"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
Reality Check - we have a top ten recruiting class right now, a kick-ass coach and tons of star-potential youngsters.
The stadium renovations (going to be loud!) and new practice facility (which will both be awe inspiring) will help recruiting even more next year.
We had an awesome recruiting class last year, with a ton of the kids redshirting. This means a bigger stronger faster meaner Roundtree, T-Rob, Omameh, Barnum, Smith, and Floyd to name a few.
Not to mention guys like Martin, Cissoko, Odoms, Shaw, Fitzgerald and Stonum all got a ton of experience by true freshman standards.
There is the potential to a top 5 recruiting class this year with a strong close (Campbell, Robinson, snake oil 1, snake oil 2).
Other reasons for excitement:
- Brandon Graham destroying QB's (fingers and toes crossed)
- Another off season of Barwisization
- Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown destroying safeties and linebackers next year (over-under on Minor-caused concussions is 3.5)
- Hemingway will be back
- Offensive line that will be big-ten caliber with depth
- Forcier and an improved/healthy Dual-Threet
- Jonas Mouton's potential & Obi Ezeh being another year better
- T-Rob and Gallon to help out Odoms
- About 9 months to figure out who can return kicks without fumbling (freshmen?)
- Incoming FG kicker that hits like a linebacker
- And of course - Zoltan
Lots to be excited about if you ask me.
- Who are the top candidates to return kick-offs and punts?
- What incoming freshmen will have the biggest impact?
(Update - Picking Tate Forcier is cheating...not really and I agree he will have a big impact, but could it be someone else? For instance, I don't know anyone that thought Odoms would have had as big an impact as he did. Another good question would be, who do you guys think will be the biggest 'sleeper' impact player in the class next year?)
Alright, there’s a lot of basketball this week, and a lot of hockey too. Which means I’m doing hockey tomorrow.
Biiig week for College Basketball. And for the Michigan Wolverines. One of the biggest weeks in a long time for our team.
Rankings: We’re #23 in the Media poll, up from last week. #24 in the coaches’ poll, which improves over last week’s NR. Thanks for waking up coaches! Now, the Big Ten season begins, and we have a chance to prove we deserve to be ranked. So, us and the 5 teams above us in each poll, whose potential losses are the most likely to affect our rank:
(Rankings go Media/Coaches’, if only one is listed it’s unanimous.)
#23/#24 Michigan: Tonight against North Carolina Central is a win. For real. They’re winless. Then, B10 season begins, and we gotta stay on our toes. A 9-3 Badgers team will not let up on New Year’s Eve (Tickets are quite available at Crisler!), and a couple days later, neither will the 12-1 Fighting Ilini (Tickets are quite available!). Crucial to pick up the home wins in both games, crucial even to our tourney bid.
#24/#23 Ohio State: I think but am not sure after that West Virginia game that the Buckeyes can take out Iowa on New Year’s Eve. Saturday is a tough contest against the #21 Minnesota Golden Gophers. I’ll get to that later.
#22 Xavier: Not too hard a week for the Musketeers, Wednesday against Robert Morris, a .500 team they should beat. A little harder on Saturday against a 6-4 Virginia squad, but, they should be able to pick up two wins this week.
#21 Minnesota: Wednesday against the #10/#15 Spartans. I’m honestly not sure what helps us more in the long run, a win by Minnesota or a win by State. I think I’d prefer the Minnesota win, because if it’s a close game State shouldn’t take too big of a hit (they then get to beat up on Northwestern a couple days later), and I’d rather two mid-ranked Big Ten teams, one of which can easily recover, than one high ranked and one unranked. The Minnesota/OSU game: Again, I’m going to root for Minnesota. Because, well, I’d rather the lower team fall out of the rankings. And I hate the Buckeyes. Then, a couple days later, I can watch State beat them without feeling like it’ll hurt our strength of schedule too much.
#20/#16 Clemson: Tomorrow, against South Carolina. SC’s 9-1, and the game’s at their house, so, the undefeated Clemson should be able to win, but can’t look past this game. Much easier game at home on Saturday, against an East Carolina team on a three game losing streak.
