that is nice bonus change
The season is winding down. Rather than embracing the final weeks of the football season, I am trying to talk myself into college basketball because once I do that I know I will remain interested and engaged in the sporting world for the next several months even as college football fades to black. By the time that rush ends, it will be April. The hockey playoffs and newness of the baseball season will take me into summer. And, hey, by that point, isn't the college football offseason really over. The new Phil Steele magazine will be out by then. Blue Ribbon wont be far behind. So will the latest Hail To The Victors. See, if you think about, next season is really almost here. Phew, I am glad I got that solved. Western Michigan, you are officially On Notice, bitches! Anyway, onto this week's Big 10 Picks, where we hope to keep the good times rolling (26-18-1 season long record for Big 10 Picks! Woot!) with the following suggestions.
Indiana at Penn St. Lines, Penn St +36.5, O/U 57.
Its been almost two years since a Big 10 was favored by 30 or more points against another Big 10 team. Feel free to take a venture at what that game was. I'll spill the beans a couple of paragraphs later. As far as this game, you have to question the mindset of Penn St on the heels of such a heartbreaking loss of rare magnitude. Penn St cant wait to come out in a showdown and show people they aren't as clunky as they looked in Iowa. I'm sure they will come out on all cylinders when the Big 10 title is on the line against Michigan State. Next week. As for tomorrow, I highly doubt the lowly Hoosiers have Penn St's undivided attention, at least not enough to cover such a gaudy numbers. IU has looked good in recent weeks. Over the last three games, they've exceeded 20 points each time, only have three turnovers, received imporved QB play from Ben Chappell and found a nice stable of RBs to run with. They scored 31 against Penn St last year and think they can get at least a couple TDs in this one. I feel they have a good chance to crack the 20-point mark. In the early going, expect IU's pressure to thwart Clark enough to keep PSU from going off early. Eventually, the Lions will will rev up and go up and down the field on an IU defense that has a ton of injury issues on its back seven. Its being reported they're playing a WR at Safety in this game and that this week in practice certain guys on D wore black shirts to signal no contact allowed. Still, I think the Hoosiers squeak out enough on offense to cover the five-TD spread.
The Pick: IU +36.5, Over 57........yeah, lots of points will be scored. In fact, I am a little afraid that PSU will cover to Over all by themselves. I'm thinking there's a 10 percent chance this could happen. So, consider the Over bet a hedge on the fact that Penn St comes out smoking and scores more than 60 points.
Purdue at Iowa. Lines, Iowa -18, O/U 44.
The nation has finally caught on to the mini Iowa Renaissance we've seen this autumn. Not to mention the excellence that has been Shon Green's season. Thats what coming through with one of the season's signature upsets will do for you. It will also crowd the betting window. Consider the line movement in this game has grown from 14.5 when LVSC released lines on Sunday to now 18 as kickoff nears. The whole world appears to be on Iowa. Usually, I like fading the public, especially with the Hawks coming off such a huge win and being on serious letdown alert. But, I just cant do it. There's too many numbers I like about Iowa. The Hawks are 37-16 ATS at home and 13-3 ATS in their final home game. November is typically their times as Iowa is 22-15-1 ATS in the final four regular season games of the season in the Ferentz era, 12-6 in home games during those stretches. I never fear laying big chalk with Iowa, especially at home, where they're 17-8 ATS laying double digits. One thing worth pointing out about all those numbers is the 2006 season where the Hawks, shockingly, only covered at home once. All these numbers took a hit because of that outlier. All those numbers have bounced back in the nearly two seasons since. Of course, then there is woeful Purdue. I've been pointing this out all year: Purdue is 4-24 SU, 9-19 ATS against bowl teams. They're 2-6 ATS in that spot this season. This is the last chance to play this angle this year and I see no reason to stop. Purdue has only scrapped up 16 ppg in league play this year, but take out that explosion against UM (a non bowl team, by the way) and the Boilers aren't even scoring more than 10 points in league games. Iowa just does not give up a whole lot of points, allowing 13.2 ppg on the season. I have a hard time seeing Purdue breaking double digits. I expect a Senior Day rout of the 31-7 variety. Iowa makes a big defensive stand in the final minute to preserve the spread.
The Pick: Iowa -18......i just had the following conversation with my friend Cherie about this game. She said she liked Iowa. I reminded her about the possible letdown and the huge spread and asked why she was so quick with the Hawks. "They're at home," she snapped. The last time we had this conversation was their game last season with Syracuse. The Hawks won that 35-0 as 24-point favorites. I'm just sayin!
Northwestern at Michigan, Lines Michigan -3, O/U 46.
The last time another Big 10 was favored by at least 30 points in a conference game was when the Wildcats last visited Ann Arbor late in the 2006 season. A lot has changed since then, although it looks like the weather for this one might be as lousy as it was for the 2006 affair. Tomorrow, the Wildcats arrive in Ann Arbor in an underdog role that has people scratching their heads. Its not often you see a 3-7 team favored to beat a 7-3 team. Michigan has the better running and kicking games heading into tomorrow's game, at least as those units have performed in recent games. That gets them through this slog fest. Northwestern is one of the few teams that will gladly match UM turnover for turnover. I think that comes into play tomorrow and I just have this gut feel that Shaffer is going to come out and unleash the D tomorrow. He must feel like his back is to the wall. If last week was indicative of how he responds in the face of loud public criticsm, then I say we register and administer fireshaffer.com for the next several years just to keep him sweating.
The Pick, UM -3......obviously, backing Michigan is done with reluctance. In the end, I will pay a little extra juice on the money line and just need Michigan to win. But, we're playing with spreads here, so -3 will do. I like having cash on games I go to, and every now and then you have to say 'what the fuck' and just bet with your heart and see what happens.
Ohio State at Illinois, Lines OSU -9.5, O/U 45.5
No team has played Ohio State better in recent seasons than Ron Zook's Illini. The maligned Zooker has a great reputation as a recruiter, but he should also be touted as a great underdog coach. His teams--including his tenure at Florida--are 20-15 ATS when catching points. But, dont you almost have to overlook the 3-7 mark logged that first year in Champagne? He inherited such a dogmeat program that had even less experience than this year's Michigan outfit. Those are some great numbers if you consider 2006 an exception to the rule. Regardless, Zook is 9-5 as an underdog when Mr. Juice Williams is his starting QB. I still think OSU has trouble with the looks a Juice-led offense shows. There's been something off about the Bucks all season long. Britt Miller and Vontae Davis are going to torment young Pryor tomorrow. Last year, OSU could not contain the Illini's big plays or the legs of Juice Williams. The Illini will repeat enough of that effort to make this a back and forth game thats undecided the whole way. Illinois plays so much better at home, scoring over 30 points a game. They are one of the few teams this year that didn't stall against the stingy Iowa D, so I feel like they can have similar success on this field against the Bucks. Illinois lost to OSU by 7 two years ago and upset them in Columbus last season. Illinois is about the same, while OSU is not as good as their predecessors. I dont understand how they can be expected to in this one by double digits. I've boasted all season that OSU would lose twice in the Big 10 this season and have been anticipating Illinois as an attractive home dog in his game for weeks now. We'll see if its too good to be true.
The Pick, Illinois +9.5.......is it worth mentioning that OSU is 3-9 ATS the week before the Michigan game, and 0-6 when that foe is Illinois? I thought you might like to know that.
Minnesota at Wisconsin, Lines Wisco -14, O/U 46
Like the Iowa line, this sucker has has grown with money coming in all week on the favorite. What opened as a 10-point line has settled in at 13.5 for the last couple days. Unlike the Iowa game, I will go against the public grain in this one. In a very underrated rivalry game, the underdog actually has some pretty good numbers, logging a 14-8-1 ATS mark since 1985. That gives me enough of an opening to jump on the Minnesota bandwagon when the rest of the world is fleeing like buffett cooks when the Notre Dame coaching staff walks into their restuarant. Minnesota's downtown conveniently coincided with my Diary back in October praising their turnaround as legit. Thanks Golden Gophers! I love ya! Oh, but I do. In the battle of that weird, big, sorta dangerous looking axe these clubs play for, anything goes and as detailed above you should never count the underdog out. Last year, Wisconsin survived and won by a touchdown late in the game. Minnesota is much better than they were a year ago. Wisconsin this November is not as sharp as last November. Despite the change of venue, this game figures to be as close as last year's match. The Gophers looked terrible last week against Michigan, but wasn't it revealing to hear Wolverine players this week talk about how apparent it was the Gohpers looked past them. In an arguably bigger rivalry game for his local fan base, that wont happen again with master motivator Tim Brewster running the show. The Gophers have covered all four road games this season, winning three outright on the scoreboard. I think they're going to rise up to the moment tomorrow, even without Decker playing at WR.
The Pick, Minny +14 Over 46......I am feeling a shootout in this one. Since 1985, an average of 50.5 ppg have been scored when these teams play. Thats not a big deal, but consider the trend upwards the last eight years, with 67.6 ppg scored a contest. The loser in this game has exceeded 30 points in 5 of the last seven games. Expect Brandon Green to have his first big play TD of his career, Adam Weber to rip off a long TD scamper and one defensive score from its hawking D. Wisco wont be outdone as Clay will shred and slice his way to at least one 40-yard TD, Gilreith and Graham will each snare TDs and the Badgers might just match the Gophers pick-6. While the outcome may only decide who plays in Orlando or Phoenix, the action will exceed those stakes.
Seven picks this week, all five sides and a pair of overs. I dont feel all that awesome about this week's games. First time in a month where I've been shaky on the lines all week. I love underdogs, so its always hard for me to separate that bias when juicy lines get thrown up there. The two most exciting and watchable games will be OSU-Illinois and Minny-Wisco and in both I like the significant dog to keep it close. We'll see if I have fallen into some traps, but my day will be decided on those games.
Have fun watching football tomorrow (although by now, its today), and if you're heading to Ann Arbor, have fun and drive safely, looks like we'll be dealing with bad weather.
seen on another board:
"MSU's star rankings from Rivals
Our current starting lineup = 2.79 stars
Roland Martin = 4 stars
Charlie Gantt = 4 stars
Eric Gordon = 4 stars
Mark Dell = 4 stars
Brian Hoyer = 3 stars
Javon Ringer = 3 stars
Brandon Long = 3 stars
Otis Wiley = 3 stars
Ryan Allison = 3 stars
Rocco Cironi = 3 stars
Joel Nitchman = 3 stars
Kendall Davis-Clark = 3 stars
Brett Swenson = 3 stars
Oren Wilson = 3 stars
Greg Jones = 3 stars
BJ Cunningham = 3 stars
Johnny Adams = 3 stars
Jesse Miller = 2 stars
Justin Kershaw = 2 stars
Trevor Anderson = 2 stars
Dan Fortener = 2 stars
Aaron Bates = 2 stars
Joel Foreman = 2 stars
Blair White = Walk-on"
Compared to ours:
O = 3.72 stars
D = 4 stars
Total = 3.86
this is just unacceptable. How did we lose to MSU when our players have vastly superior talent? coaching and conditioning certainly arent the issue as brian has so eloquantly detailed in this blog. It is amazing that experience at key positions makes such a difference.
this just shows how quickly we will be back. this much talent can not possibly under acheive for two years in a row.
- The Michigan Difference (LSA'99)
I have checked out rivals.com and scout.com and check out some of the recruits comin in next yr and I really like some of them, such as the qb's. My only question to you all is why aren't we recruiting more offensive and defensive linemen? I mean we're on the short list for the #1 gaurd or tackle in the nation, but i couldnt really find anymore offensive line men that we were recruiting, and is there anymore news on Campbelle, is he leaning on recommiting, or is he lost, same with Newsome, is he gone for good?
I think that RR is doing a good job in that aspect of his job (especially at the skill positions) but you typically win and lose games in the trenches, so I'm really hoping he can pull some wizardry (like with snake oil and w/e else he used to get shaw)this recruiting year on some quality linemen.
