It's Thanksgiving week, so here's my list of things I'm thankful for (on the topic of ugly games, that is).
1. Eastern is bowl-egible. They've got a long way to go to get the third MAC bowl spot, but they can at least dream of the Famous Idaho Potao Bowl. Don't we all. Beating Northern Illinois this week would help their chances a little, but they'll need some help. Northern Illinois looks to be in the upper echelon of MAC teams, with a 6-1 conference record and winning a trackmeet against Toledo 63-60. That game featured 11 passing TDs. Bonus EMU related thankfulness: me making ESPN wonder "Why is Eastern's page getting so much traffic from Colorado?" I know Eastern is the Eagles, but they will always be the EMUs to me.
2. Florida Atlantic is down to their last two chances to end the season winless. I think I'm becoming a kinder, gentler person who wants to see them win. Unless I don't like their coach or something, like Alabama. Their next two games are against teams with 3 wins, but Troy was in that category as well and FAU lost by 27. FAU has a -24 point scoring difference, so this may be a big hill to climb for the Owls.UAB is almost as bad, with a -22 point scoring difference, but I think the competition in C-USA is better than the Sun Belt. I'm going with green bean casserole, because who likes green bean casserole?
3. The Big East. I could have written this entire column for the season with just the Big East. For example: the team currently leading is Louisville, 6-5 overall. Rutgers is tied with a conference record of 4-2, then Cincinnati and West Virginia are tied at 7-3, 3-2. I'm really hoping that Louisville beats USF and everybody else loses so there can be a 5 loss team in the BCS. There's way too many combinations at this point to figure it out, but at best, a 9-3 team is going to win the conference. This one gets the KFC Potato Bowl, because everything is in one big pile, and the end is not very good.
Now with bacon!
4. That everything looks like it's shaping up for Sparty to get fed to Oklahoma, or Oregon, or Arkansas. Karma, baby. The crazy man throwing the pie should be Chip Kelly.
So that was a pretty good weekend, no? If you'll recall from last week's installment, most of the pundits expected Michigan to end up somewhere around the Outback against some roughly equivalent SEC team, like Georgia or S Carolina. What a difference a week makes. There is now a concensus in terms of Michigan's projected destination.
So, on with the show...
|Post Week 12||Rittenberg||ESPN-Schlabach||ESPN-Edwards||CBS Sports||CNNSI||BTN||CFN|
|Fiesta||Oklahoma||Oklahoma||Ok State||Ok St||Ok State|
|Orange||Va Tech||Va Tech||Va Tech||Va Tech||Clemson|
|Outback||Nebraska||Nebraska||Penn St||msu||msu||Penn St||Penn St|
|S Car||S Car||S Car||S Car||S Car||Georgia|
|Care Care||Iowa||NW||Iowa||Purdue||Penn St||osu||Iowa|
|Little Caesars||Purdue||Ohio (YTO)||NW||NW||NW||NW||Illinois|
|Ohio (NTO)||Toledo||Toledo||Ohio (NTO)||Ohio (NTO)||NIU|
|Fight Hunger||Penn St|
First, the good news - every single projection has Michigan in the firckin' Sugar Bowl, baby! Who cares that it could be against Houston? I'd be fine with it.
In other near-unanimous news, all except Schlabach have Wisco-Oregon in the Rose. Schlabach sees msu winning the B1G.
The Big Ten is also expected to get 10 teams bowl eligible, hence the random R+L Carrier New Orleans Bowl, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
Our little bros to the north are projected into the Rose (x1), Cap1 (x4), and Outback (x2). Nice how-do-you-do as the Big 10 runner up. Nebraska, on the other hand, is projected to the Cap 1 (x2), Outback (x2), Gator (x1), and the Insight (x2). You can bet the Insight planners would LOVE to see Nebraska-Oklahoma (BTN's projection).
Finally, those dudes in Ohio are projected as high as the Gator, but also as low as the Meineke Car Care Texas Bowl and the Little Caesar's Bowl. Personally, I hope Schlabach's prediction of Ohio (YTO) vs. Ohio (NTO) in the Pizza Pizza Bowl happens.
So yeah - big game coming up. Go Blue! Beat Ohio!
I think we all know it’s inevitable. Not Meyer taking the job, I still have a minimal amount of unrealistic hope that he’ll turn them down, and that I get to laugh at my OSU acquaintances. But they’re going to offer, if they haven’t already. They aren’t going to handle things in a businesslike manner, waiting until after the season wraps up in January, getting together with Fickel for a few chats, and sleeping a few nights on it. No. They are moving now, in season, and reminding us that a metaphorical discipline bomb could be dropped at the 50 of the Horseshoe and this organization’s immediate response would be : “Well, what can we do to keep winning football games at any cost?”
Should Urban Meyer take the job, what would it mean for Ohio State and Michigan both in short terms and a few years from now? Here are my thoughts:
Do you remember when you were a child, and did something very bad? Do you remember a disciplinary figure giving you hell for it? Do you remember the day your father, or older brother, or mentor, or person that everyone in the room loved and respected, stepped in on your behalf and told those in charge of keeping order that “they’d talk to you about it”?
If Urban Meyer takes over at OSU, put your popcorn carts away. He’ll intercede for them. With Tressel at the helm the Buckeyes would have suffered the long dick of the law. With anybody else, they’d still get nailed for pulling off and covering up a scandal rivaled only by the past three decades at Miami, but not with Meyer.
Just like a pastor, or a youth care worker, he’ll step in, have a short chat with the NCAA board and say exactly this, or something like it, “I’ll talk to them about it.” At this point, everyone in the room will put on their bedroom eyes, and look fondly on Meyer as though he is a returning vet with a purple heart. Someone might even say “You go get em’ TIGER!”
Meyer will save Ohio the slap on the wrist. Write this down.
THE YEARS AHEAD:
This is going to end in one of two ways. Both of them will benefit Michigan.
Option 1: This whole thing blows up in their face. We’ve beaten Urban Meyer before. We will continue to beat him. The recruiting momentum is in our favor right now, and with this Michigan team rising to the current occasion, I don’t see it changing any time soon. Even if Les Miles showed up in Columbus with a scarlet hoodie and a headset. And remember, while Meyer is one hell of a coach, he’s a quitter. When the going got tough in Gainesville, he left, for health reasons. I am not going all conspiracy theorist on this. He probably had shit going on. But then he came back, swept in and took his Castle back a la Jay Leno, and when the ratings didn’t go back up, it was all of a sudden “family-time” for the Meyers. He proceeded to bail on Florida once more, and then proceeded to
spend considerable amounts of time with his family travel around the country producing editorial segments and calling games for ESPN. Now that college football season is winding down and he will finally have that valuable time with his kids and wife, he is settling in at home, and making plans for vacations and down time with his family talking about and addressing rumors about a return to Columbus as if he were waiting on the phone call. If he takes the job this winter, and we’re looking at an 8-4 buckeye squad in 2013 and 2014, will he stick around? The only thing more entertaining than Braxton Miller’s attempt at passing the ball fourteen yards will be Meyer’s newest excuse. Grandchildren? Erectile Dysfunction? Time to spend a few months responding to fan mail?
It works. Two years from now, the Buckeyes are looking at 10-3 post bowl game, and as a result are ranked #3 in the preseason polls for the next year. Don’t get me wrong, while I wish we Beat Ohio every year, instead of rolling a squad that can’t put a decent drive together, I’d rather take a big old piss in their chicken noodle soup. I don’t just want Michigan to beat them, I want them to ruin Ohio’s season. And as a result, our path to a National Championship just got a little straighter. We need our #1 rival to be a top ten team. It’s just how it is. Texas-Oklahoma Alabama-Auburn-LSU, Michigan-Ohio State. It’s rare that any one of these teams makes waves in the annual run at the BCS championship when their (or one of their) corresponding rivals don’t have a decent shot at 10-11 wins.
