that is nice bonus change
Its become a trendy thing for college football pundits to produce bowl projections during the preseason. So, with only hours to go before the preseason melts into the real season, I figured I would join the crowd and offer my own projections, at least for the Big 10. Feel free to rake these guesses over the coals as much as you want. I welcome the discussion. I will be updating these throughout the year, but those will be projections based on how the season is actually playing out. These are my own predictions, but they will appear next to future projections in order to create some comparison fodder as the season progresses. We'll see how it stacks up. So without further adieu, here we go:
The first task of these bowl projections is determing if the Big 10 will received multiple BCS Bowl bids. Even as everyone pans the league, its still a pretty good bet the conference will notch two spots in the big money bowls. The Big 10 has earned two BCS bids in three straight seasons, five of the last six and in seven on the first ten years of the BCS existence. The league does not need to send a team into the title game for this to happen either. Check out 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 seasons as examples of this. This fact is pertinent to the following predictions as I dont feel a Big 10 team will be playing for all the mythical marbles come January.
Rose Bowl: Ohio State. Any regular idiot can slate the Bucks into the National Title Game, but I am no regular idiot. The Bucks fall twice this year, likely at USC and at Wisconsin, and a relieved nation can breathe easy knowing OSU will be out of the national title picture. The Big 10, however, will pay for it as the Bucks, with the pressure off, demolish everyone in their path over the second half of their schedule including a, gulp, fifth straight win over arc----nope, I just cant finish typing that sentence. Pasadena has not seen the Bucks in over a decade and never with the Sweater Vest leading the troops. They'll be there on New Year's Day. They'll square off with Oklahoma and get off their BCS Bowl losing streak, while continuing the Sooners.
Sugar: Penn State. While I hardly think the Nittany Lions are world beaters, I think its an easy road map to follow as far as them landing in this plush bowl. The slate is pretty easy early on, and PSU should be 6-0 heading into their showdown in Madison. They'll lose that game and at Ohio State later in October, but as long as they can end the Happy Valley nightmare that is the Michigan losing streak, they'll still be in strong contention for a BCS bid heading into November. They close with at Iowa, Indiana and MSU. They'll sweep those--the MSU game will be an amazing contest in possibly Joe Pa's final home game. Sugar Bowl officials wont pass up the chance of hosting Paterno at the site where he's had some of his more historic moments. That allure will be so strong that they'll get tabbed over a more deserving Badger squad, despite its head to head win over PSU. No worries, their Bourbon Street foe, Georgia will make them pay.
Capital One: Wisconsin. They should get a BCS bid, save for the politicking described above. This team is good enough to earn a split in September road games at Fresno and at Michigan. I'm calling their upset at home versus OSU. Will they have enough in the tank to beat PSU the next week? Honestly that could go either way. I see trouble in November in East Lansing, a result that will keep them from both the Big 10 title and a BCS bid. Despite being double digit underdogs, the Badgers will be leading LSU into the fourth quarter before succombing to a series a fourth down conversions by the Man in the Hat.
Outback: Michigan. I dont need to explain it dammit. Lets just put down 9-3, and have another swig of this Ufer-tastic Maize and Blue Kool Aid. Bring on Auburn. War Eagle this muthafucka! Michigan cruise to another win over the SEC in postseason play. And, yes, I have a whole keg of Kool Aid.
Alamo: Michigan State. I really like the Spartans this year. Think they do the league proud and spring the upset Saturday night in Berkeley. Heck, lets give them a 6-0 start (although the home team in the ND-MSU series has lost seven in row, so L'il Bro might want to consider protecting the 50-yard line from a Leprechaun flag planting). It's a whole new era in East Lansing, right? Ah, no. The team comes out 'Oh No Sparty' flat and drop a game at Northwestern as well as losing to OSU and UM (natch). But it is a new era at MSU and Dantonio gets them to rally and upset Wisconsin. They'll fall to 7-4 with the PSU loss and square off with Texas in the Alamo Bowl. It will be a Burnt Orange win, but closer than the experts think.
Champs Sports: Illinois. Seems like a low projection for a team that many have rated highly heading into the season. But, I dont like Illinois schedule. They could be better this year than last year, but their schedule will work against them. An uphill climb in the opener against Missouri, road games at UM, Wisconsin and Penn State and, oh yeah, good luck trying to beat Tressel two years in a row. This team could not avoid the upset bug last year losing an ugly 10-6 game to Iowa, so there's no reason to think that wont happen again somewhere along the line. It would not be a surprise to see this team 4-4 going into November. But, they would be the best .500 team in country. A win over Northwestern in the finale will give them a 7-5 record and this trip to Orlando. Juice Williams will be their MVP in a win over Miami that will give the Illini a lot of momentum as they gear up for a run at the 2009 league title when the schedule is set up a lot better for them.