Also regards to the d cordinator, he will probably be out of a job after this year, correct? So who does Rod want to bring in next year for that job? At the beginning of the year I personally thought he might be ok just on the fact that his d played well agaisnt USC last year, but they have sucked bad at times this year. So if he leaves im wondering to myself who are they going to bring in to coach the defense?
Northwestern is next week,and the team this year is definatly not good enough on either side of the ball to over look any team. A few years ago we might of been able to get away with it but not now. But as a fan, not a player I can over look any game I want, and I'm going to have to say I am just as excited to watch this years game as I ever was. It is, for sure, the last game of the season and, in my humble opinion it will be a good match up. Ok, I might be a bit of a homer but hey. If michigan can play against OSU like they did against MIN then they have a shot, not a huge one but a shot. The seniors on defense have something to really play for in Columbus. They have never beaten OSU (that statement is getting really old). They are a talented group of athletes, whether they play like it or not that is yet to be seen, but if they want to, I believe that they can carry this team to a win. It all sits on the lines ability to get penitration into the osu back feild. If they can hold Bennie Wells to the same type of day that they held PJ Hill to, that should be considered a great victory. It will be even more emotional game this year than it has in the past because of all of the story lines. RR first year, Pryor not committing to michigan, and the d line mens last year to beat the sweater vest. I think this game will be closer then the experts will say, if the defense plays with intensity. Not going to predict a win but it, hopefully will be close.
I started writing this in response to Brian's post, and then decided it was getting long enough to justify a diary entry:
Re: Insane Sherid'oh faction
Sheridan has a good head on his shoulders and is not physically talented enough to play against high-major teams. IMO, he was pretty good against Toledo (both of his int's are just as much on Clemons as they are him), and pretty good against Minnesota; bad against ND and Utah; and !!!!ZOMG=death!!!! against PSU. Therefore, I am confident he will be fine this week. If Threet's not 100% for OSU, though, run for the hills (!!!)
My only worry is that RR seems to have some sort of weird unjustified mancrush on Sheridan (see sticking with him so long against Utah, yanking Threet in arguably his best game, ND), so I hope to goodness RR doesn't take two decent starts (I'm assuming N'western does go decent) from Sheridan as some sort of mandate from the Heavens that the kid should play.
Re: The insane woooo SheriQBcontroversy crowd
How about the performance of one hit wonder J. Siller from Purdue? Anybody notice the beating MSU gave him the next week? Sometimes, when I play basketball with middle school girls, I feel like I'm pretty damn good at basketball.
Re: I hate them both, rawr, rawr, rawr; Forcier = the answer
The only game Threet looked mentally incapable was against MSU. Brian posted about this, but I am starting to think they are the only team that actually planned for us. Threet never seemed "locked in" to receivers in any game except against MSU. Then I thought about it: when is the last time ANYONE who is not MSU covered any of our receivers? The wheel was always open. The seam was always open. Odoms was always open. The pump and go always worked.
The suddenly we run bubble, bubble, and MSU is jumping them all, so pump and go = td, right? Nope, cb from different receiver makes ridiculous jump on perfect pass and nails Clemons (I think?) as he's catching it. Amazing play, touchdown against any other team this year, I think.
As for Threet's accuracy issues, Brian wrote long ago for one of his "worry if" bullets for a game about mid-season 'worry if Threet's accuracy does not improve.' I remember at the time thinking that it was unlikely we see any improvement this year. I don't coach football, but I do coach sports; and I know you don't change a pitcher's delivery mid-season. I think Threet takes a big step forward in mechanics over the off season and resolves those issues (not to mention hopefully being healthy). Mentally, he's been solid in every game (sans State, who might actually just be good, discussed above).
I am excited to see what this kid does with this offense next year.
Tom VanHaaren interviews one of the top OL prospects in the class of 2010.
I recently had the privilege of talking with Robert Crisp. I’m sure not too many people know that name yet, but "yet" is the key word. Crisp is a 6’8” 295 pound junior left tackle, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and he's one of the best in the 2010 class.
As big as he is, Robert runs a 4.85 40, and still looking to improve his time. He is a monster that plays on both sides of the ball. Basketball was his first love, and he didn’t even start playing football until a year and a half ago. He currently plays football, basketball, and will start track for his high school this year. Here’s the conversation we had.