Meyer may mean we go from taking the Buckeyes 9 times out of 10 to maybe 6 or 7, but at least with him at the helm, we’ll not only get beat by a clean, talented program, we’ll have the opportunity to do it to them, just after thanksgiving, every year.
Either way, bring it on! Whichever one of our rivals (Notre Dame. Lolz) (Michigan State. Perpetual dream state that I’m confident will end soon. Very soon.) (Ohio. A big fat mess right now) wants to try and derail us….I say let them in.
In one year, Hoke and Co. have taught this team to play like Michigan again. But they’ve only gotten the job halfway done. Last off season, the fundamentals were laid in place. Last off season, they learned (and are finally showing it) how to play the game right. But his spring and summer, these athletes learn the other half of what Michigan football is: The toughness, the swagger, the Tremendous Tremendousosity. We’re only at the summit, friends.
And whether he’s in the media booth, or on the opposite sideline, Urban Meyer won’t change that.
I started working on this season's Ohio State wallpaper several months ago. The concept was more fun than anything I've worked on (other than the Denard Robinson Action Figures) and soon it grew into my most ambitious project to-date. Nothing even comes close with regard to the skills required to pull it off and the number of hours I'd require to finish it.
In case it's not obvious to you already, this is not that wallpaper. Two things changed my mind about releasing it now: first, I realized that my concept had nothing to do with Ohio State and would work better as a pro-Michigan season theme; second, the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal provided the first true opportunity to poke fun at Ohio State in nearly a decade.
As I write this explanation I'm reminded of the classic line by rock greats Tenacious D: "This is not The Greatest Song in the World, no. This is just a tribute." Next August I'll publish "The Greatest Wallpaper in the World" for the 2012 season to massive disappointment now that I've stupidly overhyped the thing to the five people who actually read these explanations. For now, I hope you'll enjoy this artwork inspired by Ohio State's fall (and Fall).
The images below are a previews only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
The Riddell Revo Speed helmets were illustrated in Illustrator (they really nailed the naming of that product) and then superimposed on the forearm photograph in Photoshop. I used a dash of Gaussian blur, a mix of blending modes and a smidge of smudge tool action to make the color boundaries look more tattoo-ish. If you look closely you can see a little red around the edges of the tattoo that gives the skin the "I was at one time in the past punctured over and over by needles" look. I toyed with a much more elaborate tattoo that used a blackletter font (and went so far as to design an ambigram for the word "game") but in the end I decided on simplicity; I used a type treatment consistent with this season's Notre Dame and Michigan State wallpapers.
Michigan and Ohio share four mutual opponents. The goal of this diary is to examine our respective performances against these opponents, and in doing so attempt to predict the winner of next Saturday's game.
When we played them:
At MSU. Michigan started with an 80-yard, 10-play touchdown drive and then proceeded to punt on 8 consecutive drives before a second too-little-too-late score. Michigan State's offense wasn't a juggernaut but it was good enough for three scores, and Denard's pick-six sealed the game. MSU 28-14.
When they played them:
At Ohio. By the fourth quarter, the play-by-play announcers were considering ritual suicide in the press box in this abomination of a football game. Ohio managed 178 net yards, 62 of which was on the final drive. While MSU's defense looked dominant, their offense seemed determined to keep Ohio in the game, offering up two interceptions, two turnover-on-downs, and a missed field goal. The 10 points they did manage seemed like an insurmountable lead, even after Ohio managed a desperation touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. MSU 10-7.
Our game was played in a trash tornado. Ohio let Joe Bauserman, the human trash tornado, attempt 14 passes (although he did complete half of them and led their one touchdown drive). Ohio still had all the Tatgate and Related Naughtiness players suspended.
Michigan State made both us and Ohio look bad. Ohio came closer by final outcome but both games were ugly. In Michigan's favor, we had to play on the road. In Ohio's favor, they had to play without players that have since returned. I'm calling this a PUSH.
