The Buckeyes played their most complete game of the season this past Saturday in dispatching Illinois 52-22. A game that shouldn’t have been close wasn’t. A team that has in recent years played to the level of its competition, whether up or down, the Buckeyes showed their mite by putting their foot on the gas early against the Illini and never looking back.
A lot has been said about the Big Ten being weak and the Buckeye schedule being light. I can’t argue much about either of those points. When writing last week’s entry, the thought crossed my mind that this (past) week against Illinois could be the week when it all comes together and the “Urbanization” of the Buckeyes begins to take shape.
For me, the real transformation to this program completely becoming Urban Meyer’s will be when we no longer see games like Purdue or California. The day we see the Buckeyes playing at a high level every week, not just when it’s a rival or a night game against a major name opponent, is the day the transformation is complete. It’s the day that everyone else in the Big Ten realizes that they are either going to work longer and recruit harder or be crushed in Meyer and Ohio State’s wake.
The destruction of Illinois may have been the first sign of this process taking shape. The defense was responsible for 6 points, the offense went up and down the field at will, backups played like they could have won the game if asked from the start, lots of excitement and celebrating on the sidelines, a confident swagger. Good times are ahead, my friends. Read More
As the temperatures drop, the games get more heated… and nowhere saw this more true than in the Midwest, where three games with title implications found themselves coming down to the final seconds.
You read that right. The midwest- “flyover country” and “battleground states”. We’ll get to the events in Louisiana and Los Angeles in a bit, but there was a 25 minute period on Saturday that saw the eyes of college football fans tuned to the states of Indiana and Michigan.
First, the Battle in the B1G Legends Division saw either a “Sparty NO!!” moment or the referees stealing yet another game from Dantonio’s team, depending on your perspective and your proximity to LeVeon Bell. Nebraska managed a last second touchdown after two huge mental errors/penalties against the Spartans- first, Taylor Martinez was intercepted on the two yard line as the Huskers were threatening to score; the INT was taken back for an apparent score, but a personal foul well away from the play ended up costing MSU the score (they would get no points from the turnover). As Nebraska mounted a late drive for what would prove to be the go ahead score, a pass into the endzone was called Spartan interference,allowing Martinez to throw the game winner on the next play.
Not only did the win keep the Huskers in the drivers seat for their trip to Indy, but it also helped keep Michigan one game behind for that same opportunity- in spite of their “Denardless” win against Minnesota. Devan Gardner was more than adequate to beat the Gophers and maintain the Little Brown Jug for another year- as someone commented, Michigan’s QB turned WR turned QB outperformed Minnesota’s QB turned WR turned QB turned WR. Here’s hoping that TTUN’s RB masquerading as a QB doesn’t have any permanent damage to the nerves in his puntin’ arm.
After the Nebraska win, most of us clicked over to the Leaders’ game of the week, where we watched Indiana continue their storybook season… if you like storybooks where the protagonist essentially backs into something amazing out of default. In spite of James’ Vandenberg’s mom’s son having a pretty decent day, B1G coach of the year Kirk Ferentz’ team fell just short after holding a 14-10 lead at the break. IU punted back to Iowa with 18 seconds left on the clock, but the last Hawkeyes plays were not able to get the job done, given that the “interesting” B1G refs were in East Lansing this week. And so, should the Hoosiers beat Wisconsin this week (in what’s sure to be a trap game), they are headed to Indianapolis for a chance to play for all the Roses.
At this point, most of America was looking to kill time before the Alabama/LSU game kicked off, only to have their friends text them that the Pitt/Notre Dame game was headed to overtime. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Panthers held a 20-6 lead; when that scrolled across the ticker, I commented to my wife that Notre Dame would win, since the game was being played in South Bend. The Irish scored 17 points in the final period, and we headed to overtime.
After exchanging field goals, Notre Dame’s Cierre Wood fumbled on his way into the end zone and Pitt recovered. And, this time the officials made the right call and gave Pitt the ball. The Panthers chose to run three straight plays to set up the field goal, but on third down chose not to center the ball on the field of play. You can guess what happened next- the field go was wide right; kicked from the right hash, it never wavered from it’s initial trajectory. It was, unless you’re Brian Kelly, an exciting moment.
Ah, but we can’t have “the luck of the Irish” without a little controversy; this one emerging after the fact. On the missed field goal, Notre Dame had two players on the field with the same number, which should have resulted in Pitt having an automatic first down. It’s not as if the officials might have seen this before, or that Notre Dame might have been aware that they should address this issue… nonetheless, a Pitt Field Goal led to a Notre Dame touchdown and the undefeated season continued.
There are a lot of folks who are comparing this year’s Irish season to the 2002 Ohio State champions… good enough offense, but an outstanding defense and a little luck from a resurgent program. Here’s the problem with that analogy… it doesn’t take into account the obnoxiousness that Irish fans bring due to their perceived “special” place in the “annals of college football history”. For a point of reference, this week’s offering by MSPaint maestro ThuJone might help clarify the issue just a bit… warning, most of his stuff is hilariously not safe for work. Read More
Here we are, mid-October, when everything starts getting pumpkin flavored for better or worse. So, you’ve got two choices for soundtracks this week, via the “full albums” on Youtube- Something October-ish, or something more Pumpkiny. Salud.
Ah, Texas… where dreams go to die. Three of the most interesting storylines this week came Deep In The Heart Of, so let’s travel to Lubbock to get things started. Really, there’s no other reason to head there.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an idiot. Well, when I get the chance… which was this weekend when the team I’d most like to see play Oregon in a bowl game ended up falling victim to the same Achillies Heel that Oregon has in the past- defensive line pressure. The Red Raiders’ ability to disrupt the Mountaineer passing game by owning their backfield was something that the rest of the B12 will certainly pay attention to; Geno Smith is much better in the pocket with his timing not hampered by large persons seeking to do him bodily harm of some sort. Not that this should disrupt his Heisman candidacy; I know a number of quarterbacks who would love to go 29-55 for 275 yards, although West Virginia’s inability to score has got to be troubling with games against more stout defenses looming. What really led to the 49-14 win, though, was the Mountaineer Defense’s inability to stop anything that Tuberville’s Raiders were dialing up… we saw that the the defense was suspect against Baylor and Texas, it finally caught up to them in a way that the offense couldn’t counter. /reads last sentence, looks at tOSU-v-Indiana box score, calls therapist.
If Smith’s Heisman candidacy was bumped at all on Saturday, it might open up the door for Texas A&M’s “Johnny Football”, quarterback Manziel managed 395 yards and 3 TDs through the air, and another 181 and 3 scores on the ground against a very game Louisiana Tech team that went toe to toe with the Aggies. We talked about Tech before; their offensive gameplan is quite unique and very high powered/up-tempo- very similar to what we’re seeing across the country. Don’t be surprised if their coach isn’t in the SEC or B12 in a year or two, given some of the frustrations that the “traditional” programs are having with their current administrations.
Which brings us to the Red River Shootout, a celebration of football and fried food from the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas. Over the past several years, though, the “shootout” has been more like shooting fish in a barrel, as the Sooners have absolutely owned the Longhorns on the scoreboard. For many ‘Horns fans, though, the 36-2 halftime score meant that they could head out to the midway to enjoy the Fair rather than watching their team continue to fall apart. The RRSO brings us our first candidate for “hit of the week”, although, given how Texas played, it’s not surprising that the shot in question resulted in a penalty, and wasn’t even in the field of play: Read More
Hope you’re not too hungover from Homecoming… Not that there’d be anything wrong with that. This weeks’ TWTW is being composed with this concert in the background- say goodbye to your Pandora station for the next hour and 45 minutes.
This has been identified as the first “Shakedown Saturday” of the season, and we knew early on that this would be a heck of a week for college football. While #1 Alabama sat idle, the rest of the top 10 was involved in contests amongst themselves… where commentators chose to ignore the fact that this was destined to happen when you put all the teams in one conference in the top ten because they’re in that conference. But I digress..
