Rankings & Ramblings: Week #5.

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The AP Top25 came are out and the B1G goes from four down to just three.

Ohio State holds steady for the yet another week at #4. This likely will not change unless the Buckeyes start rolling good teams or one of the top three drops one.

Northwestern continues to rise moving from #17 up to #16. Way to go Wildcats, even during a bye week.

Michigan continues to slide slipping from #18 to #19. Couldn’t happen to a nicer squad, even during a bye week.

And then there was Wisconsin. The loss to Ohio State takes its toll as the Badgers fall from #23 to unranked. I like Wisconsin and I hope they pop back up into the Top25 before the season is over.

In the almost-but-not-quite bracket, well there is Wisconsin at #28, Nebraska at #29 and Michigan State at #33 with a meager five votes.

It will be interesting to see how Ohio State vs. Northwestern effects things, and what if Minnesota snuck up and beat Michigan? If Nebraska beats Illinois do you think they’ll be ranked again? And no love whatsoever for a 4-1 Iowa team? Not even a single vote?

Go B1G!

B1G

 

B1G Results: Week #5

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Six teams plays, six teams had the week off. Three teams won, three teams lost. There is a nice symmetry this week. Big zen.

Anyway, I’m 35-6 going in to week #5 and with only four games, this should be a pretty short post. Let’s get right in to it…

Miami (OH) @ Illinois – Miami must get tired of always having “OH” tacked on to their name but I guess the Hurricanes have earned the rights to the short form. Case in point, this week in football. I predicted that the Illini would clobber the RedHawks by 31 and I didn’t even hesitate on that one. It was Illinois by 36. 36-6

Northern Illinois @ Purdue – The first four games were enough for me to see that the Boilermakers are just not competitive this year and even though the Huskies are a MAC school, they are bringing it. I predicted NIU by 10. It was NIU by 21 (ouch). 37-6

Iowa @ Minnesota – Oh how I love the Floyd of Rosedale. I saw this as an evenly-matched contest and then gave the edge to the Gophers at home. The Gophers are good but I question whether they are confident in that fact and believe that they can win regularly. I picked Minnesota by three. Nope. It was Iowa by 16. 37-7

#23 Wisconsin @ #4 Ohio State – My heart wanted the Badgers to win but my brain said it wasn’t happening. Especially in the Shoe. I just felt that Sconnie is good but OSU is better. I picked Ohio State by 14 which is twice the line. It was Ohio State by seven. Damn you Sharps, you always get it right. 38-7

Three of four, or 75% this week. Not bad. Why did I bet on Minnesota? Well, it was against Iowa. Maybe I should show more respect as MSU is off to Iowa next week for it’s first road game and first conference game. Iowa, please accept my apology, you have a fine team and I’m sure the Floyd of Rosedale is looking killer in your trophy case. You’re welcome.

I’m 38-7 which is a solid 84%. That’s 4% above my goal of 80% for the season. Not bad but it doesn’t really get any easier as the weeks go on so I’ve got to stay sharp.

Five games next week, and they’re all conference games. Ohio State vs. Northwestern should be really good. Get pumped people.

Go B1G!

 

B1G Week #5 Picks

Wow, we are 1/3 of the way through the 2013 season already. Time flies.

Only half of the B1G are playing this week while the other half have a bye to recover, rebuild, recoup, re-group, re-whatever needs re-doing to get ready for the conference match-ups in October.  I’m 35-6 after four weeks which means I’m running at about 85% for picking winners. That’s ahead of my 80% goal for the season, but many of the non-com games are pretty easy to pick. Hopefully that 5% will be enough of a cushion to keep me afloat through October and November.

Illini

Miami (OH) @ Illinois – Noon on BTN.  The Illini are a 24-point favorite which makes sense since they beat Cinci and didn’t look terrible against a ranked Washington squad.  Miami is really bad, btw. Let’s take it a bit further and go Illinois by 31.

Boilermakers

Northern Illinois @ Purdue – Noon on ESPN-2.  The Huskies are going to run all over the Boilermakers, and overall they are the better team. It feels odd to say that about a MAC squad versus a B1G squad, but it’s true.  I see N. Illinois winning this by 10.

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Iowa @ Minnesota – 3:30PM on ABC / ESPN-2.  Ah, the Floyd of Rosedale, my absolute favorite rivalry featuring a swine-based trophy. This is actually a really even match-up with the Hawkeyes 3-1 and the Gophers 4-0. And they’re pretty similar with solid defense and strong running. I really think this is going to be a good game to watch so I’m glad it’s on TV. IT’s a toss-up but I’m pulling for the Coach Kill and Gophers so I’m taking Minnesota by three.