TOM: You’re a junior, and it seems like you’re still a little under the radar. Tell me a little about yourself.
ROB: I’m 6 feet 8 inches and 295lbs. Our team is doing pretty good; we lost Friday 31-34. Our record is 6-3. We’re still looking okay though; we should have a chance to win it all. We made it to the playoffs last year, to the 3rd round. That’s not normal for our school, but we’ve been good since I’ve been there.
TOM: Now, I read that you are 6 feet 8 inches tall, 295 pound Offensive Tackle, and you run a 4.85 40? Is that right?
ROB: Yea, I ran that last year, I’m still around that, but I’m always trying to improve on it.
TOM: So are you a multisport athlete then? Basketball and Track too?
ROB: Yeah, well, in football I play offensive tackle, and defensive tackle. I also play basketball, which used to be my main sport. I was better at basketball than football. I’m going to start with shot put this year too.
TOM: Is being athletic something that you’ve worked on, or has it come naturally?
ROB: I just like to work hard, what I’ve learned, I do in the game. I like to pay attention and learn. My coaches have been crucial to my success.
TOM: You’re still young, but you’re going to start seeing and hearing a lot about colleges pretty soon. What is most important to you for the next level?
ROB: Academics is the first thing I think of. Who knows if I can go to the NFL, so I want a good education. Staying with my brother Pete is important, and being able to keep in touch with my guardian. I would love to go to college with Pete, who plays wide receiver and safety, we’ll see if that happens though. The last thing is just the environment on game day.
TOM: Are there any schools right now that stick out to you?
ROB: I don’t say I have a school on my mind right now, no favorite yet. I just think about where I’ll get the best education and opportunity.
TOM: Being from North Carolina there’s been a new rise with the schools there, have you seen any of those teams in person yet? Talked to any of the coaches?
ROB: No I haven’t gotten a chance to talk with them. I went to Duke last weekend, but other than that no.
TOM: Do you want to stay on the Offensive Line in college? Has anyone talked about moving you anywhere else?
ROB: I definitely want to play left tackle, if they give me the chance to play both I will. I’ll do whatever is best for the team. I try to stay humble.
TOM: You’ve got offers from Boston College, Clemson, Georgia, and Michigan to name a few. Is there one offer that you’re really hoping to get?
ROB: Last year I wanted an offer from Florida. But when I went, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I still haven’t even gotten an offer yet, but I’m not really that excited any more. Maybe they don’t know about me, but I went down there in person, so that affects it a little bit, but not totally.
TOM: Growing up, was there one college team that you always followed, always wished you could play for?
ROB: Duke. I always dreamed about going to Duke. Basketball was my first love, and I wanted to play for the Duke basketball team.
TOM: Do you know a lot about Michigan football?
ROB: I actually don’t. We were looking for tickets to fly up this weekend, but it’s too expensive right now.
TOM: Offensive line is a big need for Michigan and always a need for a lot of teams; will early playing time affect your decision?
ROB: I don’t think so. The starting position is the guy that works the hardest and learns the most. If I work harder then I deserve it. If I don’t work hard, then I don’t deserve it.
TOM: Does it make a difference of how much coaches show interest, and how much they talk to you?
ROB: I understand if they can’t talk to me right now, they’re in the middle of their season. But hearing from them a lot is good, but I understand they’ve got work to do.
TOM: So is everyone still pretty equal, are there any schools you know you want to see?
ROB: There are some schools I want to see, I still want to come see Michigan and LSU. But there’s no leader.
TOM: Have your coaches helped you at all, early on, to sort the process out?
ROB: They told me about the rules and regulations of recruiting. But they haven’t really tried to lead me on to any schools.
TOM: When do you think you’ll start planning visits?
ROB: After this football season. I haven’t decided if I’m going to play basketball yet. But I’m going to get some trips in after the football season.
TOM: Are you the kind of guy who wants to get your decision out of the way to stay focused, or take your time with everything and make a decision later on?
ROB: I’m going wait it out, and try to get as much information as possible. Tommy Bowden told me this is one of the most important decisions I’ll make. I’m going to wait until my senior year.