#19/#20 Baylor: Tonight against Portland state. Portland State is 10-3, but, I’m still picking the 1-loss Bears to win at home. Really easy game New Year’s Eve against 1-win Jackson State, then, Friday night against the previously mentioned Gamecocks.
#18 Louisville:New Year’s Eve against UNLV. Louisville can beat the Rebels, but, UNLV’s 10-2 and could be dangerous. Then, Sunday against Kentucky, a team that you should always watch out for.
#14/#18 Tennessee: There was a tie in the Coaches’ poll, meaning both Louisville and Tennessee are #18. At any rate, they get the best named team in college sports, the Ragin’ Cajuns tonight. UL-Lafayette is 4-6, so, easy win for them. Saturday they’re in Kansas, against a Jayhawks team looking to be ranked again.
So, that’s that. A lot of potential upsets, but, if Michigan wants to be ranked higher, they’re going to have to hold up their end of the bargain and go undefeated this week.
Here’s a regurgitation of the schedule up to Wednesday in order of when games are actually taking place, along with where to watch them. I’ll be back tomorrow with hockey, and Thursday with an update on Wednesday’s games. Lemme tell you, New Year’s Eve is looking like a Saturday. Hope to see some of you at Crisler on Wednesday:
#23/#24 MICHIGAN v. NC Central, 7:00, BTN
#14/#18 Tennessee v. Louisiana-Lafayette, 7:30, Online
#19/#20 Baylor v. Portland State, 8:00, Online
#20/#16 Clemson at South Carolina, 7:00, FSN South/Florida, ESPN360.com
#21/#21 Minnesota v. #10/#15 Michigan State, 12:00, BTN
#23/#24 MICHIGAN v. Wisconsin, 2:00, ESPN2
#24/#23 Ohio State v. Iowa, 4:00, BTN
#19/#20 Baylor v. Jackson, 5:00, FSN Southwest
#22/#22 Xavier v. Robert Morris, 6:00, FSN Ohio
#18/#18 Louisville v. UNLV, 6:30, EPSN2
I got too caught up in watching that first game on DVR and have no time to really put much time into this next one. That sure was a quirky end to that first one, but I'll take it. The Alamo Bowl is updated at the top of the Diary for easier access.
Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, 8 pm
Northwester vs Missouri. Lines, Missou -14, O/U 67
The creative folks are calling this the Prose Bowl becuase of both school's Journalism pedigrees. Whatever.
I am going to take a stab that Northwestern hangs within the two touchdon number in this one. I dont like Missouri's defense. They've given up 24 or more points seven times this season. The Wildcats have a senior laden offense and Bacher can take advantage of the nation's 81st worst pass defense.
The Tigers are good, but have never been as good this year as they were last. They dont run the ball as well as they need to and that might hurt them a bit today. Dont sleep on NW's D. Its solid, well coached and play the pass well. They will hold their own on enough third and longs tonight to stay in the ballgame and keep Chase Daniel from turning this into his personal video game.
NW's players goals this season was to finally win a bowl game. Their season has pointed to this moment. The Tigers, meanwhile, wanted to play in a BCS game when the season started. The season spun out of control, and while they have redemption on their mind, I feel the Wildcats have an intangible motivation edge in this one.
This just feels like a game where we have a disinterested favorite in the Tigers. They have a lot of key players who are returning to the Texas, their native state, and that lends itself to a bit of a distracted team. It might be the second quarter before some guys realize the game is on.
Besides, remember one of the rules we are leaning on: Underdogs after Christmas, but before New Year's Day. You profit by doing that, especially by focusing on those catching between 7 and 16.5 points. Those guys are 63-35-1 ATS since 1990, 3-1 ATS this season. Might as well ride that bandwagon out the rest of the calendar year.
The Pick: NW +14.....1 Unit....yeah, after the sweat fest of the first game, lets take it down a notch on this one. Tyrelle Sutton looks to be a go, which is great news for Wildcat backers. Also, this line has grown from 12.5 to 14 since yesterday. The public and late money is on the Tigers. I faded this movement in all three Saturday games and went 2-1. We'll see how this one goes tonight.