BadgersBuckeyes

#23 Wisconsin @ #4 Ohio State – 8:00PM on ABC.  The line is Ohio State by seven and I’m almost surprised it’s that close. Granted, Braxton Miller will likely start and he may be a bit rusty, but the Buckeyes appear to be really good and this game is in The Shoe. Come on. The Badgers are actually quite good, but that ref/clock snafu did them no favors. It doesn’t matter because Ohio State is going to step up and deliver. It may not happen until the second half, but the Buckeyes are going to win this one solidly. Ohio State by 14.

Three out of four games this weekend look really good and will be fun to watch on TV. For the six teams off this week, fire-up for next week. For the six teams playing this week, best of luck to all of you.

Go B1G!

Iowa Game Important To Dantonio’s Future.

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Joe Rexode of the Detroit Free Press wrote a nice article on the Spartans, Coach Dantonio and the tension that is building around year #2 of awful offense. I think he’s right, this game is more important than any typical B1G opener or MSU-Iowa match-up. This game will set-up the rest of the season. Are we going in to the B1G guns blazing and improving our offense each successive week, or are we replaying 2012 and all of the pain and suffering that comes along with a 6-6 regular season?  Will State fans be standing together with Coach Dantonio through this tough time or stepping away, raising questions and pointing fingers?

Joe is right. for better or worse, the away game at Iowa is the crossroads.

Joe knows the Spartans and has a smart and even-keeled point of view which makes him one of my favorite Michigan State beat writers.

Check out the article here.

Go Green!!!

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Rankings & Ramblings: Week #4.

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The new AP Top25 rankings are in and not all that much has changed. The top of the chart stays put with Bama, Oregon and Clemson at #1, #2, and #3.  As or the B1G…

Ohio State remains flat at #4 for a third week.

Michigan after squeaking by against inferior competition has fallen from #15 to #18.

Northwestern moved up a tick from #18 to #17, back to where they were in week #2.

Wisconsin also moved up a tick from #24 to #23 after beating Purdue in the first B1G conference game of the season.

In the almost-but-not-quite category, Nebraska is #30 and Michigan State is #34. No other B1G squads received votes from the press.

Next week, Wisconsin faces Ohio State and it will be interesting to see how the outcome effects the rankings. No other ranked teams play next week as 50% of the B1G have a bye.

One flat, two up and one down isn’t bad. One in the Top10 isn’t exactly great but I’ll take what I can get.

Go B1G!

B1G

B1G Results: Week #4.

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A better overall performance by the B1G this week with a few exceptions. Four teams remain undefeated including Minnesota and a struggling Michigan. Most squads were enjoying cupcakes this week, but that is all about to end as the B1G conference schedule kicks-in full-force next week.  I’m sitting at 26-6 after three weeks of picking games, let’s see how Week #4 played out…

San Jose State @ Minnesota – I thought the Spartans were better then their stats would have you believe, but I still took the Gophers by a score. It was Minnesota by 19. 27-6

Florida A&M @ #4 Ohio State – I had the Buckeyes crushing the Rattlers by 38. It was Ohio State by 76 in a shutout. 28-6

Western Michigan @ Iowa – After seeing the Broncos play twice already this year I really didn’t think they had a shot against the Hawkeyes who I picked by 14. It was Iowa by 56. 29-6

Maine @ #18 Northwestern – I predicted bear tears and black eyes with the Wildcats beating the Black Bears by 35. It was Northwestern by 14. 30-6

Michigan State @ #22 Notre Dame – No pick, or course. No offense either. Notre Dame by three.

South Dakota State @ Nebraska – I had no doubt that the Huskers would win this, but I did bring down the points based on all of the Bo drama, turf toe and other detriments they been dealing with lately. I took Nebraska by 28 and it was Nebraska by 39. 31-6

Kent State @ Penn State – I thought the Lions would handle this one by 21 easily. It was Penn State by 34 with the shutout. 32-6

Purdue @ #24 Wisconsin – The B1G 2013 opener! Nice. The Badgers aren’t perfect but the Boilermakers aren’t even good, and this game was in Madison. I picked Wisconsin by 14. It was Wisconsin by 31. 33-6