Insight: Minnesota. The Gophers finished winless in league play last year. Obviously this is a risky pick. But, if they can get through the first four weeks undefeated (next week's game at Bowling Green will be an early swing game for this projection), Minnesota will be 6-5 heading into their finale at home against Iowa. The Gophers will have too much offense for the Hawkeyes and their 7-5 record puts them in the same bowl that Indiana, last year's dormant to bowl team story of the season, played in. In one of the more entertaining bowl games of the season, the Gophers will fall to Colorado in a shoot out.
Motor City: Northwestern. The Wildcats have the look of their 2005 bowl team. I project a 4-0 out of conference record. Combined with a duplication of their 3-5 league mark last year, that gives them a 7-5 record and a trip to Detroit to play Central Michigan. The Chips will leave one step away from being the Buffalo Bills of the Motor City Bowl, losing their third straight in this contest. Bacher will sling pass for pass with LaFleur, but Tyrell Sutton in his final collegiate game will go for over 200 yards in the win.
Iowa, Purdue and Indiana will not go bowling. Iowa just lacks consistency and are no longer an untouchable team at home. Their loss to Minnesota in the closer drops them to 6-6 and out of the post season. Purdue cant beat good teams. While most figure them to be an easy entrant into the bowl season, I see a team that is just 3-15 against bowl teams the last three years. Two of those wins came last year, against Central Michigan. They wont have four wins at the end of October. They'll prevent a losing season by winning their rivalry game at home with Indiana, but all that will do is close the Tiller era with a 6-6, bowlless season. As for Indiana, they will be doing well to equal last year's 3-5 league mark. Even if they do that, however, I dont think they'll go 4-0 in non conference play as I smell a CMU upset on the first of November. Optimistically the Hoosiers can be 6-3 after nine games, but a three game losing streak (Wisconsin, at PSU, and at Purdue) will knock them back to ,500 and out of a bowl.
I received an autographed Michigan
jersey as a gift during the cold winter of 2007 from a family member that has
some connections to the team.
It immediately became my prized possession considering that going into the
fall of '07 the whole world was our oyster and a victory over the Buckeyes was
a foregone conclusion. The fact that it was a Manningham jersey was epic,
and it had all the signatures from the most important players, as if to say “this
jersey is ready to lead you to the national championship in 2008 with senior
leadership, experience and poise!” Best jersey ever!! Right?
Yeah, not so much. So now this jersey (which cost me $500 to frame
btw) hangs in my hallway, taunting me with its ironicalness (once you see the
signatures, you’ll understand). At one point after THE HORROR, I
considered destroying the jersey. After the loss to OSU, I almost did it.
But now I realize that would have been a catastrophic mistake. You see,
what I have in my possession is none other than the highly sought after, super
elusive… Lucky Cursed Jersey.
So I present it to you now for you to gaze upon and revere. Going into Saturday, I want you to be at ease;
because the Lucky Cursed Jersey’s magnificent power watches over us and
protects us. Frankly, victory is guaranteed.
But of course if we lose to Utah,
I’m going to burn the m#$#@#$er like it’s an East Lansing
I've recently caught wind of a great new Michigan bar in Chicago. I'm so f'in tired of Duffy's and have also begun to passionately hate the newest bar, Mad River. They both smell like puke and they're full of the idiots you've tried to forget after college.
Matilda, on the corner of Sheffield and Barry, has been a great bar in Lakeview for a long time. It attracts a great crowd of laid back fun people, has a great beer selection and has food that makes you second guess that you're in a bar. Just recently, though, the management decided to open it up exclusively to the Michigan crowd on Saturdays for some Ann Arbor nostalgia. I talked to the owner and he mentioned that Oberon will be served in mason jars ala Dominick's in the Summer. Pair that with a menu full of food that even your disinterested girlfriend will eat and I'd say we've found ourselves a a place that would make even Bo smile. He's also picked up a bunch of HD projectors that'll be locked on the Michigan game so no seat will be denied a view of the weekly U of M victories.
Next to football starting in less than a week, this amazing new place to drink away my football anxiety is the best news I've heard all year. GO BLUE!!! Hail to the Spread!!!
This is my first post on this blog in any form. I am, all things considered, a Newbie here…so go easy on me. My virgin post. :-)
I want to begin by saying, as I dip my toe in the water of diary posts, that MGoBlog is without a doubt the best UM sports blog on the web. Brian’s material is well researched, thoughtful and well written. And he posts daily. Which when you are an addict is a good thing.