Let’s start with the state of Florida, which went 1-2 on the weekend, and saw two “they’re back!!!” programs fall by the wayside. The exception to this, of course, are those poor souls in Gainesville, which were gutted and pillaged by the Evil Urban Meyer on his way to the greener pastures in Columbus. A miracle, then, that they managed to host the number four team in the nation and managed to pull together a 14-6 win, in spite of the fact that LSU is one of the greatest teams of all time and forever (note, applies to SEC teams but especially ones from the SEC West). It seems as if the Mad Hatter finally had the injuries that have plagued his team catch up with them… although, like many people, I wasn’t sure that they were ranked properly with a number of “close” calls and a “quality” win over Washington bolstering their resume. Hear me correctly- I think Coach Muschamp is doing solid things at Florida, in spite of the fact that Urban burned down every building and shot all the coaching staff on his way out… I just am not all that impressed with a win over an LSU team that might have more issues than their SECW status would allow anyone to talk about. Ah well.
In Chicago, we were given the chance to witness a game that would have been really interesting in the late 80′s… although, this version had a bit of intrigue as well. A resurgent Notre Dame team chose to play in Soldier Field in front of it’s biggest alumni base and revisit the good times that were the “Catholics -vs- Criminals” matchups that created must see TV when I was in high school and college. Even though it was a neutral site game, you’ve got to know that Miami felt daunted playing a) this far north and b) in front of more fans than they’d seen all season (and that’s just on the Loop driving into the game). The 41-3 Irish win came in spite of the fact that Notre Dame’s quarterback began the game on the bench for a violation of “team rules”. Huh. Perhaps he was found to be responsible for the horrible helmet design that they chose to wear this week. Again, I think that Coach Golden is doing good things in Coral Gables, and haven’t yet figured out how Urban Meyer is at fault for his struggles. But I will persevere on the case… be assured the truth is out there.
In our biggest upset of the week, third ranked Florida State (anointed by this very author as a solid candidate to play for the pretend championship) fell to a North Carolina State team that’s struggled to get out of their own way for the most part of this season, and who lost to ‘Da U just last week. It took a late touchdown to achieve the glorious victory for the Wolfpack, but it certainly was exciting enough that this young person chose to disregard what his parents taught him and rejoice in the moment.
While Notre Dame’s “wardrobe malfunctions” were the highlight of the week, no conversation about crazy outfits is complete without mention of the latest in the “Duck You” line from the good folks in Eugene. This week, in the blowout win against Washington, we saw a return of their “John Deer” look- a throwback of sorts to their green and yellow heritage, with a twist. In addition to the mirrored ball helmet wings that we’ve seen before, they decided to add a yellow and chrome facemask to the the ensemble, giving them sort of a “Bane Of The Northwest” appearance. As always, the Ducks are rolling up huge chunks of yardage and points, but have yet to face a defense with the size and speed up front to disrupt their schemes… and, looking across the PAC12, I don’t see that kind of challenge coming anytime soon. Read More
And now, it gets real. Conference season. No more cupcakes… although, that hasn’t worked out all that well for a lot of teams. Today’s soundtrack is from this week’s release, and was chosen just to make our friend Bacon happy.
Let’s start out west this week, which gives me a chance to do two of my favorite things in the world. The first is to enjoy this moment: Oh, Rich Rod face, how I’ve missed your sublime poignancy. The second is to post a great FanShot, sent to us from pretty choice seats in Eugene… lots of people making their “O” face in that game, for sure. As a reminder, if you go to a game this year, send us a photo and we’ll run it on Monday mornings.
So, let’s talk about the Ducks. The wife and I watched the game… at least until Arizona threw a 4th and goal interception in the third quarter. After that, the fate of the Wildcats was sealed and we headed onto other things (Food Network, Ahoy!). ‘Cause here’s the fact- Oregon may take some time to warm up, but once they find weakness they will attack and attack and attack… and the next thing you know, you lose 49-0. Well, until they play a team with a defensive front, that is.
While the Ducks are still doing what they do, I’ve got to tip my hat a bit to Arizona- it was fun to watch the Rodriguez offense again and only have a little bit of hatred for the passes to the slot receivers and so forth. He’ll do well in Tuscon, particularly given that the transition won’t be as drastic as it was heading from Morgantown to Ann Arbor… and he probably doesn’t have alumni and former coaches trying to sabotage him as well.
In fact, I’d love to see RRod’s former team play the one he just faced- What WVa is doing offensively is probably the only thing that can match with the speed and scoring ability that we’re seeing in Eugene. Granted, they only managed 31 against a pretty bad Maryland team, but the potential is there. A bowl game between Chip Kelly and Dana Holgorsen would certainly surpass the UW/Baylor game from last year, and would feature some of the most unique
costumes uniforms in college sports.
