I will start my final diary of this season by thanking Dave Brandon for another "Wow" moment. He really went retro with the throwback uniforms, to a time before jerseys had numbers. Wait, there were numbers on those uniforms? One of the first things you learn when you start preparing powerpoint charts is don't use a yellow font color on a white background. (Another thing is make your fonts large enough for your audience to see them - and yes, this is a reference to the mini-numbers on the front of the UTL jerseys.)I would have thought that a marketing genius would know that. Maybe if they had made the blue border a little wider, the number would have stood out, or at least been visible. I think the problem was getting into business with Adidas in the first place. My wife bought me a couple pair of sweatpants for Christmas, because it gets cold at the Badminton Club in January. They were made by Adidas and the tags called them, "Weekender Pants." I tried on a pair and had a strange urge to move to Florida and start playing shuffleboard. In keeping with the SitCom theme of the season, I'll share a quote from Seinfeld regarding sweatpants, "You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, 'I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'" That sums up Adidas and our "wow" jerseys.
Burst of Impetus
* I didn't take notes during the game, so I was sitting here trying to remember what big plays Michigan made to grab the momentum. Then it hit me, we didn't make any. All the big plays were made by South Carolina. Ojemudia did force a fumble, but that was about it. Wile's 52 yard field goal was a nice shot in the arm and set us up for a dramatic fourth quarter. Our longest run was 19 yards and our longest reception was 26 yards. Meanwhile, both USC QBs had passes greater than 50 yards and one had a 64 yard run.
* Subtract the three long plays and our defense held SC to 236 yards on 50 plays. (Subtract the punt return and our Special Teams were pretty good as well.)
* Quoting me after game 1, "We held Bama to only 431 yards. They may be the best offense we face all year. If we can hold everyone else under 431, I’ll be happy." USC gained 426 yards. Am I happy? No, because we lost the game.
* We had been playing with fire all season against shaky B1G QBs. We saw what competent QBs can do against 2nd string CBs, and even then, we almost pulled it out. One more bobble on the Sanders TD and that comes back and then who knows?
* So the question is, why did we give up the big plays when we had been so good at avoiding those all season? Was it really the poor B1G QBs? Or was it the loss of JT Floyd?
* Gordon led us in tackles with 6. Ryan was next with 4. The defense was not on the field very much and the stats reflect that.
* We did manage 7 TFLs on USC's 53 plays. I'll take more of that next season.
* Demens only had 1 tackle. Campbell had 0 (did he play?) and Floyd didn't play. That's three of our five defensive leaders contributing one tackle total.
* Denard carried 23 times for 100 yards. He threw once incomplete. It was nice of USC to respect his passing ability (except for the 2nd failed 2pt conversion attempt.) Did they even bother to scout us? He also caught one pass for 7 yards.
* I don't really read Bill Simmons or Grantland anymore. But one of his "things" is the Ewing Theory. In brief, it states that teams can surprise you by winning AFTER the major star leaves the team. Think of Tennessee winning the National Championship with Tee Martin after Manning graduated. Secretly, in a tiny portion of my brain, way back where my repressed memories lie, I'm hoping that Denard is the next Ewing Theory example and Gardner leads us to the promised land next season.
* Let's hope Gardner develops some chemistry with another receiver besides Gallon. Might I suggest Funchess? Half of Gardner's 18 completions went to Gallon.
Bunches of Funchess
* Gallon had 9 receptions for 145 yards and 2 TDs. He would have been the player of the game had Michigan made a stop on USC's final drive.
And Justice for Rawls
* I noticed one of SC's O-linemen had a tattoo that read, "Justice IV All." Justice Hayes ran twice for 3 yards. Rawls didn't carry the ball.
Norf and Souf
* Norfleet returned one kick for 32 yards and made a tackle. I like his enthusiasm, but I'm worried one of these days he's going to get hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. One of the bigger questions of this off-season is going to be what they do with him, position-wise. Vincent Smith needs to be replaced.
* OK, I do have a section devoted to the referees, so I guess I have to comment on our 9.99 yard first down. There are only three possible explanations. One, the chain is 10 yards, so the ball only needs to get to the end of the chain, not the linky thing on the yard-marker. Two, the official thought the yard marker was leaning out of the way and if it had been upright, it would have touched the ball. (I'm really straining as a Michigan homer to justify that call.) Three, it was a glitch in the Matrix. Did you all check the back of your necks for the data ports like I did after that play? Slight tangent, if the Matrix had been made today, I think they would be able to replace all those huge connectors with one fiber optic cable up your nose, or possibly a wireless link. Man, how technology has evolved over the years.
