Ken, formerly of Silver Bullets, joins our merry band of basketball writers! Make sure to give him a warm welcome.
It’s the start of the conference basketball season, and the Buckeyes get the newest member of the conference at home. Nebraska appears to be having an improved season under new head coach Tim Miles, but we’ll need to see how they do in Big Ten play before we can fairly evaluate their progress. Let’s get to it!
|School:||University of Nebraska – Lincoln|
|Division:||NCAA Division 1|
|Stadium:||Bob Devaney Sports Center|
|Head Coach:||Tim Miles|
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never blah blah blah… it’s the second B1G/SEC tilt of the day, and should be airing right about the time that you find your keys in the bottom of the guacamole.
The History: This is one of the oldest games in the country, and was formerly the “Tangerine Bowl”. Because of it’s location, African American players were not allowed to participate, causing Hillsdale to decline their team’s offer to the game in 1955, and Buffalo choosing to do the same in 1958. In 1966, Morgan State (a historically black college) won the game and finished their season undefeated.
The “gifts that you can’t sell at all” for the student athletes in this game include yet another Fossil Watch and a $420 shopping trip to a local Best Buy. 420. Seriously. While this is awesome in and of itself… if I was participating, I’d really want something a bit more connected with the game’s sponsor, like, say “cash” or medieval weaponry.
Ohio State is 1-3 in this game, with their only win coming against BYU in 1985. The last B1G team to win this game was… wait for it… TTUN, giving Urban Meyer his only loss in Llllloyd Carr’s final game. Alec Baldwin was not involved in any way.
Georgia Scouting Report – At the beginning of the season, the Bulldogs’ head coach found himself on a short list of coaches that might be replaced in January. A brilliant campaign that led to a three way tie in the SEC East and a berth in the SEC Championship Game has certainly stopped those whispers. The Dawgs’ best win was the “upset” of Florida in the Swamp, where they held the Gators to nine points; their most heartbreaking loss was against Alabama in the SECCG- a game that was decided by really poor clock management at the end of the contest. Georgia’s offense is led by the aerial attack of Aaron Murray and Tavarres King, while Todd Gurley’s 1260 yards on the ground help balance the Bulldogs’ game plan. However, it’s linebacker Jarvis Jones who gets the headlines most often, his numbers are among the tops in the nation and certainly better than a certain Heisman candidate.
Buckeye Connection- The Buckeyes are 1-o against Georgia, although any chance for a more current assessment went by the wayside when the proposed series against the Bulldogs was cancelled to set up the B1G/PAC challenge… which was then cancelled. If it helps, Urban Meyer owns Mark Richt. Read More
Getting ready for the next phase of college fandom, that wonderful world filled with gifts of college hoops and bowl catastophies. As such, here’s the soundtrack for this week’s look back.
Robert Frost once said, “Nothing Gold can stay”; and so, another leaf turns and this college football season comes to a close. Before we jump into Championship Weekend, let me take a second to say “Thank You” to a great Ohio State blog and BBN member who hung up their keyboards this week- Dave and Drew, Godspeed on the next adventure.
Well, the crapocalypse is surely upon us- we’ve now got the choice to pull for Notre Dame or for Alabama in the Mythical National Title game come January; although I’m still holding out hope that the Mayans were right.
Alabama punched their ticket to yet another dance via a dominant second half performance against a very game Georgia team. Throughout the first half and into the third quarter, it looked as if the Bulldogs had figured out a way to neutralize the Bama defense, a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown only extended the sense of dread that Alabama fans must have been feeling throughout the sold-out Georgia Dome.
And then Nick Saban remembered that he had a running game. From that moment on, the Crimson Tide’s offensive line and stable of running backs managed to decimate the Georgia defense, churning clock and yardage. After running all over the Black and Red, it only made sense that Alabama’s last score would come on a beautifully executed play action pass- everyone, including the cameramen and your humble correspondent bit on the fake, and McCarron’s ball was perfectly targeted for the score.
Again, kudos to the Georgia team; they refused to give up even under dire circumstances and dwindling clock. They managed to drive to the red zone in a short amount of time, but then made decisions that I’m still trying to figure out.
