I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Michigan Monday Catfight Part III! Er... no, not really. Here it is. I was going to disagree with him about his main thesis, which is this:
This looks like a completely different team from week-to-week, half-to-half and sometimes even play-to-play.
But upon watching about 2/3rds of the game I have to say that this:
The offensive line is so porous that it looks like even mediocre opponents are holding a Tupperware party in the backfield, then the line turns into a cohesive unit against a solid defense.
is both true and utterly mystifying. Michigan still had its issues but if you were to scale the problems they had against Minnesota to the talent level on the PSU line you would get total disaster, which didn't happen. Tamba Hali did nothing all day save for one admittedly badass sack. Lentz had a couple instances of really poor pass protection, but other than that they did a very good job against a very tough defense. Who knows why? [OMG HOLDING!!! -PSU ed. I'll get to you and your crazy ass in a second.]
Iowa has also been smote by Angry Michigan Safety Hating God. Iowa's "possession" (read: white) receiver Ed Hinkel has a broken arm and is out for the year. Defensive backs Antwaan Allen and Charles Godfrey also missed the Indiana game, both with sprained ankles. Both are questionable against Michigan.
Right. Yeah... uh... well... you PSU guys are crazy. Like the guy who gets caught outside in a nuclear holocaust crazy:
Our biggest rival is, and has been since we entered the Big Ten, the referees. Their colors are white and black. Their mascot is a zebra. And they are unbeatable. No amount of talent on the field or coaching on the sideline can stop them.
This continues for a long, long time, if you're interested. PSU fans have gone beyond the standard "the refs are dumber than seahorses" fan bitching and gone into a place where logic does not exist. If the referees were actually out to get PSU, why the tetchy PI call on Hall at the end of the game? Why rule the Henne fumble a fumble when it was so close? Why make an incorrect call in PSU's favor that is overturned by review? The sense, it no make. Not to mention that the refereeing conspiracy is pretty crappy when all your efforts only get the favored team a single shot from the ten with one second left. We need to pay these guys more next year... and include the ND game in the package.
You can check the fan comments on the next post to confirm that this isn't the delusion of one man, but rather an entire fanbase. It's uniquely paranoid. All fanbases have a litany of terrible calls that went against them. Only Penn State thinks that the referees are out to get them.
I almost felt badly for the deranged visitors who flooded Ann Arbor until I walked into Michigan Stadium and immediately got told that Michigan sucks by some cocky students. Cocky! Sure, Michigan was 3-3 and PSU 6-0, but it's amazing what a last second win over Mighty Northwestern and a squeaker in the annual PSU-OSU Worst Game Ever Played will do for your confidence. Ann Arbor was overrun with these guys who had forgotten eight years of total futility. Make it nine. I hope you had a safe trip home.
Also: your band plays nothing but that "hey" song and that song they play at NHL playoff games in Canada. You also have a four word fight song: "We are Penn State."
Yes, yes you are.
He could go to the hizzle shizzle. Odd article in the NYT about ESPN-speak drifting into sports writing, but I think the major problem is with incredibly annoying sportstalk radio phrases drifting into the common discourse. I'm not sure if everyone knows this, but two incredibly annoying phrases in specific, "drinking the Kool-Aid" and "thrown under the bus," are banned here. Any attempt to use them in a non-ironic fashion will result in your post being edited with [I AM A JIM ROME-LEVEL TOOL] replacing the offending phrase.
(Roundtable #10 is up at ATL. Check it out.
1. What would it take for you to vote someone other than USC #1 in the poll? If you already are, what would it take for USC to regain the top spot on your ballot?
USC's hold on #1 in my ballot is getting precarious given their struggles against Arizona State, Arizona, and Notre Dame, but there doesn't appear to be a challenger that has looked as impressive against a comparable schedule--sorry, Texas, but the Big Twelve is way down this year. Ohio State is a good win but USC's got a match with the ND win and the second tier (Oregon, ASU versus OK, CU) is advantage USC.
Virginia Tech is 6-0 but has had three functional byes against Duke, Ohio, and Marshall. Best win to date is over Georgia Tech. They struggled against a mediocre NC State team. USC's resume easily bests them. I think I'm actually going to drop them behind...
Georgia, who have only had one functional bye against ULM and has a win at UT, which roughly corresponds to USC's ND win. They nuked Boise but struggled against that other USC. Every other win has been fairly comfortable, though not a blowout. Still, UGA has a complete defense, a very good ground game, and an intermittently spectacular passing attack.
What about Alabama? They've only played one good team, Florida, and didn't exactly blow the doors off Southern Miss, Ole Miss, or Arkansas.