Papa Johns Bowls, Birmingham, 3 pm
North Carolina St vs Rutgers. Lines, Rutgers -7, O/U 57
If we ever get a playoff system, I hope they keep some of the bowls as an undercard. Hey, the NCAA Tournament has the NIT after all. Anyway, these two teams playing this afternoon gives us a good example of why the Bowl System can not be discarded altogether. Neither Rutgers, nor NCST would be anywhere near a playoff spot. But, both ended the season playing as well as most anybody else in the country. What's more, is both teams climbed out of embarrasing early season holes, rallied and ripped off winning streaks to close the season. The end result? Surprising bowl bids. It would be a pity if we lose the bowl system and teams like Rutgers and NCST dont have a place to go to reward the fantastic conclusions of their seasons.
Anyway, enough of the preaching. Let's get into this game. I hope you have your DVR set and wont miss this one at work. This will be a barnburner. I expect it to be one of the best bowl games this season. Both clubs were playing at such a high level to close the season that anything else other than a classic would be a letdown.
Rutgers closed the year with a six-game winning streak. During the run, Rutgers woodshedded USF and Pitt and scored more than 40 ppg. Not to be outdone, NCST won their final four games in a row and beat all five of their in state rivals this season. They've covered the spread in seven straight games. The Pack covered every single ACC game this season en route to a 9-2 ATS record, one of the best in the country. This is a club that won me a lot of cash since the end of September.
Despite Rutgers own hot streak, I am not getting off my very own NCST Wolfpack bandwagon.
Already this bowl season, we've seen ACC teams Wake Forest, UNC and Miami look good and cover the spread. In the Pack, we have a team that beat all three of those teams by a combined 45 points in the month of November. NCST played 10 bowl teams this year and went 8-2 ATS in those contests. Rutgers, meanwhile, only went 3-5 ATS in their games against fellow bowlers this year. That alone would have me on the TD underdog in this one.
But, on the field, there is much to like about NCST, even though statistically they dont appear as strong as Rutgers. QB Russel Wilson is the real deal. He's a redshirt freshmen and the minute the team gave the QB position to him, this team has been on fire. They're covered the spread in each of his starts. He's a dual threat and will get between 250-300 yards of total offense today. He's tossed 16 TDs to just 1 INT and has at least 2 TD passes in five straight games. What's more is the threat of Wilson has really opened up the running game. They have a thunder and lightning type combo of Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene and the duo has combined to average more than 5 yards per carry since Wilson became the QB. I am sure there will be some rust due to the layoff, but I expect Wilson, Brown and Eugene to eventually get it going and march up and down the field against an undersized and not very impressive Rutgers defense.
In their 7-game cover streak, the Pack are averaging 28.85 ppg, against athletic and powerful defenses like Florida St, BC, Maryland, Miami and UNC.
Of course, Rutgers will do some offensive damage in this one. After 3.5 years of head scratching inconsistency, Knight QB Mike Teel finally found his groove. As Rutgers won six in a row, Teel and his awesome set of wideouts (I like Kenny Britt and Tanquean Underwood. They've got NFL written all over him) have combined for 20 TDs passes. He has many critics--myself included-- but at least he's ending his tenure on a high note and no other QB has led the program to as many bowl games as he has.
Nevertheless, I think the run ends today. First, lets look at the key TO stat. The Pack never turn it over and rank 15th nationally in TO margin. Rutgers has always had problems holding onto the ball and are on the fringe of being in the bottom third nationally in the TO margin category. I still dont trust Teel. He can be a turnover machine and is not the most accurate QB out there.
Neither defenses are that great, but the Pack have more play makers on that side of the ball. That will help create turnovers and a bad throw or two out of Teel. The best pass rusher in this game in NCST's Willie Young. And, the best overall defender on the field will be NCST's LB Nate Irving. Much is made of Wilson's insertion into the lineup as turning around the Pack, but dont forget Wilson missed most of the first half of the season with an injury. Folks, this guy is a stud. He's a dual threat defender, stuffing the run for a TFL on one play and getting a pass deflection on the next. Watch for him to bait Teel into an INT right into his arms that will sway momentum in this game.
