In spite of the huge win in Happy Valley on Saturday, I’m feeling a bit of the blues are in order for this week’s recap. So, enjoy some Collins, Cray, and Copeland.
It’d be easy to say that this week was “spook-tacular”, and “scary” for a lot of top teams, but that would be way to easy. So, let’s just admit that Saturday once again proved that we’re fans of the greatest sport in the world; because anything can happen once the ball is kicked.
As a promise to a “friend” that’s a Notre Dame fan who I’ve been justifiably ripping for the last ten years, we’re leading off this week with the Irish’s huge win in Norman over the Sooners. Like most of America who pays attention to the sport, I imagined that Oklahoma would stomp a mud hole into Brian Kelley’s team- Stoop’s defense, high powered offense… not exactly playing Air Force here. So, because the Irish emerged victorious, undefeated, and “relevant” enough to bump up to the third ranking spot in the BCS, I tip my journalistic cap to them- particularly their defense, which is playing lights out this season. Although they gave up their first* (non-official assisted) rushing touchdown to Oklahoma, they were able to keep Sooner QB Landry Jones guessing all night long. That’s not to say that we’re not without some controversy, as the “luck of the Irish” continued when Heisman Candidate Manti Te’o intercepted the Sooners late in the game to seal away the victory. Your perspective of the play will depend on your hopes prior to the game- Irish fans were elated, others thought that the initial play was a case of pass interference resulting in a ball that clearly touched the ground. At any rate, complaining about the officiating is better left to other fan bases; the Irish are undefeated, and have overcome all but one of the games that had people pointing to theirs as the toughest schedule in college football. Congrats indeed.
Although… How much of this gets pinned on Bob Stoops? “Big Game Bob”, as we’ve discussed before, has built a reputation on an early BCS championship and his ability to beat his rival. However, given the state of his rival over the past few years, is it really fair to continue to give him a pass for his team’s coming up short in these types of games? The loss to Notre Dame is the second at home this year… although, to be fair, both teams are undefeated currently. So, Sooner fans- enjoy that BCS win over Connecticut a few years back, and hope that things can get turned around in the B12 for your squadron in the near future.
Since we alluded to them, let’s talk Texas, shall we? It took some late game heroics by a McCoy (no, not that one) to keep from being beaten by Kansas. You read that correctly… the Jayhawks and their “Coach by weight” strategy were within seconds of beating the Longhorns and turning the heat even higher up on coach Mack Brown. I’m not one to jump on a dead bandwagon- check out the great “post a picture of our defense” thread on Shaggy Bevo- but I still can’t figure out how the flagship school in one of the most talent rich states in the nation continues to struggle on the field. Granted, it may be the competition in the conference and adjacent conferences, but you’ve got to think they’d be able to be successful whether or not there’s a prodigy at quarterback.
Also in the B12, Kansas State, the new #3 in the BCS continues to roll, playing even with Texas Tech for a half and then making the adjustment necessary to blow out the Raiders in Lubbock. Read More
The weak that was and I pulled an 0′fer and am 3 and 12 on the season! Atleast Im doing a little better in the Pick ‘em pool!!! Anyone want to replace me as the the picker for these contest games? Here are the results of my worst weak week ever!!!
Safe Bet. VTU over PITT 31 to 6; Role reversal and WRONG! PITT 35 to 17 (Some other time Fat Urkel)
Points Plus. Mizzou over Arizona St. 43 to 39; wrong on points Mizzou 24 to 20
Defensive Struggle. Navy over Penn St. 9 to 7; WRONG AGAIN!! PSU 34 to 7
Best Match-up. USC over Stanford 34 to 28; Glad I was WRONG Stanford 21 to 14
Best B1G Game. MSU over Notre Lame 24 to 17; Sparty WRONGED me! ND 20 to 3
Ok… here’s what you’ve got for this week:
Safe Bet. Maryland @ WVU. I’ll take WVU and the points here. Now that the Heisman front runner Geno Smith and his streaks in shoes Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are firing on all cylinders in that high powered offense, they’ll take care of business quickly. Edsell’s Terp’s are still learning the ropes and have little chance of competing in this game. I was wron about my safe bet last week, but not this week. WVU 47 to 13
Points Plus. Fresno St. @ Tulsa. The Bulldogs hung 69 points last week on Colorado and the Golden Hurricanes blew through Nicholls St. for the tune of 66 points. The last time these two teams met in 2005 they combined for 55 points. I’d say the over in this match up is close to double that. Basketball on turf for sure. Fresno St. 54 to 49
Defensive Struggle. Rutgers @ Arkansas. I honestly am not too sure there is much left of John L. Smith and the Razorbacks after the Tide dismantled and blanked them last week. There isn’t help on the way in the form of the Scarlet Knights thoughas they are undefeated on the season and atop the Big Least standings. I’m not sure any of that means anything. Going with the gut feeling here. Arkansas 16 to 10
Best Match-up. Clemson @ Florida St. In my ACC preview I pretty much said it would come down to the man that beat the man that beat the . . , and here we go. If the home team holds pat, which I don’t believe they will, then FSU will become a front runner to possibly play the winner of the SEC championship for the national title. That being said, the ACC has a habit of beating up on each other in these types of games and ruining each others seasons. Its a tough place to play for sure but I still like Clemson to play for it in the end. Clemson 21 to 17
Best B1G Game. TTUN @ Notre Lame. It’s killing me that I have had to use these guys three weeks in a row and it’s even worse now that I have to chose between them and TTUN. Now that Notre Lame is finally leaving the B1G . . , oh wait . . , the Big Least . . , no . . , whatever, they’re headed to the ACC and good riddens! Two things I will never do, pick a TTUN team to win anything, nor will I ever root for them. Notre Lame 24 to 23
Good luck with this week’s picks and Go Bucks!