When we played them:
At Michigan: Ill-advised interceptions were the only thing stopping Michigan's offense as we racked up 535 yards and 34 points (plus a safety for 2 more). Purdue scored on their first drive and then spent a lot of time punting until some 4th quarter drives against Michigan's prevent defense made the score look a bit closer than it actually was. Michigan 36-14.
When they played them:
At Purdue: Purdue had 10 points before Ohio had 10 yards, and then hung on for dear life as Ohio clawed its way back. Ohio was poised to complete the rally and take the lead for the first time when it scored a touchdown with 1:22 remaining, only to see the extra point blocked. In OT, Purdue's touchdown trumped Ohio's field goal. Purdue 26-23.
Ohio had all of their players except for WR DeVier Posey back, and QB Braxton Miller by this time had several games of experience under his belt. Ohio played Purdue on the road while we got them at home.
Home field advantage is not nearly significant enough to detract from the fact that Michigan beat Purdue handily while Ohio seemed evenly matched against the Boilermakers. Advantage, MICHIGAN.
When we played them:
At Illinois. Michigan got about 17 different monkeys off of our collective backs with this convincing win on the road. A bevy of first-half miscues were the only thing that prevented this game from being over by halftime, because Illinois failed to mount a drive of more than 5 plays or 28 yards until late in the third quarter. By the time Illinois found its offense Michigan had found ours as well... and ours was better. Michigan 31-14.
When they played them:
At Illinois. Illinois out-gained Ohio 285 to 228 as Ohio went 1 for 4 passing for the entire game, but Ohio got touchdown drives of 12 and 22 yards thanks to Illinois turnovers. Those scores plus an opening field goal was enough for a victory. Ohio 17-7.
Ohio still had two players suspended, I believe (honestly for Ohio games "suspended players" should be its own category in the box score). If you are the kind of person that believes that Momentum is a mystical force that acts on sporting events rather than the product of mass and velocity, you will put emphasis on the fact that Illinois was on a six-game winning streak when they played Ohio, but a 3-game losing streak when they played us.
Ohio needed a heavy dose of Illinois mistakes to earn a 10-point victory. Illinois needed a heavy dose of Michigan mistakes to stop us from going up by five scores. Advantage, MICHIGAN.
When we played them:
At Michigan. Do I really need to write this paragraph? MURDERED HUSKERS FROM HELL TO BREAKFAST. IF ANYONE FINDS TAYLOR MARTINEZ'S TEETH PLEASE RETURN THEM. I think that about covers it. Michigan 45-17.
When they played them:
At Nebraska. Ohio had a 27-6 lead until Braxton Miller was injured and Joe Bauserman was forced back into action. His 1-for-10 passing explains why Ohio didn't score any more points, but not why Ohio's defense gave up 4 touchdowns and 289 yards in the last quarter and a half. Nebraska 34-27.
Ohio had to deal with home field advantage. They had the Tatgate crew back but were still without the Related Naughtiness guys. Michigan didn't get to play the Michigan Fergodsakes video on the scoreboards until halftime, after which it went from a one score game to a blowout. I think that's Very Telling (TM).
The caveats are legitimate but Ohio's defensive collapse cannot be ignored. I don't think this is as significant of a win for Michigan as it at seems at first, but never the less it's advantage, MICHIGAN.
Three of the four mutual opponent comparisons favor Michigan, and the other is a push. Ohio has been growing stronger as the season goes on and their players have returned from suspension, although this has not translated to better results. Michigan has been growing stronger as well as the coaches learn what the players can and cannot do and the players benefit from the instruction of competent staff, and we have blowout victories in three of our last four games to show for it. I can't promise a victory on Saturday, but if performance against mutual opponents means anything at all, we should be able to win the day.
Ed-Seth: Throwing this up front -- I still need a photographer.
