B1G Charts 11.27.11.

Here is the Win / Loss Chart for the B1G. Michigan State leads the B1G with seven conference wins. There are three 10-win teams: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan.  There are 10 bowl eligible teams in the B1G this year.

This chart tracks the B1G AP Rankings  this season.  Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan all remain flat with no movement. Nebraska moves up a few and Penn State drops three. Only Nebraska and Wisconsin remained ranked the entire season.

Elsewhere in the B1G…

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming but the B1G regular season is now over. Let’s call it a year, and a good one at that. Thank you and good night.

And now that it’s done with, let look and see how I did on my picks.

Before I do that, let me just say that I don’t make predictions involving #14 Michigan State, but they did stay perfect in November as they beat Northwestern.

I’m 24-12 in-conference (I didn’t bother picking the non-con games) which is okay, but I’ve been slipping in the last few weeks. Here’s how week #12 went down…

#21 Nebraska beat Iowa 20-7. I predicted the Cornhuskers by a score, but they did a little better than that. The Hawkeyes’ offense couldn’t get it going and McNutt was held to McNo TDs.

#15 Michigan beat Ohio State 40-34. The Game was a game again. Finally. Maybe the victors’ victory isn’t as sweet since the Bucks are in a down year, but hell, take it when you can get it. Who knew Braxton Miller could throw the deep ball? It was classic Shoelace as he carried the offense on his back with three passing TDs and two rushing TDs. And the Big House certainly helped. I called it, even thought it really hurt my soul to pick Michigan.

Purdue beat Indiana 33-25. The Hoosiers jumped out early, but the Boilermakers pulled up their big boy pants and went home with the Old Oaken Bucket. I picked Indiana not to win and I was right.

Minnesota beat Illinois 27-7. The Golden Gophers went up 27-0 before the Illini finally bagged a score. Kudos to Jerry Kill, you may have just killed Ron Zook’s career once and for all. How the hell do you go from 6-0 to 6-6? It’s never been done until now. I wanted to pick the Gophers, I really did. But I didn’t.

#16 Wisconsin beat #19 Penn State 45-7. The Nittany Lions scored first, and then they were done. Russell Wilson lit it up and Montee Ball had four freakin’ TDs. The Badgers absolutely man-handled the Lions and took away the Leaders Division spot in the B1G Championship Game in the process. I called this one.

I went 4-1 today. Much better. That brings me to 28-13 on the in-conference season. Not bad.

For the Lucky Strike Extra, #6 Stanford beat #22 Notre Dame 28-14. Is it just me, but does Tommy Rees hate Coach Kelly? And does Coach Kelly despise Tommy Rees? The body language would make it appear so. Kelly pulled the failing Rees before the half and with good cause; he was awful. I woudn’t be surprised if Rees bails. Kelly is seeming pretty fickle these days. I don’t like that at all, and I don’t think it bodes well for him or the Irish. Maybe Rees was hurt from the big hit he took early on? Who knows. Anyway, Stanford kicked Notre Dame’s ass much more thoroughly than the score would indicate. I predicted that the Cardinal would eat the Irsih’s lunch and I couldn’t have been more right.

Oh, and I ended up 6-1 in picking ND during the B1G conference season (I know, that makes very little sense).

Well, the seasons over folks. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. But there is still a B1G Championship game between Michigan State and Wisconsin. And there will be bowls. Lots of bowls. So there is more football to come, just not too much more. Drink up B1G fans as the taps are soon to run dry.

MSU 31, Northwestern 17. Spartans close the regular season 10-2, 7-1 in the B1G.

It was a cold, wet game in Evanston, but the Spartans brought heat. Michigan State needed to keep their foot on the gas to beat Northwestern, and that is exactly what they did. They played hard and they played well in each facet of the game. The effort paid off as the Spartans won over the Wildcats and in so doing, locking up the Legends Division all to themselves. No co-Division Champions this year thank you very much. And that is worth giving your full effort.

Let’s start with the defense.

  

The Wildcats have a potent offense and Dan Persa is a crazy-accurate passer. The Spartans learned quickly that if you give Persa time to let routes develop, he’ll throw a strike and he’ll hurt you. MSU cranked up the pressure, especially in the second half, recording six sacks. The Spartans held Northwestern to 17 points which is the fewest the Wildcats have scored all season. Persa actually threw for more yards than Cousins (245 to 214) but on 12 more attempts and with a lower completion percentage and lower yards per gain. Worthy, Pickelman and Allen really stood out in terms of getting in Persa’s face and keeping the pressure on.

