I did not make this headline up
I bumped Kansas up a few spots, swearing as I went.
Arizona State complainers: ASU has a solid win over 5-5 Colorado, an average Big 12 squad, in the nonconference and since the Pac-10 plays round-robin the entire conference has one less cupcake to devour Magino-style. At the end of the year you should mentally subtract half a loss and add half a win from/to every Pac-10 school; their records will be depressed relative to conferences across the country. Meanwhile, Kansas played four atrocious games in the noncon. There's also a common opponent in Colorado, who ASU beat 33-14; Kansas was exactly two touchdowns short of that. There's no comparison.
Oregon complainers: see above for a reason the Pac-10 will be underrated on the records forevermore. Oregon also smashed Michigan, a team that hasn't lost to a I-A squad(!!!) and is currently undefeated in the Big Ten; their other two nonconference games were against Fresno State and Houston, both of whom are 5-1 in conference and 6-3 overall and would have been losable if the Ducks weren't nuclear powered. It's potentially the toughest nonconference schedule in the country, which is a pretty sad commentary on nonconference schedules, I'll grant you. In conference they lost to Cal but have comfortable wins over ASU and USC. LSU can't match the ability to put teams away; OSU can't match quality of opposition, and this ballot has a bias towards who you beat, not who you lost to.
Missouri complainers: they beat Illinois, likely to end up 8-4, and their loss is to OU, who Kansas would lose to as well. They've beaten someone, unlike KU, and have dispatched their opponents with more alacrity overall: remember Kansas struggled with several games this year. All Missouri wins have not been in question.
Connecticut complainers: Hell, I feel your complaints and hate placing such a wonky team so high but they did beat USF and Rutgers and it's really hard to move them down on the merits.
Status. There is an idea floating around that Michigan should sit Henne and/or Hart since Michigan is guaranteed a BCS slot with a win over Ohio State no matter what the outcome is against Wisconsin. This is, IMO, crazy, since the outcome of the Wisconsin game is important either way -- is the difference between 9-3 and 8-4 a big deal? 10-2 and 9-3? -- and the chances either's preparation for the Ohio State game is adversely affected are extremely low. FWIW, Carr on the duo:
Asked about the injured players' status on "Michigan Replay," Carr had few doubts about Hart.
"I don't think you're going to keep him out of this one," Carr said of the Wisconsin game.
When cohost Jim Brandstatter asked about Henne, Carr hesitated but endorsed him too, saying, "Absolutely. He finished the game, didn't he?"
Henne reiterated that stance at yesterday's press conference:
Two days after self-diagnosing his health at 80 percent in East Lansing, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne said his separated throwing shoulder from the Illinois game is almost back to full strength.
Henne added at yesterday's press conference that he'll "definitely" play this weekend against Wisconsin.
"It feels really good," Henne said. "I got treatment this morning, and everything has definitely gotten a lot tighter, and it feels a lot better. Obviously it's going to move around a little bit, but right now, it's not really moving around at all and it's back to normal."
Hart, for his part:
"It's the last two games of my career... I'm not missing anything."
McGuffie aaah. Seven minutes of video fluff on Sam McGuffie:
Several of those runs are new even for those who have memorized the mixtape.
Badgerhawk down. Wisconsin CB Allen Langford and DT Jason Chapman are definitely out for the game Saturday; another key Badger may join them:
University of Wisconsin Head Football Coach Bret Bielema is not sure if running back P.J. Hill can play in Saturday's home finale against Michigan. The sophomore starter missed last weekend's loss at Ohio State with a bruised left leg. Bielema said Hill's condition got worse late last week and he has no idea how things will progress.
Hill got progressively more concerning as Jehuu Caulcrick pounded through the Michigan line time and again; if he's gimpy that will help.
Oh, so stupid. I'll keep it brief since this is football season and you probably don't care about this stuff: that McCosky guy with the inadvisable mustache wrote an anti-blog screed in the Free Press. Thunderous accusation leveled:
A lot of times these bloggers use the work of legitimate reporters. They will lift facts and segments of stories and cut and paste them onto their blog. Rarely, if ever, though, do they bother to credit the source.
Second thunderous accusation leveled:
Bloggers are having a field day speculating on how Joel Zumaya really injured his shoulder. Nobody believes a heavy box fell on him. So the Internet is rife with stories about how he fell off his dirt bike.
Links to blogs (or even mentions of specific offending blogs) provided: zero. Why is this? Um... because no Tigers bloggers even so much as mentioned the dirtbike rumor:
I also wonder where in the world he got this idea that blogs were all over pushing some random dirt bike story. Like I said, he wouldn't have got the idea here. He wouldn't have got it from Billfer or from Ian or from Kurt or from Lee or my main man Matt or from any of the major Tigers blogs. I haven't been keeping up on them lately but I don't even think Deadspin reported anything about dirt bikes.
I checked Motown Sports which is, let's admit it, the only Tigers message board worth looking at, and sure enough I found this thread talking about it. Two seconds of reading made it clear that the dirt bike rumor originated from the COMMENTS SECTION of something posted at ESPN.com.
McCosky's title: "bloggers just aren't journalists." Yes. That's the point.
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.)