Battle Trophy.

The Michigan State Spartans have now beat the Michigan Wolverines four years running. The graduating seniors have never lost to Michigan (ignoring any redshirt seasons). The juniors, sophomores and freshman have never lost to Michigan. Period. When we play Michigan in 2o12, not one single player on that team will have ever lost to in-state rivals Michigan.

Conversely, the exact opposite is true of the Wolverines. Not one University of Michigan player has ever beaten Michigan State. None. Zilch.

How awesome is that? Very awesome.

This year’s win was also special in that State wore on-off Nike Pro Combat uniforms. The unis had a very “300” feel to them, and I thought they were cool. I prefer the current green and white unis in general, but the one-off craze is fun and mixes it up a little.

Love them or hate them, they are a symbol of victory over the self-proclaimed “victors”. A trophy. Michigan State awarded the helmets to the team this week as a reward and a memento. A keeper.

More than a slap.

Ohio State and finally got word from the NCAA on penalties for all of the shenanigans that have been going on in Columbus for who knows how long. I was worried that it would be a “time served” kind of deal; a mere slap on the wrist and let’s move on. From what Urban Meyer has been saying, he wasn’t expecting much.

Here’s the deal:

 – Bowl ban in 2012-2013 season

 – Reduced football scholarships from 85 to 82 through the 2014-2015 season

 – Probation through December 19, 2014.

I assume the vacated 2010 season is still in-effect, but that isn’t clear to me at this point. That’s in the past anyway.

The only issue here moving forward is really the bowl ban next year. And I don’t think a one year ban is enough to change recruits minds.

 

B1G Bowl Predictions.

I went 28-13 for the B1G in-conference season, and that doesn’t include Michigan State because I don’t pick Spartan Games. That’s a 68% accuracy rating – not bad but not awesome either. I’ll try to do better.

Here are my not-worth-the-paper-their-not-printed-on picks for the B1g bowls…

Little Caesar’s BowlPurdue vs. Western Michigan, Dec. 27, 4:30pm on ESPN.  Typically, a B1G team should spank an MAC team, but I’m not so sure in this case. Purdue went 6-6 and they are middle-of-the-road just about any way you look at them. Western went 7-5 (granted, against weaker opponents), but they do know how to throw the ball pretty darn well. The game is being played in Michigan. I’m going to go with the Broncoes by three.

Insight BowlIowa vs. #14 Oklahoma, Dec. 30, 10:00pm, ESPN.  Iowa beat Michigan, otherwise, they didn’t really beat anybody good this year. Oklahoma beat Texas, K-State and Texas A&M. They lost to very good teams such as Baylor and Oklahoma State. The Sooners passing game is a killer. I just don’t see the Hawkeyes surviving this one. Sooners by 17.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of TexasTexas A&M vs. Northwestern, Dec. 31, Noon on ESPN.  Both teams went 6-6 on the season. The Aggies have an aggressive offense, and it’s well balanced. The Wildcats are have a good offense, but not great. And the game is in Texas. Ouch. Aggies by 10.

Kraft Fight Hunger BowlIllinois vs. UCLA, Dec. 31, 3:30pm on ESPN.  The Illini went 6-0 just to finish 6-6. Ouch. The Zooker was shown the door and new coach Tim Beckman formerly of Toledo Rockets fame is now at the helm. UCLA damn near alternated Ws and Ls all year, went 6-7 after losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game (USC couldn’t play because they’ve been bad), fired their coach and new coach Jim Mora is steering the ship. The two offenses are pretty even. The only real edge in this game is the Illini defense which is way better than the Bruin’s defense. I think Illinois breaks the six game losing streak and comes back to beat UCLA by a score.

TicketCity Bowl#19 Houston vs. #22 Penn State, Jan. 2, Noon on ESPNU.  The Cougars are good. 12-1 good. But who did they play? They beat UCLA and that’s not really super-amazing. Southern Miss spanked them. Penn State looks like the best opponent Houston will face this year. The 9-3 Nittany Lions just want 2011 to go away, and for good reason. But the players are doing their best to not fade away. Houston’s offense is potent (maybe) and Penn State’s defense is up to the challenge. I’m going against the grain and picking Penn State by 10.

Outback Bowl#17 Michigan State vs. #16 Georgia, Jan. 2, 1:00pm on ABC.  An even match-up no matter how you look at it. Should be a great game. Go Green!

Capitol One Bowl#20 Nebraska vs. #9 South Carolina, Jan. 2, 1:00pm on ESPN.  If only the Huskers could pass effectively, they could be really dangerous. The rushing game is excellent and their defense is good, but the air attack is just not there. But you know what, the same can be said for the Gamecocks. They are very similar teams, but South Carolina is just a tick or two better in most every category. I’m going out on a limb and taking Nebraska by a point in a high scoring game.

TaxSlayer.com Gator BowlOhio State vs. Florida, Jan. 2, 1:00pm on ESPN2.  Urban Meyer’s old team vs. Urban Meyer’s new team. The Gators had a tough schedule and they lost to everyone good. The Buckeyes had a less-hard schedule and were completely unpredictable. Luke Fickel will “coach” this one so that Meyers can focus on poaching recruits. I pick Ohio State to win by a score, but then vacate the win at a later date.

The Rose Bowl presented by Vizzio#10 Wisconsin vs. #5 Oregon, Jan. 2, 5:00pm on ESPN.  I really want Wisconsin to win. I think they are a really good team and they represent the B1G well. But holy crap Oregon is good. Really good. Really, really fast. On paper, these teams are very close. But why is it that Oregon’s highlights look like they are on fast-forward? But the Duck’s defense is not great. The question becomes can the Ducks offense break the Badger’s defense. I say NO! Wisconsin by four in OT.

AllState Sugar Bowl#13 Michigan vs. #11 Virginia Tech, Jan. 3, 8:30pm on ESPN.  How these two teams made it to a BCS bowl is beyond me, but they did. The Wolverines have cleaned up their act and found some stability, but their still vulnerable every time Shoelace throws the ball. Van Halen, I mean Virginia Tech hasn’t really beaten anybody good, but they’re not really bad either. I hate, hate, hate to say it but I think Michigan wins by two scores unless shoelace gets picked off two or more times.

I hope I’m wrong and the B1G wins all of their bowls. If I’m right, the B1G goes at least 6-3. Nothing here feels like a lock to me though. Should be fun.

Lucky Strike Extra: Champs Sports BowlFlorida State vs. Notre Dame, Dec. 29, 5:30pm on ESPN.  Neither team is ranked, both are 8-4. Coach Kelly has benched, released or otherwise exploded upon all of his QBs to point where the starter in this bowl game will likely have about 29 pass attempts on the year. Oh you magnificent bastard, I had no idea you were that much of a hot head. The Seminoles are the epitome of hit and miss. I think the Irish need to go regroup and call it a year already. Seminoles by twenty.

I retain the right to revise up until game time. If I do, I’ll be obvious about it; nothing sneaky around here.

Bad Ju-Ju for Ohio State

Rules are rules and if you’re not breaking them, then there is nothing to stop you.

Being an asshole isn’t illegal, but that doesn’t make it cool either.

What Ohio State is doing with Luke Fickel and staff coaching the team for the bowl game while Urban Meyer and staff are off poaching recruits is poor form. Truly an asshole move in my book. But the NCAA approved it so they’re totally legit.

I never really liked Meyer when he was at Florida (but then I don’t really like Florida), and I figured there was some shadiness of some type in his “retiring”. Now I just think he’s an asshole.

Anyway, I hope the NCAA cracks down hard on the Bucks for TattGate. I hope it hurts. bad. And for a long time. Because you deserve nothing less.

Just stop it.

I don’t like the way the bowl scenarios worked out, but I wasn’t consulted. I don’t have a say, and neither do you. The system is flawed – always has been and always will be.

So let’s get clear on a few things…

1. Michigan State had a shot at the Rose Bowl and lost. It was going to be us or Wisconsin. The Badgers won. It’s a fact.

2. MichiganState is 10-3 / 7-1. Like it or not, we have three losses.  It’s a fact.

3. Michigan had a 10-2 / 6-2 record which is good. They won the games, they earned the record. How easy or hard their schedule was doesn’t matter. How many points they won or lost by doesn’t matter. The fact that the Spartans beat the Wolverines doesn’t matter. U-M has two losses. It’s a fact.