* I really couldn't understand the refs, and then it hit me, half of the group had bet on Michigan to cover the spread, and half had bet on USC to win outright, so they compromised and worked it out so that SC could win by 5. What else could explain the head referee COVERING HIS MOUTH while he discussed a play with the other refs. I felt like I was watching the WWE. What are you hiding?
* We had 24 first downs to their 17, and 38 minutes TOP to their 22. This was like the Indiana game a few years ago, except we were Indiana. We were grinding it out, 10 yards at a time. The problem with that is you need to be perfect. Any little holding penalty or hands-to-the-face penalty stops your drive.
* Time of possession was 10+ minutes for Michigan in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters, but only 6:31 in the 4th quarter. Instead of tiring out their defense, I guess our offense got tired.
* Net yards rushing, M: 141, SC: 85. That usually correlates with a victory, but being -1 in TO margin and giving up the punt return TD negates that advantage.
* Clowney had 4 tackles, two TFLs, and the hit that SportsCenter is showing on a continuous loop. It must suck being an O-linemen. You stop a guy for 81 plays, have a miscommunication on the 82nd, and the D-linemen ends up on all the highlight shows and gets picked first overall in the draft next year. I'm sure Lewan and Clowney will meet again at the next level. Those are two outstanding football players. I wanted Muppets, but all I got was Bozo the Clowney.
Thanks to everybody who clicked on my Diary this season, even if it was just to get a handy link to the boxscore. Happy New Year, MGoFriends.
Here's the Offense
...and the Defense
I'll have the LSU game up within a day or two, then I'll probably cut up the Arkansas game as well so we can have a good sample of talent and styles. Scout away!
South Carolina was pretty similar to Maryland or Rutgers. A flagship public school with good in-state talent. Decent some years, bad others, but usually just mediocre and irrelevant. Whatever tradition they had in football, it was nothing special. Most of their good recruits went to Florida or Alabama.
But then, with the SEC money really kicking in around the early 2000's they upgraded their facilities and hired the ol ball coach. Now they're able to retain some in-state recruits and are ranked #12. Some of their key players, like Marcus Lattimore and Jadaveon Clowney, are from South Carolina.
So given the resources of the B1G and the in-state talent of New Jersey and Maryland, isn't it possible for them to copy South Carolina? Just look at the talent from those states the past 2 years. Henri Poggi, Steffon Diggs, Kendall Fuller, Eli Woodard, Yuri Wright, Darius Hamilton, Devin Fuller, Ronald Darby, Cyrus Kouandjio, Blake Countess.
Sure we have absolutely no tradition with them but I'm pretty sure ranked teams are ranked teams and always fun to play. I don't see why they can't be ranked consistantly 15~30 if they can keep some of their talent, upgrade their facilities, and hire a decent coach. They'll be earning 2x or 3x the amount of money of their ACC recruiting rivals.
Everybody should watch this video of by far the best moment around the college football nation from this past Saturday. Warning: This video may cause the pollen in your room/office to build up.
Gamecocks hit with failure to monitor, per ESPN.
I'm sure you're all as excited as I am about the Sugar Bowl. But I'm sure you've all been pestered by friend/family/co-workers about how M is only there because it's all about the money. Or they have various other gripes. I've decided to classify these gripes, and share my unsolicited opinion with you on the internet. I'll approach this as a conversation with each of the various butthurt partisans.
(Since we are the lowest ranked BCS team in, I'll compare everyone's resume to ours)
QUIT YOUR WHINING
Sparty - I'd almost feel bad for you if you were passed over for a BCS game by us. But you weren't - you were outside of the top 14 and therefore ineligible. Why were you outside the top 14, when we both had the same number of losses and you won the head-to-head? And won the division over us? No, not the polls - we were ranked within a spot of each other in all of them. It was the computers. Why? You see, while you beat us by 14, you lost to Nebraska by 21, who lost to us by 28. Triangle of doom. Shall we look at the other loss? Ours was an ugly one in the division to Iowa - by 8 points. Which gave you the edge in the B1G West. Yours was an even uglier thumping at the hands of Notre Dame. Yes, yes, you beat Wiscy on a Hail Mary at home. And then lost to them by 3 at a neutral site. Want to count it as a tie against a top ten team? Doesn't change the fact that If you had shown up at all in that ND game, you may have had a legitimate gripe. You didn't, so you don't. Enjoy Florida. I hear it's nice this time of year.
