The Week That Were: 2013 Championship Weekend

Written December 9th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

Look, I know it’s the holiday season and all that, but I’m not feeling it just yet. Here’s some Ella if you’re in a similar mood this Monday.

And so it ends… not with a bang, but a whimper. Not for everyone, but for fanbases who entered Saturday with significant postseason aspirations, the doors gently shut on both those dreams and on their season.

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We Know The Feeling

While TWTW is usually reserved for Saturday’s festivities, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Northern Illinois started the slide on Friday; poised for a shot at another possible BCS bid, the Huskies fell for the first time all season in the MAC championship. And not just “fell”, but were beaten by 2o points by Bowling Green in a game that cost the Falcons (and the other non-qualifying schools) some pretty major cash.

Saturday’s early slate started with some Bedlam, a game where anything can happen and often does- this year in the form of an earthquake during a field goal attempt.

As a rivalry game, you throw the records and season results out the window, as any Ohio State or Michigan fan can tell you. And while TBPU looked to be the easy favorite, icy conditions and the passion of their cross state rivals kept this from being an easy match.

While both teams struggled to score early on, Oklahoma tied things up in the third following a fake field goal that may or may not have happened before the play clock expired. No call, though, so on we went.

Much like last week’s game in Ann Arbor, OkSU drove down the field with relative ease at the end of the game, and scored with time left on the clock in spite of our warnings. And, you can guess what happened- Oklahoma managed a length of the field drive to score which left only enough time for the Northwestern-esque “throw the ball around and hope for the best” play, and like NU, Oklahoma State’s efforts were interrupted and scored upon.

Nice Aim

Nice Aim

Check out the gif on the left there; this is after the spread-covering score, and you can see both a Cowboy cheerleader attempt to trip a jubilant Sooner and also notice that some happy fan has decided to huck a snowball at the field toward the end of the clip.

That’s what it means to be in a rivalry game… it’s bigger than just a regular loss, particularly when you fall at home and fall out of the BCS.  I’m sure that excitement and emotion were behind the Sooner player’s decision to go full Marcus Hall on the Cowboy fan, and am certainly looking forward to them being benched for the entirety of their next game, the way that Hall was. And, media folks, feel free to spend hours discussing how classless this play was and what Stoops should do.  You’ve obviously got nothing else to talk about.

With the Cowboys’ falling in Stillwater, the late afternoon game between Texas and Baylor became the defacto Big12-2 Championship matchup. Let that roll around in your head for a minute- Mack Brown, who may be on his way out after yet another disappointing season, was one game away from a Conference Title and a BCS bid.

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Filled With The Spirit?

And yet, it was not to be… after a close first half, Baylor made the plays that it’s executed so well all season and pulled away from Texas to win their first conference title in forever. Given that they’re opening a new stadium next year and just signed their coach to a sizable extension, it’s quite possible that we haven’t heard the end of celebrations in Waco.

And their reward? A trip to Phoenix to face the University of Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl… the same UCF that held off SMU to win on Saturday. That game ain’t going to be pretty, folks.

By now, Buckeye fans know all to well that Auburn will be playing in the National Title game against Florida State. Poised in the computers to leap Ohio State with a blowout win against Missouri, the resurgent Tigers (no, the other ones) handled the B12-2′s SEC East’s finest handily in Atlanta on Saturday, in a game that seemed to be played with an understanding that each team was required to ration their tackles (perhaps the same memo OSU got?).

Best Tackle All Day. Seriously.

Best Tackle All Game. Seriously.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t any controversy on the way to the SEC crown. One of Missouri’s early scores was on a long pass that clearly was not fully possessed by the receiver- I have no idea how that wasn’t overturned. Later, an Auburn player pushed Missouri’s Josey out of bounds after the running back had another long scamper, and the shove caused Josey to hit a nearby cart and miss the remainder of the game.

Auburn’s win meant that, should one of the top two teams fall, they would be in. Florida State started first in their epic clash against the Duke Blue Devils, and managed to go the entire first quarter without a score.

