Ah, fall… the wind turns brisk and in Los Angeles the birds turn colors and fall from the trees (ht: David Letterman). We talked last week about “pumpkinitis” that’s sweeping the country… some people are taking it seriously. Instead of subjecting yourself to such a task, take time to kick back with some new tunes and enjoy a great weekend in college sports.
In case you haven’t noticed (and if you haven’t, please PLEASE let me know how you’re managing to pull that off), it’s election season. And you thought the BCS was complicated and overwrought… three more weeks, people. You can do it.
“But Mali- there’s never been politics on tBBC… what gives?”
That’s a fine point, but it’s the only way I could think of to lead into this week’s “marquee” matchup. Given how much they like football, I’m sure that there was some tension on the Romney/Ryan campaign bus when Notre Dame and BYU squared off in South Bend. (See, ’cause one candidate is a Mormon and the other is a Catholic… oh, nevermind.) Yup, The Golden Domers met the People of the Golden Plates, with the former looking to continue their undefeated season. The Cougars managed to do something that was pretty rare this season, and scored an offensive touchdown against a resurgent Irish defense, led by Heisman (?) candidate linebacker Manti Te’o. It wasn’t enough, though, as they fell to .500 in a 17-14 loss to Brian Kelly’s team, who was led by backup quarterback Tommy Rees’ and his one completed pass after halftime. So, yeah- that Notre Dame fan in your office has yet another week to be a bit boisterous regarding his fifth ranked favorite squadron.
In order to make sure I cover both sides of the 2012 election, here. Ok, I’m done talking religion and politics… you can come back now.
On the topic of mistakes that I’ve made recently, I’m more than willing to acknowledge that my purchasing the hype regarding West Virginia was misguided. They still seem to be a Big lEast team of sorts, where defense is even more optional than it has been in the B12 lately. This isn’t to take anything away from the October Heisman frontrunner; Colin Klein has rightfully taken the crown from Mr. September, particularly in their “head to head” contest on Saturday. The Wildcats now sit at 7-0 , and even managed to jump Oregon in the BCS rankings this week, all the way up to #3. While I won’t argue with the BCS… At least Oregon beat a team this week that had a defensive pulse. We’ve not seen that from West Virginia, so it’s hard to assess Kansas State’s victory fully. Hooray subjectivity!
Although this is traditionally a “Saturday” wrap up, the truth of the matter is that Thursday’s game between the Ducks and Arizona State was pretty freaking impressive. After an initial ASU score, Oregon cranked up it’s offensive game and scored 43 points before there was even ten minutes left in the second quarter. Mercifully, they pulled back the horses at that point- although, they certainly could have kept rolling if they chose to… when a team scores on a two point conversion this easily, you’ve got to know that they are only stopping themselves for the rest of the game. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Chip Kelly was pissed that his team was only ranked third in last week’s BCS- since they actually fell one slot this week, I’m afraid to see what happens to this week’s
victim opponent. Read More
In a week that was seen as a “meh” on the national scene, it was nonetheless a great Saturday for football. Here’s today’s soundtrack, inspired by Coach Meyer’s comments following the clash with Michigan State.
Well, it may have been the weekend before October, but it certainly was another chance for folks to show off their new costumes.. some for better and some for worse. Let’s start in Lincoln.
Proving yet again that they’re better geared as a soccer kit provider, Adidas decided that the game between Nebraska and Wisconsin would be a great opportunity for all the children of the world to bone up on either their periodic table or their consonants. Huge thanks to our friend Grant at Buckeye Empire for the in-game screencap that you see on the right… it wasn’t quite that bad, but pretty close. Watching the game was pretty traumatic, to be honest… way too many flashbacks… and it shows that this week’s matchup will be another major test for both teams. We’ll obviously have much more on the Cornhuskers this week, but if that’s what “skipping rocks” looks like, it might be a long night in Columbus.
Also in B1G play, the “Meandering Illini” were outfitted with some new duds as they welcomed Penn State to the wind tunnel that is Memorial Stadium. I’m torn on the “matte” helmet look- I really like it, until it gets scuffed. Then? It looks pretty junior varsity… and as a lineman, I can’t imagine a non-scuffed helmet. In the days leading up to this game, you just knew there’s be a lot of paint being traded on both sides; Illinois looking to rebound from their embarrassment against Louisiana Tech, and Penn State looking to rebound from… well… everything. Add the “Illinois sent assistant coaches to Happy Valley” angle, as well as two coaches looking to make a statement in their first conference openers, you’ve got to figure that these teams would look for every opportunity to put a lot of points on the other. Unfortunately for Coach Beckman, that ended up being pretty one sided 35-7 loss. Read More
This week’s soundtrack is colorful, but has a bit of a different taste to it: trust me, it makes total sense in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy… language warning.
There’s no denying it… one group of conference-mates had an incredibly difficult Saturday.
Positioned for excellence, and featured in a number of nationally significant matchups, the on the field results just did not help dissuade the critics who argue that they have lost their prestige, and are rightfully scorned by college fans across the country. Once seen as powerful contenders for titles, it seems as if the results on Saturday have shown that the game may have passed them by.
Yup, it was a terrible day for the Big 12 expats. Who did you think I was talking about?
Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska all dropped matches on Saturday, with two of these being significant “upsets” in terms of rankings and so forth. The Aggies, after a week full of bravado regarding their new allegiance to the “we can spell three letter words” conference, saw the early lead against Florida disappear in the waning moments of the game, and couldn’t count on Kyle Field to help carry the day. You’ve got to wonder if the different understanding of the word “cheerleader” might have had something to do with it. Ah well, you know they’ll just say that they won later… it’s the SEC way.
Missouri also opened SEC play by welcoming Georgia to play between the… uh… rocks in Columbia. The Bulldawgs emerged victorious, but you’re right in realizing that Mizzou is excited to be in a new home. There were too many Longhorns in the last one, and the B1G never returned their phone calls, so you can’t blame them for being OK with a loss in their prestigious opener. So excited about the new opportunities were they, that they broke out their new school clothes… or someone else’s old school clothes from when they were in the Arena League. As goofy as they looked, though, they didn’t win our “awkward haberdashery of the week award”… more later.
Ah, CoLOLorado… See, here’s how it works. You schedule a FCS opponent in the pre-season, you get them at home, you beat them and build up your alumni/student confidence in your program = profit. But, the Buffs are constricted by no man’s social norms, and instead chose to allow the mighty Hornets of Sacramento State to kick a field goal with time expiring and upset the Buffs in Boulder. I’m sure the fans will have to find some way to console their grief.
Which brings us to Nebraska. Read More
Sure, there’s games on Monday, but the weekend has been so amazing that we just couldn’t wait to get back in the saddle for our reflections on the games of note. Plus, are we really all that excited about a game that’s all technical and stuff? I thought not. Obvious choice for this week’s soundtrack… happy Labor Day.
Whew… I’ve got to admit, I should have been working out with Coach Mick during the offseason. Saturday found me trying to knock the rust off of my college football regimen, although I can definitely say that I was well hydrated. I’m guessing that’s what happened during the livechat- I hadn’t prepared enough, and brought the jinxation. You can breathe a sigh of relief, though- when I caught the replay on Sunday, my presence made no difference in the outcome… Baby steps, right?
From the looks of things, a number of teams were still in “preseason” form, and didn’t have their moves down pat just yet. For instance, while I’m sure that Dabo Swinney’s mom is sure proud of him for leading his fellers to victory over North Carolina State, she certainly couldn’t have been too excited that his first steps leading the team onto the turf ended up in a faceplant. That, combined with this excellent display of exuberance are enough to remind Volunteer fans that their team still has some work to do. Which is good… no one likes to peak during the first weekend of games- well, no one outside of the B1G, that is (more later).
Some of the butterflies were even evident in the Southern Idaho State University trip to East Lansing. Sure, the B1G represented well, as Michigan State showed many why they are a favorite for the conference title… but the game turned out to be “off-script” for both teams. For instance, no matter how hard they tried, Rob Harley’s new squadron couldn’t “Sparty” the game away. Shocker. Oh, and SISU broke their streak of beating out of conference teams when they have a ridiculously long time to prepare… effectively ending their bid at a BCS bowl until they join a legitimate BCS conference in the Big Eas…. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t bring myself to type that. The game also gave us a pretty amazing interception- as always, Tim Burke has ALL the great screencaps and stuff from the weekend’s events.