4. The BCS ranked Michigan #13 and Michigan State #17. It’s not Michigan’s doing, it’s the BCS and their “system”. It’s a fact.

So, just stop it. Stop arguing. Stop whining. Stop bitching.

Stop pointing fingers at Michigan and their fans. Stop commenting on blogs and engaging in argumentative slap-boxing.

In fact, stop complaining about the BCS too. Nobody really believes that their above-board or in some way fair. Stop being shocked by this, it’s not new news.

It’s not attractive. It’s also completely futile.

Let’s celebrate a great season. We beat Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin! And back-to-back-to-back no less. Pull up the big boy pants and man-up. It’s not anybody’s fault. There is no blame to lay. We almost got the Rose Bowl, but we lost. And it’s going to be okay.

B1G Charts 12.06.11

The second-to-last B1G win / loss chart, but the last for a while. It will be January 3rd at the earliest before this get updated again.  Wisconsin takes the lead by winning the B1G, and Michigan State is the runner-up. Obviously, no other action as only the winners of each division played.

Here are the B1G schools in the AP rankings. Wisconsin climbed six spots to #9. Michigan State fell one spot to #12. Michigan rode the couch and got a ride up to #13. Nebraska and Penn State also rode the couch down one spot to #21 and #24 respectively.

We’ll finalize these graphics after the bowls are in the books. I am glad the B1G cracked the top ten, the Championship Game win was a heck of a boost for Wisconsin.

“Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

Yep, I snagged that from Brian Bennett who of course is quoting a Clint Eastwood line from Unforgiven, but it is an absolutely accurate way of describing the bowl selection process and pairings. Here’s how Brian (whom I happen to like 98% more than Adam Rittenburg, BTW) put it…

Best quote to remember: “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” Just keep repeating Clint Eastwood’s line in “Unforgiven” whenever you complain about bowls. Did Michigan deserve a BCS bid over Michigan State, who finished ahead of the Wolverines in the Legends Division and thumped their rivals by two touchdowns? No. Did a 9-3 Penn State team deserve to slide all the way down to the TicketCity Bowl? Of course not. Did 6-6 Ohio State, which lost to Penn State, deserve to go to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl? Heck no.

Always keep in mind that the BCS is set up only to pit the No. 1 vs. No. 2 teams (and it doesn’t even get that right every time). Virtually every other bowl is an exhibition game put on by a city to boost tourism. That’s it. Nothing more. It’s preposterous that schools allow their most valuable property — the postseason — to be run by some chamber of commerce in a distant city and will eagerly agree to outrageous ticket guarantees that amount to little more than blackmail.

But that’s the system we have. And deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.

His words, my sentiments. But you know what, we had our shot. We were one of very few teams who can say they actually played for the bowl they really wanted, and just didn’t win. I’ve got to not have a bad attitude. I’ve got to buck up. I’ve got to get behind the Spartans and pull for a bowl win since we haven’t done that yet. Go Green! Go White. Here’s to Michigan State beating Georgia in the Outback Bowl!

I’m going to re-charge, re-load, re-think, re-whatever and get behind my B1G brethren and cheer for their success.

Best of luck to you Wisconsin, I hope you kick the shit out of Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

Gods speed to you Michigan, I hope thrash Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

Here’s to you Nebraska, I hope you shut down South Carolina in the Capitol One Bowl.

Cheers to you Ohio State, I hope you steamroll Florida in the Gator Bowl.

Go get ’em Penn State, I hope you spank Houston in the TicketCity Bowl.

Fire up Illinois, I hope you dominate UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Fight the good fight Northwestern, I hope you crush Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

Get ‘er done Iowa, I hope you route Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl.

And lastly, Boiler Up Purdue, I hope you flatten Western Michigan in the Little Ceasar’s Bowl.

Let’s dominate! Go B1G or go home.

MSU 39, Wisconsin 42. Spartans lose the B1G Championship and a spot in the Rose Bowl.

I like to win. Make no mistake about that. But I also appreciate a good, no great football game. And this was just that. It just didn’t have the happy ending I was hoping for.