After passing for the first down on the Alabama 8 yard line, Georgia chose to run a play and not spike the ball for clock stoppage goodness- they had used their last time outs forcing the Tide to punt on the previous series. The process of setting the play up itself cost them a good 5 seconds or so, and then they chose to run the following attempt:
There’s a lot of things that went wrong here- the pass was tipped at the line, and the receiver should have intentionally dropped it (although that’s a hard thing to do, as it goes against years of practice). But the decision to not control the clock a bit better at the end send Nick Saban to Miami to defend his team’s national title, and ended up pushing Georgia to game against the B1G Championship Runner Up (more later). Read More
As we head into the final weekend of B1G play before the title game next weekend, the Buckeyes sit atop the Leaders Division all alone after clinching on the road at Madison. Not exactly the way the Buckeyes envisioned winning, but they got it done in OT. Let’s take a look at the results from last weekend across the conference.
Nerds @ Sparty. Prediction Sparty 23 to 20; Right score, WRONG team, Nerds
Hawkeyes @ TTUN. Prediction Hawkeyes 21 to 17; WRONG TTUN 42 to 17
Hoosiers @ Penn State. Prediction PSU 34 to 32; RIGHT PSU 45 to 22
Purdue @ Illinois. Prediction Boilers 26 to 13; RIGHT Boilers 20 to 17
Minnesota @ Nebraska. Prediction Cornhuskers 39 to 13; RIGHT 38 to 14
#6 Ohio State @ Wiscy. Prediction Buckeyes all the way; RIGHT 21 to 14 OT
It is rivalry week this week all across the B1G and there’s really only one game everybody cares about and thats the Buckeyes hosting TTUN. The wolverweenies still have a shot at the title game if Iowa upsets Nebraska and the Sun and Blue upset the Buckeyes in the Shoe. Dont believe that’s gonna happen personally so we will see Nebraska and Wiscy in the title game next week. The best match-up of the week is Wiscy at Penn State. Do the Badgers lose to bowl ineligibles in back to back weeks?
Roastnears v. Ethanol Corn. Nebraska @ Iowa. Friday. Iowa isn’t going bowling after being a surprise early in the season after starting the B1G on a roll. This will be a snoozer in Iowa City on Friday as Nebraska will simply be tuning up for the B1G Championship game against Wiscy. Cornhuskers 31 to 14
The Land of Lincoln Trophy. Illini @ Nerds. This really won’t be much of a battle this year. What will be interesting is to see just how hard the Illini try to keep from losing all of their B1G games. Nerds are bowl eligible and were atleast in the B1G discussion at one point this season. If the conference refuses to give the COTY award to Coach Meyer, then Fitzgerald should probably get it. Nerds 24 to 17
Old Oaken Bucket. Indiana @ Purdue. The Boilers and Hoosiers both want to get this season over with as soon as possible. Only the Biolers have an outside shot at getting to a bowl game if they win this game. The Hoosiers have had a good season by their standards but their basketball team is #1 in the nation and are alot more fun to watch I am sure. Hoosiers 21 to 20
For 4th in the Legends. Sparty @ Minny. What a disappointing and uncharacteristic season it has been for the Spartans who may not make it to a bowl this year. Minny is already bowl eligible and might have the other coach for COTY consideration in Jerry Kill. Tough one to call. Sparty 20 to 17
Does it Matter? Wiscy @ Penn State. Had a tough time deciding what I would even say about this game because Phillips and Beilema are still crying over last week. Wiscy hasn’t needed to worry about winning the last two weeks, just try not to get embarassed before the title game against either Nebraska or TTUN. Too late Badgers, its happened and Penn State isn’t gonna make things easier. O’brien stirred things up with a non-committed answer to will he be back last week but it’s a chance to send a message to future recruits that they are going to compete. PSU 24 to 21
THE Game. TTUN @ THE Ohio State University. What can I say about this game that hasn’t already been said? Well, there’s this . . , I hate TTUN more than I have hated any other team of any team I root for. That includes the 49ers, Braves and Lakers. It is all about this week, period.
