Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
|Fully eight in the box with the ninth rolled up tight. Still, this might have worked. Mitchell(+1) gets Alford cut nicely on the backside â€“ all those guys in the box make a cutback unwise, though. The real problem is Long being stood up at the POA, driven back a yard or so, and then having his man disengage to make the tackle at the LOS.|
|Crowd rattling? (Massey -1)|
|Probably the difference between PSU and other defenses: Sean Lee, a sophomore linebacker, reads this very quickly, getting out on Butler and preventing much in the way of YAC. Nice, accurate throw by Henne under some pressure. (CA, 3)|
|Henne's second or third read and a well-covered one at that. Accurate, well timed ball gets a first down. (Nominal DO, 3)|
|Batted at the line. Intended for Arrington on a short out; Michigan had flooded the zone with Hart and the two TEs to suck the defense in... looked like if complete this was eight to ten. Reason the ball is batted is a corner blitz right into the throwing lane. Nothing you can do about it on a three-step drop like this. Henne's choices were to chance the BA or take a sack. (BA, 0 â€“ Arrington)|
|M40||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Butler||False start|
|Argh. Ecker, where art thou? (-1)|
|I heart Hart. Dan Connor reads this and comes up to fill at the LOS. This should go for 0, but Hart jukes him out of his jock and gains 8. (CA, 3)|
|M43||3||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||2||Butler||Short out|
|I think we missed a pick here as Connor is not impeded by the wideout's route at all. As a result, Butler is tackled immediately. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 9 min 1st Q.|
|FB shuffle to the weak side from Oluigbo; Penn State is shifted to that side. At the snap, five Lions come forward, three of them getting penetration. Hart bounces outside where Poz is waiting; he cuts up past him, turning a two-yard loss into a no gain.|
|M19||2||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||Inc||Butler||Shallow cross|
|Henne's hit on the arm as he throws; ball ends up hitting an offensive lineman. Butler was open on the cross, as Breaston and Arrington had run off the coverage underneath. (BA) ...whoah. The replay shows that this is definitely a fumble. Henne's arm is coming back when it's knocked out of his hand. The resulting forward motion of his arm sort of shot-puts the ball forward, but it's well out of his hand before the arm comes forward. Oluigbo, who let the pressure in, recovered it, so not a huge deal in the long term but still a missed call.|
|No one open initially and pressure comes from the outside. Henne steps up in the pocket and decides to take off... probably had time to survey the field and try to find another open receiver but it's hard to blame him. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 4 min 1st Q. Williams fumbles the ensuing punt and Michigan gets the ball back.|
|Jay Alford â€“ who we're running away from â€“ dominates Bihl(-1), driving him all the way back to Hart and tripping him near the LOS. If Alford doesn't make this play Poz is closing to attempt a tackle but chances are Hart gets four or more if he successfully jukes him. Don't quite understand why Arrington doesn't come in and seal the LB, leaving Hart to deal with a flimsy corner instead of Poz.|
|O47||2||9||Ace 3-Wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|Long again has trouble dealing with his man. The outside is open here but for the penetration ceded by him. Hart decides to cut it up and burrows for three or so... he might have been able to get the corner anyway, but probably not.|
|From our seats in Beaver Stadium we saw this come wide open; so did Henne. We then saw Henne miss Arrington by a couple yards. Bleah! (IN, 0)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 3 min 1st Q. Penn State isn't loading the box or anything, they're just making excellent plays in the run game.|
|M25||1||10||I-Form||Pass||15||Breaston||Deep cross (2)|
|Epic time; Henne stands in the pocket and fires downfield to Breaston, open between three zone defenders. Breaston makes a tough catch downfield, as the ball is behind him a bit. (CA, 2)|
|...I guess, as it's hard to tell. Ed Johnson is completely unblocked. Hart cuts past him to prevent a five-yard loss and dances through three more guys, two of them getting blocked, before getting closed down by the rest of the PSU defense.|
|M41||2||9||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Mathews(?)||Inelig. Man|
|Six yard out to Mathews (CA, 3) is erased because he lined up on the LOS and was thus covered up by Breaston.|
|M36||2||14||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||15||Arrington||PA Slant (2)|
|Token fake to Hart; this slant is not a bang-bang three step drop but rather a delayed one that allows the middle of the zone to get cleared out. Henne finds Arrington wide open for seven to ten yards; Arrington feints his way up the field for the first down, picking up a block from Mathews on the way. (CA, 3)|
|O49||1||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||11||Breaston||Slip Screen (2)|
|Well done by Breaston. Arrington blocks the inside guy; Breaston bolts past the outside guy. Momentarily searching for balance after getting his legs tangled with the flailing arms of the defender, he can't put a move on the safety and score. (CA, 3)|
|Excellent coverage from King â€“ we were screaming for PI on him for disrupting Breaston's route. Breaston lays out but the pass is just off his fingertips. (CA, 1)|
|Henne has Breaston open farther downfield for what looks to be a probable first down. He takes the short TE route; Butler catches it, breaks a tackle, and creates good YAC. (CA, 3)|
|O31||3||3||Ace 3TE||Run||6||Hart||Zone left (2)|
|Michigan overloads the line with three-count-em-three tight ends, two on the left side. They run there and there's finally a crease, this between Kraus and Long. Key seal block from Massey.|
|Hart motions out of the backfield like he did on the long reception versus Minnesota. Penn State sends six; they're momentarily picked up. Breaston's slant and go doesn't fool King, in superb coverage. With the oncoming rush and the coverage, I think Henne's just getting rid of this ball. (TA)|
|Breaston wide open on an out that he would easily turn up for a first down; Henne overthrows him. (IN, 0)|
|O25||3||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||25||Arrington||Post (2, 3, 4)|
|Duuude. Penn State drops eight; Henne lures the safety towards the middle of the field by looking right, then comes back and fires a dart into Arrington's hands. (DO, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 11 min 2nd Q. Seriously badass throw completes the drive.|
|Well... this play works but no thanks to the guys trying to block the PSU DTts, who both end up four yards in the backfield. Hart his running to their left anyway, cuts back behind the line as there are no DTs left... maybe that's why you don't get four yards in the backfield against the zone. Some Shaw â€“ Tim or Jim â€“ is unblocked on the backside and makes the tackle after seven yards.|
|PSU sends a run blitz right before the snap. It's well blocked in the middle but with the extra players attacking there's nowhere to run.|
|O42||3||2||Ace 3TE||Run||6||Hart||Zone left|
|Essentially the same play we ran for the other third and short conversion, overloading the left and then going there. Thompson and Butler both stick their assignments, as does Kraus on the second level. Hart has an easy time of picking his hole and getting the first down.|
|O36||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||27||Arrington||Post (2)|
|A virtual replay of the touchdown down to the yardage gained. (DO, 3)|
|O9||1||G||Ace 3TE||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|I guess it's not surprising that there are nine guys in the ol' box when we're on the nine. Play is well blocked, but neither Poz nor Connor will stay engaged. They both come off their blocks and the combination â€“ a Poz missed tackle forcing Hart into a diving Connor â€“ keeps this gain at three yards.|
|Pass batted at the line; Breaston was probably going to get nailed the instant he caught it anyway. (BA)|
|O6||3||G||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Massey||Um.. fade?|
|Pass through Massey's hands; definitely caught by Ecker, who's a couple inches taller and has shown better hands. (CA, 2)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-0, 5 min 2nd Q.|
|M20||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|Seven in the box versus this three-wide set. Mitchell gets Alford cut â€“ we seem to be doing this better of late â€“ giving Hart a lane up the middle. Connor, unblocked, meets Hart a yard after the LOS; Hart does his thing for three more yards.|
|Alford not cut this time but overruns the play. Hart cuts up behind him. Butler ignores the DE, who flies upfield before changing direction, trying to bear down on Hart. Hart powers through his arm tackle and is into the second level, where Butler and Mitchell have picked up blocks. Hart could be stopped for about four but Riley plows into him from the back, causing him to fall forward.|
|Long lined up at guard.|
|Only six guys on the line. Probably Butler's fault.|
|Butler had two steps on the nearest defender and could have sailed for big yardage, but Henne's way high. (IN, 0)|