The ACC is a better conference than the Big East. I'll take the team from the ACC getting a TD head start against a Big East team anyday of the week. Espcially one with a first team all league QB on its roster. The ACC is 4-0 ATS in bowls this year. Really as long as an ACC team is not going against one of the elite teams in the country, I'll take that team getting points all the time.
Also, there is the Tom OBrien factor. He won his final 8 bowl games as head coach at BC. He's getting his postseason chance in Raliegh, and I like his proven ability to get it done in the bowl games.
Teel and his wideouts will land a haymaker or two. But, the Pack will survive that. Teams have run all year on Rutgers. The tailback combo, plus the legs of Wilson, will account for 200 yards on the ground. Plus, Wilson will match Teel's TD throws if his streak of at least 2 TD passes in a game is any indication. The Pack will finish +2 in the TO department. I expect them to win this game, but I will gladly take the +7 points and put them in my pocket in case I need them.
The Pack have covered as an underdog against ECU, FSU, BC, Maryland, Wake, UNC and Miami. All of those clubs would beat Rutgers on a neutral field. The wrong team is favored in this one.
The Pick: NCST +7......4 Units.....I am going to steal a poker reference in this one: I am going 'All In' with this game and am risking all the Units won so far during bowl season. Near as I can tell, its a coin flip. The spread should be a Pick 'Em. How confident am I? You know those polls where you select which team to cover and then rank them confidence-like. This would be my 34 game. The ND game would have been my 33 game and it won easily. Here's hoping for a repeat.
The Pick: Over 56......1 Unit.....Adding a small play over. I cant see anything smaller than a 31-27 final score. I expect both teams in get into the 30s. This will be one of the better games in bowl season
I will add a writeup on the Missouri/Northwestern Alamo Bowl later in the day.
As alumni and fans of the University of Michigan football program, we demand a clear explanation of the significance of a Uniqname. It seems that Uniqnames have taken on an increased level of importance in the day and age of the Internet Stalker, and the public information available on the Umich directory will decide the fates of not one man, not one team, not even one program - but the fates of many lazy, pimple-faced, cyberspace inhabitants as well. I hope you do not cower under the weight of such intense pressure.
Does getting a Uniqname mean that someone is enrolled? Or does it simply mean that they might want to play football at the University of Michigan and the opportunity to Bind or Unbind could excite a star football player into committing to our great program?
We want to know!
As the steward of this public university - and a slave to the Freedom of Information Act - we require an answer from you at once. We will not leave our computers until we get one (or on January 3rd, whichever comes first), and you don't want a bunch of scoliosis lawsuits on your hands.
Magnus and the MGoBlog Community
P.S. Or if you can just tell us whether William Campbell is enrolled, you can forget about the rest of this letter. Thanks.
Ok, lets do this quickly before more rankings show up tomorrow:
#11 Michigan in the GLI. First night, we handily beat Michigan Tech, in a good game for the defense. Hogan records a shutout, but, I was there, and there were very few shots that caused us Michigan fans to go “oooh!” after good saves. Michigan State beats North Dakota in a stunner, setting up this year’s third Michigan/Michigan State match.
Next night, in front of a slightly pro-Michigan crowd, we destroyed Little Brother 5-1. Game was awesome, I was thrilled to be there. Louie for Hobey! Two more for the season sweep.
#9 Cornell plays in the Florida College Classic. Beat St. Cloud State night 1, Colgate beats Maine, setting up a Sunday night match.
In which I can’t figure out exactly what happened. The Live Stats site says 2-2 at the end of 5 minutes of overtime, and I can’t imagine a tourney can end in a tie. And I want to post this.
Hockey’s holiday break sort of ends next week. We don’t play, but, more teams play than have played all at once in some time.
Everything goes according to plan, except a BYU game that wasn’t played. Monday night, #24/NR Michigan beat Florida Gulf Coast (although, apparently we were fairly lethargic about it), then take Christmas off. Here’s a list of the rest of the games (Ranks: Media/Coaches’):
NR/#24 Memphis over Drexel
#21/#22 Baylor over Hartford
NR/#25 Marquette over NC State
BYU v. Western Oregon- Postponed to Jan 6th due to inclement weather
#20/#17 Arizona State over Idaho State
#23/#23 Minnesota over Southeastern Louisiana
#19/#19 Louisville over UAB
NR/#25 Marquette over Presbyterian
#23/#23 Minnesota over High Point
See you tomorrow with some rankings and some plans for your week.