The Buckeyes are on the cusp of something pretty rare in Ohio State history. Only nine times before have the Buckeyes celebrated an undefeated season, and only one time have they lost this game at home when heading into THE Rivalry game undefeated(96). No score prediction as usual but the Buckeyes will take care of business and do something for Coach Meyer that none of his Gator teams could do, give him an undefeated season. Perfect. Buckeyes in a romp!
The national race got destroyed this past week thanks to Baylor and Stanford. The odd thing about this whole thing is the fact that the #1 and #2 teams lost to the teams that had the #1 and #2 overall draft picks last year(Luck and Griffin). The entire nation was upset with both Oregon and Kansas State because now we have Notre Lame and Alabama atop the rankings.
National Race This Week. #1 Notre Lame 11-0; #2 Alabama 10-1 (6-1); #3 Georgia 8-1 (6-1) ;#4 Florida 10-1 (7-1) ; #5 Ohio State 11-0 (7-0)
As bad as I hate to admit it, I actually called the upset of Oregon at the hands of the Cardinal last week. #13 Stanford @ #2 Oregon. Prediction Stanford 35 to 31, RIGHT Stanford 17 to 14 OT.
As Rivalries go, there isn’t anything better than The Game coming up between our beloved Buckeyes and TTUN. The Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama has been a close rivalry over the years but this year will be a snoozer. The Red River Shootout is one of the best but it takes place in the middle of the season.
When you talk about tradition, and honor, as well as uniquely serving our country as officers when they’re done. Army versus Navy has been happening as long as any of them. Unfortunately they don’t play until December 8th. Lets take a look at a rivalry that could have a national impact.
The Civil War. Oregon @ Oregon State. They’ve been playing since 1894 and have met 115 times with Oregon holding the advantage 59-46-10. The game got its name in the late 20′s and has been a heated rivalry over the years. Oregon still has an opportunity to win out and get some help back to the top. But its a tall task to expect Notre Lame to fall to USC, and Alabama to lose to Auburn or in the SEC title game. Oregon State has some nice wins this season and this would be the cherry on top of it. Ducks 42 to 34
Aside from the Ohio State-Wisconsin overtime thriller, it was a pretty boring week across the Big Ten stage. But, now it is the week of “The Game,” so nothing else really matters.
The Buckeyes defeated the Badgers 21-14 in overtime to move to 11-0 on the season, and have officially won the Leaders Division outright. Ohio State is ineligible to play in the B1G Championship Game, however, so Wisconsin will be representing the Legends side by default.
Let’s take a look at how the rest of the conference fared in the second-to-final weekend of the season.
Northwestern finally held onto a lead. The Wildcats have lost three games this season by a combined 19 points, all of which were blown fourth quarter leagues. It seemed like they were headed for another fourth quarter disaster last Saturday against Michigan State, but Northwestern hung on for a 23-20 victory.
Penn State earned its seventh victory of the season by defeating Indiana 45-22. In what many thought would be a down year for the Nittany Lions, it really is impressive that they have a shot at eight wins if they can defeat Wisconsin next weekend.
Nebraska kept its hopes alive to represent the Legends Division in the B1G Championship game as it defeated Minnesota 38-14. A Nebraska win against Iowa on Friday would wrap up the division for the Huskers.
It appears like Illinois will go winless in the Big Ten this season. The Illini fell to Purdue 20-17, and unless they can pull off an upset win over Northwestern this weekend, Illinois will finish the season just 2-10 overall and 0-8 in the conference. Talk about brutal.
Yeah, I didn’t mention that other team’s game for a reason.
#24 Northwestern @ TTUN. Prediction Nerds 21 to 17; WRONG TTUN 38-31
Purdue @ Iowa. Prediction Iowa 16 to 10; WRONG BOILERS 27 TO 24
Minnesota @ Illinois. Prediction Illinois 31 to 14; WRONG MINNY 17 TO 3
Wiscy @ Indiana. Prediction Hoosiers 21 to 20; WRONG WISCY 62 TO 14
Penn State @ #16 Nebraska. Prediction Nebraska 31 to 17; RIGHT NEBRASKA 32 TO 23
Here’s one last look at the national race prior to the toppling of . . , oh wait, BAMA really didn’t fall out of the top five like they should have after losing at home to a new SEC team. aTm may have done all of us a favor but they didn’t really do it any good as all BAMA has to do is win out and they’re back in. Youre welcome Notre Lame haters.