Special teams were solid.

K-Mart did it again taking a one-hop punt 57 yards for the TD in the second quarter. It was a big play and happened at a good time when MSU needed to take control and get rolling. Hill continues to do a great job on kick-off returns pushing out to around the 30 yard line with regularity. I don’t know if it was the weather or by design, but the kick-offs seems short. I didn’t really do us any harm in the end, but struck me as odd.

And finally, the offense got it done.

Captain Kirk played his last regular season game as a Spartan, and he made it a good one. He threw 14/20 for 214 yards, two TDs and a pick. Cousins even ran for 25 yards picking up some crucial first downs. He had a superb day and didn’t let the interception get in his head.

  

Cunningham had six receptions for 120 yards and two TDs. B.J. played most of the game completely covered in purple on his back, a result of sliding out of bounds on the freshly-painted and very-wet field. I thought he might put on a fresh jersey at the half, but nope. It didn’t seem to slow him down, that’s for sure. Linthicum had three catches for 31 yards and K-Mart had five for 27.

Bell and Baker run hard. He and Baker have not had the season the Spartans might have hoped for, but they have contributed in a big way and are getting better with each game. Le’Veon had 16 carries for 86 yards and Baker had 15 for 47. When defenses respect the run, it opens up passing. And vice versa. These guys may not have the yards or the TDs we want to see, but their presence has been felt.

Some great things happened Saturday such as…

…delivering the best record in their Division

…finishing their second perfect month of November

…back-to-back ten win seasons for the first time in school history

…Kirk Cousins passing Jeff Smoker for the most passing TDs in MSU history (61) and 200-yard games (24)

…B.J. Cunningham passing Andre Rison and Plaxico Burress to move in to third place for most receiving TDs in MSU history (22), and past Charles Rogers for  career receiving yardage (2,905)

…winning out and carrying major momentum in to the B1G Championship Game

MSU has the best record in the B1g. The Spartans are 7-1 in the B1G with Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State all 6-2. Other than Penn State, we’re all 10-2 overall (Penn State is 9-3). If this was 2010, we’d be going to the Rose Bowl already. But it’s not. It’s 2011 and we have Divisions and we have a Championship Game. No sense worrying about what isn’t; let’s focus on what is.

Up next week, the B1G Championship Game in Indianapolis. Lucas Oil Stadium (I know, it’s seems wrong that it is indoors). Your Michigan State Spartans versus the Wisconsin Badgers. Holy crap, a re-match. Sparty vs. Bucky, one more time. Saturday night, at 8:17pm on Fox, we’ll kick it all off. Should be one hell of a game. Wish I was going.

As always, Go Green!

B1G GameDay!

I know it’s Friday, but I’ve got the day off work and there is technically a B1G game today, so what the hell, let’s do this thing.

This is it. The last games of the regular season.

For Indiana and Minnesota, this is the end of the road.

It could be the same story for Northwestern, Illinois and Ohio State they are all six win teams and it’s doubtful that all of the eligible teams will get bids. Moving up to seven wins would certainly help.

For #19 Penn State and #16 Wisconsin, it’s about who’s going to win the Leaders Division and go to Indy to Face Michigan State for the B1G Championship.

For #14 Michigan State, it’s about finishing strong, carrying momentum on the road and not sharing the Legends with in-state rivals Michigan. The come-back win against Northwestern last year was too exciting for me, and a bitter loss for the Wildcats. I hope that “cheese” comment doesn’t haunt us this year.

For #15 Michigan it’s about a potential BCS at-large bid and a 10 win season after the last three years in Hell.

For Ohio State it’s more just about The Game and keeping the steak alive and just getting past this year, getting a new coach, new blood, new opportunities.

For Purdue, it’s about getting bowl eligible and finishing .500, for whatever that is worth.

And finally, for Iowa and #21 Nebraska, is it a rivalry? Or it it two good teams playing for the W and possibly a better bowl bid? Probably all of that.