Since it is my first post, a bit about me. My name is Steve and I live in London, ON. UM athletics, especially football, has been a growing obsession with me since the mid-90’s. I am not a UM alumnus. [Hopefully an EMBA or some such thing in the not too distant future will rectify that] I got hooked on UM football, its history, its tradition and its personages while doing a Masters of Divinity at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids. As a Canadian boy raised on hockey, hockey, hockey, coming to Michigan was like being thrown in the deep end sports wise. Nobody cared about hockey, not the way we do in the frozen north. And so, lost and looking for sports friends, I pulled a Casper and took the college football plunge.
At first I spent a lot of time getting acclimatized to the sport. 120+ teams. All those different leagues [conferences], and the best part, the part that really ended up grabbing me was the voting on who was the best team. As I learned to tread water, this is what hooked me…a couple of beers and a group of buddies could argue endlessly over the best team, the best school, the best program, the best era. Ahh to be young and hot-headed again.
Then I fell in love with the game. Being in seminary [and the 10 years of active ministry after that before getting into real estate sales…my current profession] meant I was busy a lot on Sundays. No NFL for me. That meant that Saturday was a perfect day to immerse myself in football. I watched everything. [Oh how I miss ESPN here in the frozen north…by the by…this is what you get when you vote Democrat/Liberal/socialist/communist…no free market media access...our satellite providers are restricted in which networks they offer…so no ESPN]. I love the scale of the game. The players seem human still. They make mistakes. They play for a scholarship and the pride of their school. There are walk-ons and practice squad guys who pay their own way and work out hard just to don the uniform and be a part of the tradition. There are still scholar athletes. Think Rolle of FSU who may have to choose between going pro all and a Rhodes scholarship. There are the weird and wacky traditions. There are the rivalry games. The fight songs. Where in this modern world would the fight song survive if not for college football?
Eventually just being a fan of the game was not good enough for my buddies. Going to Calvin, a D-III school with no football program, meant that I had to pick some “other” school. Too many of my buddies were Domers, and being a contrarian, I picked the “local” [come on if you could pick any “other” school would you pick Western Michgan?] school with the cool helmets, that was on TV all the time and had a shoot-from-the-hip ex-coach with his own TV show and all his talk about tradition and the Michigan Way. I loved Bo. I read his stuff. I used his insights as sermon illustrations.
Then there was 1997. I learned about such things as Michigan Defense. There was Woodson. The anger that came when we got jobbed in the voting. Everyone knows that if we went against Nebraska that year we would have crushed them. But the beauty of it is we will argue it until the Lord comes again and clears up all mysteries concerning his game. Yes football is God’s game.
Ever since then, even though life has carried me to places where I have had to hole up in my home office and listen to radio broadcasts with a weak scratchy signal. I have had to read on the internet. And year after year my passion for this school and its football team has grown. And all this without seeing a game at Michigan Stadium. Obligations and finances have always conspired to keep me away. Now that my real estate business is growing that will soon change. [YEAH!!!] Fall in the life of the church is the busiest time of year and the hardest to get away. Real estate slows down in the fall. Working for a charitable organization does not mean there is a lot of disposable income. Real estate is steadily giving me the means to realize some dreams and once the debts accumulated in making the change to real estate have been paid off [seven months without making a dime…ouch], my deposit for seasons tickets will be sent out. Next year the plan is to come down to a couple of games…once with my boys and once with my buddies to tailgate like grown men who make serious coin and drive Suburbans.
It was wonderful to be in Ann Arbor this summer [we have friends in the area who work in the university health system] for the arts and crafts festival. It was great to be there and not have to worry about overdoing it with fan wear. My doorbell plays the Victors. I could dress seven days a week in Maize and Blue wear. I have a “dress” UM cap, my casual cap and my gardening cap. It is fun to be in London and proudly wear the Maize and Blue. It gives me many opportunities to talk football and hand out business cards.
I loved Lloyd Carr. I loved that he had a life and a disdain for the media. I loved that he read and had other interests than football. As a man, there are few finer than Coach Carr. But you could see his passion and his drive to win were diminishing these last few years. It was good that in spite of the Horror, he was able to go out on a high note. No JoPa here.