That was about it, though- the Seminoles managed to roll up a 45-7 win and punch their tickets to Pasadena, while Winston possibly scheduled a trip to New York to pick up some hardware. It’ll be interesting to see if we get a 2006 repeat- an undefeated team with a Heisman Trophy QB against a one-loss SEC program who “backed in” to the title game.  That’s all I remember about the 2006 game… and I’m not listening if you try to give me any further facts.

No Roses For You

Roses? Not so fast…

Which brings us to Indianapolis. As if Ohio State fans didn’t have enough reasons to hate Sports Illustrated, this week’s decision to put Braxton on a regional cover added the Buckeyes to the list of Oregon, Alabama, and Baylor as teams who lost the week following their cover appearance.  Splendid.

Look, my thoughts on the game are probably the same as the rest of Buckeye Nation:

  • Hats off to Michigan State, whose defense played the way that Ohio State defenses used to play. Wonder why that is… What I wouldn’t give to have one of their DBs in the scarlet and gray.
  • Hats off to Sparty, too, for offensively game planning a perfect scheme to attack Ohio State’s weaknesses in the secondary, and to Connor Cook for the poise that he showed in the passing game. Enjoy California, Dino and folks… remember, it’s not too far of a drive for your offensive line coach to visit some family.
  • I’m as confused as the rest of you are about the Ohio State gameplan, particularly when it looked like our bread and butter were working. I understand the idea of getting Carlos into space against MSU’s secondary, but when every empty set led to a QB draw/counter, then it takes away the mystery. And mid-range passing? Does everything have to be a bomb?
  • “Frustrated” only partially covers my thoughts on the secondary’s play this past year… I’m not smart enough to figure out if it’s a scheme thing or a personnel issue or coaching, and I’ve read all three from the “experts” that make up Ohio State bulletin boards. I know that linebacker is something that Urban has identified as a “need”, so I’m just going to trust that this will improve overall in the coming season.

Again, no disrespect to Ben Affleck or to Michigan State, but it feels more like Ohio State let this one get away from them than the Spartans “took” it. While I’d prefer that it was the Buckeyes in Pasadena, I’m still excited to see Michigan State play Stanford in the 100th edition of the Rose Bowl.

Stanford won their rematch with Arizona State in a walk in front of less than stellar crowds. While some blame the “rematch” factor for poor attendance, I believe that it’s due to these being hosted on campus… as nice as that is for the home team, this time of year the trend is to allow fans the chance to travel to somewhere new. I’m conflicted on this, since I believe that any future Championship Expansion should consider home stadiums, but I also understand that there’s a huge money factor involved from tourism and so forth.

RICE1

The “Bowl-Bloat” Culprit

And that’s the heart of the silly season that we’re getting ready to enter- schools will pay lots of money for the “privileged” of making cash for television networks and tax exempt “bowl committees”; and only one game will “matter”, other than the contrived “Bowl Challenge” that the four letter network has created without consideration of even-matchups. When there are so many bowls that more than 50% of FBS teams get to go, is it really an honor?

That being said, this year should be a pretty good one for the B1G- in looking across the Bowl Landscape, there are only a few games that don’t feel like solid contests.  See what you think:

  • Rose Bowl, Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. BCS/Pac-12): Michigan State vs. Stanford
  • Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: (ACC vs. BCS): Ohio State vs. Clemson
  • Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. SEC): Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
  • Outback Bowl, Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. SEC): Iowa vs. LSU
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28 (Big Ten vs. Big 12): Michigan vs. Kansas State
  • Gator Bowl, Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. SEC): Nebraska vs. Georgia
  • Texas Bowl, Dec. 27 (Big Ten vs. Big 12): Minnesota vs. Syracuse

The BCS games, then, would be Florida State/Auburn, Michigan State/Stanford, Ohio State/Clemson, Oklahoma/Alabama, and (bleh) Central Florida/Baylor.

All in all, a great set of excuses to gather friends and family for the holidays and then ignore them to watch TV. We’ll have breakdowns of each of these matchups in the coming days, as well as full coverage of Ohio State’s trip to Miami in an attempt to exorcise Charlie Bauman’s specter.