Finally my turn to get into the action, with writing a bowl preview. Always fun to watch football games in baseball stadiums.
The Basics: Friday, December 30th from Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY at 3:30 PM EST. The game will be televised on ESPN pitting Iowa St (6-6) vs. Rutgers (8-4).
History: Last year saw the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee stadium, which has tie ins to the Big East and Big 12. The Inaugural game last year saw Syracuse defeat KSU in a thriller.
Iowa St: The Cyclones are led by freshmen standout signal caller Jared Barnett. He put opponents on their heels both through the air and on the ground. Don’t let their record fool you as Barnett didn’t take over the job till October, when he led them to 3 straight victories. Obviously this team will be remembered for their huge upset win over then #2 Okie State and held them out of the National Championship game. While Barnett had a huge game against the Pokes, he was highly inaccurate thorughout the year only completing 50% of his passes, so he may struggle against a very good Rutgers defense.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights will lean heavily on their defense in this one. Their tough D allowed only 18.75 points per game which was good for 12th in the country and 314 yds of total offense, which put them 14 nationally. Their D is led by Big East defense POY Khaseem Greene who was tops in the Big East in tackles with 127. Rutgers offense will also be led by a freshmen signal caller Gary Nova. He took over midway through the season and started the last 5 games leading the team in 1533 yds and 11 td passes. Nova will have a big time target to throw the ball to in WR Mohamed Sanu who set a Big East single season record with 109 catches. That landed him fifth in the nation. They will have to lean heavily on Nova and Sanu , as they had a very anemic running game averaging under a 100 yds/game. Iowa State’s putrid defense may allow for Rutgers to get on track on the ground tho. Rutgers will be playing in a bowl game for the 6th time in the last 7 years. Look for Rutgers to come out strong in this one as they will essentially be playing in their own back yard.
Fun Fact: In only the bowl games 2nd year this year there aren’t alot of facts about the bowl game, but Yankee stadium has been the host to some great moments in football history. Did you know that the what is considered” the greatest football game ever played” was played at Yankee statdium. The NFL championship game Dec 23, 1958 between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts.
Who we got?
However, we like to keep it upbeat here at TWTW, so this week’s post was written with this R&B classic in mind.
In many ways, this was a weekend to forget, as eight members of the top twenty lost, several to unranked opponents. As disheartening as that might be, it’s crucial to remember the important truth of the matter, to keep things in perspective.
One team that no one should be overlooking at this point is the Clemson Tigers- In consecutive weeks, they’ve beaten a Florida State team who took Oklahoma to the wire and yesterday made an undefeated Virginia Tech look sloppy. While you can argue that the ACC as a conference is not the strongest in the country, something has gotten into Dabo Sweeny and his team is playing accordingly. Currently, they’re sitting at #8 in both polls, but with some head to head matchups between the teams above them and only a game against South Carolina during the rest of the season, don’t be surprised if the Tigers aren’t in the national title conversation.
Well, after a loss there really is only one choice for this week’s soundtrack… Just be thankful I didn’t go all Broadway on you. I know that there were exciting things on the field to talk about, but the big story brings us to…
This week in EXPAND-A-PALOOZA: Well, well, well- Saturday awoke to the ACC getting their big boy pants on, and Sunday it became official- Pitt and Syracuse would be joining the conference in all sports. This was a surprising move, since the ACC has been relatively quiet throughout this process, although last week the powers that be agreed to raise the conference buyout to $20 million (from $12-$14 mil). While it looks proactive in many ways, it’s got to be influenced by rumors that the SEC was looking to poach several schools (FSU/Clemson) from the conference. The addition of Pitt and Syracuse also effectively block the B1G; these programs were always in the minds of those who believed that B1G Commish Jim Delaney was looking to connect with the NY media market- that ship may have now sailed. As a reminder, the B1G is constrained, in a good way from my perspective, by the belief that the conference’s affiliations should transcend television dollars or “great matchups”, and include schools that are parts of the CIC or AAU to share research revenue opportunities.