#15 Michigan @ Connecticut – I predicted a pissed-off ass-kicking Wolverine team showing up on national primetime TV completely born again after their near-death experience with the Zips. Nope, pretty weak Wolverine team Looking about on-par with the Huskies. But they did pull it out. Again. I picked Michigan by 31 and it was Michigan by three. 34-6

Missouri @ Indiana – I was leaning on the Hoosiers offense to put up the points needed to keep it close, but I knew their defense was dismal. I took Missouri by three and it was Missouri by 17. 35-6

I wouldn’t say I was very close on predicting the margin of victory, but I was perfect on picking the winner. 10-10 this week! Can’t do better than that. To be honest, this was not the most difficult week to pick winners as there were a lot of cupcakes. And for the record, I would have been more than happy to lose on my Michigan pick.

There will be a lot fewer picks not that the conference schedule is kicking in meaning that every pick is that much more important. And the race for the B1G Championship is on! MSU has the week off next week along with half of the B1G, but for the rest of you, best of luck.

Go B1G!

B1G

Michigan State 13, #22 Notre Dame 17; Spartans are 3-1.

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So frustrating. This photo sums it up pretty well actually. That’s Andrew Maxwell getting sacked on the last offensive play as the Spartans attempted a lame scramble that came up way short just after he had way overthrown three passes in a row. Why was Maxwell even playing? What was going on with the play calling? Where was the offense from a week ago? Why not run the ball more, and why always up the middle?

Notre Dame is good, but very beatable. Even with the 100+ yards given away from penalties (some deserved, some questionable), MSU could have and should have beaten them.

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On defense, Michigan State was solid. ND struggled against the Spartan defense to the tune of 220 total yards of offense; 142 yards in the air and 78 yards on the ground. The Irish only converted six of 17 third downs and no fourth downs. And let’s not forget about the blocked punt on ND’s first possession, that was awesome (although it resulted in nothing).

That is the good news.

The bad news is that we gave up 115 yards in penalties including four pass interference calls and an defensive holding all of which resulted in yards plus a first down extending sputtering drives. I bet four of those six third down conversions go away if you take away the PI calls.

I speculated that Irish turn-overs would be a key factor to a Spartan victory. We had none. Actually, we had a fumble recovery and an interception, but both were taken away. I’m not saying the calls were bad, because they were legit actually. It’s more of a long, low, horrible moaning sound of a Spartan fan thinking this is 2012 all over again.

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And then there was the offense. Notre Dame has a very good defense, so let’s not get to bent out of shape. The Irish applied a ton of pressure all day long and their coverage was excellent. Our numbers ended up being pretty even with Notre Dame’s with 254 yards of offense; 135 passing and 119 rushing. It did take Connor Cook too long to get in a groove. He came out looking nervous and his first five passes or so were off the mark. He did settle down but never really looked comfortable and in command.

And we had a few drops. I hate drops. it wasn’t a mega-drop meltdown like most 2012 games, but drops are drops and we’ve got to stop. MacGarrett Kings Jr. is really starting to look good with five receptions for 37 yards and a TD, I have big hopes for this guy making a big difference this year. Bennie Fowler hauled in three for 39 yards and Aaron Burbridge grabbed four for 20.

In total, seven Spartans had 16 receptions for 135 yards. These are okay numbers, but there is a total absence of big plays. The longest reception was 19 yards. The Spartans did not have a single 20-yard or longer play the entire game which makes for a very long field and a very long day.

The play calling seemed to fluctuate from okay to pretty predictable. Jeremy Langford was finding success pounding the ball, but he was rarely used on third down. MSU also seems to be paying homage to George Perles with the majority of our run plays being right up the middle.

The trick play with R. J. Shelton going deep to Fowler could have been a highlight-worthy play, but Fowler was completely covered and Shelton threw it anyway resulting in an Irish pick. I’m not going to bust the coaches for that play call, it was gutsy and came at a good time, but Shelton has to have a fallback plan for when the receiver is covered because that throw was doomed.

I did not like the decision to put Maxwell in for what ended up being a very short last drive. Maxwell is a good kid and I want for him to be a great QB; the next Kirk Cousins. But he just isn’t great and he’s not going to be. He must stay on the bench unless all other options are exhausted. Pulling Connor Cook isn’t going to help his confidence. It looked like he got dinged up so maybe he was benched for that, I don’t know. If Cook is our guy, then let’s commit to him and let him do what he does. He’ll either make the big play and build confidence or he’ll screw up and learn from his mistakes. Playing Maxwell is simply futile, 2012 taught us that.

