Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not this time

With about 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter and Notre Dame trailing Michigan State by nine facing a 3rd and 17 around their own 30, Irish QB JimmyClausen threw a quick out to Golden Tate, who was hit immediately by two MSU defenders. But the Spartans failed to wrap Tate up, and he got away for about a twenty yard gain. Two plays later a questionable 15 yard pass interference put ND inside the MSU 30. From my home in Ann Arbor, I could hear my spartan grad best friend in Chicago yelling at the TV. Visions of a deflected pass in 1990, a third string QB throwing a winning TD, and trying to run the spread in Hurricane Katrina must of been running through his head and the heads of spartan fans everywhere. Once again, it appeared for a brief moment, that MSU was in danger of losing a game to ND that they had basically controlled throughout, and that the Irish had no business winning. But luckily for State, this is not Ty Willingham's Irish team, and the Irish weren't able to take the game that MSU was trying to hand them.
-This game reinforced my thought that if we played the Irish ten times, we'd win six or seven of them.
-MSU needs to expand the playbook a little, or Javon Ringer won't last the season. As we learned last year with Hart, if you ride one player two much you run the risk of not having him.
-ND might make a bowl game, but without a real running game they won't be winning that game. Throwing it deep on every other play won't work against good teams.

Other thoughts:
-Thinking about the continued implosion of Pac-Ten teams not coach by Pete Carroll, I believe it illustrates the problems that are inherent to West Coast football, and why despite occasional flashes, they will have problems maintaining the level of football throughout the conference that is played in the SEC, Big 12, or even the Big Ten. Yes the Pac-Ten schools have a large population from which to draw players. But they have a lot of competition from which to draw fans. They traditionally do a very poor job of drawing fans. The Rose Bowl was barely half full for the UCLA- Arizona game yesterday. Despite their enormous success, USC was only 18th in average attendance last year, and are the only Pac Ten team in the top twenty in attendance in the each of the last five years. The SEC has had at least seven teams in the top 20 each year, the Big 12 and Big Ten 10 four each. This is why Pac ten teams play more big road games than any other power conference. When you don't draw much more than 60,000 fans to every home game, you aren't sacrificing as much giving up a home game. Compare that to Auburn, OSU and others, which clear more than $1 million in profit every home game. That's why three out of the four losses to Mountain West teams were road games for the Pac Ten. Additionally, they also don't have as much close-by out of conference competition as the other power conferences have. Thus you have long cross-country road trips that lead to sleepwalking type performances like the one we saw out of Cal at Maryland.
-Bill Stewart of West Virginia turned on of the worst coaching performances you'll ever want to see in their game with Colorado on Thursday night. First the team came out somewhat flat and allowed Colorado two early scores. On a number of occasions, the 'Neers punted on fourth and short inside the Colorado 40 instead of going for it. When they finally did go for it with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, they chose to run a QB sneak that was stuffed for a one-yard loss, instead of running the zone read with Noel Devine and Pat White that gained them over 300 yards rushing. The game was tied with about 6 minutes left when WVU got the ball on their own 20. With two timeouts left, they ran the zone read with Devine and White over and over and moved the ball right down the field. With a minute and a half left, they were at the fifty and still had two timeouts. Still plenty of time to get into range for a game winning FG. They ran a quick out to Devine who didn't get out of bounds, ran a dive play that was stuffed, and didn't make any effort to stop the clock. When they finally used a timeout, there were only four seconds left, and they were on the Colorado 48. They ended regulation with a failed hail mary and one timeout left. In OT, they passed up a 4th and 1 and missed a chip shot FG and lost 17-14. Yes, this is the reason why they gave Stewart a five year extension. We can see why Rich Rod wanted out of there
-What the heck has happened to Rutgers? They lost to a very poor Navy team, and are starting to look more and more like Rutgers of old. Glad we dodged that bullet. If Schiano is not careful, he won't get that interview at Penn State when Paterno finally kicks the bucket.