Berets and Rednecks
Or, Hey, this is actually like a diary entry
The 1984 Sugar Bowl was one heck of a game and a bitter-sweet memory for me. My sister lived in New Orleans at the time, so I decided to make the journey. Almost everything worked out perfect. As I was flying down, sis was flying up. I had her apartment to myself and was met at the airport by one her friends—I’ll call her “Betty”. Well, Betty was one heck of a hostess. She took me to that famous New Orleans restaurant (a scene from “Pretty Girl” was shot there) where she worked part time and we ordered (literally) everything on the menu. All it cost us was the tip.
Attended the pep rally held at one of the ballrooms in the motel where the team was staying. Governor Blanchard was there and made a complete fool of himself when he admitted he went to Ohio State and his wife attended MSU. Everybody barraged him with chants of Recall Blanchard and Boo. (What a jerk. I actually sat in the row next to him on the plane ride home. He’s shorter than Mickey Rooney). Even cooler was the fact that I decided to hang out in the back of the room, and that is where all the players started showing up.
The night of the game we dined at Antoine’s before heading over to the Superdome. It was great. Auburn fans, at least back then, were great people. They would break out with chants and “War Eagle” and the Michigan fans would respond with “Hail to the Victors”. No one got vicious or too obnoxious. Walked to the Superdome after that with my little crew of hometown fans talking trash every step. Remember, you can walk down the street dranking in New Orleans for free. Watch out for the cops on horses though. Them horses can’t exactly stop on a dime.
And then there was the game. What a game it was. Talk about hitting! After the game Bo Jackson was quoted as saying—and I am paraphrasing her—that when the Auburn team looked over at the Wolverines before the game they couldn’t believe how small they were. They were sure they were going to whoop up on them big time. But after the game, Bo said he felt like he had just been in a heavy weight championship fight. Auburn knew they had escaped with a victory. Watch the game on the Classics channel if you can. That is truly vintage Bo Defense. It surely wasn’t one of Bo’s best teams, but that D was a monster that night. Bo Jackson was running for all he was worth that night, and was getting pounded for every yard. Regardless of the outcome, it was great to be a Michigan Wolverine in New Orleans New Year’s Eve 1984.
My seat was somewhere near the 10 yard line. In front of me were a couple of good old boys in flannel shirts, chewing Skoal, chain smoking and sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels. But, they were cool and well behaved and acting like good Auburn fans. In front of them was this old guy wearing beret and who was a member of the UM Alumni band. He was with his wife and both were resolute Wolverines.
After half time the announcer asked everyone to refrain from smoking. The accumulated smoke, which was thick as morning fog, was bothering the players on the field. Well, the two rednecks ignored the request, which apparently irked Mr. Beret who turned around and started chastising them. At first they just laughed the old guy off, but then Mr. Beret got stupid and reached over and slapped the cigarette out of one of the redneck’s hand. The rednecks were so stunned that they just couldn’t figure out what to do. Apparently, they had never had such an experience before. Thankfully, Beret’s wife reacted quickly and got control of her out of control husband. The rednecks said something like, “Sit your ass down, Old Man!”, and sat down. Beret guy pouted some, and then it was over. Saved by grandma.
Hooked up with some elated Auburn fans who bought me all the Black Russians I could drink and joined my little crew of Wolverine fans at Tippatina’s (when Tippatina’s was Tippatina’s) for the rest of the night.
At the airport, waiting to board the plane, I spotted Jerry Cooney trying to hustle some long-legged blonde at a bar. I cocked blocked the crap out of him begging him for an autograph—which he reluctantly gave me. He was a dang bum anyhow.
Hey, it’s the offseason. I’m posted up some junk.
Here’s one about hockey. It’ll be shorter.
For starters, previously I’ve just been using the USA Today poll. I’m going to start using the USCHO poll too, because, well, why not? They’ll be listed in that order.
Also, no polls really updated this week, or last week for that matter. Which makes enough sense. I’m fairly certain they all will this Monday.
Last week, #11/#12 Michigan won their second straight Great Lakes Invitational against Michigan State in front of a very excited crowd. The crowd for the finals was significantly better than the crowd for the semis, and it seemed that it was a lot of Michigan Hockey fans, not just Michigan fans looking for kicks. Which was awesome. Little Brother bowed down. Michigan has the week off, as do many teams, but, here are the five teams ahead of us in each poll that don’t have the week off.
#12/#11 Air Force: Yesterday, Air Force played UConn in the Connecticut Hockey classic. Air Force won in a shootout, but, for our purposes, the game was a tie. Tonight they attempt to win that tournament against Quinnipiac, which shouldn’t be too demanding a task, but, well, hockey’s hockey. Busy week continues for the Falcons, as they face UConn again in Storrs on Saturday, before trekking to Yale Sunday. UConn just tied them, so they could always pull out the upset, while Yale’s on a bit of a cold streak.
#10/#9 Colorado College is off.
#9/#10 Cornell plays Sunday at UMass. They’re pretty good at home, but, Cornell is in general better.
#8 Princeton beat Minnesota State 5-2 last night, and tonight plays Nebraska-Omaha. CCHA loyalty compels me to root for UNO hard. This weekend, they get Harvard on Saturday, Dartmouth on Sunday. Harvard’s sub-.500, Dartmouth is just over.
#7 Boston College plays a couple of exhibition games against Canadian New Brunswick. So they don’t count.
#6 Northeastern plays an easy one against Western Michigan on Friday in the Dodge Holiday Classic. They go on to face the winner of a game between Brown and Minnesota. Here’s to hoping for a Minnesota win so that Northeastern can fall a bit.
Well, that’s it. I’ll see you Thursday to talk about basketball.
Also, it seems I’ll be at Crisler tomorrow. Join me! Lets make it a loud crowd for the Big Ten opener.
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.