But with that… The Week That Were draws to a close for yet another season. Thanks for playing along with us all fall, and for being a part of tBBC Family. We’ll close with a bit of nostalgia to get you ready for Miami:

The Week That Were: 11.30.13

Written December 2nd, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

As we enter the last week of college football’s regular season, this song is running through my mind. Plus, I was on #TeamCourtney from the moment she got on stage with Bruce.

If the pounds of fried turkey and sweet potato pie that you ate on Thursday didn’t give you a heart attack, this week’s college football games certainly were going to do their damnedest to finish the job.

Photo Courtesy of Josh Winslow

Rivalries, by nature, raise the blood pressure of those involved… if they didn’t it would be called a “friendly tiff” or an “untimely spat”. Add the magnitude of what was on the line for some teams, and you’ve surely got the makings for one of the most memorable weekends of the year, if not all times.

We’ve already discussed the awesomeness that was the victory in The Game, and join the rest of Buckeye Nation in sending Tyvis Powell the kinds of “thank you” that would be approved by the NCAA. TWTW doesn’t often spend time rehashing Buckeye wins, but man… that’s one to savor. Right, Eddie?

Kudos to Coach Hoke and his team in their preparation and gameplan, and for the decision to go for it all at the end. It didn’t work out, but it was a great call.  Kudos to Devin Gardner as well- after a rough year, and on a bad wheel, he really put it all on the line for his team. I’m not gloating, but that’s how the game is meant to be played… win or lose, you leave everything on the field.

While I’m here, I can’t figure out how only one of these guys was ejected from the game, and that it wasn’t the first one to throw a punch (#34). The Buckeye reaction was understandable, but inappropriate given the program and the magnitude of the game. That being said, if you’re looking for Christmas gifts for me…

But this amazing weekend started well before kickoff in Ann Arbor. Thursday’s rivalry action in the Egg Bowl saw an injured quarterback enter into Mississippi State legend status, leading his team to an overtime win with a touchdown run on fourth and 1 from near the goal-line. Sometimes, gutsy calls work out for the home team.  Also on Thursday, Texas fans saw another big win… one big enough to celebrate with a shirt and a Mack Brown contract extension? Yeah, probably not.

BEASTLY

Plowin’ Under Some Corn

Friday’s game that should be called “Farmageddon” but isn’t saw the start of the Christmas season in Lincoln Nebraska. At least that had to be what the Huskers thought, since One Weisman was enough to do a ton of damage to the Blackshirt defense. That Nebraska lost was surprising enough, but for me the really interesting part of the game was the media response during and after.  Coach Pelini has been on a hot seat, and you could sense his frustration even during the typical halftime “let’s chat on your way to the locker room” interview.

Postgame, someone asked him about his job status and… well, listen to his response here.

Essentially, he says “look, you’re making a story out of something that I have no control over, and your decision to do so is hurting our players and our team. If the people in charge want to fire me, they can.”

The storyline from the game? “If they want to fire me, go ahead“, as if he was calling his AD and the University leadership out. Of course they didn’t talk about his comments ripping the media for impacting the program… it’s like they say. Read More

The Week That Were: 11.23.13

Written November 25th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

Happy Thanksgiving week! Here’s a little music to get you ready for Thursday… and another ditty to prep you for Saturday.

Yowzers

One Of Those Days

You know what’s interesting about college sports? Call it “the circle of life”, call it “karma” (j/k, don’t do that) call it “Brent Musberger’s Vegas Connections”, but the fact is that things just seem to work themselves out.

In spite of efforts to create story lines and “narrative”, teams win and teams lose and everyone gets to play in a bowl. Well, almost everyone.

It’s like I’ve been saying all season- “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” Play well, win the game you’re in, and let the chips fall where they may.

Sure, it’s great that you’re averaging a metric bucketload of points every week, but when you don’t hit that target what will you do? Case in point: Texas A&M, Oregon, and Baylor combined for 41 points in their three losses. yesterday. That’s less than Oregon and Baylor were each averaging per game.

