Saturday, October 25, 2008
That's all for now. More tomorrow, but I'm going to drink in downtown EL in a penguin suit.
Penguin suiting up,
Friday, October 24, 2008
See here for a complete explanation. In other news, Varsity Blue believes MSU has a turnover problem, citing the OSU game as evidence. Yet he completely forgets that MSU had a +10 turnover differential before that game, and that turnovers greatly aided the Iowa and Northwestern victories. Two words for ya buddy: statistical and outlier.
Northwestern 34, Indiana 13
Northwestern continues its march for a bowl game below the Mason-Dixon line. Its fan goes wild.
Illinois 24, Wisconsin 10
After this game, Bo Ryan makes his play to be the first football/basketball coach of this era. Expect to see a bunch of fundamentallly-sound white guys go up and down the field at a plodding pace. In other words, nothing will change.
Minnesota 41, Purdue 20
Purdue fans continue to count the days until Tiller makes his exit.
Ohio State 31, Penn State 27
Penn State remembers that they haven't played anyone with a pulse on the road this season. The Spread HD's flaws are spotlighted, and JayPa is sent to his bedroom without dinner.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
My dad's buddies all went to MSU. My father, feeling the need to play the role of spoiler in their get-togethers, started to cheer for UM. Like his love for all of Detroit's pro teams (and that's not a reference to Ed Martin, unless you want it to be. Which I do.), that love spread to me, and I saw soon cheering for Desmond Howard, Tim Biakabatuka, the
My visit to Ann Arbor that November of my senior year was what I expected. The sky was gloomy, I viewed all the buildings, went inside a few, had lunch at Zingerman's with my Dad, and then headed home. A few weeks later, I received my acceptance letter for Michigan, and for some reason...I didn't turn it in immediately. I'm still not sure why to this day. I'm not implying this story is going to take a supernatural turn, I attribute my tardiness more to the laziness that creeps into a high school senior's life exponentially during the year.
In February, I received an invitation from MSU to attend the Alumni Distinguished Scholarship competition. I accepted, mainly for the fact that I wanted a day off from school (once again, laziness creeping up on me). My parents drove me down to East Lansing and dropped me off at the Kellogg center to check in while they gallivanted around the Capital area for a day and a night. The first course of action was a bus tour of campus, and I was immediately struck by its beauty. The dorms of North Circle had a gothic charm like nothing I'd ever seen, and there were trees everywhere. During the evening, all the invitees were free to talk amongst themselves, and I found the people were just as amazing as the campus - funny, laid-back, and all-around awesome. I woke up in the morning, took the strangest test I'd ever taken in my life (if you've ever taken a test that includes Calculus, Greek and Roman Architecture, Literature Intrepretation and Biology on a single test, let me know), and headed for home. The main thought running through my head was this: "I had a great time at MSU, it's just too bad I won't be going there."
Fast forward a month and a half later. I had done so well in the competition that I had a full tuition scholarship offer to MSU. I thought about the experiences I had with all the people, the beauty of the campus, and the opportunities there...and I decided to attend MSU. I realized that, yes, U of M had the greater academic reputation, but I felt I would be happiest at MSU, and since my future plans at that point in time were to enter medical school, I felt that where I attended school for my undergraduate studies had little credence compared to my academic results. I also wanted to go to a school where I could see my classmates as people who would help me in my studies, rather than attend a school with mostly overachievers, hellbent on going to the best graduate school or landing the best job at the expense of their classmates. That was my impression about some Michigan students at the time, and I know that's not true for all students there, I didn't want to be in that type of environment for four years.
I instantly became a Spartan fan. I became well-versed in comebacks (both made by and on the Spartans) in football. I was delirious at State's Elite Eight run in 2003, overjoyed at the 2005 Final Four Run, and despondent in early defeats in '04 and 06. The Wolverine fans were always there, laughing in our faces at our football defeats, ignoring their basketball team like a caged inbred child in the basement, chiding Tom Izzo for not winning a Big Ten title while going to a Final Four, and, above all, personifying arrogance at every turn, with most of them countering every loss this year with a reference to the teams of the past, or cautioning us about how good they'll be in the future, thanks to their coach.
Which brings us to this Saturday. The gap between Michigan State and Michigan's football teams in a season has never been so heavily tilted for the Green and White. Michigan is becoming intimate with all facets of the term "rebuilding year", while Michigan State is trying to shake off the reputation of collapses that has plagued them in the past. All the while, Michigan fans have pointed to the past six games of this rivalry, a distraction meant to take their minds off the skidmark of a record they have right now. During this lashing I, as an MSU fan, have been quiet, mainly because this rivalry has been one sided for the past six years. They're pointing to history as the reason why they'll win this game, mainly because all the other reasons (you know, the one that involve play on the field) lack merit. While they're pointing to all the past seasons as cases in point of collapse, I'm pointing to the Purdue and Penn State games of last year and cultivating that seed of hope.
As for the game itself: It seems like some blogs are pointing to the Cal and OSU games as cases where Ringer was stopped, and wins resulted. The reason why Ringer was stopped was because the game plan had to change, as MSU was trailing big in both of those games at one point. What's the possibility UM scores enough points to force that strategy? I'm guessing small. MSU wins the turnover battle, runs the same old gameplan, and wins in Ann Arbor.
Michigan State 27, Michigan 13.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
1. We're approaching week 9 now, are you pleasantly surprised or
already waiting for basketball season?
Can't I be both? I am very excited that the Spartans are 6-2, but that loss against OSU is the type of loss that usually sends MSU into its much proclaimed season-ending slide. That said, I don't think it'll happen this year, I believe that the next three games are all winnable (@ Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, tell me you don't see at least two wins in there) before the death march to Happy Valley to end the season. As for basketball, I cannot wait until the November 16th Idaho game to start the season. Even though Neitzel isn't around anymore, Kalin Lucas is a more than capable point, and a front court of Suton, Morgan, Gray and Roe is one I'm anticipating to see on the court. In short, I like the football season so far, but c'mon, I'm an MSU blogger, I'll always be waiting around for Basketball to start.
2. Describe one specific play from this season you would alter for a
different outcome if you had the chance to.
The play just happened last week, in the 1st quarter of the OSU game. Keshawn Martin had just caught a screen from Hoyer, passed the first down marker, and promptly got hit by an OSU player. Martin fumbles, another Buckeye picks up the ball and returns it deep into MSU territory. This is when I started to get a feeling that luck wasn't on the Spartans' side, and if I could change it, I'd have Martin bust through for a TD, tying the score at seven, and staving off OSU momentum for at least a little longer.
3. How could it (#2) possibly impact the way your season is going?
Seeing as how I'm talking about MSU, if this were the past, it's completely in the realm of possibilty that the Spartans could lose all their games from here on out, going 6-6. However, if one saw the Purdue and Penn State games from last year, previous results exist that state that MSU won't throw the season in the crapper just because a few bad breaks hit. The play could start a tailspin, I'm betting that it won't.
4. Big Ten player you just can't stand, why?
I'm going to go to basketball for this one, and I'll say it's Purdue guard/forward/catchall Robbie Hummel. This feeling is more out of respect than anything else; he has little effect the whole game, and when the late second half rolls around, he starts making threes, getting every defensive rebound, and getting to the foul line. If Marquise Gray ate him (assuming there's enough meat on his bones to constitute a full meal), I'd be a happy man.
5. Boo'ing your own team (we've seen quite a lot of this across the Big Ten this season), your feelings on this.
The only time this could possibly be considered kosher is if the team is visibly dogging it on the field. Don't give me that tired "We're booing the coaches" line, do you possibly think anyone can possibly know that (Unless, of course, said coach decides to take the ball first in OT. Then you may flame away.)? These are college kids we're talking about here, they've got class obligations on top of football. They're not professionals, so cut them some slack if they screw up. Even if they turn over the ball five times in what was called the biggest game in a decade. I'll cry over here now.
1. Number of beers or alcoholic drinks consumed by week 8 (or a good estimate).
This probably will still be a bad estimate. But let's see...5 tailgates + 1 wedding attended as groomsman + currently in MSU with tough major...I'm guessing it's over 100, and 125 would be a better guess. It sounds like a lot, but that averages to about two drinks a day (Ed. note - that number is for the entire College Football season up until today. If we're talking about drinks consumed during week 8, I'd say it's about 20 - 5 during the week before the OSU game, 15 the day of. It sounds like a lot, but keep in mind I got to campus around 9 to tailgate, and went out after.).
2. Most annoying commercial seen this season.
Second place is anything referencing "Frank TV", but first is far and away this one. Warning - will make you want to break your monitor over your knee.
You do the math, I'll do your castration, buddy.
3. Your prediction for the next coaching change in the Big Ten (Joe Tiller exempt)
The easy answer here is JoePa, but I'm betting he goes at least one more year, and I'm also betting someone will get fired midseason in 2009. If I had to guess right now, I'll go out on a limb and say that Bret Bielema gets the pink slip first, if only because Iowa's improving, and the expectations for the Badgers have popped this season, and I don't really see them making a drastic improvement next year.
Apparently, this all started over a girl (surprise, surprise, surprise). One side loses, that side brings back a posse, melee ensues. Names have not been named yet, but they'll be out soon enough. Hopefully, the fight didn't involve Trevor Anderson throwing someone off a roof, but that has yet to be seen. Suspensions will be handed out soon, no doubt, but it has yet to be seen whether it'll affect the Michigan game.
All right, glad that's out of the way. Big Ten Round Table coming up.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Yup, that about sums it up. I thought MSU would lose, I just never believed it would be this bad, marking the first time in the Dantonio era has lost a game by more than a touchdown. It's not hyperbole to state that the only phase of the trip the Buckeyes were unsuccessful in was their ability of their fans to pick up ladies at The Landshark Saturday night. The Spartans couldn't force turnovers as they have in the past this season, they turned the ball over unusually, and gave Terrelle Pryor yet another defining moment on his ascent to the throne as King of Columbus. As if that wasn't enough, MSU now has a burgeoning QB controversy on its hands, as Kirk Cousins did quite well (18-25, 161 yards, 1 TD). The only saving grace about this game was that it was a "guillotine" kind of loss - the end comes quickly, so that you have no time to think, process the defeat or feel pain, your head just lies detached from its body, blinking until you can't blink no more.
Whatever, it's on to Michigan for HATE WEEK. If you think that MSU won't get up for a team that has beat them the last six times, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. Lastly, on a more cheerful note, Midnight Madness was Friday, and if this image doesn't make your heart smile with glee, I feel sorry for your black, joyless soul.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Ohio State 13, Michigan State 7
I answered some questions about this game for The Only Game that Matters. In brief, I believe in game between two very similar teams, give the edge to the side with the best unit. In this game, it's OSU's defense. I do hope I'm wrong on this one.
Northwestern 27, Purdue 14
Good news for you Boilermaker fans - Purdue will score a couple of touchdowns this week! The bad news - C.J. Bacher keeps the ball in the hands of the purple and scores more.
Iowa 20, Wisconsin 13
Don't let the record fool you, Iowa is a very good team that suffered a few brain farts that caused the three losses. As for the Wisconsin fans, if you haven't started drinking yourself death by now, Saturday around 3ish might be a good time to start.
Illinois 42, Indiana 28
Illinois gets its frustrations out the only way how - by scoring bunches of points while allowing them. Indiana, meanwhile, continues to stay in the two-pony race for worst team in the Big Ten.
Penn State 42, Michigan 7
Uh...it's going to go down like this:
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Stolen shamelessly from Spartans Weblog's post about the same topic. If you've got a favorite memory about the Spartans (if you're reading this blog, you most likely do), go over there and post it in the comments section, and feel free to post it here as well. However, if you post it at Spartans Weblog, you'll be in the running to win a copy of College Basketball Prospectus for this season. And free things are always awesome, unless they cause cold sores.
There’s no doubt about my best day as a Spartan; it was the day of the Elite Eight MSU-Kentucky game. I remember yelling at the refs, telling them that Pat Sparks’ foot was on the line as he shot the three at the end of the regulation. I remember cheering as Abezuike (spelling?) was late on his shot at the end of OT. I remember holding my breath as Alan Anderson shot his free throws towards the end of the second OT to seal the Final Four.
Most of all, my favorite moment is running down Oakhill into downtown EL. I was in a mass of people screaming “FINAL FOUR! FINAL FOUR!” at the top of my lungs at the corner of Charles and Albert. There must of been at least hundreds of students on Albert, screaming GO GREEN! GO WHITE! chants at the top of their lungs from one side of the street to the other. I walked down to Cedar Village, there were just as many people there cheering. Exchange students were calling back home, trying to explain what was going on. Most of all though, the crowd as a whole did not misbehave. Tear gas didn’t need to be shot into the masses. Sure, the loss against North Carolina six days after hurt, but nothing could take away from the sheer exuberance in East Lansing that day. That, more so than my first day on campus, and even more so than my graduation, was my favorite day as a Spartan, because for one day, we weren’t 44,000 students with over 100 majors. We were all Spartans, one, high-fiving and patting each other on the back as we celebrated a victory few thought we could achieve.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Michigan State 26, Northwestern 17
If you're like me and will be at the game in Evanston this weekend, drink everytime you hear a Wildcat fan say this: "We're going to stop Ringer and let Hoyer beat us." First off, I think Ringer's going to have a game like he did in Bloomington - decent YPC with about 30-35 carries and a run over 30 yards somewhere in there. As for Hoyer, if you're going to go single cover the wide receivers, expect three of his passes in the game to go for more than 20 yards. His throws deep are underrated. Northwestern's been good at capitalizing on teams' mistakes this season. Michigan State doesn't make enough for the Wildcats to win.
Iowa 20, Indiana 10
This Hawkeye team is much better than its 3-3 record indicates. Their problem? A propensity for shooting themselves in the foot, as they turned the ball over four times within the MSU 30 yard line last week, be it on downs, fumbles, or interceptions. My guess is that if a bad defensive team such as Minnesota can hold the Hoosiers to seven points (and yes, I realize what that says about MSU if they let IU gain 29 points), Iowa should be able to hold them to enough points for the offense to put up the usual 17-24 points. That'll be enough.
Michigan 27, Toledo 7
My guess is that Michigan holds onto the ball more than usual, and only turns it over three times. The Wolverine defense won't be playing Juice Williams this week, so Michigan should win comfortably.
Illinois 38, Minnesota 17
All thoughts of Minnesota's defense having improved will be confirmed this week, as they hold Illinois to under 40 points.
Ohio State 27, Purdue 20
Call me crazy, but I think this game may be close. For all the good he's shown so far, Terrelle Pryor is still a freshman, and that means he's going to have some mediocre performances this season. After a comeback victory in Madison, I'm guessing this game will be one of those times. Also, I can't believe Purdue only put up six points against Penn State in West Lafayette. Their offense is better than six points, and this game will show that opinion. However, the Boilermakers will still lose...but it'll be tight.
Penn State 17, Wisconsin 13
The first crack in the Spread HD appeared last week, as the Nittany Lions put up a "good enough to win" 20 points on the Boilermakers. Now they travel to Wisconsin to face an above average Badger defense. They'll be held to about 14-17 points. However, I believe that with Evridge at the helm, the ceiling for the offense is 13 points at home. That total will fall just short of a victory.
That's it for this week. I'll be down on the O'Malley's West bus trip to be in person for the Northwestern game. Take it easy, and have a good weekend.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
1) Jay Paterno and the Spread HD
Who is Jim Carrey? Much like Carrey's career, Jay and the HD were once thought to be a joke, but through a few legitimate performances (vs. Oregon State, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), are now taken seriously. Of course, chances to fall remain (evidence in favor: lackluster performance against Purdue, The Number 23).
2) Joe Tiller's Mustache
Where is Mr. Belvedere? The Wilford Brimley comparison is worn out. If you add some color to Tiller's mustache, it looks verrry similar to one carried around by a famous butler.
The evidence is damning: Joe Tiller, guilty of Grand Theft 'Stache, and kidnapping Purdue's offense from last year.
What is, for the first time ever, the color that will fill up more than half the seats at Ryan Field next week? (Cue outraged "NO ONE EVER RESPECTS NORTHWESTERN!" from Lake the Posts in 3...2...1...just kidding. Seriously, if you need a primer on Northwestern football, go to Lake the Posts now. It's all good stuff.)
What is the missing ingredient from the Hawkeyes? They outgunned MSU at the line of scrimmage on both ends last week, but turnovers and a couple of unfortunate 4th down calls flushed a win down the drain. Also, Big Ten Blogger by-laws state that whenever brains are mentioned, a picture of JoePa must be shown:
5) Hawkeye State
Where is the place that manufactures Hawkeye vodka? Hawkeye vodka is the #1 vodka on my "liquors to taste" list, mainly to take in its poor quality. Will it be worse than Crystal Palace? Will I go blind? I don't know, but I'll have fun getting there.
Who has gotten more mileage out of one sack than anyone in history? Many stories of walk-ons are worthy of mention. Take for instance, a Spartan who walked onto the football team, played his way into a scholarship, and graduated with a 4.0 average in Kinesology with his Masters (not University of Michigan Kinesology, this degree's legitimate). This man's name? Cole Malatinsky. Scholarship, hard work, and kicking ass...now that's a story.
What are things that if you're going to tear, tear awesomely? In other words, don't break them like this kid did:
8) Terrelle Pryor
What is the reason I'm happy MSU doesn't play Ohio State for the next two years after this year? If he can lead the Buckeyes to a win by orchestrating a drive in the 4th quarter - IN WISCONSIN, NO LESS -it's scary to think how good he'll be in a year.
9) Mark May
Who is the biggest benefactor of the "Ugly Friend" effect? You know the theory - all sets of girls have one ugly friend that makes the others look better by comparison. Who is Mark May's ugly friend? You guessed it...
Who will be the #1 selling effigy in Ann Arbor after a 5-7 season for the Wolverines? If they go to a bowl this season, they will overachieve. The best news about that is the fans will save on gas by going to Detroit for their bowl game.
