I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Three yards and a cloud of dust... gone. I've been assembling the remaining eight season previews of Big Ten teams and one thing has jumped out: I am constantly talking about spread this, slot that, blah blah blah. The Big Ten has suddenly gone to a spread-crazy conference (no doubt a shamefully unsophisticated spread crazy conference, but here in the Midwest we can't handle the trooth).
Examine the following:
- Full spread teams (5): Purdue, Michigan State, Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana
- Elements of the spread (2): Ohio State, Penn State
- Spread this (4): Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa
By spread I mean the shotgun quick-routes QB-running thing. Spread mania has, uh, spread: fully five teams will employ some variant of the spread this year as their base offense, and both Ohio State and Penn State will adopt it at least occasionally to take advantage of their athletic quarterbacks. Seven of eleven teams. Last year it was three plus Penn State attempting to convince people they were clever.
That's sort of depressing. One of the things about college football I'm terribly fond of is the whacked out variety of offenses nationwide. (And right, right, all those offenses are vastly different in ways that make them markedly inferior to "sophisticated" ones, but we're talking aesthetics here.) I have a lingering antipathy for Nebraska stemming from the whole 1997 thing, but I was appalled when they abandoned their wonderful, anomalous option offense in favor of a 70-10 asskicking at the hands of Texas Tech. I am now actively rooting for Bill Callahan to fail miserably so that the Cornhuskers revert to their pitch-crazy ways. Tom Osborne is governor or something, right? Can't he do something about this? It is filthy and wrong to see the ugly red N helmets tossing the ball around like the last sixty years actually happened. Now the last outposts of a crushing, line-you-up-and-kick-your-ass ground game are scattered about the non-BCS conferences. There's no weird national title contender, and I miss it. The NCAA should institute a rule where if you line up in the shotgun 90% of the time viewers get to punch you after the game.
Agim Shabaj, the guy with the highest ratio of trash talk to actual performance in Big Ten history, failed to make the grade. First Kellen Winslow, Jr., and now this? Why does God do bad things to good people? It is the mystery.
The RCMB sums it up wonderfully:
we just lost the best east-west runner that i have ever seen.
BALLS. Check the latest hot news: "Will Attend Milford Academy." Milford Academy is not Michigan. This means that ACT score was not sufficient. As mentioned, balls.
This shouldn't have a huge impact on next year. Watson, Massey, Branch, Johnson, Taylor, and maybe Walton still looks like a very nice DT depth chart. The thing is now Slocum's LOI is invalidated and he can go anywhere he wants. I have no doubt that Michigan will attempt to sign him again next year but it's not a sure thing. Thus the balls.
(HT: reader Aaron Hill.)
Update: FWIW, PA Sportwire reports that Slocum "intends on honoring his commitment to Michigan."
Apparently you can throw Georgia QB David Cone on the commit pile tomorrow. See for yourself:
"I need to talk it over with my family and my coach, but it looks like I'll be calling Coach Loeffler tomorrow to commit," Cone said. "I really like the academic and athletic reputation of Michigan, it's a great school."
mgoblog is stunned by this turn of events and not quite sure what to think. Cone's offer list looks like a guy who commits to Michigan State, not Michigan: Mississippi State, Ball State, Eastern Kentucky.
Michigan is still after vast huge name Tim Tebow. Some people believe that Michigan is leading. So why risk alienating Tebow like Florida did when it accepted TX QB Jevan Snead's commitment? If Cone was marginal or likely to stay under the radar, there would be no reason at all, especially in a year where Michigan has been very stingy with quarterback offers. mgoblog's conclusion is that Cone blew the doors off at camp. An occasional emailer who spars with me about Tom Lemming seems to have connections and claims that Cone outperformed fellow campers (and Rivals100 members) Neil Caudle and Pat Devlin. Is that true? It seems plausible at least.
So, uh, there it is. Cone must have been very impressive in camp. A lot of cojones for Loeffler to put his eggs in the baskets of Jason Forcier, who had one year in a passing offense, and Cone, who runs the wishbone and threw for only 1,015 yards last year if Michigan only takes one quarterback this year.