As in the first meeting, the Badgers were potent in the first quarter and built up a two score lead. Bucky could run at will and Sparty wasn’t getting to the ball or putting down good hits – they looked tentative like they were afraid to make a mistake. It was 7-21 Badgers.

And then, once again, the Spartans owned the second quarter taking the lead back and shifting momentum completely over to the Green and White. The gutsy two-point conversion on a fake extra point was awesome. The defense was merciless. At the half it was 29-21 State.

The third quarter was pretty even with a score a piece making it 36-28 State.

But momentum was slipping and the Badgers were finding ways to get back in to it. Russell Wilson is amazing. Montee Ball is amazing. Not that any of the Spartans gave up or laid down, not at all. They played like Champions. We needed a break and that break seemed to come on a K-Mart punt return that looked damn close to a score but would leave MSU with over a minute inside the five yard line. But no. Nope. Take it back and hand it over. The Spartans went for the block and accidentally ran in to the kicker. That’s five yards and enough for a first down for the Badgers. They ran the clock out and punched their ticket to The Grandaddy Of Them All on January 2nd.

Final score, 39-42 Wisconsin.

We won the stats battle but lost the game. So many of the guys played at their very best, it just didn’t swing our way this time. But it was a great game.

Well, we’ll find out which bowl we’re off to. And will Michigan add salt to the wound by going to a BCS bowl even though we smoked them? Probably. That’s the ridiculous nature of the flawed and foul BCS. Nebraska will like get their name called before ours too, but then they beat the pants off of us so I don’t have too much of a gripe there.

The wounds will heal. And even if it’s not the bowl we were playing for, let’s win a bowl game finally under Coach Dantonio. I don’t care which one it is, let’s win the damn thing and end this season as the winners that the Spartans truly are.

B1G Championship GameDay!

Two the B1G’s 12 teams play today in the the inaugural B1G Conference Championship Game. My #13 Michigan State Spartans against the #15 Wisconsin Badgers. The game is at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis at 8:00pm tonight on Fox. Even though this is a neutral site, State is considered the “home” team and will wear the green jerseys – I wonder if they will wear the special “Spartans” unis or stick with the standard “Michigan State” version? I’m guessing “Spartans”.

This is the first time in my lifetime that two B1G teams have ever played each other twice in the same season (in 1987-88 we played USC twice, but they’re certainly not in the B1G). The winner tonight goes on to face Oregon in the Rose Bowl. The loser… probably the Outback Bowl. Funny how that works out. The Spartans’ last Rose Bowl was a 1988 win over Southern Cal; the Badgers was a 2010 loss against TCU.

The Badgers are the favorite coming in to tonight’s game even though the Spartans are ranked higher, had a tougher schedule and a better conference record. I get it though, Wisconsin is really good and they are on a roll. I think I said the same thing about them in October, and in 2010, but that’s all history now. Tonight it is the B1G’s best and if it is anything like the first meeting this season, it will be one hell of a game.

I doubt this game will be won on a Hail Mary play, but that’s fine too. As awesome as that play was, the implication in the media has been that MSU snatched victory from Wisconsin on a miracle play. The real story is that MSU led the majority of the game after overcoming a two-score deficit in the first quarter, and it was UW who fought their way back to tie it up in the fourth quarter. The game was heading to O.T. when UW called a few timeouts for us and gave us the opportunity to put one up for grabs. A tactical error on their part and a HUGE amount of luck on our part gave us the victory without having to flip another coin.

If you would like a fast re-cap of the game, check out Brian Bennett’s post on the ESPN B1G Blog: First Half and Second Half. You can also watch the game on ESPN3.

Let’s see some Spartan Fight tonigt!

I want to see the defense fired up bringing pressure on Russell Wilson and putting a stick on Montee Ball. Those guys are awesome and we need to be all over them. Worthy, Pickelman, Gholston, Adams and company all making big plays. Dominate!

I want to see Captain Kirk, B.J., K-Mart, Bell, Baker, Nichol, Linthicum and company on their game tonight. Tack sharp and lightning fast. Bring the Power!

And as always, I’ll have a brew and a cigar and I’ll be freaking out and sweating it out the whole way. Let’s bring some hardware back to East Lansing.

Go Green!