Posted on: November 27, 2010 1:29 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Michigan State finds itself in a precarious position this weekend. The Spartans need to win to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive, and while a win would guarantee at least a split of the conference championship, in order to get to the Rose Bowl, they'll need some help. In particular, the Spartans need their in-state rivals to take care of Ohio State on Saturday.
Of course, all Michigan State can control is its own game, and the Spartans are taking care of business through the first 30 minutes in Happy Valley. The Spartans lead Penn State 14-3 at haltime thanks to a touchdown run by Edwin Baker and a touchdown catch by B.J. Cunningham. Still, the Spartans have let a couple of opportunities slip through their hands -- literally.
Twice Michigan State defensive backs have had balls hit them right in the hands, and neither ended in an interception. One allowed Penn State to get a field goal.
Penn State hasn't played poorly, though the Nittany Lions are hurting themselves with penalties and while they've been able to move the ball, it hasn't resulted in points on the scoreboard.
Michigan State will need to make sure that trend continues, because the way things look in Columbus right now, I'm not sure it can count on Michigan taking care of the Buckeyes.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 4:31 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2010 4:31 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Does making fun of LeBron James ever get tiring? No, of course not. Especially if you're from the state of Ohio and had your heart ripped out by him when he decided to take his talents down to South Beach to join a .500 basketball team. Still, as awesome as making fun of LeBron James can be, there are ways to make it better.
Which is what Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher figured out a way to do. Not only does he openly mock James' latest Nike commercial, but his version isn't designed to get you to forgive him or buy shoes. No, Sanzenbacher wants you to become an organ donor.
I'm not sure Woody Hayes was ever an organ donor. Something tells me that while he wouldn't be averse to the idea on the surface, fear that a Michigan fan would end up with his kidney probably kept him from committing.
Hat tip: Dr. Saturday
Posted on: November 24, 2010 12:24 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2010 12:41 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Particularly for an academic, Ohio State president Gordon Gee has never been shy about expressing his opinions on athletics, popular or not.
And it's a safe bet that the opinions he expressed today in an interview with the AP are going to be most decidedly unpopular in Boise and Fort Worth. Writing off entire conferences as the "Little Sisters of the Poor" isn't particularly becoming for the president of the nation's largest university, and criticizing TCU and Boise for their schedules is more than a little hypocritical when one advanced rating puts the Buckeyes' schedule strength barely above the Frogs' or Broncos' and both non-AQ teams have played a more challenging nonconference slate than the Buckeyes' lineup with Marshall , Eastern Michigan , and Ohio .
But as infuriating as Gee's viewpoint might be to those who'd agree the non-AQ teams are far more deserving this season than the 10-1 Buckeyes (whose best win until last week's triumph at 7-4 Iowa was a home win over either 7-4 Penn State or 7-4 Miami ), at the end of the day it's just another warmed-over rehashing of the same arguments that have surrounded Boise and TCU all season (and for much of the past two). Where Gee is really, truly wrong is in his comments on expanding the football postseason to ensure that we don't have to have these same tired debates:
Gee isn't just arguing that Boise and TCU don't deserve a title shot this year; he's arguing that college football should entrench a postseason system that would ensure that they never got that title shot. What his argument (and similar diatribes against "playoffs") misses is that college football already has a playoff; it selects a number of teams, pairs them off, and the winner is automatically declared the champion. Where the BCS playoff differs from every other playoff in existence is that it only includes two teams. To frame the debate in terms of some nebulous future "playoff" against a current BCS system that varies from that bogeyman only in terms of the number of teams involved is to rig the debate permanently in the BCS's favor.
Gee's desire to preserve what amateurism and respect for academics remain in college football is admirable. But there's a point at which even those concerns have to give way to basic fairness. And surely the permanent exclusion of the TCU's and Boise's of the sport from national title consideration represents that point; what Gee proposes is to draw a line between college football's haves and have-nots, one based on conference affiliation, and declare that the latter can never cross it. It's elitism and snobbery of the highest order.
Now, a show of hands: who's in favor of Wisconsin blowing their season finale against Northwestern and setting up a showdown between Gee's Buckeyes and either the Frogs or Broncos in the Rose Bowl ? Is that everyone (Badger fans excluded)? Yes, we think that's everyone.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 6:00 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If you're a regular reader of college football blogs, by now you've probably seen the following video of Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson rubbing the neck of Wolvering linebacker Kenny Demens with a stuffed animal of indeterminate species:
Since this week's Michigan opponent is only Ohio State and the Wolverines don't have anything else to talk about, the members of the Michigan defense were asked, you know, what was the deal . They decided, sadly, that the deal includes inside information that's too dangerous for the public at-large to know:
It's just like that scene in Saving Private Ryan where Tom Hanks movingly refuses to tell Matt Damon about his wife, except for being college football players refusing to talk about why their silver fox of a so-fired defensive coordinator is buffing their necks midgame with a plush weasel. That's the only difference.
Posted on: November 21, 2010 4:36 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. Wisconsin fans shouldn't necessarily buy tickets to Pasadena, but they should at least be pricing them. We're sure that Badger fans weren't terribly excited to see their nemeses in East Lansing complete the comeback today, leaving the Big Ten title picture still in some measure of doubt, but Ohio State 's own comeback against Iowa later that day means that barring a sensational boost in the BCS rankings for the Buckeyes, Wisconsin is one win away from the Rose Bowl. Considering Northwestern -- the Badgers' last opponent -- clearly misses injured QB Dan Persa and struggles to stop the run, the likelihood of an upset at Camp Randall seems slim. Famous last words, yes, but still.
2. Don't mention fourth quarters to Iowa fans for a while. Or do if you want to anger them. In the Hawkeyes' game against Ohio State, the Buckeyes weathered Iowa's defense for three quarters before making a heroic drive in the last few minutes of the game to take the lead and win. For the Iowa fans, it was a broken record that desperately needs to stop; in each of Iowa's four losses, the vaunted Iowa defense has given up a go-ahead touchdown with less than five minutes on the clock, at which point the Iowa offense has failed to answer under pressure. In fact, Iowa would have five losses of that exact nature if Indiana wideout Damario Belcher hadn't dropped an easy fourth-down touchdown two weeks ago. It's to the point where "small sample size" just doesn't work as an excuse anymore: the Iowa defense clearly doesn't have the juice to play for 60 minutes, and that painful fact has snuffed out the high hopes of the Hawkeye faithful in Iowa City.
3. The Spartans might not be going to the Rose Bowl, but their season's pretty special anyway. Barring an Ohio State loss to Michigan next week, Michigan State will not be going to Pasadena; the fact that MSU and OSU didn't play each other this season means that their tiebreaker would be BCS ranking, and OSU was already comfortably ahead of the Spartans even before OSU took down a ranked Iowa team while MSU struggled with very-not-ranked Purdue. Michigan State's season-ender at Penn State isn't a gimme, but even if the Spartans lose, this is still just the third time in program history that MSU has hit 10 wins on a season (1965, 1999). The Spartans have never won 11 games in a season, and they have two opportunities to do that now.
The accomplishment isn't that much of a stunner, as the Spartans looked on paper to be at worst a darkhorse contender for the league title. It's just, well, they barely ever do this, so it was hard not to wonder how MSU would screw it all up this year. But credit Mark Dantonio and his staff for keeping the team on track, even through Dantonio's heart attack and other off-field problems, and en route to its best Big Ten record its best conference record in at least 11 (and maybe 45) years.
4. Okay, so football at Wrigley can be pretty cool -- even if one of the end zones is sort of a death trap. The Big Ten got it right when it forbade Illinois and Northwestern to run offensive series toward that now-infamous east end zone at Wrigley, and when Northwestern defensive back Brian Peters took an interception to the house, he had to be tackled by teammates before hitting that wall. No, he wasn't three yards away from certain doom, and the tackle by his pals was also nice and celebratory, but still: he was only about three or four yards away from impact before being taken down as he slowed from his sprint. Running offensive plays (like fade routes) toward that wall would have been just begging for injuries -- and lawsuits.
But past that, the fans in attendance got to see a special occasion, even if Illinois absolutely worked the Wildcats. Wrigley Field is one of the most hallowed sports arenas, and to see its famed scoreboard used to show Big Ten football scores and its marquee painted purple must have been a thrill for Northwestern and Big Ten fans in Chicago. Ron Zook said he'd "absolutely" have his team play there again, and Pat Fitzgerald was equally effusive in his praise of the event. Should the two teams play their rivalry game there every year? Well, that seems like an abuse of the novelty of it all, but have you ever actually seen Memorial Stadium or Ryan Field? Not exactly cathedrals of the sport, those. It might -- just might -- be worth keeping Wrigley on the table going forward.
Tags: Big Ten, Brian Peters, Damario Belcher, Dan Persa, Illinois, Illinois Northwestern, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa Ohio State, Mark Dantonio, Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan State Purdue, Michigan Wisconsin, Northwestern, Northwestern, Northwestern Illinois, Ohio State, Ohio State Iowa, Pat Fitzgerald, Penn State, Purdue, Purdue Michigan State, Ron Zook, What I Learned, Wisconsin Michigan, Wrigley Field, Wrigley Field Football
Posted on: November 19, 2010 6:24 pm
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.
We're less than a week away from Thanksgiving, and apparently the NCAA has taken that into consideration with this week's schedule. It seems they're kind enough not to give us anything too heavy this weekend so that we're able to gorge ourselves to death on Thursday.