National Race Last Week. #1 Alabama 9-0 (6-0); #2 Kansas State 9-0 (6-0); #3 Oregon 9-0 (6-0); #4 Notre Lame 9-0; #5 Georgia 8-1 (6-1).
#15 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama. Prediction Tide 42 to 21. WRONG aTm 29 to 24
Now that we’re in the home stretch of the college football season and ready to play the most important game on the Buckeyes schedule(this week), lets take a look at this week for all of the B1G. Keep in mind that Wiscy is already headed back to the B1G title game in Indy, and the Buckeyes have clinched at least a tie for the Leaders division title via their two game lead in the division.
Nerds @ Sparty. Nothing on the line here as Sparty really has two weeks to become bowl eligible. The Nerds lost a heart-breaker last weekend at the hands of TTUN and back up QB Devin Gardner. I see a pretty good defensive game unfolding early but Sparty needs this win. Sparty 23 to 20
Hawkeyes @ TTUN. The Hawkeyes aren’t going bowling this year. They have played well in almost all of their games and have chances to win them but a little is a little to late. TTUN will not get caught looking ahead this week as they did last week, or maybe they will? Hawkeyes 21 to 17
Hoosiers @ Penn State. The hoosiers need to win their last two games to live up to some of the hype they created for themselves. At different times this season they have looked like giant killers, and well other times they just looked like a football team at a basketball school. PSU cannot go bowling until later this decade and are playing for pride. PSU 34 to 32
Purdue @ Illinois. This is the battle of the week, or maybe not really, but it will decide who is the bottom dweller trophy winner until next season in the B1G. Boilers have had their moments where they looked like the team that upset the Buckeyes at home last year(verified by the students who stormed the field) and the rest of the time they have struggled. Illinois and head coach Beckman just wnt the season over with so they can get started on rebuilding. Boilers 26 to 13
Minnesota @ Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are the team that I believed they were and will represent the Legends division in the B1G title game against Wiscy in Indy. They had one game they’d like to forget this season and it was their trip to Columbus. They have all but wiped the slate clean and save for the Buckeyes, are the best team the B1G has to offer. Minnesota is bowl eligible, but that is about it for this game. Cornhuskers 39 to 13
#6 Ohio State @ Wiscy. The Buckeyes are 10-0(6-0) and have already clinched at least a share of the Leaders Division title, which is all they can really win this season. We learned this week from Coach Meyer that going undefeated and the AP title was never a part of the team goals discussion. They wanted to go win as many games as they could for the seniors and to take care of the game at hand this week. What that means is absolutely no talking about the game rapidly approaching(TTUN) wink, wink. No matter what the coaches say, the players have all but confirmed this week that there is plenty bad blood between these two schools and as far as football goes, it is the secondary rivalry for both. Still wont predict scores for the team that I love but suffice it to say, the Buckeyes won’t need a last minute hail mary. Buckeyes all the way.
Kansas State is atop the National polls and have Baylor on the road this week. Oregon is the only top 5 that has a true test against Stanford and Georgia basically has a bye week taking on Georgia Southern. Notre Lame has Wake Forrest (go Jim Grobe!) and BAMA hosts Western Carolina (YAWN).
National Race This Week. #1 Kansas State 10-0 (7-0); #2 Oregon 10-0 (7-0); #3 Notre Lame 10-0; #4 Alabama 9-1 (6-1); #5 Georgia 8-1 (6-1). #6 Ohio State
#13 Stanford @ #2 Oregon. Stanford has an opportunity just like aTm did last week and they have the defense to do it as well. The trick will be to get out early and to slow the Ducks down at a pace they can deal with. Marriota and Snoop Dog’s nephew are having fun running that offense so the Cards have to take the fun out of it and quickly. Definitely the game of the week nationally and should be a good one. Stanford 35 to 31
Ohio State did not play on Saturday, but believe it or not, there were other games played around the Big Ten conference. Some of them actually meant something too.
The best game of the weekend was played in Ann Arbor as Michigan scored a 38-31 overtime victory against Northwestern.