Independence Bowl, Shreveport LA, 8:15 pm
Northern Illinois vs Louisiana Tech. Lines, LT -2, O/U 47. Moneyline (to win) for LT, -135
Why would you watch an NFL Division Title Game (SD vs Denver) when there is a bowl game on, especially one that could finally give us the elusive answer of which conference produces the less fraudulent bowl team, the MAC or the WAC. Truth seekers have looked high and low for this answer and they may get some tangible evidence tonight when Northern Illinois swaps paint with Louisiana Tech.
That can't hold a candle to deciding an AFC West Champion, or, as I like to call it, Colt Fodder for next weekend. Besides, if you're reading this, aren't you obligated to be watching the Mazie and Blue icers skate in the GLI Final? Its a presitigoous hockey tournament.....against Sparty.....the boys need you, so tune in. It's 1-1 at the first intermission right now.
Typically, the Independence Bowl is a Big 12 vs SEC matchup, which would provide an interesting undercard in advance of the showdon for all their marbles between these leagues respective conferences. They've been the best leagues all season, but ironically neither were able to qualify enough teams for their slots after placing two into the BCS. Blame Auburn, Tennessee, Colorado and Texas AM for regressing in 2008 and making this classic clash between the Huskies and the....ah.....wait a second.....crap, I dont even know La Tech's nickname. Give me a second while I look that one up.
Alright. I'm back. Thanks for cutting me some time there. The Bulldogs, eh? Gun to my head, I would have said Broncos. Dodged a bullet there, I suppose.
Kidding aside, history suggests this game will at least be close and not decided until late. Nine of the last Independence Bowls have been decided by 7 points or less. These two clubs have combined to play a dozen games this season decided by a score or less. NIU always seems to play close games. And, they typically lose those contests. NIU is 8-16 SU in games decided by a TD or less, 2-4 in those types of games this season. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are 5-3 in those games in the two-season tenure of coach Derek Dooley (the son of UGA legend Vince Dooley), 3-2 this year.
Throw in the fact that LT will be playing this game in fron of a home state crowd, and I like their chances to pull the win. Enough, at least, to risk a one unit wager that the program's historic identities in close games will stay consistent.
The Bulldogs are playing better coming into this game. NIU lost 3 of their last 4 and lost all five of their games this year to fellow 2008 bowlers. LT had a four game winning streak in November, averaging 35 ppg. They did lose their finale, 35-31 to Nevada, but playing Nevada is a harder chore than going against NIU. Going back to mid October, this team has scored more than 32 ppg.
I doubt NIU can keep up for four quarters. Their D has some nice stats, but the teams with relatie offensive acumen, like CMU, WMU, Ball St and Navy have been able to call their shots and drive the ball at will versus this D. LT has the better rushing offense and better rushing defense. Thats a recipe for success.
I am going to promote another little know, mid major running back to look out for tonight. Last week, in the debut diary, I touted Gantrell Johnson, the sparkplug looking, dreadlock wearing tailback for CSU. I said he would be the most fun player to watch in that mid major slug fest. He delivered with almost 400 yards from scrimmage. I made a fatal error, however, when I bet against him. I wont make that mistake here.
Watch out for LT tailback Daniel Porter. Expect him to be the best player on the field today. He has 100 yard games in five of his last seven games as he emerged as a first teamm All-WAC performer. He's shifty, elusive, and dangerous in space, but he has enough power to also run in between the tackles. He's a complete back and reminds me of a more physically formed out Jacquizz Rodgers, the waterbug for Oregon State that nearly dragged the Beavers to Pasadena. Porter will be the Bowl MVP for LT. He'll rip off 150 yards and a couple of scores will the Bulldogs nail down a hard fought 24-17 victory.
The Pick: Louisiana Tech to win on the ML, -135, 1 Unit......the Independence Bowl historically gives us close games. So, after UM bodychecks MSU to a bloody pulp and hoists the GLI Trophy, turn the dial and watch the second half