|M26||2||15||Ace 3-Wide||Run||15||Hart||Draw (2)|
|Actually have them thinking pass, probably the first time a defense has done that all year. Six in the box and the DL goes for a pass rush. By the time Hart's to the line one LB is engaged and Riley's getting out on the other. Result: gaping hole.|
|Play disrupted by penetration from Ed Johnson. We go to the short side of the field so there's no chance to get the corner once Hart's immediate path is blown up. Kraus(-1) the one victimized.|
|Pursued on the waggle, Henne lofts a weak ball out towards Breaston that lands at his feet. (IN, 1) Play would have gone for very little because of the weak throw anyway.|
|Well... a good job by Henne to roll away when he couldn't find anyone open downfield and find Butler open at the sticks, but overthrown. (IN, 0)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 11 min 3rd Q. Don't want to be too harsh on Henne, but he sailed a ball that could have been a really big play and overthrew Butler to snuff this drive out.|
|M31||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||-1||Hart||Lead Draw|
|Not a good play from the OL. Bihl(-1) is beaten by Johnson, forcing a too-soon cut from Hart. The delay allows the rest of the DL, only slightly blocked, to coverge.|
|M30||2||11||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||5||Arrington||PA Cross|
|Draw is faked. I think Butler's seam is supposed to draw Connor back but this it does not do. He closes, preventing any YAC. (CA, 3)|
|Alford goes between Riley(-1) and Mitchell, getting quick pressure that he shouldn't with two guys to block him. The resutling pass from Henne is a little bit in front of Arrington. His diving attempt at the catch comes up short. (CA, 1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt,10-3, 6 min 3rd Q.|
|Kraus(-1) badly beaten by Ed Johnson, forcing Henne to scramble... surprised this wasn't a sack, actually. Good awareness to turn this into anything positive. (PR)|
|Nice hole here â€“ we've got 'em creased again â€“ but for Johnson coming loose and closing Hart down after he gains a small chunk of yards. Kraus(-1) couldn't keep him sealed.|
|Pass could be thrown a lot better. As it is, Arrington has to dive down and grab it. (Marginally CA, 1)|
|Giant roar of disappointment from the Michigan section after this play, as he had Butler streaking open 25 yards downfield. (BA) Can we keep Jay Alford out of the passing lanes?|
|O45||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||24||Breaston||Stop (2)|
|A late blitz from Poz catches Hart off guard. Henne starts to move, then finds Breaston, flicking it out to him. You know who this reminds me of? John Navarre. In a good way. King isn't close enough to Breaston to make an immediate tackle, and that's bad news versus Stevie B. (CA, 3)|
|O21||1||10||Ace||Run||20||Hart||Zone right (2)|
|So awesome is Mike Hart. Awful that this isn't a touchdown. Anyway: Butler blocks out the DE and Johnson hideously overruns towards the frontside, leaving a cavernous hole behind. Hart cuts back, breaks the tackle from Scirroto, and drags the corner seven yards to the one.|
|O1||1||G||Ace 3TE||Run||1||Hart||Zone right (2)|
|Thompson(+1) comes in motion to the short side as the third TE. He blows back the corner, letting Hart walk in.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-3, End of 3rd Q.|
|Eight in the box. Hart's cutback lane filled by the eighth guy, forcing a cut upfield into Poz for a few.|
|It looks like Hart has a big hole for a moment, but Johnson comes free from Kraus(-1) and Breaston(-1) whiffs his block, turning what looked like a wide open lane into nothing. Hart makes what he can.|
|Simple slant to Breaston at the sticks turns into a big chunk of yards when King whiffs the tackle, setting Breaston free in the open field. (CA, 3)|
|Victimizing King again. Wide open and Breaston makes a good cut upfield for as many yards as possible. (CA, 3)|
|We fake a slip screen that we totally should have ran for a ton of yards. Instead, a draw to Hart again snuffed out by Johnson as Kraus can't get him pushed or sealed.|
|Going to the well one too many times, as the linebacker is jumping this route, ignoring the TE's seam. There's still a window for a short completion but Henne wings it wide, forcing Breaston to break up a potential interception. (IN, 1)|
|Not sure what Henne's looking at, because he has Breaston wide open for the first down â€“ DB is turned completely the wrong way â€“ but refuses to throw, instead scrambling out and getting tackled for a loss. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 10 min 4th Q.|
|Outside is sealed well this time. Long holds his man off and Butler gets out on Poz. Breaston(-1) tries to chop Connor but fails miserably. Hart still has enough momentum and room to go for five.|
|Kraus driven back by Johnson, and Butler can't handle the DE. Grady cuts it up, meeting an unblocked Lee at the LOS.|
|Breaston is the first read in the flat. Play is designed as a bit of a pick, but Arrington's route doesn't come close enough to Breaston's defender to interfere with his man coverage. Henne comes off to Butler, decides he's covered, and scrambles. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 4 min 4th Q.|
|M20||1||10||I-Form 2TE||Run||-1||Hart||Zone left|
|Butler(-1) can't handle Shaw, who penetrates, bangs into Oluigbo, and then tackles. Extremely disappointing, as a Butler block yields a big chunk of yards.|
|M19||2||11||Ace||Run||23||Hart||Zone left (2)|
|Crease between Bihl and Long with the second level completely blocked. One problem: Riley hasn't obstructed Alford at all. It's another one of those play-side blocks that are really difficult. He bears down on Hart and impacts him... but just because Riley hasn't done anything yet doesn't mean he can't grab Alford's arm, preventing him from wrapping and springing Hart for a huge gain.|
|Connor blitzes, bringing the second level to Long; Long, standing stock still, meets Connor and shoves him back four yards. There's a crease as a result despite nearly every Lion starting the play in the box.|
|Penn State sends the house. A linebacker drives Mitchell back; a single-blocked Alford does the same to Bihl. Poz, unblocked, meets the play in the backfield.|
|Right on the money, dropped. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 2 min 4th Q.|
After reviewing the tape, what do you think about Henne's performance?
Let's bring in the helpful chart for reference:
(Now with explanatory legend.)
Obviously, Henne threw a lot more in this game than he has in any other this year, and he did it in a difficult environment against a good defense. It's reasonable to expect the numbers to be a little uglier. And that they are, with a full 15 attempts in the negative categories compared to but 19 in the positive ones. You may remember that at his nadir last year, Henne hovered just below the 50% mark, but that was after we stripped out batted passes and pressure. With four deflected balls -- none of which were truly Henne's fault -- and one Alford-induced scramble removed, Henne's ratio is 19:10. That's not bad at all.
Still, I wish that his accuracy was better. He had Arrington open a few times and either missed him entirely or forced him into a tough catch. He missed an open Butler a few times and winged a sure first down over Breaston's head. He turns two of those inaccurate passes into completions and I'm raving... but his accuracy left a little to be desired.
On the other hand: do you know who he reminds me of right at this minute? John Navarre midway through his junior year. That's when Navarre started doing things like moving up in the pocket to buy himself time and make the correct audibles and look safeties off before firing critical third-down lasers. And that's when you, the fan, sat back and thought "is this really John Navarre? Really really?" The Arrington touchdown and the scrambling Breaston completion are things he would not have done a year ago. He's gone from stari ng down receivers to teleporting safeties with his eyes. He's making second and third reads with regularity. He's getting there, and fast. The best evidence of this: the one timeout Michigan took on offense was because DeBord never got the call in, and Henne spent the entire game calling two plays and checking at the line in front of 110,000 people who hate him. He's come a long way.
And the receivers sans Manningham?
- 0 = totally uncatchable
- 1 = difficult catch worthy of Avant.
- 2 = tough-ish catch.
- 3 = aaaaargh if dropped.
Both Breaston and Arrington came through with big nights. Breaston's drop at the end prevented Michigan from running out the clock, but other than that he was very good. Michigan did something they hadn't managed to do so far this year: get him the ball moving at a good rate of speed upfield. The results were two plays that he turned moderate gains into 25-yard chunks. With Michigan's ever-increasing confidence in Henne's ability to probe the middle of the field (Arrington has been a post machine), I expect to see more of these routes as we go along. If Breaston can hang on to them consistently that'll be a useful weapon going forward.
Also of note: Butler was targeted a whopping seven times. He had the misfortune to be the primary victim of inaccurate or batted Henne passes, but twice he was wiiiiide open behind the Penn State linebackers.
Can you believe Hart ended up with over 100 yards?
No, not really. Penn State got gashed -- 15 on a draw, 20 on that ridiculous "I'm Mike Hart" run, 24 on Michigan's final drive -- and gave up just under half of Hart's yards on three carries. It seemed like Hart was dancing past defensive tackles in the backfield all night and setting up an inordinate number of 2nd and 9 or 2nd and 10. And then: 112 yards at the end of the night. Go figure.
What does it mean for Ohio State?
We have to be worried about Johnson and Alford's play against the interior of our line. Johnson was just killing Kraus whenever we tried to run at him. Alford was less consistently disruptive but turned in a few plays of his own. Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson are neck-and-neck with Branch & Taylor and the PSU duo for honors as the top DT pairing in the conference (and probably the nation); if they disrupt the interior of the line as much as Johnson and Alford did our offense may sputter.
One thing I am confident of: the OSU linebackers aren't up to the standards of Connor, Poz, and the surprisingly heady Sean Lee. Neither of the former would stay blocked, often disrupting run plays that looked sure to go for big yards. From what I've seen from OSU and from what the stats suggest, the new linebacking corps is vulnerable. I also doubt OSU has a corner the caliber of Justin King (when the ball is in the air -- guy tackles like Grant Mason), though it's hard to tell when the only threatening wideout I've seen them oppose has been saddled with an utterly green Colt McCoy.
More on OSU later, of course.
With Mitch King out, the safeties dinged, and really slow guys everywhere, Iowa seems ripe for the picking. They've got a guy from Nebraska -- if you know what I mean -- playing cornerback. James Hardy toasted that guy so frequently that he's getting checked for skin cancer. Whenever Antonio Pittman decided to bounce outside, there wasn't a Hawkeye within five yards of him. They'll play tough and hardnosed, but unlike past years there isn't a single player on the defense who seems like a good bet for the NFL. Michigan will move the ball.
Roundtable time! Trying to work in a "moops" reference because this one's hosted at a blog with the acronym MOOS.
1. Which coaches are clearly on the hot seat at this point? Who is surprisingly not?
I just want to point out that "Lloyd Carr" and "hotseat" don't belong anywhere near each other and never did. And media members are encouraged to remember that us crazy bloggers said that all season when y'all were writing chiding, fictional articles about a fanbase in revolt.
Obvious hotseat candidates have all been covered. Bunting, Coker, and JLS are less on the hotseat and more obviously getting fired. Dirk Koetter's QB samba has him in deep trouble. But what about Walt Harris of Stanford? He's managed to turn the Cardinal into obviously the second-worst BCS program in the country (hello, Duke!). Nine six-year-olds, a squirrel, and a dead manatee could rush for 8 yards per carry versus them. They've gone from a near-upset of Notre Dame to completely dead in six months. Harris is only in his second year, but good Lord.
As to who's not on the hotseat, surprisingly: Gary Pinkel of Missouri. He "wastes" Brad Smith's talents over four years, then immediately strikes gold with a sophomore QB who can -- get this -- actually throw. Loss to A&M is unfortunate but Missouri is headed for a nice bowl game and Pinkel has two more years with Chase Daniel.
2. Pick three of the undefeated teams and state your case as to why they won't run the table.
Rutgers. Because it's Rutgers.
USC. Squeaking by the bad Pac-10 tems probably means that at least one of the season-closing troika of Cal, Oregon, and Notre Dame will take down the Trojans.
Ohio State. Because I really, really want Michigan to win.
3. Which conference is playing the best football right now?
Nobody. It's a year in which every conference is seemingly down, save the Big East. But they're obviously not the best conference. If pressed I would give the most lukewarm of recommendations to the SEC.
4. Which team is playing above and beyond your expectations this season?
Wisconsin? I spent the early part of the offseason pumping up the Badgers as a potential surprise team, but when I got around to previewing them I backed off because of question marks at corner and... uh... everywhere on offense that isn't QB or tackle. My suspicions seemed justified when they limped through the patsies on their non-conference schedule then collected 150 meaningful yards versus Michigan.