There are some great match-ups this week; here they are along with my shot-in-the-dark picks…

Friday:

Iowa at #21 Nebraska – Noon on ABC. This is a pretty darn good match-up. Iowa is much better in the air but Nebraska can dominates on the ground. Nebraska has the edge as the overall better team and playing in Lincoln. But beware of Marvin McNutt. Huskers by a score.

Saturday:

Ohio State at #15 Michigan – Noon on ABC. The Game. The Buckeyes have owned this thing for the last seven years. To be honest, it was not been much of a The Game for a while now. I think this year it different as Ohio State is way off this year and on a two-game slide while Michigan is fast recovering from the RichRod-induced quagmire. The Wolverines are born-again with a very solid defense and an exciting albeit erratic offense that knows how to run the ball. The Bucks are almost exactly the same but with a far worse air attack. Which ever defense can stop the run will win the game.  As much as it pains me to say it, Michigan wins at the Big House.

Purdue at Indiana – 3:30pm on the BTN. Indiana won’t win.

Illinois at Minnesota – 3:30pm on the BTN. The Illini are on a five game losing streak. They have totally imploded this year and it has been pitiful to watch. The Golden Gophers are pretty much terrible, and how they beat Iowa I’ll never know. I think conditions are right for Jerry Kill’s squad to win, but my gut tells me it’s just not going to happen. Illinois wins.

#19 Penn State at #16 Wisconsin – 3:30pm on ESPN / ESPN3. The battle for the Leaders Division, winner take all. The Badgers are a better team and the game is at Camp Randall. The Lions are still in the midst of an unspeakably awful mess but seem to be playing with heart. But enough heart to beat a better team in hostile territory? Nope. Wisconsin wins and heads to Indy.

Lucky Strike Extra: #22 Notre Dame at #6 Stanford – 8:00pm on ABC. Paa-Leeze. The Irish were hard-pressed to beat Boston College, and they are simply not a good team. The Cardinal on the other hand is a really, really good team. Look, I like Notre Dame and would love to see a ND team that could beat this Stanford squad, but this ain’t it. Stanford beat Notre Dame, eats their lunch and steals the wheels off of their bus too.

Enjoy your day off with the Iowa-Nebraska game, and then you still have a slew of great games tomorrow too! Kind of worth giving thanks for, really.

Once again and for ever, Go Green!

Rants and Ranks.

Typically, beating the worst team in the league doesn’t give you a big bump in the rankings, but I was hopeful that some of the other craziness in the BCS would maybe tractor-beam the Spartans up a few notches. Not so much. Michigan State moved up one spot to #14 in the BCS.

The Spartans are the top ranked B1G team, and currently the only team within the 1-14 window for being eligible for an at-large BCS bid. There are two reasons why that is all just noise anyway: 1. there is a week of football to play and if we’ve learned one ting, anything can happen at any time, 2. MSU will not get an at-large bid no matter what. Why? They will either win in Indy and go to the Rose Bowl (love that plan) or lose in Indy and become a three-loss team which would not get an at-large bid. The Spartans are bowl bound, no question there. If it is to be a BCS bowl, it will be by there own doing.

Also, MSU is #11 in the AP and ESPN polls, #10 in USA Today.

Here is how the rest of the B1G measure up:

Michigan is #15 BCS, #17 AP / ESPN and #16 USA Today.

Wisconsin is #16 BCS / AP, #12 USA Today and #14 ESPN.

Penn State is #19 BCS / USA Today and #20 AP / ESPN

Nebraska is #21 BCS and #22 AP / USA Today / ESPN

The B1G continues to be a tight-knit pack between #14 and #21.  I’m enjoying having the Spartans at the top of the pack and I really hope they win-out and stay right there. With the Badger playing the Lions this week, one of those teams will rise and the other will certainly fall. If Michigan beats Ohio State in The Game, I think the Wolverines could move up to #14 which they need to do for a possible at-large bid. Not that I’m pulling for U-M mind you, just stating the facts.

On the B1G Standing front, Michigan State and Penn State continue to hold the top spots in their respective divisions. MSU has already won the Legends and the only question is will they have to share with Michigan? Let’s hope not. Penn State has to win to take the Leaders, otherwise they will have to share with Wisconsin and the Badgers would end up going to Indy.

FYI, “*” means bowl eligilbl, and “x” means can not become bowl eligilble.