Adopt-a-Shelter is a one-day event at two Detroit homeless shelters where we give the clients a Christmas party and allow the parents to "shop" for donated gifts worth $10 to $20. The shelters are the Booth Evangeline (the larger, for families), and Genesis House II (smaller, for women & children).
Activities for the kids include a pizza party, Santa Claus, a teen game room, face-painting, artwork, dancing, and (at Booth) the opportunity to become one of those people in Metro-Detroit who can opine on the subject of Mitch Albom's height in real life. Most of the activities are a diversion for the kids while their parents…
Shop in a gift room filled with donated, unwrapped gifts. The parents can each select a certain number of gifts for themselves and their family members (this is why they have to be unwrapped). Anything left over goes to the shelters—every year we have a ton left over, and every year they've managed to give it all away in a few months after we leave.
What You Can Do
We're looking for 1) Activity Help, 2) Gift Donations, and 3) Volunteers.
1. Activities Assistance:
Photographer - We have a Santa, but I need a PHOTOGRAPHER for the Booth site, preferably someone who does this professionally. We accept pro bono but if you have pay requirements you can let me know what they are. If you have a way to print the photos, that's key (we tried a photo printer last year but one was way too slow—if you know a better way to do it please share). Between all the middle age Jewish ladies (read: have Bar Mitzvah-age kids) and the local press coverage (Mitch will mention with donors on his radio show), I'm pretty sure you'll get some business out of it. E-mail me.
Teen Game Room Captain – I've done it for years. You organize events for between 8 and 25 teens. There's a table hockey system, and a bunch of board games there but in the past we've organized Jeopardy-like games, or brought in TVs and videogame systems and had an all-out Madden-off.
Other activity leaders: Teen dance group who can teach some kids their moves. Manicure room. Caricatures. Food setup. People who did these last year have been contacted but haven't said yes or no yet.
2. Gift Donations
Gift donations should be unwrapped, tasteful, and between $15-$20. Stuff that needs batteries should come with batteries. No guns, no swords, no violent comic books. Historically we tend to fall short with stuff for young moms.
- AGE RANGE: The age of the children range from Newborn to 17 years old, with most of the children being between the ages of 4-11 years old.
- SIZES: A variety of sizes ranging from newborn to 3X are needed. The larger sizes (2X and 3X are for girls.)
- TOYS: Age-appropriate toys and educational toys are needed.
- TOILETRIES: All types of toiletries are needed, except NOTHING with ALCOHOL in it. Shampoo, Conditioner, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Body Lotion, Women’s Deodorant, Body Wash, Soap, Washcloths, Towels.
If you would like to donate, I have set up an Amazon wish list for either site. You don't have to order what's on there – they're ideas. Links:
If you can't find something you want, buy something else and ship to that address. Or check back – we're still updating it.
|Infant/Toddler||Child (4-12 years)||Teen||Parent|
|Sleepers||Sweat suits||Sweat suits||Sweat suits|
|$15 Gift certificates for Payless shoes||$15 Gift certificates for Payless shoes||Coats|
|Board games||Board games||$15 Gift certificates for Payless shoes|
|Stuffed animals||Radio walkman||Resume paper and envelopes|
|Activity books||Jewelry kits||Radio walkman|
The Genesis House site has enough volunteers but we can always use more at the Booth Evangeline site. This site is organized by Mitch Albom's Time to Help program; he and Ken Brown will be there:
- Time: 8:30 – noon
- Date: Dec. 3, 2011
- Location: Booth Evangeline Salvation Army, 20775 Pembroke Ave., Detroit, MI 48219. Same spot as last year. Parking is available at the school next door.
- To sign up: Visit the Time to Help volunteer sign-up page. (Note: it should be up in a few days. You can also e-mail me and I'll remind you when it's up).
Can't I Just Give You Money?
This is not the preferred option for me. Last year I set up a Paypal account and then spent three times as much as I received and I don't like taking your money. If you can't find something on the Amazon list above, donate to S.A.Y. Detroit, the umbrella organization for Detroit charities, and specify in the comments what it's for.