Saturday’s festivities kicked off with Notre Dame pounding the living stuffing out of Navy in their game in the Emerald Isle… Brian Kelly, why you no like America? And then, your boys let this happen?
Man, back in my day, we fought revolutions for less <adjusts tricorner cap>. Read More
In the calm before the storm… it’s midweek mayhem.
The rest of the week will be dedicated to hoops, particularly the matchup with folks from Cincy, but I thought I’d drop a little mascot knowledge on you. While that thing above may technically be a “bearcat”, I’m still convinced that the official team name should be “UChickFilAs.” According to some, it’s a version of a wolverine found in Asia, so strike two. And finally, the pajamas… with stripes… like the Bengals, but not like a bearcat. Ah well- if you want good UC coverage, you’ll need to go to the source.
The Scoops In Hoops
All of this pain, it multiples by 50 when you see a player like Robbie Hummel break down.
His career, his unbelievable and shining career at Purdue has come to an end. All of those clutch shots, all of those hustle plays, they’re all memories from now on.
But those memories have left a legacy on a program that needed something. Purdue Basketball NEEDED something to re-energize it.We were blessed to have #4 for FIVE years. We didn’t make it to any Final Fours, we didn’t win any National Championships…but we didn’t have to.
We won SO MUCH more than a trophy in the last five years at Purdue. We won excitement, memories, moments. Those stand the test of time, you can’t put that on a trophy.
The Basics: Tuesday, January 2, 2012, 8:30 PM EST on ESPN, from Glendale. Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1 Big Integer) and Stanford (11-1, 8-1 PAC12).
Steve, our regular season picks champion, just happens to also be a Stanford season ticket holder, and gives us his rationale for the Cardinal’s sure victory. Be sure to check out the counterpoint!
At the beginning of the season I posted the following to poke a little fun at my Ohio State family:
To my Buckeye friends, Last year I wished I could afford tickets to see a BCS bowl champion, with a returning Heisman candidate QB, playing for a highly successful coach with experience in 2 levels of college football, playing in a recently renovated state of the art stadium. Sadly that coach is no longer with the team, but today my dream came true. I bought season tickets to watch Andrew Luck play for Stanford and they only cost me $240 … for 6 games … for all 4 members of my family. “All … Right … Now!”
It has truly been a magical year on The Farm and since all Stanford football conversations start with Andrew Luck let’s get that out of the way early. He’s good, seriously he makes playing QB look easy, his tears have the ability to grow hair on bald men and he makes a mean western omelet.
I would love to tell you that it’s not just him, that there are all kinds of offensive threats around him. The 3-headed TE corps of Fleener, Toilolo and Ertz, the 1,100 yard back Stepfan Taylor, the strong ground game of Gafney, Wilkerson and Stewart, and the speedy sure-handed receivers Griff Whelan, Chris Owusu and Ty Montgomery. But from where I sat this year, it was pretty easy to see how it is Luck that makes them all better.
When the Cardinal has the ball, look for Luck to exploit any TE mismatches. 19 of his 35 touchdowns have gone to one of the big 3. With Ertz out and Toilolo around 70% for Oregon much of the gameplan was gone and offensive output suffered. Watching one of the 3 go down field and take on a much shorter/smaller DB is excruciatingly fun. Sadly Owusu’s concussion against Oregon State probably sealed a once promising career but, Luck’s roommate Whelan and Freshman Ty Montgomery have filled in well. The hidden gem of the Cardinal attack is the running game. 2nd in the Pac 12 (passing was 6th btw) in yards per game, the running game owes much to the attention opposing defenses pay to Luck. All of this behind a front line with 2 2-time all Pac 12 OLs that gives up less than 1 sack per game and against the 83rd ranked rushing and 107th ranked total defense in the country. If I were Luck, I would have stayed in school for that too.
On defense the story is going to be simple, limit the big plays. OSU will be unable to move the ball on the ground. Period. I am sure they could care less. They will throw the ball and to tell you the truth it’s the part of this game that has me the most scared. The secondary has allowed over 250 yards in the air for 6 of the last 7 games with the sole exception being Oregon who didn’t need it. The DBs will need to come up with 1 or 2 stops because conceivably that is all it will take. I fear this mostly because of all the unnecessary big gainers given up to the likes of Washington State, Colorado, Washington, Berkely and Notre Dame not to mention Oregon and USC. A lack of effective running here may allow for extra help in the secondary.