The Spartans have next week off which is perfect timing. MSU needs to regroup, heal and get fired up for the B1G starting with an away game at Iowa. Make no mistake, Iowa is a threat. They are 3-1 and just beat Western Michigan much more convincingly than Michigan State did. The Hawkeyes have the Golden Gophers next week on the road and then the Spartans at home so maybe they will be a bit tired and beat up. I’ll take any advantage we can get.

Go GREEN!!!

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B1G Week #4 Picks

Man, we are already at week four. Amazing how fast football season screams by. So far in 2013 I’m sitting at 26-7 on my picks, or 79%. My goal is 80% or better so I need to step it up a bit. Let’s see if I can get it right this week before the conference schedule takes over and I’ve got about half as many games to work with.

Gophers

San Jose State @ Minnesota – Noon on ESPN-2.  From a stats standpoint, the Gophers are clearly the better team. But then Minnesota didn’t have to play Stanford. I think these teams will be more closely matched than people think but I’m picking Minnesota by a score.

Buckeyes

Florida A&M @ #4 Ohio State – Noon on BTN.  No TV for the Buckeyes this week which is probably good news for Rattlers as they are going to get crushed. Ohio State by 38.

Hawkeyes

Western Michigan @ Iowa – The Broncos are taking on their third B1G squad of the year and this is probably their best chance of winning one. But they still have no shot. Iowa is a 17-point favorite but I think it will be more like 14.

Wildcats

Maine @ #18 Northwestern – The Black Bears will have a black eye and bear tears after the Wildcats are done with them. Northwestern by 35.

Spartans

Michigan State @ #22 Notre Dame – 3:30PM on NBC.  MSU just found it’s offense and it’s mojo, so if the Spartans can hold that confidence they should be able to score on the mediocre Irish defense. On the other hand, ND can effectively attack with the passing game and it’s going to be up to the excellent MSU defense to keep their scoring under control. I think this game comes down to MSU completing at least 65% of it’s passes. I also think Tommy Rees will get picked off and maybe twice. If MSU defense scores, that could just seal the deal. Go GREEN!!!

Huskers

South Dakota State @ Nebraska – 3:30PM on BTN.  In any normal year I would say that the Huskers hang 80 points on a team like the Jackrabbits. But this year? No, it’s not nearly as bad as people think and Nebraska will be right back in the fight once they get their heads screwed on straight. Nebraska by 28.

Lions

Kent State @ Penn State – 3:30PM on BTN.  Like Nebraska, let’s not throw Penn State out the window just yet. Yes, they lost to UCF. But UCF is a good team. Come on, they crushed Akron and Akron was a yard away from beating Michigan. The lions are 19 point favorites which sounds okay to me. Penn State by 21.

BoilermakersBadgers

Purdue @ #24 Wisconsin – 3:30PM on ABC / ESPN-2.  The first B1G conference game of 2013! Yes! I’m kind of surprised that the Badgers are 24-point favorites. Sure, the Boilermakers are 1-2 but they lost to Cinci and Notre Dame, and they actually hung in there with the Irish.  But Wisconsin is tough with an excellent running game and defense. Don’t take the points, it’s going to be Wisconsin by 14.

Wolverines

#15 Michigan @ Connecticut – 8:00PM on ABC.  In what kind of world is this a network primetime game? I’m going to assume that the Wolverines who almost lost to the Zips is not the team that shows up against the Huskies. I’m going to assume that the real #15-ranked Michigan Wolverines play this week. And I’m going to think that they are pissed off. Michigan by 31.

Hoosiers

Missouri @ Indiana – 8:00PM on BTN.  The Tigers are favored by three because they can run the ball and they have a really good defense.  Indiana’s offense is very good and balanced, but their defense is leaky as an old bucket. I think Missouri takes this one in a close 3 point game.

Best of luck to the B1G this week, let’s get it done.

Go B1G!

B1G

Oops.

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This message appeared in the sky over Spartan Stadium about 90 minutes before kickoff on Saturday.

What’s funny is the Wolverines almost lost their cupcake game against Akron while the Spartans trounced in their cupcake game against Youngstown State.

Karma is a bitch.

Maybe Michigan fans should worry more about cheering for their boys instead of antagonizing Spartan fans in East Lansing? I thought Michigan fans didn’t care about Michigan State?

Read the MLive story here.

Also, what does GOB LUE mean?  Ha ha ha.