As the prophet said, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get hit in the mouth”.

The Ducks went down in spectacular fashion, giving Rich Rodriguez a home upset of a nationally ranked team that will surely a) earn him an extension and b) give Michi1gAAn fans eternal heartburn. Not only did Mariotti throw his first interception of the year in the game as a result of that great play you see above, but he then tossed his second on the way to a 42-16 loss in Tuscon. It’s not that the Ducks were without flash and sizzle… it’s just that they never found a rhythm and were unable to play Stanford football.

That Kind Of Night

One Of Those Nights

Baylor came into Stillwater not having won there in forever… and left the same way. The nation’s top offensive team was unable to deal with the different looks that TBPU gave them, and struggled to get their high octane offense going.

In addition, their vaunted defensive front didn’t create any consistent pressure or stop Oklahoma State’s bigger specialists from making play after play.  I guess the Lord helps those who help their Chelf.

Helmet sticker goes to the “turf monster”, though, who seemed to be the leading tackler for both teams.  He also made a big play by interfering with a Baylor snap late in the game to solidify the win for the up and coming Cowboy team.

As for Johnny Freaking Football, he and the Aggies continued their trend of underperforming against top competition. As our friend @FightOnTwist pointed out earlier in November, Manziel is an amazing quarterback, but his interceptions often lead to opposing teams’ scores; and other than the win in Tuscaloosa, he’s been pretty pedestrian versus teams that are nationally ranked.

Against LSU on Saturday, his one TD pass was coupled with only 1g completions and two interceptions as the Aggies fell again to LSU by a 34-10 score. I guess you could say he got beaten like a… well… yeah. Read More

The Week That Were: 11.16.13

Written November 18th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

In a week full of surprises, this is a pretty good soundtrack for your Monday morning reading.

Sometimes life gives you some unexpected gifts.  You’re set up on a date to be a wingman for a friend who’s girl has a cousin in town, and you end up in an amazing marriage together. You open a book and find an old letter from a friend that you’d forgotten about. A seldom worn jacket has cash in the pocket.  Mowing the grass reveals a dog you’d forgotten you had. You let a friend borrow your truck and he has it detailed while he’s got it.

Emptying A Small Lake

Emptying A Small Lake

On second thought, that last one probably means that he used it to transport a body or something.  Let’s move on.

This week in college football was like that- on paper, there weren’t any marquee “games of the century”. But, as we know, games aren’t played on paper- instead the tiny men who square off in our TV sets gave us some fantastic finishes and an incredible weekend of sports.

Let’s start in the B12… We give Charlie Weis and the Jayhawk program a lot of well deserved grief hereabouts, so I’ll be among the first to celebrate their win over the couch fire that has become the West Virginia program. It’s hard to say that Coach Holgorsen might be in a bit of a rebuilding year, but it’s certainly difficult to see the Mountaineer program fall so quickly from the tops of the conference.

That’s not to take anything away from Kansas- great win, gang. However, let’s not get all carried away, shall we?

Ohio State fans are certainly well aware of the Baylor Bears, who now are poised to jump the Buckeyes in the “we’re still totally making this up as we go” BCS standings. Baylor continued their undefeated season with a big win over Texas Tech on Saturday, a Raiders team that was a media darling following a soft early season schedule, but has now dropped four straight games.  What the #narrative won’t tell you as they tout Baylor’s 63-34 win is that the Bears were trailing 20-7 in the first quarter.  But hey… shiny!

With all the firepower that the Bears bring to the table one of the surprises is that it was Tech that gave us our first “catch of the week” nominee. For another angle,  check this out:

O-WOW

Interestingly enough, the B12 also brings us the hit of the week, which was 100% targeting. It’s a Vine, but check out the shot that this trooper puts on this fan who decides that he wants to be a part of the action… If only Stoops’ team had tackled that well against Baylor. Read More

The Week That Were: 11.09.13

Written November 11th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

Today’s soundtrack thanks our Veterans for all that they’ve done

Ok, class… time for a quiz.  What did we learn this week?

