No Tennessee. With apologies to Rocky Top Talk, the only reason to rank Tennessee is mindless SEC bias. The heavy loss to Cal looks worse each day. The Vols were blown out of the stadium by three-loss Alabama and Florida teams. Four of their six wins were against bad mid-major opponents or Mississippi State. (For those who would claim Mississippi State decent: WVU 38, MSU 13, and it was 31-0 six seconds into the second quarter. No. Just no.) The rest of it: an OT win over 6-4 South Carolina in which they were outgained by 200 yards and the aberrant clubbing of Georgia. That's one actual good performance against three awful ones. No thanks.
Man, screw Kansas. Kansas is Hawaii after a power mushroom or, ironically, a replica of Bill Synder's oft-fraudulent Kansas State teams of the mid-to-late nineties.
Not only is their nonconference schedule shameful but they miss both Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12. Their best win is over a Kansas State team that just lost to Iowa State. It's nice to be undefeated and all that and putting up 76 points against any Big 12 team that's not Baylor is an accomplishment, even if that team is coached by Bill Callahan, but this team has a mid-major schedule and I'm ranking it like one.
Texas? Yeah... I dunno. I probably had them too low (unranked) last week and they're probably too high now.
I'm trying to hew to X beat Y when teams are close... so USF stays in front of Auburn, who remains in front of Florida.
"I find a lot of the things that they do amusing. They need to check themselves sometimes. Let's just remember pride comes before the fall." [please note that Dantonio was led into this: he was asked whether he found Hart's "little brother" comments amusing. Sort of like Hart, actually. -ed]
"I'm very proud the way our football team handled themselves after the game as well. You don't have to disrespect people. We'll come to play. We don't have to be disrespected. We don't have to disrespect people. If they want to make a mockery of it, so be it. Their time will come."
Indeed, Michigan State is truly the model for all those who would like to respect the game.
This last is MSU's loser vigil after they blew last year's ND game at home. Notre Dame is a lot of things -- annoying, overrated, liable to lose to Navy at the drop of a hat -- but they aren't the flag planting types.
"Let's put it this way, if anybody hadn't taken this personal up until this point, it's personal now," Hoyer said. "It just shows what kind of class he has.
"Sooner or later, the little brother, you want to put us that way, you get pushed around enough, the little brother fights back and kicks the other brother's ass.
Oh, now it's personal? You mean it's unlike all those other games when a host of kids who never even got looked at by Michigan (save three or four per year) played their instate rival and then immediately collapsed afterward? Oh shit. We are in serious trouble now. It's personal. I am liquidating my assets and moving to Tahiti, as Michigan will never beat Michigan State again.
Dantonio again with my favorite quote from the whole kerfuffle:
"It's [hatred of Michigan] inbred in me," Dantonio said. "It exists in me and everybody who's a true Spartan, not the ones who give their donor seats to Michigan Wolverines."
I suppose I'm duty bound to give a reaction here, so here goes: OH MY GOD JLS HAS KILLED MARK DANTONIO AND IS WEARING HIS SKIN. IT'S GROSS! SO GROSSSSSS! Oh. Oh God. The dripping... the horrible dripping. Effluvia!
But seriously folks, the one thing the Michigan State program needed was a monomaniacal focus on Michigan. It needed a coach who would install a countdown clock to their eighth straight loss in the series. It needed a man who would stand up and say "you know what, guys? All those other games we play are stupid and we shouldn't try very hard in them." It needed a guy who would teach his resilient troops to follow his example by bitching to the assembled media a full two days after his team blew it again. It needed a man who could forge them into a cohesive unit capable of picking up critical personal fouls at the very worst time possible. See, the problem with Michigan State is that occasionally they enter the fourth quarter of games leading. And Michigan State needs a man who can blow that lead, preferably in really, really painful fashion.
Friends, Mark Dantonio is that man.