2. Which of the undefeateds is most likely to remain so? Who is least likely?
Most: Texas. They've got a game against Texas Tech and then the soft nubbins of the Big Twelve (Baylor, OK State, Kansas) before a game against A&M and then the championship game against whichever short bus-riding team makes it out of the North.
Least: Texas Tech is fraud city, baby.
3. If you were running the BCS system, would you let the computer rankings factor in margin of victory? Why or why not?
Um. Sort of. There is not enough information to get effective computer rankings without extra data, but pure margin of victory is often distorted by meaningless touchdowns. Why is the final score the only relevant piece of data when play by play is available? Computer rankings should be allowed to use any piece of relevant data. Margin of victory is a useful piece of information. Excluding it is stupid, especially when you cap it at 21, as the BCS used to.
Links to your ballot are desired here, as are any general comments you have to make. There are a ton of interesting conflicts after a wild, wild weekend in college football. Have at it.
Comments about the general state of college football and how they should affect the blogpoll go here.
Let's get some last basking in before Mr. Rational Analysis shows up pissed off about the punt with under three minutes left. Vijay of IBFC is a prince amongst men for bringing us an extra-heapin' helpin' of highlights this week. Please run over there and click copiously so that his high traffic marks are not exclusively bad bad video.
Almost makes you want to run around writing paeans about how Michigan is OMG THE BESTEST... but no.
Sam's crack investigative reporting also reveals that there was someone at the game who screamed "Robinson, you filthy goddamn pirate hooker!" I regret to inform you that this was not me.
Ian at Sweaty Men Endeavors details a phone call to his sister right at the end of the game that contained the following priceless exclamation [swearin']:
"YEAH! YEAH! OH HO HO! UNBELIEVABLE! MANNINGHAM, YOU MAGNIFICENT MOTHERFUCKER!"
I mention it because clearly the acronym YMMFer has entered circulation around these parts and you should probably know what it means lest I turn into TMQ.
Johnny of RBUAS, well...
So I'm sitting there with my brother, when all of a sudden this kid number 86 was in the back of the end zone with the ball in his hands, and I start thinking about football and Octobers and oxygen and why we breathe it. And I realized they're all pretty much about the same thing.
OMG REFEREE OMG!!! The rich, beefy irony of this...
This is from the official 2005 NCAA Rules and Interpretations guidebook:
Rule 9, Section 3, Article 2B - Interfering for or helping the runner or passer.
"The runner shall not grasp a teammate; and no other players of his team shall grasp, push, lift or charge into him to assist him in forward progress."
"Penalty - 5 yards from the basic spot."
By the way, the clock runs on an offensive penalty.
The following is a quote from Reggie Bush, regarding the last-second touchdown run by QB Matt Leinart:
"I just shoved him in there as hard as I could."
Excuse me while I go throw up. I'm literally having dry heaves as I write this. We won this game.
There Is No God
Jesus would not let a team that represents everything that's wrong in the world rip the heart from his mother's university. USC is a team full of drug dealers, rapists and violent criminals.
I'm jumping on the bandwagon... the atheism bandwagon.
This is a message for the throng of SC dicks from Brendan Loy's site who have come here to gloat. Go away. Show some class and let us wallow in our misery without rubbing it in. Jesus, you've won 28 straight and you still can't act like you've been there before. Oh, and one more thing... [picture of man flipping bird]
...is a delicious icing on Saturday's Mario cake. Instant karma. I mean, Notre Dame OMG literally never loses without blaming the refs! Whiners! OMG!
Can't we force these guys to root for someone else? It's okay to dislike Lloyd Carr and quietly hope he retires in the near future. It's less acceptable to call for his firing publicly--bad form all around there. But when you do this...
A couple of blocks from Michigan Stadium, a small group of fans in army helmets painted maize and blue stood with signs and literature demanding Carr's ouster. One man held a sign with a grainy picture of Osama Bin Laden and "Osama Bin Lloydin has hijacked Michigan football'' written above it.
... you should get your picture posted outside all the gates and be banned entry for life. By the way, I passed by these guys and they were indeed a "small group"... a small group of exactly two people. The Ann Arbor News published their names: Teague Orblych and Joel Getchner. Assuming those are in fact accurate, it's time to revoke whatever season tickets they have. And possibly send David Harris to their homes to gently explain the difference between a football coach and Osama Bin Laden.
So this is a habit. Big Ten Wonk helpfully pointed out that when Courtney Sims said something to the effect of OMG National Championship(!!!) recently that this was not a new phenomenon:
Courtney Sims, Michigan sophomore big man and fabulist, for his bold-â€”nay, Namathesqueâ€”-talk on media day: "I think we're capable of [winning the national championship]. I think we have the talent. If we just come together and play as a team, I don't think anybody can really stop us."
Yeah... I think we can all agree that Sims is the Michigan Basketball equivalent of that guy who shows up at Tim Horton's with a really big spoon. (Yes, that joke will only be comprehensible to Hockey Night In Canada viewers, so it's time to ask yourself "Why don't I watch Hockey Night In Canada? Am I a communist or something?")
10/15/2005 - Michigan 27-25 Penn State - 4-3, 2-2 Big Ten
The seating configuration had been unwisely arranged so that directly next to me was an adorable young boy, the kind of boy who you could easily imagine saying "good game, mister" at innocent opposing fans in a post game melee. Since I have a regrettably difficult time refraining from swearing like a sailor, this was probably going to end badly.
The kid's father was pointing out the various players on the field during the pregame warmups, explaining who was who and what they did, when the kid burst in with an urgent question about the one player he did remember--one guess as to who.
"Where's number one?" he said, "Daddy, what happened to number one?"
From the mouths of babes. The kid had not only posited a specific question about a player currently busy being freakishly injured in the NFL but also levelled a piercing philosophical query about the state of the program. Where was number one? How could we expect to orient ourselves without last year's compass? While my rational side beats back thoughtless assertions re: Braylon's departure being devastating, I am not a robot, and in a Nittany Lion-overrun Michigan Stadium that day the overwhelming ennui of the program seemed to have a definite source that the kid had spotlighted for all to see.
The father tried to explain, talking about eligibility restrictions, the NFL, the history of the #1 jersey--essentially trying to cram in a deep, meaningful conversation about aging before the two hundred and thirty five member Michigan Marching band took the field. He didn't do very well. His son asked again, wheedling out "but where's number one?" one more time before his father ended the conversation with a flat, dull sentence.
"There is no number one," he said. "Not this year."
His son's facial expression made it very clear that he thought this was no kind of answer at all, and neither did I.
When you need affirmation of something's cultural relevance, where else do you go but Tina Turner and Mel Gibson? Even though Tina sang the following in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome ...
We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome
...the movie--no, the entire movie industry--puts a lie to her chorus. Hell, making a song about defiantly not needing a hero underscores the ubiquity of the concept in human storytelling. Joseph Campbell built a career out of it. And what is sport but a story with no defined script and an uncontrived ending? The tendencies of sports writing I hate the most all come from this idea that all events are easily explained by previous events, that they follow a story. Mr. Rational Analysis thinks all this hero crap is just that, but he has the weekend off.
So, the chips were down, the towel thrown, the boat had sailed, and the bags had been packed. A devastating three play series had transformed a 10-3 Michigan lead into a 16-10 deficit; the additional nuts-kicking provided by the botched extra point that turned into a two point conversion was the symbolic signal to turn the lights out and hit the message boards, spewing bile. I swore like it was freestyle rap battle between pirates.
Then the ball was in the air, Mario Manningham was way behind the defender, and I was praying the ball would not be intercepted. Each step brought Manningham and his defender closer to the ball, except Manningham was getting, er, more closer. A step behind. Half a step. Even. A step ahead. Touchdown.
Then, then... after we had blown it, blown it all to hell, we were sitting on the ten with one second that Lloyd Carr had verbally eviscerated the referees to get, one little second and his little second pal, with one play into seven guys sitting in a zone. Henne dropped, and fired, and Manningham cradled the ball, and incoherent things came out of my mouth for a good minute. I think there was WOOOO. I think there was HOOOO. It was a good time.
86? 86? At that moment, if he had ripped off his outer jersey and revealed the gleaming 1 underneath we all would have understood. At that moment, if he had decided he was going to fly we all would have understood. We were beyond Thunderdome. Two teams entered, one team left, and it was ours because we had a hero.
After the game, I felt a tug on my shirt, and looked down to see the adorable moppet, beaming. At the half it had been revealed to myself and those around me that this was his first-ever Michigan game; I had said "sorry it couldn't be a better one," further proving that everything that comes out of my mouth about Michigan football is wrong, wrong, gloriously wrong. The kid didn't say good game, or call me mister. In fact, he just said "hi." I gave him a high five. "You're good luck, kid, keep coming, " I said.
However, I left something out. I hereby correct the error: Yes, little child who probably doesn't use the Internets and even if you did you probably would have gotten bored and seen what was up with Pokemon or whatever, there is a number 1. He wears number 86. It's the new math.