One more week! There are some great match-up this weekend with MSU vs Northwestern, Ohio State vs. Michigan, Penn State vs. Wisconsin, etc. It’s going to be B1G.

Elsewhere in the B1G…

Everyone played this week with five Noon games and one 3:30 kick-off.  I never predict the #15 Michigan State game, but they crushed a struggling Indiana team 55-3.

I’m 22-9 in-conference in 2011 which ain’t bad, but I do feel like I’m slipping a little bit in November. Here’s how it went down this week…

Northwestern beat Minnesota 28-13 – I picked the Wildcats at home against a not very good Gopher squad, and was right. NW is now bowl eligible at 6-5.

#18 Michigan beat #16 Nebraska 45-17 – I picked Nebraska. Why? two reasons: #1 – I find it very, very difficult to bring myself to ever side with Michigan. To borrow a quote from Mark Dantonio, I’m just not wired that way. #2 – Any time I have need the Wolverines to win a game in order for something positive to happen for MSU, they have never, ever been able to win. In this case, if Michigan beat Nebraska, State wins the Legends. I’m fine with being proven wrong this time.

#17 Wisconsin beat Illinois 28-17 – Illinois started strong and then faded. Wisconsin is really good which is why I picked them.

Iowa beat Purdue 31-21 – I rarely pick Purdue, but I thought Iowa was beatable. I was wrong.

#21 Penn State beat Ohio State 20-14 – I saw this one as a close match-up but home turf tipping in the Buckeyes favor. Nope. The Lions pick up their first post-Paterno era win in the Shoe.

So, my first losing week as I went 2-3 bringing my record to 24-12.

On the Lucky Strike Extra, Notre Dame beat Boston College 16-14 – BC rallied but ND held. It wasn’t pretty, and it doesn’t look good for the Irish next week against Stanford, but a win is a win. I picked Notre Dame which brings my ND record to 5-1.

One week to go before we wrap-up the regular season and start predicting bowl games. It all goes by so fast.

MSU 55, Indiana 3. Spartans go to 9-2, 6-1 in the B1G clinching the Legends Division.

What a great day for the Michigan State Spartans, Champions of the B1G Legends division. That just feels good to say. I wouldn’t have ever been bold enough to predict it back in September, and I’m excited as hell about it now. Way to go Spartans!

Yes, we blew out the Hoosiers 55-3, we kept the Old Brass Spittoon, and that is good news. Cheers to that!

The Seniors got to play their last game in East Lansing in triumphant fashion; they won big. And they looked and played great. This Senior class is the winningest in Michigan State history. Many of these guys were in the first class that Coach Dantonio recruited back in 2007 with the rest from 2008, so these are all Coach D’s guys. These guys are a special group. I think I’ll hold off on call them out individually until this season is over, but hats off to the Seniors!

So let’s look at the game.

I think everyone got in on the 174 yard ground attack, even Joel Foreman had three yards. This was the typical Spartan team rushing effort with Bell for 68 yards, Rock for 34 and two TDs, Hill for 30, K-Mart for 18 and a TD and Caper for 16.

And the story isn’t much different in the 296 yard air attack. Cousins went 16-23 for 272 yards and three TDs. Maxwell was able to take some B1G snaps and went 4-7 for 22 yards. On the receiving end, K-Mart had eight catches for 99 yards and a TD, Cunningham had six catches for 132 yards and two TDs, and Linthicum, Bell, Celek, Nichol, Sontag and Palazeti all recorded catches as well.

The defense was all over Indiana allowing only 94 yards rushing and 142 yards passing. State had three sacks and two picks, one for an 86-yards TD by Johnny Adams.

Overall, just a great day of football for the Spartans and a great way to finish up at home. And down in the locker room the team was presented with B1G Legends Division Champions hats and a trophy. It’s cool to know MSU is and will always be the first Legends Division Champion.

Typically I’d say something like “one more to go, let’s focus on next week…”, but now we know for sure there are three more to go. We only know who were playing next week with our match-up against Northwestern, but we know were playing either Penn State or replaying Wisconsin the week after that for the B1G Championship. That third game, a bowl game, will be determined by the outcome in Indy. Very exciting. I’m loving every minute of it. Let’s get fired up for the Wildcats next week and then we’ll take it from there.

And, as always, Go Green!