I know, I know. You're probably wondering "what radical new direction will this knight errant take the hallowed Spartan program?" Well, let me tell you: every year Michigan State will jump out to a fast start by beating a bunch of awful nonconference teams. When they play at Notre Dame, they will win. Everyone will get all hyped up for the Michigan game, which they will lose. On the off chance they do not lose, they will arrange to lose to Indiana or Northwestern or some such team to restore the cosmic balance. After the Michigan game they will collapse wholesale. Sometimes they will go to a bowl in Detroit. Other times they will stay home and cry softly into their BEET MICHIGAN cardigans. They will never, ever go to the Rose Bowl, and every year MGoBlog will start its Michigan State preview the same way.
Yes, friends, times are a-changin' in East Lansing.
Hello! I'm proud to announce that MGoStore has moved. (Or, at least, has partially moved.) It's now under the direction of RichRobots. This has several benefits for you, the consumer:
- Shirts are cheaper: $20 each, shipping free if you buy three.
- The shirts are now from American Apparel, which means no six year old Cambodians were involved in their construction. Also they're really soft.
- There are women's sizes.
It's not a print-on-demand shop, so most of the obscure designs that no one bought have not made the move yet. We'll add designs gradually, and some shirts may just end up in the old shop if they're not of general interest or need quick turnaround.
11/3/07 - Michigan 28, Michigan State 24 - 8-2, 6-0 Big Ten
It was the middle of 2004. A then-freshman Henne strode onto the turf at Michigan Stadium facing a four point deficit against Minnesota. The ball was on the Michigan thirteen; the clock read 3:04.
Five plays and 56 yards later, Henne zeroed in on Z45 Part A Subsequence C Tight End Tyler Ecker, Rabbit-Hunting Mormon, crossing in front of a Minnesota linebacker; various servos and hydraulics kicked in. Henne flung a pass into Z45PASCTETERHM's outstretched arms, declared GOAL COMPLETED, and initiated nailcoeds.exe.
This weekend, now-senior Chad Henne strode onto the turf at Spartan Stadium facing a ten point deficit. He was 6 for 19 for 83 yards at that point, 47 of which came on a single bomb to Mario Manningham. The clock read 7:35.
Henne had been awful. Whether it was the unpredictable wind or his separated shoulder or some combination of the two doesn't really matter. He had been missing open receivers all day, flinging balls into the turf or the sideline or taking sacks he didn't have to. He and Brian Hoyer were locked into a duel to see who could torpedo his team's chances more thoroughly; Henne was winning. In the Michigan section, faith was running low. On the Michigan State sideline Jehuu Caulcrick was exhorting the Spartans to remember this moment, the moment they beat Michigan.
If clutch exists it is not the ability to raise one's game in the most critical situations, but rather an ability to not think about the matter at hand. Clutch, simply, is an immunity to choking.
Malcolm Gladwell has an article on the strange phenomenon of the choke job that presents a convincing diagnosis: sometimes in extremely high pressure situations, people forget how to forget. People have two systems via which they learn: the explicit, conscious level, and the subconscious level. As you continue to improve at something ever more gets snipped out of your consciousness, allowing your mind to focus on ever more arcane and high-level aspects of the task at hand. (At this point, all Tom Brady thinks about is nailing supermodels.) This is why experts so often cannot explain how they do the things they do. They have no idea.
In 1993, Jana Novotna held a commanding lead in the Wimbledon final, then collapsed. Why? How?
When Jana Novotna faltered at Wimbledon, it was because she began thinking about her shots again. She lost her fluidity, her touch. She double-faulted on her serves and mis-hit her overheads, the shots that demand the greatest sensitivity in force and timing. She seemed like a different person--playing with the slow, cautious deliberation of a beginner--because, in a sense, she was a beginner again: she was relying on a learning system that she hadn't used to hit serves and overhead forehands and volleys since she was first taught tennis, as a child.
Novotna started thinking about how to hit and forgot how to hit. The pressure reached up and crushed her trachea. Clutch is the ability to not do this, the ability to keep all that submerged and to robotically execute the things you don't even think about anymore. Clutch is for robots.
