Rankings & Ramblings – Week #9.

And then there was one.  Looking at the third week of the BCS Rankings, the B1G is down to just one team.

Nebraska enters the rankings at #20 after handing Michigan their asses, and with their asses in-hand, Michigan falls out of the rankings altogether. Wisconsin got a peak at the BCS rankings last week but they are gone too after losing in OT to Michigan State.

In the AP Top 25, where cheaters prosper, we again have two B1G schools.

Ohio State moves up to #6 after their convincing win in Happy Valley.  Michigan falls from #20 to out of the Top 25 (#37) and likewise, Nebraska re-enters the Top 25 (for the third time) at #21. There was almost a little role-reversal there following Michigan’s total meltdown in Lincoln.  B1G near misses include Northwestern at #34, Wisconsin at #36 and the aforementioned Michigan at #37. Sadly, my Michigan State received not one vote.

Go B1G.

GO GREEN!

Week #9 down the hatch.

What a week. It’s a happy ending for me because Michigan State finally won a close one, and against Wisconsin who we won’t be playing again until 2015. It was a tough game to watch; an honest to God defensive battle with a whole lot of punting going on, but in the end the Spartans got the job done.

Looking at the B1G Win/Loss chart, there is a little shuffling going on. Ohio State’s unbeaten streak continues, and they are owning the top spot in the league. On the other end of the spectrum, Illinois is in the cellar and Purdue seems to be cozying right up next to them. Michigan State and Minnesota are pushing their way up to the middle while Penn State and Wisconsin seem to be falling to the middle.

Did you know Michigan hasn’t scored a touchdown in two weeks? If Denard Robinson’s injury keeps him our for multiple games, I don’t know how much scoring they’re going to be able to do.

Coming in to Week #9, I’m 46-12 with my picks, or about 79% accuracy. This season has been crazy, so I think that percentage is respectable. Let’s see how I did this week…

Iowa @ Northwestern – I saw the Wildcats as the more well-rounded team and had them winning by a score. The Hawkeyes were sloppy out there and paid the price for it. Northwestern won by 11. 47-12.

Indiana @ Illinois – Both teams have struggled this year, but the Hoosiers are clearly the better team which is why I picked them by 17 over the Illini. Bullseye! Indiana by 14. 48-12.

Purdue @ Minnesota – I’ve seen the Boilermakers play some good ball this year even if there record isn’t great. And I’ve been burned picking the Gophers too.  So I picked the Purdue by 14 because I just thought they are the better team. Nope! Minnesota by 16. 48-13.

Ohio State @ Penn State – Feeling that the Buckeyes are undeserving of their undefeated record, and believing that the Nittany Lions are very good and in Happy Valley, I picked Penn State to kick ’em in the bucknuts. That just didn’t happen. Ohio State by 12. 48-14.

Michigan @ Nebraska – I saw the Huskers as having just enough fight in their “Black Shirts” to slow or stop Michigan’s offense. The real question in my mind was if Nebraska could score on Michigan’s defense. I thought it would be a good fight but that Nebraska would win it by three or less at home. Well, Denard Robinson appeared to injure himself and wen’t out leaving the Michigan offense without it’s one dimension. Nebraska cleaned up winning by 14. 49-14.

I went 3-2 this week which seems to be about average for as of late. I’m 49-14 on the year which is still okay, but I seem to be dropping each week. At least my attitude is much improved with MSU beating Wisconsin in Madison. And Michigan losing doesn’t hurt either. A great Saturday of football, I really enjoyed it. Best of luck to the B1G for this upcoming week as we leave October behind and get in to some cold November games. Bring on the snow!

GO GREEN!

Michigan State 16, #25 Wisconsin 13; Spartans go to 5-4, 2-3 in the B1G.

Wisconsin doesn’t give up many losses at home. In fact, they won the last 21 home games played at Camp Randall (only LSU has won more home games). But that streak ended yesterday when our Michigan State Spartans rolled into town and snatched the victory in overtime. The last time the Spartans won in Madison was 20o1, which is nice. But honestly, the win itself in this season of frustration is what feels great. It’s so great to leave the “could’ve, should’ve” behind.

