Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bowl Math

After getting undressed on homecoming, we sat in the stands doing bowl math. That's when you go through the schedule and try and figure out where the six wins will come from to make us eligible for the the 33rd year in a row. What we came up with:
Sure Losses -- at Penn State, at OSU -- This is the year the streak ends for the Knitknees. Considering they lose almost all their starters next year, it better. And the trip to the Snakepit could get ugly.
Sure (as much as anything is sure in this year) wins -- Toledo, at Minnesota, at Purdue -- If we don't win all three of these games, we'll be home for the holidays.
Tossups -- Michigan State, Northwestern -- This is where the bowl push will be won or lost. Lose both of these, we go nowhere. Win both, we go bowling, maybe in the Alamo bowl, or the Champs Sports Bowl. Split these games, things get dicey. The bowl rules say that all 7-5 teams must be guaranteed a bowl spot for 6-6 teams to get a spot. The Big Ten has seven slots, including the BCS. Five Big Ten teams currently have 5 or more wins (Penn State, OSU, MSU, Northwestern, and Minnesota). The first four are likely to be bowl eligible, although never count out the ability of the Spartans to completely implode. 3-2 Illinois and 3-2 Wisconsin will both probably get to seven wins. That leave Minnesota, 2-3 Purdue, 2-3 Indiana, 3-3 Iowa and us fighting for that last Bowl bid. Now, if Ohio State and Penn State both end up with two or less losses, they are both likely to end up in the BCS, meaning there will be an extra bowl spot open. So at 6-6, we have a good shot at a bowl, but not a risk.
Will we get there? Good question. I think that MSU is a good match up for us, similar to Wisconsin. Power team with not much offensive diversity and serious questions in pass defense. Northwestern doesn't have the athletes the Spartans do, but they might have a better defense.

As for the game, not much to say other than Juice Williams. We stopped their zone running game fairly well, but just couldn't stop Williams running or throwing the ball. He has certainly grown as a QB. Last year you could count on him to make a number of bad reads and throws every game. This game he didn't. In short, he is exactly the type of QB I think Rich Rod would want for our system.
The offense was the same as it ever is, stop and start, very erratic. Occasionally flashes of what it could be, but mostly just missed plays. Throws off by a bit, routes run incorrectly, blocks not held long enough, etc.

From other games:
-Iowa flat out gave away the game in East Lansing. The Hawkeyes out gained the Spartans and held their all-everything uberback Javon Ringer to under 100 yards. But two endzone turnovers, another on their own 20 put the spartans up16-3 halfway through the third. Iowa rallied to 16-6, when Kirk Ferentz made the first of two ridiculously bad decisions with about 8 minutes left in the game. With a 4th and 5 at the MSU 15, he passed up the field goal which would have brought them to within 7 and went for it. The pitch play failed, and State took over. After Iowa scored again to make it 16-13, Ferentz again passed up a field goal to go for it on 4th and 2 at the MSU 20 with two minutes left and only one time out. When the off tackle play was stuffed for no gain, MSU took over and ran out the clock. If I were an Iowa fan, I would be livid. The decision to pass up the game tying field goal was inexcusable. Considering your five previous red zone trips had resulted in 6 points, you take the points whenever you can. For the Spartans, they need to find offense from someone other than Ringer, or he won't last the season.
-I was thinking that OSU looked beatable until that last drive. Yikes, let's hope Pryor actually starts to play like a freshman at some point this year.
-With apologies to MSU and Northwestern, I think the big ten is a three team race now: OSU, Penn State and Illinois. I know the Illini have that loss already, but I still think they can give the Buckeyes trouble.
-I wonder if any of the defensive coordinators in the Big 12 sleep at night. My goodness, Sam Bradford at OU has been near flawless, Texas Tech is still taking no prisoners, Texas' Colt McCoy has been scary good, Kansas can't fall behind far enough to stop it's offense from coming back, and i don't think Missouri has a punter on it's roster. The Tigers haven't had a 3 and out with the first string offense all year. Oh, and Oklahoma State has scored 223 points in their last four games!
-On that note, the next four games for Texas: OU, Missouri, Oklahoma State, @ Texas Tech. That's the #2,3,4 & 5 scoring offenses in the country.
-How bad has the year been for the Pac 10? Their second best team, Cal, got whipped by a team (Maryland) that got blown out by a team(Virginia) that got blown out by Duke.
-If Miami and Florida State played a football game in an empty stadium, would it make a sound?
-Golden Rankings out later this week, after the Wednesday game. Guess who's number one?
-Hey, I got a link from the UofM Alumni Association! Glad to see our donations going to good use.