Another thing... I don't know how much credibility to lend this, especially because it originates from what is unquestionably the ugliest blog I've ever seen, but it was posted July 25th and predicts commitments from Patilla, Mixon, and Parris, plus somewhat shakier pronouncements on ultrasleeper Scott Szpyrka, Cone, and Rivals 100 member AJ Wallace. Mixon's intentions were publically known on the 25th, but to my knowledge the first Rivals/Scout indications of a Parris offer were on Rivals on the 26th, and absolutely nobody without connections to Michigan's camp had heard anything about Szpyrka until a note popped up on GBW on the 26th. So they're 3/6 on commitments already and predicted a Parris offer that came to fruition... it looks pretty legit to me. Hope it continues to be legit because Wallace is an important CB recruit.
It's on again, this time over at EDSBS.
1. What's THE critical game of the season on the national scene?
Chalk: Ohio State-Texas. If Ohio State wins, there will be a Big Ten team in the national championship game assuming that Michigan, Purdue, and Iowa follow through on their nonconference schedules--a significant assumption given that therein lie two games against Notre Dame and one against a pretty good Iowa State team, but not an outlandish one. The polls are ready to hype up the Big Ten, and if those for teams make it through the nonconference schedule without a loss, all four will be in the top ten or close to it. It would take a lot of round-robin losing for all four teams to fall out of the national championship picture.
And because I feel so bad for A) talking constantly about Ohio State in this answer and B) going chalk-city in answers one and two, a bonus pick: Iowa-Purdue. Every Midwesterner outside of West Lafayette will be pulling for the Hawkeyes, as an OSU-Michigan-free Boilermakers team capable of beating Iowa will be hopping, skipping, and jumping its way to the BCS and very possibly the Rose Bowl. Howls of protestation will erupt (again), but what are you going to do?
2.What's the most critical matchup for your team?
OHIO STATE AAAAAH! AAAAH!
Look, I don't want to answer Ohio State. It's boring and predictable. But I have absolutely no choice. Cheatypants Sweatervest is now 3-1 against Michigan. Up until last year the OSU losses were unfortunate but not worrying: the first was John Navarre and the Worst Game By A UM Quarterback Since That Time Demetrius Brown Threw Seven Interceptions. The second was a tight game in Columbus against the eventual national champions. You can look at both of those and sort of shrug and say "yeah, okay, that's mostly beyond your control." Not so last year's debacle, during which Michigan turned Troy Smith from a black version of Steve Bellisari into a black version of Michael Vick. That Ohio State team was horrific through the meat of the season but soundly beat a Michigan team that should have gutted the Buckeyes.
Houston, problem. John Cooper specialized in inexplicable losses like that and ushered in the 2-10-1 pax Michigana. If Cheatypants Sweatervest runs his record to 4-1 this year in Ann Arbor against what promises to be a Wolverine offense discussed in wine and song many moons from now, the shoe will be firmly ensconsed on the other foot. Michigan fans will start buying torches, assembling pitchforks, and getting boiled-by-oil riders on their life insurance policies. I don't want to see the other side of the John Cooper coin.
3. What's your wingnut upset prediction of year?
Georgia over Boise State. I keed, I keed.
Penn State over Ohio State: The college football equivalent of that horrific Indiana-Detroit Eastern Conference Finals last year, this series has degenerated into an uglyfest unparalleled nationwide. Every year someone wins without deserving it in any way whatsoever, usually off a freakish play by a tall fast Buckeye. This year Penn State will have a fighting chance because they have some guys--Derrick Williams, Dan Connor, Alan Zemitas, Justin King--who can make the big play that leads to the game's only touchdown.
Penn State will have a bear of a defense this year and the only issue they appear to have is a team that can successfully apply a power running attack. Ohio State will be singularly incapable of doing this. No one is going to turn off Ted Ginn but the Penn State secondary is going to be four seniors with proven ability--he won't go Oklahoma State on the Nittany Lions. Ohio State will struggle to score mightily.
How will Penn State score? Hell if I know. But it'll only take one huge play.