Ducked

Cathartic, I’m Sure

We learned that the template for beating Oregon has not changed. Control the ball and the clock with power running, Don’t turn the ball over, Take advantage of turnovers, and Hold on for dear life.

While this would seem to be the obvious solution to beating any team, Stanford has certainly shown that it’s a template for stopping one of the most powerful offenses in the country. By continuing to do so on Thursday night, the Cardinal looked like Ohio State and Auburn and LSU… and the Duck Dynasty were bumped off the path to the National Title game.

If that wasn’t enough, on Saturday the Head Duck even showed his newest uniform… and this one will probably not be welcomed with open arms in Eugene.

We also learned something that we should have already known; sometimes these are the most difficult of lessons.  Even here at tBBC we’ve highlighted again and again that “Big Game Bob” is a myth, that other than a BCS game against UConn (not a difficult thing, no matter what Michigan fans will tell you) and some wins over Texas during their programmatic slide, the Sooners have not managed to win the big one at anywhere near a dominant success rate.

We're Disappointed Too

We’re Disappointed Too

Even this year they were embarrassed by a Texas Team that was searching for it’s identity, and have a “quality win” over a Texas Tech team who’s now dropped three in a row. We should have known better than to expect wonders from the team from Norman, but there Buckeye fans were, hoping that they’d handle a Baylor team that’s been setting scoreboards on fire.

We forgot that they have no downfield passing game, and their running game is predicated on a fullback at quarterback. And so, even though it looked close at the outset, we couldn’t be too surprised when Oklahoma collapsed in a heap of it’s own making.

And Baylor? Well, Baylor continues to look absolutely fabulous. With contests against TTU, TBPU and Texas upcoming in their season, the Bears are by no means shoo-ins for the conference title, but the path is pretty clear.

To be fair to the Longhorns, they’ve turned the season around and remained undefeated after their overtime win in the first Texas trip to Morgantown as a part of the new conference configuration. Judging by the responses on Shaggy Bevo, fans are somewhat torn by this turn of events- Winning is good, but how can they fire Mack if he manages to bring home a B12 Title this year? Read More

The Week That Were: 11.2.13

Written November 4th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

“November is for champions”.  Guess what, folks… it’s champions time.

For the first time this season, the memorable games from The Week That Were found themselves coming from B1G Country. And, if I’m completely honest, the top two made my weekend pretty fantastic.

hailcorny_medium

He Who Walks Behind The Corn

First, let’s go to the “What’s NU With You?” battle, as Nebraska and Northwestern squared off in a battle of the walking wounded. Taylor Martinez and his magnificent aerial attack was on the sidelines again, while Northwestern’s Venric Mark missed yet another game… and more Wildcats would go down as the game transpired. If Ohio State hadn’t already broken Northwestern, Nebraska certainly would have.

And yet the Wildcats were leading by three, in Lincoln, as time was winding down.It certainly looked like it was going to be a bad weekend to be a Pelini.

The Huskers brought in their version of the Pillsbury Throwboy, who led the team to the memorable last second finish that you see gif-ing there on the right. Best “Fat Guy Touchdown” ever?

For full coverage and reaction, let’s turn to my wife’s play by play from the moment:

  • “Ugh… I hate this… losing at home. And you know that this will mean Bo’s job….”
  • “Well, that never works… And we’re supposed to play Michigan next week? Yuk.”
  • “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” (combined with lots of happy Husker hopping)

Yeah, it was that kind of moment… Buckeye fans know the feeling, and Coach Fitzpatrick certainly could find a Bert to talk to as well.

Several people pointed out that, in the mayhem that followed, Coach Pelini looked stunned and no one chose to celebrate with him. That could just be his normal demeanor, though… although it might also point to his having “lost” his team.  A word of warning to Tommie Frazier and all of the others looking to make a change… be very very careful what you wish for.

So now a Cornhusker team that has a huge emotional win to build on travels to Ann Arbor to face a Michigan squad that’s coming off what may be one of the worst beatings that they’ve encountered in a long time.

