Posted on: September 19, 2010 1:03 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2010 1:12 pm
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Posted on: September 19, 2010 12:02 am
Edited on: September 19, 2010 12:04 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
We're only through three weeks of the season but Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio may have just sealed the award for the playcall of the year. The second half of Michigan State's game against Notre Dame turned into a shootout, as both teams took turns posting touchdowns, but at the end of sixty minutes a winner had yet to be decided.
After the Spartans held the Irish to a field goal on their first possession of the overtime, they found themselves in a similar position, facing a 4th and 14 at the Notre Dame 29. Dantonio sent out the kicking team, but there was no kick.
instead the holder, punter Aaron Bates, a former quarterback, dropped back in the pocket and found a wide open Charlie Gantt for a 29-yard touchdown and a 34-31 Spartans win. After the game Dantonio said they'd practiced the play -- called Little Giants after the movie of the same name -- all week, and had executed it perfectly, so why not use it?
"It was a gutsy call," said Dantonio on the field afterward, while his players mobbed each other on the field.
We find it rather hard to argue with Dantonio's evaluation. Though we might use a word other than "gutsy."
Posted on: September 18, 2010 9:59 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2010 11:05 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Through the first 30 minutes in East Lansing there's been quite a bit of offense, but not much in the way of points. Notre Dame has 205 total yards of offense in the first half but their lone touchdown came in the first quarter when Dayne Crist hit Michael Floyd on a 7-yard fade route in the end zone. Michigan State, meanwhile, has managed 214 yards of their own, but like the Irish, only 7 points.
Their score came on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to KeShawn Martin.
So why the lack of points? Well, as is often the case, turnovers. Turnovers which are even more deadly when they happen inside the red zone.
This game could look a lot different right now if both teams were doing a better job holding onto the ball. In the second quarter the Spartans put together a 16-play 72-yard drive only to see it end when Cousins was picked off in the end zone by Zeke Mowatt. The Irish's misfortunes have come courtesy of a Michael Floyd fumble at the Spartans 11-yard line and a Dayne Crist interception at the Michigan State 6-yard line.
So, theoretically, this game should be somewhere in the 21-14 range. Realistically it's tied 7-7 with two very unhappy coaches laying into their teams in the locker room.
Posted on: September 1, 2010 10:11 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The new Big Ten alignment doesn't come into effect until 2011, but who comes out the best and worst among conference members?
Winners: Most of the conference, actually. Michigan and Ohio State keep their end-of-season rivalry, and they're each the marquee members of their own divisions. If they're not to meet for the title, then effectively nothing has changed about their tradition; if they do, then so much the better, as far as the Big Ten's coffers go. Penn State and Nebraska are the second in command in their respective divisions, and they get to start a protected rivalry with each other that's sure to move needles for television rating. Northwestern and Illinois have an annual game guaranteed, plus their own divisions in which to play spoiler--and Wildcats fans must be especially pleased that they've now got an annual divisional game against the Hawkeyes in what's rapidly becoming a contentious showdown. Minnesota gets to be in a very geographically friendly division, and they get to play for every one of their trophies every year.
We'll call it a draw: Iowa and Purdue have no reason to be protected rivals, and Delany's explanation that "both teams have won conference titles recently" is at best a non sequitur. But Iowa was rewarded with a season-ending game against Nebraska, to the delight of both fanbases, and Purdue has all the protected games they could have asked for. Likewise, Michigan State-Indiana is a total head-scratcher, but at the very least, each team stays in the same division as their in-state rivals.
Losers: Holy hell, must Wisconsin be upset about this new alignment. Consider A) that the Badgers were the only team in the Big Ten without a season-ending rivalry game up until Nebraska showed up, and B) the amount of work Barry Alvarez has done as the de facto mouthpiece of the conference during realignment talk. Surely the Big Ten would reward the Badgers, yes? Au contraire, bonjour: Wisconsin's request to get a rivalry game with Nebraska was flat-out denied, and the Badgers don't even share a division or protected rivalry with historical rivals Iowa anymore. Oh, also, they're in a league with Ohio State and Penn State, a top twosome that seems much tougher than Michigan or Nebraska do for the near future. Nobody's got more beef than the Badgers about this lineup.