Other rumors today are that TBPU, OU, UT, and TTU would head to the PAC-16 and be in a western division with Utah, Colorado, and the two Arizona schools. To solve the problem of “not playing in California” for recruiting purposes, the conference would move to a “pod” system that would have teams playing three other schools every year, and then two schools from the other two pods on a rotating basis. Yeah, it’s that complicated. Be aware, though, that UT folks were just in LA for the UCLA game (more later), and that UT and OU have board of regents meetings called for Monday, with Texas having “Conference Alignment” on the agenda.
Elsewheres, UConn has also been rumored to head to the ACC (holy cow, is that going to be a basketball powerhouse conference), while WVa is rumored to have submitted it’s petition to be the SEC’s #14. Where does that leave the B1G? Notre Dame/Rutgers/Mizzou are supposedly the next targets… although the CIC/AAU thing is still a strong draw for some who are connected to Longhorn Nation.
Oh, and if the insiders at a certain Northwestern message board are to be believed, ESPN is at the heart of this. Anyone else curious how media conglomerates became involved in the actions of institutions of higher education? And you thought the “coverage” of B1G sports by the four letter network had an agenda now… what do you think will happen when three of the four super-conferences have deals with Bristol’s network. Now THAT’s something congress should look into, if you ask me- particularly given the fact that the organization that was created to monitor and guide these matters is pretty much powerless on top of other issues.
Note: As I was typing this, news broke of the Japanese earthquake. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people in the entire Pacific rim… give a bit of perspective about what might be important in life.
Can’t blame Buckeye fans for being a little out of the loop regarding other news in the world of college sports… here’s a quick recap:
Elsewhere in the NCAA- Hey! Guess What! There were other stories about NCAA institutions that might be outside of the realm of “okee-dokee-ness”.
Tressel, Another Perspective- With the media barrage that’s out there, it might be good to hear at least a couple of voices that support The Vest.
Yup, it was a difficult weekend… but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a spot of fun, right?
Not a good Saturday around the old Casa Del Mali, which started when Nebraska found out that the option doesn’t work against a defense with speed. This would normally be the part where I pointed out that having a freshman quarterback as your starter is never a good idea, but I really like not sleeping on the couch. What was particularly surprising was the successes that the Longhorns had against the Blackshirts- and this is a rebuilding year for Mack Brown’s team.
The missus was able to keep her sense of humor throughout, though, commenting that she wished that there were three more Acho brothers playing so there could be Acho Cinco. Your humble correspondent is grateful that his internal filter kept the “Nebraska can’t block the two that do exist” comment inside his head.
Wait- I just typed that. Crap. Well, the couch is closer to the TV…
Also in LaLa land, Southern Cal absolutely destroyed Cal. Bears, are you sure you want to cut baseball and your national champion rugby program to save this? I’d love to see the Trojans back into a conference title, which would make the bowl ban that much sweeter. Although, I’m sure that we’d see some “undefeated in bowl play” t-shirts around the beaches and traffic jams. Read More
Jim Tressel and company does not need me to tell them what Iowa’s weaknesses are. They already know. But since I did the research, I’d better spread the knowledge, because who knows….maybe one of my readers has no idea what that weakness might be.
It’s their run defense. Iowa is not capable of slowing down a running game, and Ohio State will exploit that weakness ALL day. So expect to see a LOT of Antonio Pittman. We will be using the run to set up the pass on Saturday night. As soon as Iowa starts to panic and draw their defense in to stop Pittman, Smith will go over their heads. Count on it.
Now, that’s the type of prognostication that you can read on any troll-filled message board, which NEVER supplies any type of proof. It’s just written as fact, and no background on WHY it’s true is ever needed.
Not in MY House, Buckeye fans……here’s how I know that Iowa’s run defense is their biggest weakness.
Last week, Illinois rushed for 121 yards against Iowa. Prior to that, the Illini rushed for only 97 yards against lowly Syracuse and a mere 66 yards against up-and-coming Rutgers.
The week before that, Iowa State pounded out 171 yards on the ground against the Hawkeyes. That was the Cyclones’ best rushing game of the season, after compiling 137 yards against UNLV, but only managing 21 yards on the ground against Texas.
I wouldn’t dare say that Iowa State or Illinois have anything NEAR a decent rushing attack….and they both had better games on the ground against Iowa than they did against teams like UNLV, Syracuse and Rutgers. ISU showed that when they face a good defense, they can’t run (21 yards against Texas???), but ran like wildfire all over the Hawkeyes.
There it is….that’s your key. They have a young, small defensive line. Pound on it early and often. Wear them down as HARD as you can. Force Ferentz to bring 8 men into the box to stop Pittman and the Wells’ boys. Then let GinnZoBiskie go to town.
By the way, I just put a copyright on the term “GinnZoBiskie”. Any descriptions or accounts without the expressed written consent on the BBC is strictly prohibited.