The NCAA: always concerned about the fan and their digestive limitations.
Main Course - Michigan vs. #6 Wisconsin - Noon - ESPNListen, people, if Bret Bielema can put up 83 points on Indiana, then surely he can do the same against a Michigan defense that has been the polar-opposite of stout this season. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Badgers shoot for 100 this weekend.
First of all, they need a win a win to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive, and second of all, the Badgers have some BCS computers to impress. What's more impressive than 100 points?
There's also the fact that Bielema has already gotten Tim Brewster fired this season, and may have added Bill Lynch to his tally last week as well. Why wouldn't he take a shot at Rich Rodriguez?
Side Orders: Not much else of importance on Saturday morning, but there are options. Oklahoma State goes to Kansas looking to stay atop the Big 12 South division, and West Virginia will try to keep its slim BCS hopes alive on the road against Louisville. There's also the battle of North Carolina when the Tar Heels take on N.C. State. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Michigan State looks to maintain its spot on top of the Big Ten hosting Purdue.
Main Course - #21 Iowa vs. #8 Ohio State - 3:30pm - ABCWe have a couple of games featuring ranked teams during the afternoon, but in my opinion, this one should grab top-billing. Iowa saw its chances at winning the Big Ten ruined by Northwestern last week, so what could be better for the Hawkeyes than to ruin Ohio State's chances?
After all, it was Ohio State that beat the Hawkeyes last season and ended their hopes of going to the Rose Bowl, so why not return the favor?
If nothing else, it's just another chance for Ricky Stanzi to spread the message of loving America and hating hippies throughout the country.
Side Orders: The other ranked game this afternoon features Miami and Virginia Tech. Miami has a very slim chance to win the ACC Coastal division, but in order to keep those hopes alive, they have to knock off a Hokies team that's won eight straight since dropping that game to James Madison. There's also some Les Miles fun on the mothership when LSU hosts Ole Miss, and seriously, after all that's gone on surrounding the game, how can you not tune in to Illinois and Northwestern at Wrigley Field? I'll be at that game witnessing the insanity from the press box.
Main Course - Maryland vs. Florida State - 8pm - ABCThe game that would decide the ACC Atlantic!
Who saw this one coming? Essentially, the winner of this game will be going to the ACC Championship Game in a few weeks. Now, while seeing Florida State in this position doesn't come as much of a shock, the fact that Maryland is here is rather surprising.
Though that's just the way the ACC rolls these days. One minute you're terrible, and then the next you still aren't very good, but you're good enough. Seriously the ACC should adopt the motto of "Hey, at least we aren't the Big East!"
Side Orders: If ranked teams are more your thing, then you can check out Texas A&M and Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers look to hold on to their ticket to Dallas while the Aggies -- who have done a 180 this season -- still want a chance to buy one. Mississippi State and Arkansas will be going at it in Starkville as well. Also, if you're into football games being played in baseball stadiums that use two end zones, Notre Dame and Army continue their annual rivalry on Saturday night, but this time from Yankee Stadium. Show up and chant Derek Jeter's name for no reason!
Late Night SnackUtah has not had a good November. One week its getting pasted by TCU at home, and the next it's getting beat up on the road by a mediocre Notre Dame team missing half of its offense. Now they get to take on a San Diego State team that played TCU much better than the Utes did.
Tags: Arkansas, Army, Bill Lynch, Bret Bielema, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, James Madison, Kansas, Les Miles, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, NC State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Rich Rodriguez, Ricky Stanzi, San Diego State, Saturday Meal Plan, TCU, Texas A&M, Tim Brewster, Utah, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 14, 2010 2:32 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. The Iowa defense is the biggest fraud in the Big Ten. Credit must go to Dan Persa and Northwestern for their gutsy fourth-quarter comeback against the Iowa Hawkeyes, but it's time to stop lauding the Iowa defense as one of the nation's best, because it isn't -- not when the game is on the line. Iowa has given up game-winning drives -- and long, sustained ones, at that -- to three different opponents this season, and if it hadn't been for an unconscionable end zone drop by Indiana wideout Damario Belcher on 4th down last week, that total would be four, in just 10 games. It's one thing to hold lightweights like Iowa State and Eastern Illinois to just one score. It's another to get a stop when the team needs one the most, and Iowa's defense just doesn't seem capable of doing that.
2. Bret Bielema's empathy generator is broken. Quick, name the one Big Ten coach who would run up 83 points on a conference opponent. It's probably the same one that goes for two while up by 25 with under seven minutes to play, isn't it? Why yes it is. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema continued his quest to get every mediocre coach in the Big Ten fired with an 83-20 firebombing of Indiana in Madison. And though Bielema will again claim not to be running up the score, it's worth pointing out that Scott Tolzien was throwing passes to fellow starters Lance Kendricks and David Gilreath with a 39-point lead and under five minutes left in the third quarter. Yes, it's up to Indiana to make the stop, and Indiana never did, but in a 63-point win, it's never good to see the winning team converting a 76-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter -- regardless of whether a backup threw it. Wisconsin, we're looking at you here.
3. There's plenty of Hawkeye fans in East Lansing. The Big Ten title race is down to three one-loss teams, and as of right now, Wisconsin owns the tiebreaker for the trip to Pasadena (or if all hell really breaks loose, Glendale, but let's assume Pasadena). Of the three teams, only one -- Ohio State -- faces a ranked team down the stretch, and that's OSU's trip to Iowa next weekend. If Iowa wins, all of a sudden, Michigan State has the upper hand for the league title. Ohio State wins, and we're back to the three-team non-round-robin tiebreaker, which is BCS standing. MSU is not such a big fan of that idea: the Spartans are firmly mired at third among Big Ten teams in that department. So yes, there's still plenty of endgame drama left in the Big Ten, even if it involves two teams that are at best longshots for the title.
4. Matt McGloin has "moxie," but Ohio State has a secondary. Advantage, OSU. It's hard to believe, looking at the 38-14 final score from Columbus, but Penn State actually led the Buckeyes 14-3 at the break, and it could have been worse. PSU QB Matt McGloin threw two touchdown passes in the first half, and unlike the two he threw in the second half, the first half scores were to his own team. Yes, things sort of fell off a cliff for Penn State, and the turning point was likely late in the first half, when Joe Paterno got greedy on 4th and 1 at the OSU 20 and went for it. The Evan Royster rush failed, the Buckeye defense's heart grew three sizes, and PSU never even threatened to score for the rest of the game.
It was a sobering return to reality for Penn State fans who witnessed McGloin's dissection of the Northwestern defense last week and were entertaining dreams of McGloin as a wildly successful three (or two-and-a-half, anyway) -year starter over true freshman Rob Bolden, Joe Paterno's choice at the beginning of the season. The fact of the matter is, there's usually plenty more to turning a struggling offense around than just making a switch at quarterback, and when Bolden's got a full year of film study and practice under his belt, he's probably going to be a better quarterback than McGloin. That fact doesn't have much relevance today, which is why McGloin started at Columbus and probably will next week, but it would be extremely presumptive to look at McGloin's first two quarters at OSU and attach a tag like "the future" to him -- unless the words "clipboard holder for Rob Bolden" immediately follow.
Tags: Ball State, BCS Tiebreakers, Big Ten, Big Ten Tiebreakers, Bret Bielema, Damario Belcher, Dan Persa, David Gilreath, Evan Royster, Indiana, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Lance Kendricks, Matt McGloin, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Rob Bolden, Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl Tiebreakers, Scott Tolzien, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 13, 2010 12:22 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. It's definitely fall these days, and the wind will be whipping across the heartland. All times are Eastern.
No. 13 Iowa at Northwestern , 12:00, Evanston, IL: Mid 50s, scattered showers
Indiana at No. 6 Wisconsin , 12:00, Madison, WI: Low 50s, scattered showers
Kansas State at No. 20 Missouri , 12:30, Columbia, MO: Mid 40s, cloudy, windy
No. 15 Utah at Notre Dame, 2:30 , South Bend, IN: Low 60s, scattered thunderstorms
No. 16 Virginia Tech at North Carolina , 3:30, Chapel Hill, NC: Mid 60s, clear
Penn State at No. 8 Ohio State , 3:30, Columbus, OH: Upper 60s, partly cloudy
Georgia at No. 2 Auburn , 3:30, Auburn, AL: Low 70s, clear
Texas Tech at No. 19 Oklahoma , 3:30, Norman, OK: Mid 50s, partly cloudy, windy
San Diego State at No. 3 TCU , 4:00, Ft. Worth, TX: Mid 50s, partly cloudy, windy
No. 23 Texas A&M at Baylor , 7:00, Waco, TX: Upper 40s, clear, breezy
No. 22 South Carolina at No. 24 Florida , 7:15, Gainesville, FL: Upper 50s, clear
No. 17 Mississippi State at No. 11 Alabama , 7:15, Tuscaloosa, AL: Upper 50s, scattered showers
USC at No. 18 Arizona , 8:00, Tucson, AZ: Upper 60s, clear
Late night kickoffs
No. 21 Nevada at Fresno State , 10:15, Fresno, CA: Mid 50s, clear, breezy
Tags: Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Florida, Fresno State, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Kickoff Weather, Mississippi State, Missouri, MWC, Nevada, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pac-10, Penn State, San Diego State, SEC, South Carolina, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, WAC, Wisconsin