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No Freaking Idea

While it’s been well documented that Coach Hoke can’t win on the road, to lose yet another game to “Little Brother” never feels good- particularly when you end the game with negative 48 yards rushing.  That’s why Wolverine running backs should keep their mouths shut… although, this should have already been perfectly clear to anyone who pays attention.

Huge kudos to Coach Dantonio and our favorite Spartan, Coach Harley- not only did the defense rise up and make Devin Gardner look like the wide receiver playing QB that he is, they also managed to put points on the board for the second straight week. Granted Michigan’s defense has some holes (as Indiana and Penn State showed), but to see MSU’s offensive evolution over the season is impressive. Read More

The Week That Were: 10.26.13

Written October 28th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

It’s a week of ghastly costumes and other ghoulish accoutrements… so of course, we’ve got a great soundtrack for all of our friends.

Well, the powers that be didn’t decide to market this weekend’s games as a “Separation Saturday”, but it ended up looking that way at the end of the day. Two more undefeateds fell, two others were challenged, while the top four continued to extend their apparition of domination.

mizzzzzeryLet’s start with the “Columbia Cup” between the Ol’ Ball Coach and this year’s “SEC Surprise”, the Missouri Tigers. I’ve been pulling for the Tigers all season for several reasons: It has been rumored to be a landing spot for Coach Herman if Pinkel was dismissed, and I love the fact that two “middle of the pack” B12 teams join the mighty SEC and play at the top almost immediately.

The Tigers didn’t disappoint early on, jumping out to a huge lead in their spiffy “blackout” gear. However, once Gamecock QB Connor Shaw came off the bench (recovering from a knee issue from last week) the tide turned and the game ended up heading to overtime.

And there, well… let’s just say that Pinkle is Einhorn. The doink heard ’round the conference. 

While there’s still a huge chance that the Tigers can play a role in the BCS, it may only be limited to being a spoiler at this point… but they’ve got some games to play yet, including mathups with Old Miss and aTm before they might face Alabama in the conference championship game.

The second “thanks for playing” award this week goes to a young Texas Tech team, which lost their first contest of the season at Oklahoma. After a lengthy weather delay that resulted in the game being shifted over to Fox News in lieu of World Series coverage, the Fighting Stoops figured out how to get out of their own way and managed to corral the Raiders’ high flying offense… although, it should be noted that Cliff Kingsbury’s team is very young, and will be a contender at the conference level sooner than some would like to admit. Read More

The Week That Were: 10.19.13

Written October 21st, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

Happy Monday- if you’re not suspended from work for doing your job the way it’s supposed to be done, then you’ll probably enjoy today’s soundtrack.

Breakfast Of Champions

Who Needs Logic?

You’ve got two choices for this week’s narrative as you talk college sports around the old coffeemaker at the office this morning.

Option one: “Wow, 5 top 25 SEC teams were beaten on Saturday… four in upsets! Is that conference over-rated or what?”

Option two: “Wow, four SEC team upset top 25 teams this weekend!!! What an incredibly deep league… let’s just crown their champion now!”

I’ll let you guess which one will be the talking points of most people… This is, as you may know, the phenomenon of “circular logic“, and when you play games on the field but championships in the polls, it’s something will make a difference for some team.

But, as we said, the games were played on the field, and this week saw 6 of the top 11 upset and two other undefeated teams threatened. We started with a come from behind loss by Team Papa John against UCF on Friday Night. If you’re Louisville, playing anytime anywhere means both that you can build your program AND that you’ve got a national audience when you fall apart late in the game.

Previously, undefeated Miami needed a late score to hold off North Carolina. ACC, y’all.

Saturday’s surprises didn’t include UCLA getting its first loss at Stanford… only because many folks still feel that Stanford is one of the top two teams in the PAC12, and would serve as UCLA’s first test.  Their next text? Oregon.  Have fun, Bruin-bros.  The Stanford Game also brought us what may be the reception of the year… it’s certainly the best catch we saw all week: Read More