As they have been all season, the Spartan defense was tough as nails and this was maybe their best performance yet. Cheers to Max Bullough, Kyler Elsworth, Marcus Rush and Taiwan Jones for just getting after it all game long. But the pleasant surprise of the day for me was the return of William Gholston. Gholston had 4.5 tackles-for-a-loss and he put a sack on Joel Stave that basically ruined his day (maybe his season?). Do you recall just before the season started when put up a short post on Gholston with the line “This machine eats quarterbacks”? Yup.

In a nutshell, the Spartans played shut-down defense. The Badgers have a serious running threat in the Ball / White duo, but they were held to 19 net yards on 37 carries. That’s a 0.5 average per carry. They actually ran for 93 positive yards, but it was the 74 negative yards that put the hurt on them. Ball had 46 yards and White had just 16. These boys were shut down.

When Stave went down, their passing game went down with it. The Badgers were forced to play Danny O’Brien, the QB they hired over the summer, and the Spartans kept him running for his life for the rest of the game. Wisconsin ended with 171 net passing yards going 13-22 with one TD. Stave accounted for nine of those 14 completions and 127 of the yards. O’Brien is not only no Russell Wilson, he’s just not very good.

On the other side of the ball, the Spartans struggled most of the day. We know that State’s offense is struggling, and they are improving, but they are not really a formidable unit as of yet. Oh, and Bucky is pretty damn tough on defense too. Andrew Maxwell went 24-39 for 216 yards and two TDs.  Those are respectable numbers. The Spartan receivers did a good job of hauling the ball in too with Bennie Fowler leading the way with six catches for 48 yards and the game-winning TD. Fowler was well-covered, but A-Max through a pinpoint pass and Fowler made a great catch. Warms my heart, really. Keith Mumphrey and Tony Lippett each had five catches, Le’Veon Bell four including a TD shovel pass, and Lawrence Thomas and Dion Simms each had two.

Running proved to be all up-hill for the Spartans. Le’Veon Bell ran hard but never really had room to get going as he 21 carries for 77 yards. The Spartans had 61 net rushing yards on 28 carries which was far better than the Badgers, but far worse than I had hoped for. If nothing else, the threat of MSU’s rushing attack keeps the Wisconsin’s defense honest.

Lastly, a “good job” to Dan Conroy for knocking that 34-yarder through the uprights. I can’t recall a year when I had to hold my breath every damn time we kick a field-goal, but that is what this year has turned in to. When your offense is underperforming and struggling to put up points, every FG is precious. If Conroy missed that kick, we don’t tie the game, we don’t go to O.T., and we don’t win the game. It’s refreshing to not have not had that story play out this week.

Looking at the Legends, Nebraska and Michigan are leading tied at 3-1, but the Huskers hold the trump card should it come down to it. Northwestern is 3-2 and Iowa is 2-2 coming in at 3rd and 4th. That puts Michigan State in 5th at 2-3 ahead of a 1-3 Minnesota. A win against the Cornhuskers is a good step towards climbing that ladder, so let’s focus on doing just that next week in East Lansing.

GO GREEN!

B1G Week #9 Picks.

There are some important games this week which will effect division championships, bowl game, bragging rights, hype levels, etc. I’m 46-12 so far this season after a brutal week last week with only two correct calls. Maybe I can do a little better this week. Let’s dive in…

Michigan State @ #25 Wisconsin – 3:30 on ABC / ESPN-2.  Man do I wish this game was in East Lansing. Not that Spartan Stadium has been the victory beacon of the previous few years, but still Camp Randall is hostile territory. The Badgers started slow but have been building steam steadily as the season has worn on. The Spartans… not so much. We can’t count on a Hail Mary this year, so I’m saying some Hail Mary’s that the Spartan offense can put some points on the board while the defense keeps doing what it has done all season. Go Green!

Iowa @ Northwestern – Noon on ESPN-2.  The Hawkeyes are 4-3 with a weak offensive unit but a respectable defense. The Wildcats can score, especially running the ball and their defense isn’t chopped liver either. I think Northwestern has the edge as a more well-rounded team and they don’t have to travel. Northwestern by a score.

Indiana @ Illinois – Noon on BTN.  I can’t believe this one isn’t on ABC!  Ha. Okay, that’s just mean. Both teams are struggling at 2-5, but that doesn’t give me the right to give them the business. I say the Hoosiers throw their way to a victory in this match up. Indiana by 17.

Purdue @ Minnesota – 3:30 on BTN.  There was such hope for Purdue (I know how that story goes) and yet here they are at 3-4. It’s interesting that they put up a better fight against Notre Dame than either MSU or Michigan, but they seem to be  losing momentum at an alarming rate with losses in all of their conference games. (Still can’t believe the Boilermakers lost that game to the Buckeyes. Damn.) Same story for the Gophers though as they’re winless in the B1G. I’m giving Purdue an edge as simply a bit better team, I say Purdue by 14.

Ohio State @ Penn State – 5:30 on ESPN.  What an odd kick-off time, but I dig it I think. This is the “Ineligi-bowl”, of course. Two very good teams, probably the best in the B1G. The Bucknuts are undefeated, and all though I can’t really criticize them, they aren’t really as good as 8-0 would lead you to believe (exception: Nebraska game). The Lions had to cleanse themselves before they could move in to a healthy, winning mode. They have done that and it’s been onward and upward ever since. But in Happy Valley, I say Penn State ends the nonsense and hands Ohio State the full-on beating they so justly deserve. Penn State by 21.

#22 Michigan @ Nebraska – 8:00 on ESPN-2.  Both teams are 5-2 although Michigan has a slight lead in the Legends race. Both teams are flawed as well, but in very different ways. The Wolverine’s defense is good (not “amazing” as the hype-machine would suggest), but their offense is utterly one-dimensional. Stop Denard Robinson from running and you basically stop Michigan (assuming you can score, I’m talking from experience). The Huskers have a good offense which also relies heavily on the running game, but has a lot more weaponry which make them very dangerous, yet their defense (can’t really call them Blackshirts this year) just isn’t that solid as they let almost 30 points get pasted on them every weekend. In Lincoln, and with the division on the line, I see Nebraska winning by three or less. It’s going to be close.

No bye week for anyone this time around. We’re all-in this week.

Mathematically, the Spartans are in a tough spot in terms of making headway in the Legends. I’d like to see Michigan State win, Michigan and Iowa lose, just to keep things interesting and close. I’m a never-say-die kind of guy so I’m going to keep cheering and keep rooting and keep shouting “GO GREEN” until last game is played. Best of luck to all the B1G teams this week.

Go B1G!

GO GREEN!

Rankings & Ramblings – Week #8.

Looking at the second week of BCS rankings, the B1G is doing 200% better which is still 100% awful.

Michigan enters at #22 and Wisconsin enters at #25. Not great by any means, but compared to absence of B1G schools last week, it’s a massive improvement.

In the AP Top 25, where they are cool with cheaters, we have also have to B1G schools.

 

Ohio State drops two ticks to #9 and Michigan jumps up three to #20. It should be noted that Wisconsin is #28 with 31 votes, Nebraska is #30 with 24 votes, and Penn State is #31 with 18 votes. I hope to see some of these fine B1G squads up on the board next week.

Go B1G.

Week #8 is finally over.

The Michigan State – Michigan game was a heartbreaker. If you would have told me that the Spartans could hold the Wolverines without a TD, I would have guaranteed a win. Nope. And to lose by a FG after we missed a 38-yarder earlier in the game. Oh the humanity.

Looking at the W/L chart, Ohio State is leading the league even if as convicted cheats, they can’t do anything with it. They’re really not that good by Ohio State standards, but this year is so whacky that it just doesn’t matter. My Spartans keep creeping farther to the right which is no place you want to live. Or even visit.

I’m 44-10 going in to Week #8 and I made some bat-shit crazy picks this week. Let’s see how it all worked out…

Purdue @ Ohio State – I wanted Purdue to win it, but just didn’t think they could see themselves doing it so I took Ohio State by 10. It was close, but it was the Buckeyes by seven in OT. 45-10.

Minnesota @ Wisconsin – I had a crazy idea that the Gophers could snatch the win during a Badger down year. I had them winning by a measly one. And I looked pretty smart in the first half, but then Wisconsin got it going and won by 25. Oops. 45-11.

Nebraska @ Northwestern – I thought the Wildcats at home and with a good offense could do some damage against a not-great Husker defense. I was mostly right, just not right enough. Nebraska by one. 45-12.

Indiana @ Navy – I had a funny line and thought the Hoosier would float through this one. They sank instead. Navy by one (again). 45-13.

Penn State @ Iowa – Without Weisman, I had little confidence in the Hawkeyes, and the Lions are on a bit of a roll. I took Penn State by 14 and it was Penn State by 24. 46-12.

All my underdogs turned out to be just dogs. Booo. Anyway, I’m 46-12 eight weeks in. Going 2-3 this week certainly didn’t help my attitude any, but that was already in the shitter after the loss in Ann Arbor. But then we’ve got the much easier task of facing Wisconsin in Madison next week. Yikes!

GO GREEN!

Michigan 12, Michigan State 10; Spartans go to 4-4, 1-3 in the B1G.

It was a great ride. A four year joy ride with Paul Bunyan riding shotgun. We knew it would end, but maybe we could snatch one more year from an over-hyped Michigan squad. But alas, no. Michigan won and I’ve already heard more “little brothers” and “Lil Bros” than I have since, well, 2007.

It was a defensive battle. Neither offense could get much done. In fact, Michigan never scored a TD, just four FGs. The Spartans did score a TD on the Michigan defense, but Dan Conroy missed a 38-yard FG in the second quarter. Had he made that FG…

I love Michigan State, but I’m hating this season. Our offense is clearly not much of a weapon. Our defense is very good, but they have trouble closing it out lately.

We’re off to Madison next week to take on a Badgers team that struggled early but has basically gotten back on track. Both teams are a shadow of their 2011 selves. I’m hoping for a good game. The Spartans need two of the remaining four just to get bowl eligible.

Go Green!

B1G Week #8 Picks.

The B1G is having a crazy year and I’m really amazed that my pick percentage is as high as it is. I’m 44-10 this year picking non-Spartan B1G games. This week is a little bit tricky though. Let’s get to it…

Michigan State @ Michigan – 3:30 on BTN.  I can not believe this game isn’t on ESPN or ABC today. That’s crazy. What’s not crazy is how bad I want this one. I’m hoping that the Spartans want this one as bad as they did last year. I know they can do it, but they’re going to have to take it, it won’t be given to them. GO GREEN!

Purdue @ Ohio State – Noon on ABC / ESPN-2.  I’d like nothing more than to see the Boilermakers beat the Buckeyes, but it’s not gonna happen today. Ohio State by 10.

Minnesota @ Wisconsin – Noon on ESPN-U.  I believe this is the oldest rivalry in college football. And I think it’s going to be a good game today. My mind says the Badgers crush the Gophers, but my gut says “Not so fast my varmit friends.” I’m going way out on a limb and taking Minnesota by one. Crazy, I know.

Nebraska @ Northwestern – 3:30 on ESPN-2 / ABC.  I wish the Wildcats had a little more of an air attack because the Husker defense just isn’t all that this year. I think this is a good game, and a close game. I’m going with Pat Fitz and Northwestern to win this one at home today by seven.

Indiana @ Navy – 3:30 on CBS Sports Network.  Hoosiers cream seamen.  Couldn’t resist. Indiana by 14.

Penn State @ Iowa – 8:00 on BTN.  Iowa’s Weisman is doubtful, and if he plays, he won’t be 100%. And I don’t think Iowa can get it done without him. Penn State by 14.

Illinois has a bye.

Lot of odd, underdog type picks, but I call ’em the way I feel ’em. We’ll see how it all shakes out.

I don’t care if I get every single pick wrong today, all I care about is my Michigan State Spartans. I’m pulling for the green and white today with everything I’ve got to give. I hope the entire Spartan empire feels the same way. Bust some heads today boys.

GO GREEN!

Today is The Day.

I woke up thinking about Michigan State today as they travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan. Today is a big day.

For me, today is THE DAY as Michigan State vs. Michigan is the biggest game of my season.

I’m going out for a long run, then I’m going to have an amazing breakfast burrito and figure out my picks for the week. And then, I’m basically going to go in to a pro-Spartan trance until kick-off at 3:30.

Let’s go Michigan State. Fire up Spartans. GO GREEN. GO WHITE. GO GREEN. GO WHITE. Repeat forever.

B1G in the BCS – Week #7

It’s hard to believe, but no B1G school is ranked in the BCS Top 25. Apparently, the BCS doesn’t rank convicted cheaters, so Ohio State get’s ditched. And a two-loss Michigan team doesn’t make the cut either. What a strange year 2012 is turning out to be for the B1G.