I don’t know which is worse- that the play was allowed to continue, or that the official seems to be enjoying the spectacle. A little help here: Was the player that removed the helmet ejected, as per the rules? Read More
Continuing our look around the nation, Tim takes a quick look at the winner of the last eleventy BCS championships. If you’re a fan of one of these programs, be sure to have someone read this for you (note: does not apply to Vanderbilt).
How does the conference fall in the national rankings? How likely are they to have a team in the title game?
I’ve come to learn in sports, there are no “sure things.” Recently, though, an SEC team playing for (and winning) the National Championship in college football is about as close to a sure thing as there is. Last year, we even saw something nobody ever thought we would—two teams from the same conference playing for it all.
I was one that supported the rematch between LSU and Alabama. They were the two best teams in college football last year, no question. And, with no other team going undefeated and no playoff system, I want to see the two best teams play for the title. Do I think that will happen again this year? Both teams are loaded again, but the answer to that question is no.
The SEC has produced the last six National Champions, and big favorites to make that lucky number seven this season. They currently have five teams in the top ten of the coaches’ poll and seven ranked overall. If I were a betting man, I would put big money on an SEC team playing for the title.
Who’s the best team in the conference? Who will play for the conference title game?
I’ve gone back and forth on this a dozen times. LSU and Alabama are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the coaches’ poll. But, with the recent news of the dismissal of LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, I’m going to pick the Crimson Tide as the best team in the SEC, and thus be the winners of the SEC West.
Another tough choice in the SEC East between Georgia and South Carolina, but I’m going with the Bulldogs. Georgia was routed by LSU in the 2011 SEC Championship game, but quarterback Aaron Murray is back to lead the boys from Athens yet again. I look for a Alabama-Georgia SEC Championship Game with the Crimson Tide bringing home the victory.
Who are the worst teams in the conference? Read More
Midweek madness in March… be sure to stick with us after the break to get insight into the personalities and ideologies of some of the new Ohio State coaching staff
But the number that best explains his sophomore season is the dramatic decline in free throw attempts from his freshman year. He’s getting fouled about 20 percent less often this season than last, although he is most certainly being challenged by defenders in greater numbers and it would appear he is being contacted more. He is attempting and making roughly the same number of shots as last season, but he is getting fewer calls.
More contact, but fewer calls? That right there is all you need to know about the state of B1G officiating this season, just in case the conference player of the year possibly fouling out of a huge game and not being removed by the officials wasn’t enlightening enough.
Q: Who would star as you (in the movie adaptation of the book)?
A: We had that question asked at Ohio State. We had to do the profile thing during timeouts (at games), where they asked you who would play you in a movie. All my teammates said Denzel Washington. That wouldn’t work for me, though.
How about Zac Efron? We could turn it into a musical.
All I needed to read, though, was Greg Oden’s blurb for the cover-
“Mark Titus knows a lot of personal secrets of mine. If he revealed any of them in this book, I will kick him right in the testicles. I’m not joking.”
When you buy it, be sure to do so from Amazon- gives a little love to your favorite corner of the interwebs.
With the “off season” (or as Urban calls it- “Hunting Season”) upon us, SBP takes a bit of a different twist. Usually focused on news and updates from OSU press conferences and weekly preparation, during the off season, we’ll use this spot to affirm my ADD and help you stay on top of news from the national scene. In other words- things that you might have missed or will want to print to read during those boring meetings or your “consulting” trips to the washroom. I read it so you don’t have to.
Bowl championship Series
But because the agreement between cable network and bowl series has to make you wonder where the relationship between ESPN and the football it pretends to cover begins and ends. Are they partners? Is this a legitimate subject-reporter situation? Once ESPN buys access to an event don’t they then turn from journalist to promoter?
Everyone already knows.
When ESPN selectively covers stories, as it does during a college football season, and attempts to dictate what is news and what is not to the public, how can any of us not be left wondering if they’re really reporting the news or simply protecting their bowl-week product? After all, they’re in this thing together now. When they’re slow to break a story, can we be sure why?