The Wolverines’ prayers were answered as Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner–who was filling in for the injured Denard Robinson–heaved a 53-yard pass to Roy Roundtree to set up a game-tying 26-yard field goal with just two seconds remaining.
In overtime, Gardner scored on a 1-yard touchdown run as Michigan got the ball to being the extra period. The Wolverine defense held Northwestern on its possession to earn the win as Northwestern blew the game in the most Northwestern way possible.
Indiana’s dreams of playing in the B1G Championship Game were dashed rather quickly as Wisconsin buried the Hoosiers, 62-14. With both Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play, it will be the Badgers representing the Leaders Division in the conference title game.
Nebraska kept its hopes alive for a bid in the B1G Championship Game as it outscored Penn State 26-3 in the second half to earn a 32-23 come-from-behind victory over the Nittany Lions.
Nebraska owns the tiebreaker with Michigan as the Huskers beat the Wolverines head-to-head, 23-9. With games against Minnesota and Iowa remaining, it looks as if it will be Nebraska against Wisconsin for the conference title and a trip to Pasadena.
Purdue finally got off the schnide in conference play as the Boilermakers earned their first conference win, 27-24 against Iowa. The win snapped Purdue’s five game losing streak.
Purdue’s win leaves Illinois as the only winless team in Big Ten conference play. The Illini looked awful yet again as they fell 17-3 to Minnesota. The win was Minnesota’s sixth of the year, making the Gophers the fifth team from the Big Ten to be eligible for a bowl game.
Next week all eyes will be on the Ohio State-Wisconsin game and rightfully so. The Badgers-Buckeyes game is really the only notable game on the Big Ten slate this week. Even though Ohio State is ineligible for postseason play, it can still win the Leaders Division title and bring a trophy to Columbus in Urban Meyer’s first season as head coach.
Oh, college football… How I love you!!
Well, that happened.
While a lot of people were saying that Alabama was ripe for a loss against a Texas A&M team that’s been playing really well over the past few weeks, most of this felt like lip service. You know, the kind of things that ESPN makes one person say on the Gameday set in order to appear unbiased.
And then- “Johnny Football”.
There are a lot of reasons why Alabama lost- coming off of an emotional win on the road in Death Valley, LSU’s offense showed a lot of people the issues that the Tide have in their secondary, Saban’s fear of the high speed offense is based on his knowledge of his team’s weaknesses; but the fact of the matter is that the Aggies outplayed Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, in several key areas of the game.
The Crimson Tide defensive front was stifled, for the most part, by the aTm offensive tackles. Combined with concerns about a quarterback’s mobility, the Tide were not able to mount the type of disruptive pressure that they are so used to.
Alabama’s offense made key mistakes and turnovers, and seemed out of rhythm all night long. The three turnovers didn’t help, particularly when the Tide defense couldn’t get any of their own… and the mental errors were even more egregious. On the final interception, it seems to me that the receiver on the end of the line of scrimmage did a poor job getting depth in the end zone, making it easy for defenders to cover both him and the primary target. In addition, with Bama’s defense stiffening and forcing a punt, to have a member of their punt return/block team create a neutral zone infraction for an automatic first down is an aggressive penalty, but one that is terrible to have happen in that circumstance. Again, the intensity was there for the student in question, but the lack of focus eventually cost them a final chance at victory.
But we can’t miss the point here- this game was won by Johnny Manziel’s continual ability to make plays and put the Tide defense on their heels.
After the third week in a row with this type of performance (Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State), the redshirt freshman has lifted himself into Heisman candidacy- and for good reason. Given the lack of a clear “star” this year, given Matt Barkley’s struggles, the game this weekend was his “Flutie to Phelan” moment; outstanding performance in high profile opportunity. I’ll leave the debate to others, but will certainly enjoy watching the electricity that all of these candidates provide.
Even if he doesn’t win this year, you’ve got to think that next year’s Heisman race is going to be something spectacular- Braxton Miller, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Everett Gholston, Tahj Boyd, DeAnthony Thomas… and those are just the ones I’ve got off the top of my head.
(And since I’m on the topic, I think that Marquis Lee needs to be included in this year’s debate. But that’s just me).
Does this loss end the run of SEC titles in the final year of the BCS? Well, not exactly… more on this in a bit.