Caulcrick forgot one thing: Chad Henne is a robot.
On the last two drives he was 12-14 for 129 yards, flinging wide open outs, finding Mathews on a critical third and long, and looping perfect touchdown passes to Greg Mathews and Mario Manningham. He was ruthless, precise, and busy calculating digits of pi deep into the millions. He has a heart of nails and lungs made from old tires; his hair consists of pipe cleaners cropped short and his bones are discarded pipes. You have to whack him in just the right spot at just the right time to get his late-model Soviet guidance chip to seat itself in his shoddy southeast Asian motherboard.
Stripped of the ability to contribute on-field, Mike Hart summoned his chi and delivered the feather blow as Michigan State drove for the "winning" touchdown. He laughed about it afterward. Sometimes Mike Hart isn't very nice.
It is Henne's great misfortune that so many of his clutch moments have been obliterated by, depending on your point of view, an even clutcher performance by someone else -- most notably Vince Young and Troy Smith -- or the flailing incompetence of various Michigan defenses and, occasionally, special teams units. This is not to say that Henne has always been good or that he has not been a primary culprit in Michigan losses past. Sometimes the guidance chip has been locked on Tacopants. But stainless steel knees don't buckle when you them in situations a squishy hoo-man would find intolerable.
Little about the scene postgame was unfamiliar. Michigan had leapt out to a lead, shut down the offense, and gotten itself in a heap of unnecessary trouble. Michigan State had blown it again with help from a stupid personal foul. Michigan had beaten Michigan State for the sixth straight year. From my vantage point in the upper deck the final Manningham dagger looked like a virtual replay of 2004's Braylonfest. And Henne had once again proven that nothing but oil runs through his metallic veins. As we near the end of the Hart Era and the Henne Era and the Carr Era, there are few things that surprise. This is the program's blessing and its curse.
There was one thing. Henne was unusually alone as he exited the field, his teammates busy holding a moment of silence for Michigan State. He leapt and gamboled off the field, fist pumping as he went. Data would never do that. Solitary, he was a mesmerizing, jarring sight. But just as perceptions threatened to shatter Henne encountered a stadium staffer removing the padding from the goalposts. He sprawled on the ground for a moment, then completed his egress in a manner more befitting a pile of scrap iron with a heart of nails. Goal completed.
- Two "holy crap" State-fan moments: I'm sitting in my seat -- or, rather, standing on it -- midway through the first quarter when some MSU knob chewing on an unlit cigar demands that I move. I show him the stub, tell him to go to hell, and ask for his. He fails to produce one, saying "it's in the car"; ten minutes later, after one of his knob associates grabs an usher to boot me, he finally yanks it out of his pocket. It says seat 4. I'm standing in seat 3. If you can't get into college...
Also, some harpy turned around at some po
int in the second quarter and started chanting something indecipherable. After some parsing and reparsing, we finally realized what it was: she was chanting "Art Fag U." Classy! This prompted the guy next to me to chant "skank" at her whenever she stood up for the rest of the game. Also classy.
(Everyone else was cordial enough; MSU remains a place where you can expect a verbal barrage from totally wasted meatheads but little else.)
column coming early PM.
Recap. BTN highlights:
Bow Down. RCMB:
Did anyone see the huge "Bow Down Sparty" sign?
Some UM fans hung it from the upper deck and it flew like a flag over OUR stadium while myself and the rest of the Spartan Marching Band stood and listened to the Michigan band play their Victory march. We then had to play our postgame show for a crowd of primarily UM fans.
You mean this "Bow Down Sparty" sign?
I will show you a lack of respect. If Gerry Dinardo hadn't said "Howdy Doody could coach LSU" earlier this year, Jehuu Caulcrick's postgame interview would win "least self-aware comment of the century".
Hey, Jehuu, remember this?
Dear Mr. Caulcrick,
You're in this video. Hell, you appear to be one of the ringleaders of this stunt. You're number 30. That's a squiggly backwards "E" next to a big thing that looks like your gaping mouth after Manningham's touchdown. You should probably shut up about winning with class.