And with that introduction, I just want to say I am totally psyched about the Rich Rodrigues Era. I love the media access. I love all the press conferences. I love the little videos very morning getting us pumped and introduced to the team. I love the “Camp Confidential” puff pieces. I love his ability to play down expectations. I think this comes because he has high expectations for himself and for the young men in his program. I like hearing about how tight the guys on the team have become, how they have banded together [to survive Barwis???]. I am a Barwis porn addict. I have the sneaky suspicion, in spite of the sick feeling I get every time I think of the O-Line, that we will be…dare I say it…respectable and competitive. And when I think of the future and Coach Rodriguez being able to recruit ever better classes, that we will be the next USC, the next dynasty. A national championship? Back to back championships? Ruling a decade or more?
I AM TOTALLY PSYCHED!!!!
THE UTES ARE COMING TO TOWN THIS SATURDAY!!!!!
EVENTS ARE STARTING TO TRANSPIRE!!!!!
So last night I was watching the evening news here in Utah when sports came on. Of coarse the first thing they talked about was the Michigan-Utah game. The sportscaster made the comment that Michigan hasn't said anything bad about Utah and that Utah doesn't have any bulletin board material to get them pumped up. This got me thinking about how RR is preparing this team for Saturday. Just a couple of thoughts...
I think that RR has convinced the team that if they don't respect Utah, they will lose. When Utah is "on" they are a very good team and can play at a very high level. RR is mentally preparing Michigan for a tough game. I feel as if RR is trying to get them to believe in the "underdog" "us against the world" mentality that the Pistons usually have. I think this is a positive thing. How often has Michigan played with a chip on their shoulders, trying to prove to the world that they are good? Whether they are a good team or not is yet to be seen, but they are playing with a little extra motivation.
Secondly...how is Utah going to prepare for Michigan??? Listening to the Utah coach, he said they were watching WV film for offense and Stanford film for the D. Do they really know what Michigan is going to bring to the table? Yes and No. We all know that we will not be running the WV offense because we don't have a running QB. I predict our offense will only slightly resemble what WV could do with Pat White at QB. However Utah prepares for Michigan, Michigan has an advantage. Just like RR said in one of his press conferences there is no film out there of the QBs. There are no tendencies that they can pick up. How do they prepare for Michigan's passing attack??...Michigan has better WRs and passing QBs that WV has/had. All of this is an advantage for Michigan. We know exactly what Utah runs, they know very little about us. I'm not sure if this is a HUGE advantage, but any advantage right now makes a difference.
The last thing is that this team knows what it COULD accomplish. The believe in themselves. Once again it goes back to the "us against the world" mentality. The players know that they are young and inexperienced, but they also recognize that they can compensate for their lack of inexperience with their work ethic and talent. Now I know that only takes you so far and the bottom line comes down to executing, but they are going to be prepared for Saturday.
I can't wait to see how they perform on the field.
Everyone say it with me, and say it with feeling:
“I <insert your name>, will not overreact to the outcome of Saturday’s game.”
Let’s be honest, if we win in a blowout, we’re gonna feel pretty good about life, just as if we see “Oregon, Part II” we’re gonna feel pretty lousy. That’s fine. But take a deep breath before writing anything too out of bounds, step back from the ledge or come down from the clouds, because this is just one game. No whimpering. Whimpering is for Sparty.
What’s more, nobody really knows that much about Utah either. Yes, they look suspiciously like a good football team. But with no data points, we can’t say definitively. So who can say whether winning or losing Saturday is really that good or bad? It’s a small sample size. There’s lots of work left to put in on offense and defense. The team will improve (or come back to Earth and make some mistakes.)
Now, we can certainly get some ideas on whether some things are better or worse than expected. If the Threet/Sheridan Hydra Monster gets sacked less than 4 times, that’s probably a good thing. If the defense plays with a swagger we haven’t seen since Indiana 2006, that’s a good thing. My plea to you all is to not jump off a cliff in either direction with any of the following (in posts or in your very thoughts):
· ZOMG – NATIONAL CHAMPS!! REALLY!
· “We’re all gonna die”
· Look out University of Ohio State!!!
· Is Firerichrodriguez.com taken????
· Bow down little brother! (Wait, that one’s kinda funny. Feel free to keep thinking that.)
· Les Miles would’ve had this team ready!
I, for one, am delighted that I am probably going to see something this Saturday I’ve never seen before from Michigan football, in 25 years. Even better is I have no idea what that will be. I probably won’t be able to guess any plays for 5-6 games, how strange will that be? Very likely, it will be a couple of seasons before I really get that spidey-sense back about this team.
Bottom line is I’ve seen the movie from last year for about 25 years in a row. I’m ready for a different script, and I’m ready for a different director. Let’s hope it’s an awesome movie with a great ending, and let’s remember that the opening scene doesn’t necessarily show you where things will end up. (And that sequels can be better than the original.)