Big Ten picks tomorrow? I'm leaving early for Chicago tomorrow, for this Saturday I'll be on the O'Malley's West bus trip for the Northwestern game. Hopefully, some of you'll be out there.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
"Dear God, it's going to happen again."
"It", being of course, a punch in the gut where MSU lets a lead slip away in the last moments, usually in the most heartbreaking way possible (C.J. Bacher throwing eleventy million touchdown passes, Chad Henne remembering he has deep threats on the field, etc.). When 4th and 1 came around at the MSU 21, I thought that the Hawkeyes would kick a field goal, have it split the uprights, and have the game go into overtime.
I was wrong.
The offense stayed on the field, and after Iowa used its final timeout, I thought that it was going to be a play action toss. Stanzi would find a wide open 3rd string tight end for a touchdown, giving the Hawkeyes the lead immediately, and that the Spartans would go four and out soon thereafter.
I was wrong.
The play was a handoff to Shonn Greene, who had torn through the MSU front seven all game. However, instead of going up the middle for the one yard needed, he ran off-tackle. As I saw Adam Decker hit Greene in the backfield, I was nearly certain that Greene would shed the tackle, gain ten yards and obtain the first down.
I was wrong.
Decker forced Greene to the ground. Iowa turned the ball over on downs, and after a couple of Ringer runs and a harrowing quarterback sneak where Hoyer fumbled the ball, Michigan State won the game. As I was leaving Spartan Stadium, I reflected back on how I felt ten minutes earlier, when I was sure MSU would surrender the victory.
I was really wrong. And it never felt better.
More notes on the game:
- I don't think Iowa made a bad call by choosing to run on 4th down for their final play, and the Iowa fans I talked to in the bar after the game agreed with that sentiment. One can certainly criticize the execution of the run (Off-Tackle? Seriously? After Shonn Greene gashed MSU up the gut all day), but the core decision was sound.
- Brian Hoyer looks like he needs to get out of his head a bit. He had a very good first half, followed by a mediocre second half in which he nearly let the Hawkeyes back in the game late.
- Javon Ringer looked human. That's OK, a lot of running backs will against Iowa's defensive line. As for the offensive line, just because the running game generates a lot of yards and the quarterback gets sacked very few times makes a great offensive line. I think MSU has a good defensive line, but I don't think they're tops in the Big Ten good.
- Dropped passes - yikes. Cunningham and Dell eached dropped one in the end zone. On the plus side, Charlie Gantt has progressed by leaps and bounds this season, and continued this pattern in yesterday's game.
- The defensive line played great against the pass, pressuring Stanzi many times. Special credit goes to Trevor Anderson, who had 2.5 sacks in the game.
- The cornerbacks could still use a bit of work. A few times I saw a CB slip, allowing a Hawkeye receiver to catch the ball unimpeded.
- A lot of Spartans got banged up yesterday: Dell, Wiley, C.L. Rucker, and Gantt off the top of my head. Hopefully they'll be healthy for Northwestern.
As for the rest of the Big Ten, some brief impressions:
- Penn State had their first sub-par performance I felt, as I was sure the offense would've put up at least 40. The defense did its job, and even though the Nittany Lions do have an above average offense, I still can't believe the Purdue offense has been this ineffective this year.
- Minnesota Golden Gophers - 5-1. On top of that statement, they won the Indiana game with their defense. Let those words sink in a bit. I think they have to get to 7-5 to be bowl-eligible this year in the Big Ten, and with them getting Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa at home, it's not outside the realm of possibility. As for Indiana, I think they'll be lucky if they win another game all year. Well Hoosier fan, there's always basketball seas...How many scholarship players will they have? If I were you, I'd cryogenically freeze myself until this school year is over.
- Let's see: a team from Michigan followed up an emotional upset victory by playing flat, making mistakes, and getting dominated (albeit by a superior team)? Well, that's typical MSU- wait, it was the Wolverines? Huh. Anyway, I also believe that Juice Williams isn't the best passer in the conference, but he is the best quarterback, if that makes any sense.
- Terrelle Pryor is wasting no time in cementing his mythic status. The number of quarterbacks that can lead a game-winning drive in one of the three toughest places to play in the Big Ten (Wisky, PSU, OSU) is small, the number of freshmen QBs who can do it is fewer yet. As for Wisconsin - the wins will start coming. And let's face it Wisconsin fan, you reserve those tickets for the Outback Bowl in July every year. I'd fully advise you to hang onto those.
I'll be back to a more regular posting schedule this week, last week was a gauntlet of tests, interviews and career fairs.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Michigan State over Iowa
Minnesota over Indiana
Illinois over Michigan
Penn State over Purdue
Ohio State over Wisconsin