PS: Ha, ha.
Weekly Les Miles opinion-giving. Game + walking + traffic meant that I only caught the final quarter of Alabama-LSU, and that without the benefit of the announcers clarifying things, so nothing too strident, but...
- Yes, the annual mental implosion of LSU does give me the heebie-jeebies. This would be more convincing...
"We kept hanging in there, kept fighting," Miles said. "We found a way to win. I've never seen that many mistakes in a game. We'll never play that poorly again."
...if LSU hadn't turned it over six times in a shoulda-woulda-coulda loss to Florida last year. 14 penalties for a million yards is not good. I'm not so much with the blaming Miles for Matt Flynn's interceptions, since by this point in the season it's become clear that Flynn's a mediocre system guy prone to errors and poor throws.
I wonder how much of LSU's self-destruction gene is ingrained in the culture of the program, how much of it is luck or misperception, and how much of it is actually symptomatic of a flaw in Miles' coaching.
We just saw yet more evidence of State's remarkable ability to bring in coach after coach and still be the same bunch of slack-jawed chokers with all the discipline of Charlie Weis at Old Country Buffet. (Zing!) At least part of this has to be State's role as the raccoon of Midwest recruiting. They scoop up the refuse of Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc, etc., kids of questionable character, work ethic, intelligence, or talent, and are fighting uphill from day one. In sum: Michigan has the luxury of passing on Eric Knott and Damon Dowdell, and it shows on the field. Maybe LSU's recruiting base is just prone to wild burst of cajun passions that draw flags?
There's also the possibility Miles' reputation for penalty-laden, undisciplined teams is a media creation based on a couple high profile occurrences that does not reflect reality. This infrequent observer of LSU believe this to be unlikely, but it is a possibility. When something settles into the conventional wisdom it becomes very hard to dislodge, and the next time a mainstream college football writer does some independent research and comes up with a conclusion based on actual facts will be the first.*
And then there are the bizarre results of an offseason SMQB study of stat relevance:
First counterintuitive result: the most penalized teams were slightly better as a whole than the least penalized teams. Penalty yardage, over the course of an entire season, had no discernible effects
on winning and losing. You can probably think of a situation that would specifically argue otherwise, cuz penalties are definitely bad, mmmkay?, but they're bad more as situational mistakes than an overall, cumulative drain.
It got weirder, and consistently so. When SMQB went game by game, calculating the "record" of various salutary statistical indicators like "better yards per pass" (#1 at 78.5%) and "more rushing offense," (#5 at 67.8%), "fewer penalty yards" finished dead last by a country mile. Hell, it was actually a negative indicator of victory, and a significant one: the Fewer Penalty Yards Fightin' Flags finished 119-175, a mere 40.5% winning clip and the only "team" to finish below .500. So... yeah... go get them penalties, Les!
In retrospect, this entire section is definitely the lady protesting too much. It's a concern. It doesn't change the fact that Miles is exceedingly likely to end up in the SEC championship game (beat Ole Miss and they're in no matter the Arkansas result) and the BCS for a second consecutive year. Unless Tedford (who I still heart) decides to bolt -- unlikely -- there's no one with the sort of track record Miles has out there.
*(I don't even mean this snarkily. I mean it literally. Not once in years and years of reading college football writers has anyone bothered to challenge the CW with analysis.)
Softened. Noted on the sidebar, but important enough to re-note: three important Wisconsin players went out against Ohio State and are unlikely to play next week. Starting cornerback Allen Langford is definitely out. Starting DT Jason Chapman's injury is also "significant". Starting OT Eric Vanden Heuvel is not definitely out but is doubtful (or questionable or something). The Journal-Sentinel article makes it sound like the most concerning injury is Chapman's, then Langford's; Vanden Heuvel has a decent backup in Jake Bscherer.
Biff. Cool, calm, collected. Chad Henne: