm going to take this one in, and I'm going to take [last week's win against] Ohio State  in, because we didn't really have much time to take Ohio State in," Watt said. "I'm going to take a day or two here, watch the game films, and just let it sink in, but then after that we're going to come right back and start focusing on the last four games of the season."

Of course, with such a close final margin, the losing team usually has plenty to rue afterwards, and for the Hawkeyes, today will be no exception. Aside from the blocked extra point and fake punt given up, Iowa placeholder Ryan Donahue  fumbled the snap on a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter, costing his team a shot at three points.

Further, and perhaps worse, the Iowa endgame clock management will be under close scrutiny from fans and coaches alike. With the Hawkeyes facing a fourth and 1 at Wisconsin's 42-yard line, Stanzi ran a keeper for the first down, then let three seconds run off the clock while signaling a spike before calling Iowa's last timeout with 13 seconds remaining -- a call that, minus the few wasted seconds, Ferentz later said was their plan all along. Alas, the next play was a pass to tailback Adam Robinson in the flat, and when Robinson was tackled inbounds without Iowa being able to stop the clock, well, that was that.

Perhaps it would have been preferable for Iowa and its fans if the Hawkeyes had lost by 10, and if they'd never been so close to attempting a game-winning field goal. But such is the emotional cruelty of college football. If it's any consolation to the Hawkeyes -- and probably scant, at that -- it's that Iowa isn't the first team to lose by the skin of its teeth to the Badgers. Recall that back in September, Wisconsin dispatched Arizona State 20-19 by blocking a tying PAT, and also stopped a potential kick return for a touchdown at the Wisconsin 1-yard line to end the first half in that game.

Again, yes, it's scant consolation for Iowa, but anything would be after such a devastating loss -- one where the Hawkeyes seemed just inches away from victory.


Posted on: October 23, 2010 3:27 pm
 

Nevermind: Cousins leads comeback for Sparty W

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When we last off with Michigan State vs. Northwestern , the homestanding Wildcats were manhandling the favored Spartans on the ground and had opened up a commanding 17-0 second quarter lead. They never really stopped manhandling them, either; until a late, essentially meaningless Edwin Baker touchdown run, Northwestern was outgaining the Spartans 2-to-1 in the rushing game.

Which is why Michigan State went to the air in the second half, changed the game, and won 35-27 . Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins enjoyed a monster second half, finishing with 335 yards on 32-of-45 passing, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. MSU wideouts B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell each finished with over 100 yards receiving. They were all at their best on the Spartans' critical 11-play, 89-yard fourth-quarter drive to take the lead, as Cousins went 8-of-9 for 96 yards (the Spartans turned 2nd-and-20 and 3rd-and-15 situations into first downs after sacks) and Cunningham added a brilliant touchdown reception after an end-zone deflection.

Sparty also got a boost from another Mark Dantonio fake punt that led to a touchdown and two critical Northwestern turnovers, one on the Spartan 1-yard line in the first half and a Dan Persa interception that helped lead to MSU's first score of the second half. But Cousins was the difference-maker, hitting his routes on perfect timing again and again. Ohio State annihilated Purdue as comprehensively as it's possible to annihilate a Big Ten opponent, but it's not going to matter as long as Cousins and his receivers continue executing at this level and Dantonio's squad continues to show the kind of resilience they did today.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 1:18 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 1:50 pm
 

Northwestern manhandling Sparty

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Lots and lots and lots of seasoned Big Ten fans were pointing to Michigan State 's trip to Evanston as a giant flashing neon TRAP TRAP FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING HOLY IT'S A TRAP game, what with 1. Sparty's tendency to play down to its opponent 2. Northwestern 's bye week to prepare 3. the Wildcat's tendency to play up to their opponent. MSU really can't say they weren't warned.

The warning has gone unheeded: Northwestern is flattening the Spartans 17-0 midway through the second quarter. Even if that's not that surprising, the Wildcats' utter dominance on the ground surely is; against one of the Big Ten's best rush defenses, the home team already has 121 rushing yards to the Spartans' 33, led by quarterback Dan Persa with 47 yards and two touchdowns. Persa has added 98 yards through the air as NU has an eye-popping 241 total yards.

Michigan State is driving as we type this, but it will take more than one drive to avoid what looks like an extremely serious upset bid fpor the nation's No. 7 team.

UPDATE: That drive ended in a Spartan touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to cut the NU lead to 17-7, but again, MSU will have to finally stop the Northwestern attack to get all the way back into the game.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 12:24 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:13 pm
 

Game day weather updates, Week 8

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. You like storms? We got storms. There's a front moving through the nation's heartland, and there's copious amounts of rain all the way from Chicago to Texas. Will this affect Missouri-Oklahoma? All times are Eastern.

Noon kickoffs

Purdue at No. 11 Ohio State, 12:00, Columbus, OH: Upper 50s, clear

Syracuse at No. 20 West Virginia, 12:00, Morgantown, WV: Mid 60s, mostly cloudy

No. 8 Michigan State at Northwestern, 12:00, Evanston, IL: Upper 50s, rain

Ole Miss at No. 21 Arkansas, 12:21, Fayetteville, AR: Upper 60s, cloudy (storms later)

Afternoon kickoffs

No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 12 Iowa, 3:30, Iowa City, IA: Upper 60s, chance of rain

No. 6 LSU at No. 5 Auburn, 3:30, Auburn, AL: Upper 70s, clear

No. 14 Nebraska at No. 17 Oklahoma State, 3:30, Stillwater, OK: Mid 70s, chance of storms

Evening kickoffs

No. 7 Alabama at Tennessee, 7:00, Knoxville, TN: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 18 Missouri, 8:00, Columbia, MO: Mid 60s, scattered storms

Air Force at No. 4 TCU, 8:00, Fort Worth, TX: Upper 60s, scattered storms

Late night kickoffs

Washington at No. 15 Arizona, 10:15, Tucson, AZ: Upper 60s, partly cloudy


Posted on: October 22, 2010 5:49 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 8

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

Breakfast

Main Course - Northwestern vs. #8 Michigan State - Noon - ESPN

Michigan State leads the way for breakfast for the second straight week, which is what happens when you're the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten.  Be forewarned, though, just because this matchup doesn't seem all that appealing, it...ok, it isn't really.  It's just that the morning slate is light again because that's just the way things work in this television dominated world.

Still, the Spartans shouldn't take Northwestern all that lightly.  First of all, no road game is easy, even if it's being played in a stadium with 35 people in it.  Yes, Northwestern inexplicably dropped a game to Purdue last week, but that's Northwestern's style.  It has a tendency to play to its opponents.  So there's a chance that the Wildcats could hand MSU it's first "Sparty, no!" of the season.

Side Orders: Ohio State hosts Purdue, and this game may be interesting for a few reasons.  First of all, it's our first chance to see how the Buckeyes will respond following a loss, and they'll also be looking for revenge for last season's loss in West Lafayette.  Speaking of revenge, I'm sure Notre Dame wouldn't mind beating Navy and starting a new trend there as well.  Or you can just watch Texas, West Virginia and Virginia Tech romp over some conference foes.

Lunch

Main Course - #5 Auburn vs. #6 LSU - 3:30pm - CBS

Two undefeated Tigers roll into Jordan-Hare on Saturday, and only one will emerge.  Who is it going to be?  Well, there are going to be two different games being played in this one.  There's the game between each team's strength -- Auburn's offense and LSU's defense -- and their weakness -- Auburn's defense and LSU's offense.

Odds are that whichever team's weakness best resembles a strength is going to emerge victorious, and have a much easier path to the SEC title and possibly a BCS game.  If you're wondering which way I'm leaning, well, I'll just say that one team has Cam Newton at quarterback and the other has some indecipherable combination of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.

Also, I'll be doing a live-chat during this game over at our Facebook page, so stop on by and make fun of Les Miles for four hours with me, won't you?

Side Orders: The afternoon is packed with some big games this week.  If for some reason two undefeated teams battling it out isn't good enough for you, you can always go with Iowa and Wisconsin or the also undefeated Oklahoma State taking on previously undefeated Nebraska.

Dinner

Main Course - #18 Missouri vs. #3 Oklahoma - 8pm - ABC

Personally, I've been waiting to dig in to this one for a while.  I've seen Missouri play a few times this season, and as I've said here before, I'm just not sure what to  make of them.  The Tigers are a good team, but are they really 11th in the BCS good?  Is that what a couple of victories over some 3-3 BCS teams and nobody else gets you these days?

Whatever the case, we'll find out on Saturday night.  If the Tigers can knock off the team that sits atop the current BCS standings, then I guess we have to take them seriously. 

Though, I feel I should point this out as well, just so Missouri fans can hate me a little less, I think Oklahoma is a bit overrated as well.  Still, I think the Sooners will prove to be better on Saturday night.

Side Orders: Bit of an light night on the menu this week.  There really aren't any other marquee matchups being played on Saturday night.  Kentucky and Georgia could be interesting seeing as how both teams are still alive in the SEC East, but other than that the only game that even catches my eye is TCU and Air Force.   Though, if you hate yourself, you could always tune in to Texas A&M and Kansas.

Late Night Snack

The Washington Huskies have found a home as a late-night snack here.  I've featured them here twice in the last few weeks, and they're undefeated in those games.  Can they run the streak to three on the road against an Arizona team that is without Nick Foles?
Posted on: October 21, 2010 3:12 pm
 

Yep, turnover margin is really freaking important

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every college football fan knows that "winning the turnover battle" is a "key to the game" in any matchup that's actually "competitive." But as a season-long cumulative statistic, turnover margin still doesn't get the attention it deserves as the one stat that can singlehandedly make or break a team's year, regardless of what happens with all that silly yardage and special teams and whatnot.

It's true. Look over the national top 20 in turnover margin and you'll see there's almost nothing a positive outcome in the turnover column can't accomplish. Like:

Propel your conference front-runner into pole position for a BCS championship berth. Their performances against Utah State , Air Force , and Cincinnati didn't exactly scream "future national champion," but Oklahoma still topped the first edition of the BCS rankings courtesy of a +9 margin that has them tied with one other team for the third-best margin in the country. The other team in that tie? Only Oregon , the BCS's No. 2 team, despite a performance at Arizona State where they gave up nearly 600 yards.

Put your previous conference also-ran within reach of a championship season. Sorry, preseason prognosticators , but Oklahoma State is not going to narrowly finish ahead of Baylor in the race to avoid the Big 12 South basement. Some of that is Dana Holgorsen 's offensive acumen and the unstoppable Justin Blackmon , but a large part of it is also the Cowboys' +5 margin, tied for 18th in the country. Also tied at +5: surprising Missouri . Even higher up the ranks at +8: surprising Michigan State . You get the picture.

Turn around your previously downtrodden mid-major program. Last year Miami (Ohio) failed to score a single point their first two games and finished 1-11. This year, Mike Haywood 's Redhawks are 4-3 overall and a perfect 3-0 in MAC play, good enough to stand alone atop the conference's East division and position Miami for the country;s most surprising bowl bid. How? +7 in turnover margin, that's how. Also at +7? Hawaii , all but left for dead after June Jones ' 2008 departure and now tied with Boise State for the WAC lead. And Army , No. 1 in all the land in turnover margin at +11, is on pace for their first bowl bid since 1996.

Negative turnover margin, of course, wields the same power in the other direction, helping turn your program into the worst in all Division I (New Mexico, -10, No. 118), arguably the worst in a BCS conference (Kansas , -7, No. 113), or the worst it's been in a decade (BYU , -5, No. 98).

If you're an annual reader of Phil Steele or his numbers-oriented like, none of this will come as a shock. But even for the statistical diehards, the overwhelming strength of the correlation between turnover margin and victory can -- and should -- still make the eyes pop.


Posted on: October 21, 2010 12:31 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2010 12:37 pm
 

Who needs a ticket when you have a gun?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As we went over here a few weeks ago, tickets to the game between Michigan and Michigan State at the Big House were tough to get this year, and the ones you could get were incredibly expensive.  There were plenty of people who would have liked to go to the game but never got the chance, but those poor souls didn't have the ingenuity of one fan.

He was smart enough to get his M16 rifles.

A 42-year old man from southeast Michigan not only got himself into the stadium for the game, but on to the field.  See, he's a full-time member of the National Guard, so he put on his uniform, grabbed his rifle and headed to Michigan Stadium in military vehicle.  Once he was there he explained to security that he was a member of the honor guard, and after having his weapons examined to make sure they weren't loaded, was granted access to the stadium.

He was there until an actual member of the honor guard explained to security that the man wasn't actually a member, and he was escorted from the stadium.  He was then arrested and released without being charged for anything.

A brilliant plan, if I do say so myself.  One that could only have been topped had the man entered the stadium by jumping out of an airplane.

Posted on: October 21, 2010 1:34 am
 

Kent State ditches 2011 game with Purdue

Posted by Adam Jacobi

For all the week-to-week, year-to-year volatility that typifies modern college football, one of the odd bastions of stability that has recently popped up in the sport is scheduling. For example, Miami and Michigan State agreed to a home-and-home series today. Those games won't take place until 2020 and 2021, or 10 and 11 years from now. Odds are that neither team will even have the same coach by then; the Hurricanes are on their third coach in the last 11 years, and the Spartans have seen five different head coaches at the helm of their program in that same timeframe. So these teams probably have no idea what their programs will resemble in 2020, but one thing's for sure: Michigan State and Miami, locking horns.  

Meanwhile, Purdue sits on the opposite side of the spectrum today, and not by choice; in an effective reminder that these agreements do have an expensive out clause, Kent State has just bought out their side of a contract to play the Boilermakers in 2011, according to a Purdue news release.

"This is a new one, having someone opt out of a contract just over 10 months before a game," said Purdue AD Morgan Burke. "I am personally surprised because of the positive relationship Purdue and Kent State have had through the years. We will get on the phone immediately to begin the process of finding a new opponent."

Kent State quickly jumped at the chance to play Alabama, in part because Tide head coach Nick Saban is an alumnus of the Kent State football team; Saban was a quarterback-turned-defensive back with the Golden Flashes during the mid-'70s.

But it also seems probable that Alabama will pay Kent State much more than $425,000 for its trouble; that's the guarantee Purdue set for the Golden Flashes, who are paying that amount to Purdue in full. And if the market rate for guaranteed payments per game continues rising at an exorbitant rate, it may become no longer in a program's best financial interests to lock in a game -- and a rate -- 10 years in advance. Of course, it's probably not as if Purdue booked its MACrifice back in 2000 or anything, but the fact remains: make it financially advantageous to break a contract, and someone's going to do it.

 
 
 
 
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