Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The little nine strike back

I heard someone comment recently about how the big ten was reverting back to the mid-70s, with Michigan and OSU winning something like 36 of their last 38 games, with the two losses being their yearly donnybrook. Well this past weekend, the little nine bit back.

-As hard as I try, i just can't seem to get myself too worked up by our stinker performance in Madison. Yes you want to win every game. Yes, you want to continue the positive momentum the last eight weeks have given you. Yes, there was a slim chance at a BCS bowl even with a loss to OSU. But clearly, in the grand scheme of things, this game meant next to nothing, especially in contrast to the game this week. Consequently, I don't think this loss tells us anything about the OSU game, other than perhaps that we need Henne and Hart to be healthy to beat OSU. Of course, anyone who didn't realize that before this week hasn't been paying attention very closely. Yes the run blocking was horrendous, as was the run defense. But the defensive failings were a result of being on the field too much, and the run blocking was a result of getting behind and needing to pass to catch-up. I also think the entire team realized the significance of this game, or lack thereof, and mailed it in.
-Meanwhile, down in Columbus, we learned that Michigan is not the only team that can't defend the spread option attack. The Buckeyes just couldn't get Illinois, a slightly better than mediocre team coached by the second coming of John Cooper off the field when they needed to. For the second time this year (MSU) Todd Boeckman looked less than perfect when he was pressured. Unfortunately for us, we don't really have the scheme that can take advantage of this weakness. Yes we can spread the the ball around to different talented receivers (assuming Henne is healthy), but we don't have the running threat at QB that caused the OSU pass rushers to pause.
-I do wonder if there will be any hangover for the Buckeyes. All off-season all they heard about was how the blew it in the national championship game. They heard the cracks about how they were overrated, didn't belong on the same field as the Gators. The fact that their basketball brethren also lost to the Gators in the championship game only served as a reminder of their disappointment. Sweatervest even made the score of the game the entry code to their football complex. So after working all year to replace all the talent that left, and working their way up from a pre-season ranking in the teens, they had finally gotten to a place where they could almost taste their shot at redemption. And then it was taken away from them in the form of a 16-play, 40 yard, 8 minute drive from the Illini. The Buckeye offense literally had to sit and watch their dreams die in front of them.
-The big winner in the game in Columbus, other than the Illini was the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl would dearly love to get the Buckeyes, since they have only been their once since 1985, as opposed to Michigan who would be returning for the fourth time in five years. If OSU had won out, the Rose might have had no Big Ten team to take.
-The big losers, other than OSU, were Iowa, MSU, IU and Northwestern. All four teams are 6-5, and with six other teams ahead of them, will all be competing for one bowl slot (the Motor City) if the Big Ten only gets one team in the BCS. All other things being equal, the Motor City would like to take MSU and the guaranteed sell-out in Detroit. But by rule, they can not take a 6-6 team if there is an eligible 7-5 team. So this week's games against Western Michigan, Penn State, Purdue, and Illinois respectively are that much more important.
-It amazing how far and fast Miami has fallen. 48-0?!? To Virginia?!? In the Orange Bowl finale?! Have some pride, have a sense of history, and at least put up a fight. No wonder they never sell out games. The Hurricanes were always much more of pro franchise than a college program.
-I wonder what sort of gimmick Mark Richt will come up with in Georgia's next big game to fire up his players.
-If I'm a Nebraska fan, i don't know if the performance against K-State makes me happy, or makes me pissed off that we hadn't seen that effort in the prior 5 weeks when the season was still salvageable.
-When a QB comes off the field and gets on the phone to talk to the coaches upstairs, why do they still use corded phones? Couldn't they use a Bluetooth or something else that isn't twenty years out of date?

Hoops is here
-Looks like the craziness of the college football season has transferred to basketball. Gardner-Webb over Kentucky? Belmont over Cinncy? Mercer over USC? That's three wins by Atlantic Sun teams over major conference teams. To put that in perspective, the Atlantic Sun was 0-30 last year against BCS conference teams with an average margin of defeat of just over 22 points. Of course, with a tournament, these upsets don't mean nearly as much as they do in football.
-So far so good with Beilein's boys. Two comfortable wins against Radford and Brown, with fewer turnovers, more steals, and more energy than we ever saw from Amaker's teams. Perhaps the thing that I liked the best happened off the court. Last year's starting PG Jarrett Smith was suspended for the opener because he missed some classes. Apparently Beilein informed Smith that he would miss the Friday opener at a practice earlier in the week. During the practice, Smith went down with an ankle injury, complaining loudly. Beilein told all the players to leave him alone and left him with the trainers while he took the team to the other end of the court. After practice, he told Smith he would serve his suspension once he was completely healthy. No skating on the punishment because you are hurt. That strikes me as very Bo-like.
-The freshman back court looked really good. Manny Harris looks like, well, Mr. Basketball. Kelvin Grady is very fast and will help up press the tempo a lot. Together they actually look like a decent big ten back court. I would be shocked if Jarret Smith ever starts another game for us.