This will be one of those high scoring affairs, but not one of the, “last one with the ball wins” types. This will be more, “he who makes the least number of mistakes wins.” Luck is human and has shown he can make the wrong decision on occasion. He threw 6 of his 9 interceptions in the last 5 games of the season, threw 2 against a much faster Duck D and almost cost the USC game with a late pick-6. Keep the Pokes offense off the field, cause +1 or more in turnover margin, and let Andrew be Andrew and everything will work out fine. As the say in Palo Alto, “Give ‘em the axe!”
The Basics: Tuesday, January 2, 2012, 8:30 PM EST on ESPN, from Glendale. Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1 Big Integer) and Stanford (11-1, 8-1 PAC12).
Well, our Midwestern correspondent checks in with one side of the debate… yeah, he’s biased. Be sure to check out the counterpoint a bit later this evening.
Everyone knows about the stars, Luck, Weeden, Blackmon, but where I think this game will be won or lost is where most games are won and lost, along the lines and on defense. Oklahoma State has one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation in Joe Wickline. Last year he took 5 new starters and turned them into the best performing line in the Big 12, which is saying a lot with the other linemen in the conference. This season, he added 2 other linemen to this mix and again has a dominating line. This is why, in my opinion, OSU has one of the top offenses in the country. It’s not surprising that the only hiccup this year was when the line had their worst game. If the O-Line performs as it has for two seasons, I find it hard pressed that Stanford will be able to keep the Cowboys under 30.
This leads me to my next key of the game: The Defense. Much has been written about how bad (statistically) this side of the Cowboys team has been. However, look at it this way: They held 5 top 25 offenses below 30 points (3 of these games were on the road), and two potential top 10 draft picks (RG3 and Landry Jones) to 1 TD and 7 turnovers. Now many will say neither of these players is Andrew Luck. I’m sure they are not, but the Cowboys have fared just fine going up against top offenses all season. Some will also say holding an offense to under 30 shouldn’t be highlighted. Based on my first point, if Stanford doesn’t score 30, OSU wins, because I don’t believe Standford will hold the Cowboys under that number. Nobody has done that all season, and I don’t see the Stanford Cardinal doing it either.
Finally, I look at Stanford’s loss, Oregon. Not only did they lose, they lost BIG and at home. I watched this game from start to finish and what stood out was how slow Stanford looked, again AT HOME. Oklahoma State is very similar to Oregon…they spread you out, are crazy up-tempo, and then pass and run depending on how you line up. Also, like the ducks, they are VERY fast at the skill positions. I see more of the same happening to Stanford in this year’s version of the Party Bowl.
My prediction, Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 31. Oh, for kicks and giggles, Alabama beats LSU 4-3 with a safety as time expires. Now what do we have…3 one loss teams. And I say the Oklahoma State Cowboys are the AP National Champion! Hey, why not, because none of us buy into the BCS anyway.
For the last TWTW of the season, I was digging deep for musical inspiration. While I’ve been playing the new Black Keys album non-stop, I wanted to find something that encapsulated the anticipation and pleading that so many are involved in these day- all looking toward a special event at the first of the year. So, here you go.
For what was supposed to be the pinnacle of the college football regular season, this week’s games were incredibly disappointing. Not for the action on the field- there were a lot of spectacular plays and performances, but the behind the controversies that impacted the games overshadowed the work of coaches and players.
Let’s start with Friday Night’s clash in Eugene. While the Fighting Neuheisels went out guns blazing (or pop guns popping) and managed to keep the game under the 30 point spread, the subtext for the entire matchup was that this game was not the “legitimate” Pac-12 title game: The Southern Cal Trojans, who had beaten both of these teams, sat idle due to the Reggie Bush situation and the NCAA’s response. So, after all of the realignment and festivities, even Oregon’s big win has a dented trophy as for the case in Phil Knight’s house.
That’s not to say that there weren’t fireworks in the game- check out Friday’s “Catch Of The Day” from UCLA’s Nelson Rosario: