somehow we're only 124th
Cool thing about hockey? Far more straight-forward than basketball. So, here's the deal: after winning the GLI, we're still #11 in the USA Today poll. However, the USCHO poll was nice enough to tie us with Colorado College for #10, so, that's good (polls listed below in that order). And, since all but one team we're concerned with plays a series this weekend, I'm doing the "Teams You Want to Lose" and "Schedule" in one place.
But, to start, our schedule.
#11/#10 Michigan has one of the most important series of its entire season this weekend at Yost, against #8/#6 Miami. In hockey, it's totally that Miami. Which is to say, Miami of Ohio may be the team to beat in the CCHA this year. They're a point behind Notre Dame, but, they will certainly make noise at the Joe in March. This game is interesting because Miami would have been on the list below if we weren't playing them, making it even more important. A split here would go a long way in getting us a CCHA-tourney first round bye and NCAA tourney bid, a sweep would be incredible. Games on Friday at 7:35 on FSN Plus, and Saturday at 7:35 on Comcast 900. Also, its at Yost, so, if you're lucky enough to go, BE LOUD.
Teams You Want to Lose, And Schedule
Note: Unless otherwise noted, assume everyone has a Friday/Saturday series in one place with their stated opponent.
Nebraska-Omaha: Ok, so, they're #18 in the USCHO poll and the USA Today doesn't even go that far, but, this is about the CCHA. They play Northern all weekend, and losses from them get us closer to being in a position to get a CCHA tournament first-round bye, and home ice for the second round.
#12/#10 Colorado College: It'd be helpful, as we're tied with them in one poll, but, they're playing Minnesota State at home, and MSU's only .500. I'd bet on CC wins, but, hockey's hockey.
#10/#12 Vermont OR #9 Boston College: They play each other! Whoever loses, it's helpful to us, slightly more so with a BC loss, which is reasonable at Vermont. I'm not entirely sure what a split would do, it would probably only be significant if we swept or it was a really good split.
#6/#8 Cornell: They play Niagara. Probably are safe, maybe a split.
#7/#5 Denver: They're against a shattered Michigan Tech, who's trying to recover from a GLI blowout. Hehe. We'll see how that goes. I automatically root in-state (usually, never for State unless it somehow helps us, always for Northern unless it somehow hurts us) anyways.
#5/#7 Princeton: The one exception to the "playing in series" rule. They get 9-8-1 (2-4-0) Union on Friday at home, then .184 Rensselaer on Saturday afternoon, still on home ice.
So, we'll see how it goes. See you Thursday or Friday with a basketball update.
I know all of us have discussed ad nauseam how Michigan's last couple of years have been, whether here, or with your friends, or at the local crack spot. There were several things that have happened over the last few years that were rationalized at the time but in hindsight were indicators of the decline of the program (e.g. Ball State 2006).
During this barren bowl season I decided to take an objective look at our bitter rival to see if there were any similarities. Please make no mistake, I'm not guaranteeing OSU's imminent demise any more than I guarantee Michigan's next National Championship (while I, of course, hope for both). I assure you the point of this post is not to dissect Michigan's recent shortcomings but to draw some parallels to Ohio State's current state of affairs.
The first similarity is predictable play calling with little to no adjustments. A perfect Michigan example is the 2006 Rose bowl which saw Michigan and USC go into the half tied at 3. USC proceeded to come out throwing and put up 29 points while Michigan continued it's zone left runs until it was too late. On to OSU. While there are enough examples in recent years the thing that sticks out most to me are other teams' postgame comments. Just this year Rey Maualuga and Colt McCoy both gave indications that either a) OSU did exactly what they did on film (Maualuga) or b) their coverage was predictable enough for the WR to call a play (McCoy).
Another similarity is when a great team wins a close one to a lesser opponent they are expected to roll on. Michigan's example is Ball State 2006, which everyone treated as a trap game after the fact and woke up to Appy State the next year. This year OSU played a close game against the vaunted Ohio University Bobcats that they barely escaped at home.
We all know the diluted argument (which will never be settled) that it's better to get to a BCS game and lose than not get there at all. To which I say: bullshit. First of all, as a fan, I would take a victory over Florida in the Capital One Bowl over a BCS beatdown any day. Secondly, ALL of us have to remember how frustrating the annual "showdowns" in Pasadena were getting. Maybe getting to one and getting beat is a moral victory; 3 in a row is just pathetically uncompetitive.
The last example (unless anyone wants to chime in) is the fact that Tressel was hired because of his "big game" experience and abilities. He held up his end of the bargain for the first couple of years, but in recent memory hasn't shown up. The most telling stat is OSU's record against opponents ranked in the Top 10 since "The Game" in 2006, which is 0-5. In the same span Michigan's record against Top 10 opponents is, get this, 3-4. (If you count the 2006 season the records go OSU [2-5] and Michigan [4-5]. Remember one of OSU's wins and one of M's losses were The Game FWIW).
To summarize, in my humble opinion, I honestly believe that as Michigan goes the Big Ten goes (for the most part). Michigan has been sliding for years, but it wasn't truly evident until the Buckeyes were getting exposed. Imagine being in Columbus thinking "How can we beat Michigan every year but not win a bowl game?" (On the other hand how can we beat Florida while they run laps around OSU...?) The truth is Michigan hasn't been very good, plain and simple. And the only time they were was when they were, yep, unpredictable. You know Urban Meyer had the same reaction all of us did when Michigan lined up 5-wide on the first play from scrimmage, which was: WTF?!
This is purely for discussion's sake only. No predictions, merely observations. Please don't get me wrong; I am not insisting or assuming that Tressel is out or doomed, I'm just trying to look at some gradual trends that we didn't notice on Michigan's behalf over the last few years. But I'm also realizing that without Michigan on top, the Big 10 simply cannot support itself. The balance of power has to be restored.
Texas utilized the short passing game vs. OSU and the hurry up offense, and were successful b/c they had 3 very solid WRs. They did not seem to have a talented tight end, and I was not overly impressed with their running game/backs. If Tate Forcier does become a Colt McCoy style QB, I believe this game gives Michigan Nation some serious promise in the Big Ten and against OSU going forward.
Scoreboard aside, Texas gained over 400 yards passing, and they did so without hitting any long plays. I believe that Michigan has the building blocks to run a similar style Offense against OSU with a more dangerous and versatile running attack. The option appeared successful against OSU's overly aggressive D-ends, and in the second half Colt began utilizing his legs.
I'd also like to point out that In bowl games, very often the team with more to play for/wants it more, has a huge advantage. IMO, there is no question that the OSU seniors wanted this game far more than the Texas team as a whole, despite Texas being slighted from the BCS Championship game. I am very optimistic about Michigan's offense and special teams, and now if our defense can play like Michigan Men, we should have a successful 2009 campaign.
Another year another BCS choke! The times have passed Tressel by and Pryor looks less and less like a future star. We were lucky to avoid that cancer for sure.
It has been a rough year but it is going to be worth it. We are the only team in the conference with a progressive outlook and the resources to be a leader in the coming years. Its pretty clear that the Big Ten can't compete on a national level until we do. We have the strength training and spread offense to light it up and the stud d-line recruits coming in to plant trashy-talking QB's with no arm like Pryor for years to come.
Someone here said it best, WE ARE GONNA TEAR IT UP LIKE A MACHINE. No one is going to want to play us starting next year. The Big Ten might be down, but once Michigan is back... we are going to revive this conference. I really think that Rich Rod is our Pete Carrol, or maybe I've just been celebrating this Bucknut loss a little too much.
Eat it, Buckeye fans. You're time has come. You've had your laughs at our expense this year and a cute little run under the sweater vest, but the tables are turning. You will stagnate while we grow stronger every week. Watch out.
Alright, last week, I didn't do a midweek update because I felt that the Wisconsin loss basically made everything a tossup and didn't think tracking the teams immediately above us was that worthwhile an endeavor.
The damage? Not too bad. Illinois win helped I bet. In the media, we're the first team out. The coaches', #28. Not too bad. So, this week I'm doing it differently.
Teams You Want To Lose This Week and Why:
Illinois State: Yes, you read that right. The Illinois State Redbirds are apparently undefeated. Who knew? (Except many people way more knowledgeable than me.) Anyways, they're the team in front of us in the Coaches' poll. Them losing would make it difficult for them to take any spots that open up there.
Dayton: They're simply the first team out of the Coaches' poll. Same deal as ISU.
West Virginia: I'm just mean. First I want us to steal all of their coaches, then I ask you to root against them? Well, they're #25 in the Media poll. They lose, they're out. #22 in coaches', so losses could make them fall out there too.
Louisville: #23 in media, #21 in coaches, losses from them would help us in at least the media poll.
Baylor: Consensus #23 (there's a tie in the media poll). Losses from them could help us get into both polls.
Minnesota: Well, to be honest, you don't want them to lose. Having Big Ten teams ranked is good for us. But, they're #22/#19, so, they could fall out of the media poll with losses.
Butler: #21/#20. We're getting sketchy here as to whether losses would actually make them fall out, or just move them down to #24 or #25.
Tennessee: This is a weird deal. They're the #25 team in the coaches' poll. They lose, they fall out. But, they're #15 in the media. Weird.
Boston College: Similar situation. #24/#17. I'll say it again: Coaches don't watch enough games to properly rank teams.
Alright, now, for the meat.
I'm only doing Tuesday through Thursday. I'll do a blog about all of Saturday and Sunday's games late Thursday or Friday.
Dayton v. Miami (NTM): Probably a Dayton win. Dayton home game, Miami's at 7-4. Local TV coverage in Dayton.
#25/#22 West Virginia v. #5 Connecticut GO UCONN! UConn wins, WV gets kicked out of the media poll probably. Awesome. Also, if we upset UConn (or even stay close), our RPI is helped by them winning here. Sadly, the game's only on ESPNU. I'm sure you can find a stream. 7:00.
Illinois State @ Bradley: I won't make any claims to knowing anything about either of these teams, but, Bradley is 9-5. They could do it at home I guess. Comcast, but probably not here, 8:05.
MICHIGAN @ Indiana: EVERY GAME COUNTS for our Wolverines. We need to make sure we can beat the sub-.500 teams if we want to beat the good ones. This is a good road test. 6:30, Big Ten Network.
#17/#24 Boston College v. Harvard: I wouldn't have high hopes here. 7:00, can be found Online somewhere.
#23/#21 Louisville @ South Florida: USF is sub-.500. So, a probably Louisville win. 7:00, ESPN2, ESPN360.
#15/#25 Tennessee v. Gonzaga: Gonzaga's 8-4 and knows how to win big contests. If this were at Gonzaga I'd be more optimistic, but, I'll probably watch part of this one. 9:00, ESPN2, ESPN360.
#22/#19 Minnesota @ Iowa: Big Ten games are annoying because I always want the Big Ten to be ranked but maybe the Gophers are high enough that they could contribute to the ranking of more Big Ten teams... We're a good conference. Should be a good game, give us an idea of how Iowa might do on Sunday. 7:05 on ESPN2, or, if you're like me and are supposed to be working on something else at that time, ESPN360.
#21/#20 Butler v. Wright State: I don't think Wright State will win. They're just above .500. Whatever. 7:00, Local TV only.
Back late Thursday or Friday to plan your weekend, back tomorrow with a bunch of hockey.
This was originally a response to the Fiesta Bowl What thread, but obviously became too long. It may be blasphemy to some and undermine what little credibility I may have around here but here goes nothing...
I must admit, I feel a sort of pity/sympathy for our Scarlet-haired stepchildren. Though we may beat them furiously from time to time, their unwavering obsession with the University of Michigan is somewhat flattering and has, over time, garnered a slight bit of empathy from me. After all, they would be nothing without us and so the question we must ask ourselves is basically, should we wish for the total humiliation of our ingrate, bastard stepchildren? This is purely a judgment call. Personally, I find it very entertaining to behold but simply cannot muster enough spite to actively wish for its occurrence.
In considering this, I am compelled to philosophize. Bear with me at your leisure. Is it not the lot of resentful, bitter losers to wish misfortune upon their enemies? In particular, enemies who happen to have had a recent victory? Consider: Having lost to Oohi U this year, a victory for them in the Fiesta Bowl would, in a small way, vindicate our loss (conversely, should we have won the day, their other successes also add to our glory). Despite gains in prestige and respect that would come from an Oohi U victory, shall we, in irrational contempt, invest our energies in hopes for them to lose? This may be the role of a fan, in the minds of some. But how, then, would we be different from Dantonio, in that case of his dismissing a Rose Bowl opportunity due to his hate, or the Browneyes themselves, who, throughout history, have been looking up at the mountainous glory of MICHIGAN with hatred and venom in their hearts, always guided by the will to destroy that which is more beautiful and powerful than they? Shall we too succumb to that fevered state of mind? Shall we reduce ourselves to petty herd animals, simply reacting to an increasingly adverse environment with hostility and resentment?
Though we may have lost significant games in recent history, I vouch that we should not let our pride, our dignity, or our sense of nobility diminish. That is the ultimate battle -- do not let ourselves be reduced to their level! The greatest victory for them would be to fill our hearts and minds with resentment and hatred; reducing us to their level of pettiness, that is, to perceive of ourselves as dependents, as subservients, as subjugated, as they do perceive themselves. That, I say, is the most crucial contest of all.
In these times I always remind myself of the ultimate truth: No matter what, WE ARE BETTER THAN OOHI U. We are superior. We, the mighty Michigan Wolverines, are ALONE masters of our destiny! Our greatness is self-sustained, outwardly-imposing, self-perpetuating and independent of favorable or unfavorable outcomes of specific contests. That is, ultimately, what separates us from the Browneyes, the Spartines, and the rest of the unworthy -- they depend on their tangible, short-term successes against US to determine their sense of self-worth. WE, on the other hand, generate our sense of self-worth for ourselves and from ourselves because we know in our hearts that WE are Wolverines, and no one else is (except in Helsinki, home of our noble Finnic namesakes who, at least, have demonstrated supremely good taste). At the very least, we have the option to take the higher path of power while the unworthy are forbidden from it, due to their inherent ...unworth. And why, then, should we opt to trod upon the path of smelly herd peoples who are only able to react to the will of the strong?
One final point; I hope that my condemnation of hatred is not understood as a condemnation of a feeling more befitting men of power and wisdom, which is cruelty. Indeed, though I do not actively wish ill toward our quasi-educated and unhygienic bastard imitators from the southron valley most foul, I still delight in their suffering as they get their asses handed to them by the likes of Florida, LSU, USC, and so on. Cruelty, in moderation, allows us to enjoy the failure of our enemies without lowering ourselves to their level; for to hate something is to give it legitimacy because in hating, you invest energy and concern in a particular outcome. Cruelty is neutral in this regard, as there is no need to feel threatened by or even hostile toward something to savor the sweet fruit of its ruin. And if its ruin is prolonged for another day (until our next encounter!), then so be it. Our greatness remains.
And now let us return to the original question: To hate or not to hate. Specifically, "should we wish for the total humiliation of our ingrate, bastard stepchildren?" Alas, though we have traversed through many considerations, I fear many shall divide over the answer to this. Thinking of "hatred" as a state in which cruel desires are dominant, a question of simple economics can reveal a great deal. What is the worth of gaining prestige from an Oohi U win compared to the sheer entertainment value of their loss? How much do you value pride, and how much do you value cruelty? Although my delight in the misfortunes of the god-forsaken Browneyes is truly enormous, personally I find myself following my ancestors' way and seeking greater pride. Cruelty will just have to wait ... until the 2009 football season.
So, either way, I will be smiling tonight. It's a good way to be. Whatever your valuation may be in this regard, I urge you to be mindful of our overall position as Wolverines. That position, in a word, is simply this: Superior.