Since we are giving out Legends' Jersey Patches this late in the season to seniors like Kovacs, what say we give Roy Roundtree the #1 jersey for the last three games of his career (maybe four if something crazy happens)? Is it an insult to Desmond and the 21 patch to do so?
I'm always baffled by fans who walk out of games early when the result is still very much in doubt. Saturday after the Cats made their first down with a little under 3:30 to play, I started looking around and sure enough I see hordes of folks making for the exits. After all the miracles Michigan has pulled off over the years, why would you leave when hope still lives? Granted our odds of winning at that point were less than shitty, but I was pretty certain we'd get the ball back and we'd have a chance to run a play or two and I was going to stick around to see those plays.
Myself, I've only bailed out of one game early because I had to go to dinner with my future in-laws and that game was the 2008 Toledo game, so it proved fortuitous to not be around for the end of that.
So I put it to the masses; anyone want to cop to bailing out of a game early because you were convinced it was over only to miss a glorious finish? How much of an ass did it make you feel like when you're in your car listening to the finish on the radio and realizing, "I could've been there for that....damnit."
Made another every run/pass play for DG this week, sans hiccups (except for first Gallon pass) and extraneous Rawls runs.
So, yeah… No real reason not to have written one of these for Minnesota except, well, it was Minnesota and I missed most of the game. I caught the torrent of the game a couple days later, but by then who wants to read stale comments that have been regurgitated by 20+ MGoBoard posts? Nobody, that’s who. Including my wife, who’ll read anything I write because it is at least tangible and justifies the amount of time I spend with my “internet friends.”
In my defense, the major plot lines that emerged against the Gophers continued this week, so if you want just read this twice and consider yourself covered.
Best: Knowing is half the battle
One of the seminal television shows of my youth was G.I. Joe, which taught me that (a) snakes are bad, (b) super-secret special operations units eschew traditional uniforms for chest-barring fatigues that better highlight your guns and massive chest tattoo, and most importantly (c) many useful life lessons through their “Knowing is half the battle” PSAs at the end of programs. While the show itself focused on a world that defied physics, geo-political boundaries, and anything approximating political correctness, the messages contained in these PSAs were far more relevant to younger children: be kind to others and don’t judge them, don’t lie, don’t go into stranger’s cars, and stop-drop-and-roll if you catch on fire.
While the individual messages varied, the key takeaway from them all was that difficult situations were far less daunting once you knew the proper way to respond. Knowledge, in other words, made the unknown less scary because it provided context, a touchstone from which to measure the circumstance logically.
One of the major concerns that’s been voiced in the brief time Brady Hoke and Al Borges have been on campus was how Borges’s West-Coast-centric philosophy would mesh with Denard’s skill set (I count myself firmly in this group). But I think the greater issue, or at least the one that has been transitioning to the forefront of these debates since Notre Dame or so is “how will the offense look after Denard, especially at quarterback.” Everyone knows what you get with Denard, but due to his surprising durability the past couple of years (until Nebraska), we never had to contemplate a world in which Denard could not play. The future was always ahead of us, but it was hidden behind dreadlocks, offensive records, and the reality that #16 was the best option come Saturday. 2013 was just a calendar you’d pick up in February for $3 at Meijers.
Sure, people spoke of Shane Morris coming in next year and starting as a true frosh a la Henne, or Bellomy taking ahold of the mantle while Devin grew into the WR position. But these felt like complaints whispering in the ether, even after the ND game when (at least to me), a louder contingent of fanbase began to turn on the most prominent holdover of the RR era. But nobody knew how this offense would function without Denard at the helm, and that scared people a bit. You’d seen glimpses at the end of blowouts and when Denard would step out for a couple of plays, but certainly nothing definitive.
And then Nebraska happened. All of a sudden, we saw a vision of the future, and it was 3 INTs, 2.4 YPA, and double-digit yards in a half sans penalties. In other words, it scared the S**T out of people. If Bellomy really was the #2 QB behind Denard, then just how abysmal was Devin Gardner, a former 5* QB who people figured was moved to WR because his athleticism filled a need on the squad and would be the top QB option next year? Was he really worse than that? Nobody knew, at least outside of Fort Schembechler, and that terrified everyone. It was knowledge, and it seemingly confirmed the doomsday scenarios running through everyone’s minds.
But then a funny thing happened – Gardner had a chance to practice at QB for a week and the coaches gave him a chance at Minnesota, and he played pretty well. He threw the ball on time, had some nice touch, and while he definitely had his cringe-worthy moments, he also did this. And he followed that up with another solid game against Northwestern, warts and all, and the knowledge we had been missing for years was finally starting to fill out. While it is still an imperfect portrait, fans now have a far better idea of how this offense will look going forward after Denard, and it doesn’t look like the QB position will revert to the SheridanThreetDamnit! of 2008.
This isn’t a cartoon and nobody knows if this present remain persistent in the future, but at least now people have something to hold onto going forward, something to keep them grounded. And that’s worth quite a bit.
[ED: JUMP WITH US]
Since there's been a lot of discussion in various threads about conference strength, where the Big Ten can improve, voter perception of the conference affecting all of the teams...here's the quick guide to the major out-of-conference games coming up for the 2013 season. Some teams still have open dates, and some games are bigger than others, but this should do.
Here are the relatively big games for 2013. No gametimes have been announced, nothing but dates and matchups.
I realize this is very early, but this kind of thing will come in handy once further discussion of conference comparison and the Big Ten's relatively disappointing 2012 rears its ugly head again.
August 31st - Penn State at Syracuse (in MetLife Stadium, NY)
The first significant Big Ten game of 2013 features a surprisingly good Penn State team against an alright Syracuse team. Given the big-time venue (chosen because Syracuse wants to take hold of the NYC market), this game could get some attention. If Penn State wins, it's a small boost to the conference, while a loss would be pretty bad, yet not disastrous.
September 7th - Notre Dame at Michigan
Big for a variety of reasons, this would be Notre Dame's first major game of 2013, where they could be defending a national championship. (Michigan opens with Central Michigan, Notre Dame opens with Temple.) It's the last scheduled Mich-ND matchup in Michigan Stadium, and this will be on the national radar all summer.
This one has an outside chance of becoming a featured game of the week, with College GameDay, ESPN, and all of that. This one will be anticipated all summer, and it will turn into one of the year's great games.
Notre Dame will play at Purdue on September 14th and against Michigan State on the 21st, for their only games against Big Ten opponents.
September 14th - UCLA at Nebraska
One of the biggest out-of-conference games, this one could feature the defending Big Ten champion against a highly ranked Pac-12 team. This game will likely go on a prime television timeslot, maybe even College GameDay. Nebraska's result here would be the focal point of any conference recap for the rest of the season, so the Cornhuskers have to win this for everyone else.
September 14th - Ohio State at California
Ohio State could be coming off of an undefeated season, and this is their first big game of 2013. The Buckeyes should win this game, and should win it big. Obviously, I hope they do not, but this should be a conference win.
Cal will also play Northwestern to open 2013, making the Golden Bears a weird litmus test for the Big Ten next year. If California has a great season, and the Big Ten beats them twice, we must have a great conference. And vice versa.
September 14th - Wisconsin at Arizona State
Another Big Ten/Pac12 matchup, but this one should go to Wisconsin, even on the road. If the Badgers lay another egg in a Pac12 stadium, this season could feature even more "what happened to the Big Ten?" columns.
September 14th - Washington at Illinois (in Soldier Field)
Illinois is having a terrible season, and Washington is on the upswing, but this one is only important if Washington starts the season with some hyped momentum.
September 21st - Missouri at Indiana
While both of these teams are around the 6-win mark, this is still an SEC/Big Ten matchup in a Big Ten stadium. It doesn't come around too often, and an Indiana win would be huge for that program and the conference. It's the only Big Ten/SEC game of 2013, and might have even been scheduled back when it was a Big Ten/Big 12 game.
November 9th - BYU at Wisconsin
It's a late-seaosn game designed to keep Wisconsin humming on all cylinders as the season comes to a close, and a relevant Badgers team will be making the last case for the Big Ten before bowl season. With another catastrophe like this season, the game becomes the last chance for the conference to salvage itself within the polls. With an improved season, this becomes a great day to showcase how we've "turned things around".
That's pretty much it. September 14th could be D-Day for the Big Ten, shaping the conference for the rest of the season.
A full, team-by-team, out-of-conference schedule is below. Teams in capitals are from auto-qualifier conferences (and ND), teams in italics are anything below FBS. Therefore, a win over a capitalized team is a good one, and a loss to an italicized team is a disaster that clearly means we aren't as good as the SEC, or something like that.
In this week's useless ESPN bowl projections, here are the B1G bowl games predicted by ESPN's Edwards & Schlabach.
Italics= Not enough B1G teams bowl eligible to fill slots
|Rose Bowl presented by Vizio||Nebraska vs Notre Dame||Nebraska vs Notre Dame|
|Capital One Bowl||Michigan vs Texas A&M||Michigan vs Florida|
|Outback Bowl||Wisconsin vs Florida||Wisconsin vs Alabama|
|Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl||Northwestern vs Miss. State||Northwestern vs Miss. State|
|Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl||State vs Texas Tech||State vs Texas Tech|
|Meineke Car Care Bowl of TX||Minnesota vs West Virginia||Minnesota vs TCU|
|Heart of Dallas Bowl||Purdue vs Ball State||Purdue vs Arizona St.|
|Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl||No. Illinois vs Utah State||Kent State vs San Jose St.|
Other matchups of note-
|BCS National Championship||Kansas St. vs Oregon||Kansas St. vs Oregon|
|AT&T Cotton Bowl||Texas vs Alabama||Texas vs LSU|
|Bell Helicopter Armed Forces||Air Force vs Tulsa||Air Force vs Tulsa|