this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Let's do some golf channel analysis and give a Solid or Shank response for the upsets described below.
Wisky over OSU - Solid or Shank?
I call this the upset game of the week in the Big Ten. Wisky keeps getting better over the weeks and i think they have OSU's number.
Illinois over MSU - Solid or Shank?
Ok, by now you're asking, is this really an upset call? Umm, maybe considering the Illini record at the time being. I threw it in just because i think Sparty will continue to self destruct after their superbowl victory last week. The Illini are looking to make something happen with a new QB at the helm and likely see MSU as the sucker they have been waiting for.
Of course, we can discuss an upset victory over Iowa but we have done that enough on here already.
The general consensus here in Iowa is that Hawkeye fans are nervous about the Michigan game, but they are feeling much more secure and confident after the Hawkeye performance at State College. The Iowa offense is really not that good, but they have a good O-line and some very good young running backs. Stanzi is the type of QB who you want to just not lose the game for you. Receivers are average. Kicker is decent, and the Hawkeye punter is on par with He Who Cannot Be Named. Iowa defense is just plain good -- possibly the best front seven in the Big Ten. One of their safeties, Tyler Sash, has had a bunch of picks already, but he's been Johnny-on-the-Spot against some weak players (Arnaud from Iowa State comes to mind).
I also have four tickets to the Illinois game in Champaign on Halloween, and so my fiancee and I are meeting two friends from Indianapolis there. I have not been to Memorial Stadium, but I understand that I'm in for a pretty brutal time. Hell, just last summer, driving through Illinois, I saw "Muck Fichigan" t-shirts in a convenience store. I just hope that the Illini continue to struggle, and that Juice Williams is not going to replicate his performance from last year against us.
Anyone else going to these games?
So, after today's slate of games, what's your take on our conference opponents this year?
I wasn't optimistic about Iowa's season after they lost Jewel Hampton, but after today I definitely don't think they'll have as good a season as last year.
And then there's Illinois ... they really tanked today.
I think next week will give us a better handle on the kind of team we have this season, but I have to say I'm not as worried about these games as I was before today.
- Michigan players find better communication in Robinson defense (link)
- Bielema remains firm on suspensions, cause still unknown (link)
- Wisconsin may start redshirt freshman at Quarterback over Sherer, Clay No. 2 back (link)
- MSU quarterbacks feature mixed results, freshman Caper leads pack (link)
- Preseason Butkus Award list features Seven Big Ten players, including UM's Ezeh (link)
- Five Big Ten Players on Rimington watch list, including Michigan's Molk (link)
- Seven Big Ten Players on Nagurski watch list, including Michigan's Graham (link)
- Minnesota to utilize the Wildcat offense. (link)
- MSU offensive line continues to shift as injuries in replacement slots persist (link)
- RS Freshman Brinson may be Greene's replacement in Iowa (link)
- Graham on ESPN top 25 draft board (link)
- Illinois cornerback and expected starter/contributor out for season with torn ACL (link)
- MSU's "Celebrate the State" Michigan directional scheduling bonanza (link)
- ESPN Big Ten Position Rankings: Special teams: UM #2 (link)
- Indiana starting true freshman at DT ($$$ link), Seven projected starters missed a practice or more this past week (link)
- OSU linebacker Spitler with strained calf, return unsure only in timing (link)
I'm a grad student at Illinois and finished being an undergrad at Michigan. People ask me from time to time whether I was cool with going to Illinois considering the ongoing Michigan-Illinois rivalry, which I was completely unaware of. Apparently Illinois fans think they have a rivalry with Michigan. One random fellow in a video store told me something along the lines of "we don't like those colors in here". (These are the exceptions, not the rule, over my year here. The remarks also seem to be mainly a way to start a conversation, not a threat or anything.)
My question is, have other Michigan fans had similar experiences going to Big Ten schools that are not Ohio State or Michigan State? And how would you all define a rivalry?
For instance, I'd say that we only have "rivalries" with Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame, in that order. Does this one-sided definition of rivalry come up a lot for other schools?
Yes, USC-Illinois turned out to be a terrible game but probably any team that was picked to face USC in the Rose Bowl was going to get blown out. That year, USC lost to Dennis Dixon and had their seemingly-annual loss of focus when they lost to Stanford. However as Michigan knows from experience, USC is always focused in the bowl games.
The first question we can ask is whether Illinois was deserving of one of the BCS at-large spots. The answer to this is actually a fairly strong yes. Here's how it broke down (according to BCS rankings):
#1 OSU and #2 LSU were in the championship game
#3 Va Tech was slotted for the Orange Bowl
#4 Oklahoma for the Fiesta
#7 USC obviously for the Rose Bowl
#9 West Virginia was the Big East champion (but not tied to a bowl)
#10 Hawaii was automatically an at-large team.
So, there were 3 at-large spots to be filled with the following eligible teams:
#11 Arizona State
#14 Boston College
Only one of Georgia/Florida and one of Missouri/Kansas could get picked. So that left Arizona State, Illinois and Boston College fighting for one spot. As Black Shoe Diaries talked about, http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2009/5/30/893422/prepare-yourself-for-po... it is completely reasonable to pick Illinois over those other teams.
Now the Rose Bowl could have taken another team, but it wouldn't have been Georgia since the Sugar Bowl was certainly going to be lobbying to keep an SEC team. That means they were deciding between Kansas, West Virginia, Hawaii and Illinois. Any bowl game is going to avoid Hawaii at all costs so the Rose Bowl is down to Kansas, West Virginia and Illinois. Here are their results against AP-ranked and other notable opponents and what their OOC schedule was:
|Team||Wins vs Ranked||Losses vs Ranked||Other Notable Opponents||Non-Conference Schedule|
|Kansas||none||#7 Missouri 36-28||None. They didn't play Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma||Central Michigan, SE Louisiana, Toledo, FIU|
|West Virginia||#20 Cincy 28-23||#23 USF 21-13||Lost the last week of the season to Pitt 13-9||Western Michigan, Marshall, Maryland, East Carolina, Mississippi St,|
|Illinois||#1 OSU 28-21, #18 Wisconsin 31-26||#7 Missouri 40-34||Beat Penn St (receiving votes team) 27-20||Missouri, Western Illinois, Syracuse, Ball St|
So Illinois had the best and second best wins of the three teams. They also had the best loss (or at least tied with Kansas for the best loss). Kansas only had one loss, but they literally did not play any good teams except for losing to Missouri. None whatsoever.
Also, Kansas and West Virginia lost their last games of the regular season while Illinois beat Ohio State and then creamed their rival Northwestern 41-22.
So, although we know in hindsight that the Rose Bowl should not have picked Illinois ("we should have had hindsight"), it actually was a reasonable pick at the time.