Oklahoma - Yes, your TT loss doesn't look that much worse than our Iowa loss. And your Baylor loss looks better than our Sparty loss. But the way you got absolutely stomped in the biggest game of your season is way uglier than anything that happened to us. Also, you're 9-3 after that one. You don't deserve anything more than the Copper Bowl.
South Carolina and Arkansas - Nobody wants to hear it. No, the limit on only two teams from a conference isn't holding you back - it keeps you from playing each other. Look, even in your good years nobody wants to see two teams from the same conference play in a bowl game against each other. And the SEC didn't have a good year - Arkansas, your best win is against the Cocks, and your escape against A&M is not as pretty as our escape against Notre Dame. And you got throttled in your two losses - you got beat worse by Bama than Penn State did. Gamecocks, your best win was against Clemson - and your losses against Arkansas and Auburn are comparable to our losses against Sparty and Iowa. But we pretty much thumped everyone else on our schedule except our rivals. Your wins were...uninspiring. The system isn't holding you back at all - your own failures on the field are keeping you out of the party. And no SEC partisans are ever allowed to complain about the BCS again, unless it's talking about how biased pollsters are towards their own.
Boise State - I usually defend you guys, but I'm not going to this time. Yes, you've got only 1 loss, and it was a close one to TCU - better looking than either of our losses alone, and certainly prettier than both put together. And your win over Georgia is comparable to our win over Nebraska. But here's the thing - your next best win was either Tulsa, Wyoming, or SDSU. SDSU was at the bottom of our resume for wins. In fact, it's so far down there we don't even think about where it is. Your second best win is our 7th or 8th best? I've got to go with our resume on this, even with the uglier losses.
Southern Miss - When both of your losses are to teams without winning records, then you have not proven you belong in the BCS. That interview gave me a good laugh though.
YOU MAYBE HAVE A POINT
TCU - I love how you guys do what you do, and you had an amazing season. Beating Boise on the blue turf and winning the Mountain West is nothing to smirk at. And while your win @Boise may be better than ours against Nebraska, and your losses are comparable to ours, I've got to go with the same argument I had against Boise - the meat of your schedule is the dregs of ours. What's that you say? Why is West Virginia ahead of you? That's a good point, but you guys know how it is in the Mountain West. That's why you're leaving next year. Good luck in the B12.
Baylor - I've had a lot of fun watching you guys, and I'm rooting for RG3 for the Heisman. And your resume isn't bad - beating three ranked teams is far better than us, and getting blown out by OK St is not so bad. Losing to K St by one isn't bad at all either. Getting blown out by A&M is way worse than anything that happened to us though. So yea, your resume is close to ours. But there's a couple of other guys in your conference who belong more, so I don't feel so bad that we're in over you.
I FEEL FOR YOU GUYS BUT YOUR CONSOLATION ISN'T SO BAD
Kansas State - You guys should be in a BCS game. Yes, your blowout at home by OU is bad, but your second loss was by seven @the #2 team in the country. You totally have an argument that "it's all about the money." But hey now, don't look at US like that - we weren't the last ones in. That would be the Hokies you have beef with - and truth be told, I think you'd probably travel to NOLA better than them anyway.
But really, getting a chance to play an overrated #6 SEC team in the Cotton Bowl - a game that was "major" back in the Bowl Coalition days - that's a major opportunity for respect, and pretty much a BCS game anyway. I mean, without the massive payout. But that would've gone to Texas as blood money anyway, right?
DEATH TO THE BCS
Oklahoma State - What can anybody say, guys. You got hosed by Alabama. They have two wins over the top 25, you have four. They lost to the #1 team at home, and you lost to an unranked team on the road - your loss is a little worse, your wins are better. No, just cause they blew out a weak schedule doesn't mean anything - you should have gotten the nod from resume alone.
What makes it ridiculous and insufferable is the obvious - this is a rematch, they didn't win their division, they're playing a team from their conference. I know you've been over it a hundred times over in your own heads. I hope you guys beat Stanford and win the Grantland Rice and the Macarthur trophies. I hope Alabama gets crushed.
But really, your gripe is way more legitimate than K-State's. It's probably the most legitimate gripe I've ever heard with regards to the BCS - yes, more legit than Oregon, Auburn, and USC have had in the past. While I've never loved the BCS, I never thought it was so broken as to screw you over for a less deserving team because they came in second in a conference that was good the last couple of years. The system is broken and you've been royally screwed by it, and will watch them play a regional scrimmage.
I'm way more excited for your matchup against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl than I am for the event that precedes LSU's deserved coronation. Good luck, and prove to the nation that you deserve a shot.