But since then they've been crushing opponents. Not good opponents, sure, but when you're up 41-5 on Minnesota that's at least somewhat impressive. Neither Cal nor Michigan smashed the Gophers so comprehensively. At this point they're easily the Big Ten's third best team and if they can get by a tough Penn State defense that matches up with UW very well they have a clear path to 11-1. It would be a flimsy 11-1 -- their nonconference schedule is embarassing and they miss OSU -- but that's not bad.
5. Which team is crashing and burning in regards to your expectations?
I'm thinking of extorting fans of mid-level Big Ten teams with moderate expectations going into the season, as I have previewed the conference twice, twice overrated teams with a moderate level of hype, and twice watched those teams implode spectacularly. Last year it was Purdue. This year: Iowa, who I ranked #2.
No, not in Iowa. In the country.
This has obviously gone vastly wrong. Iowa sputtered along doing nothing of note for the first bit of the season. I probably should have leapt off the bandwagon after an overtime win over Syracuse, but Tate was out. I should have leapt off after a uninspiring victory over what's apparently a terrible Iowa State team. I did jump after a limp loss to Ohio State, but then they crushed Purdue and I was back on board. You lose? To Indiana? My preseason #2?
There is only one punishment for this:
DEAD TO ME
And you thought losing to Indiana was bad.
Side note: ND bloggers insufficiently unwary of throwing stones in their glass house get the FIST OF JUSTICE. Dylan of BGS:
We'll see what Iowa can do to redeem themselves and justify Brian at mgoblog's earlier top 2 ranking. Whoops.
There will be improvement across the board (particularly in the secondary), with the exception of the field goal unit. If we lose a game, it will be because of a missed field goal, or a failed 4th down conversion.
Apparently he forgot "or a complete and total beatdown in every facet of the game." Hey, at least he was right about a potential "trap" game:
Dylan - UM. If you can believe it, I think we might get caught looking ahead to MSU.
FIST OF JUSTICE!
(...which is apparently an internet comic book.)
6. Is your pre-season BCS championship game prediction still alive?
I didn't make one. Good thing, too, with the whole Iowa #2 thing.
|Tape I have misses the first two plays from scrimmage.|
|M45||3||5||Base 4-3||Pass||10||Shallow cross|
|Zone blitz from the wide side sends Crable and Harris, dropping Biggs off into coverage. It basically works, getting Harris in unblocked. Morelli gets a pass off before being leveled. Butler is a step and a half in front of Graham, who stepped towards the receiver crossing the other way. One guy versus two receivers = open. (pressure +1, cover -1)|
|M35||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||2||PA Dumpoff|
|Crable(+1) blitzes again. He's in like a shot, past the OL and immediately in Morelli's face. He manages to get a pass off to Hunt, who's tackled immediately by Adams(+1). (Pressure +1)|
|M33||2||8||Base 4-3||Run||4||Shotgun draw|
|OL gets good push but no creases between Taylor and Branch. Hunt powers forward for a few. Reminsicent of his runs versus Minnesota.|
|Dropped by the WR, otherwise he's open in front of Harrison for a first down. Harrison(-1) was held inside far too long by the play action fake, which was not particularly convincing with the TE releasing immediately. (cover -1)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q.|
|You'd think this would work with Hall eight yards off the LOS and retreating on the snap (OMG Herrmann!) but no, it doesn't. Outstanding play by Hall(+2). (CA)|
|O26||2||8||Base 4-3||Run||2||FB Dive|
|Uh... okay. Matt Hahn up the gut. Taylor(+1) and Chris Graham(hi! +1) combine to stuff it in the hole.|
|Crable sent as a fourth rusher. Morelli has a moment, but hesitates and starts scrambling out as he sees Crable(+1) starting to come loose. Hall(+1) right with Norwood. (cover +1, TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 6 min 1st Q. A little bit of happy feet on Morelli's part on that last play.|
|O17||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||-2||Off tackle|
|Branch(+1) drives his man into the backfield and is held, drawing a flag. Burgess(+1) and Woodley(+1) drive past blockers and make a TFL. Michigan accepts the holding call.|
|Awww, come on now. We're only rushing three guys and this screen picks up eight? Woodley(+1), one of the rushers, actually doubles back to make the tackle downfield. (CA)|
|O16||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Branch(+1) again into the backfield; Biggs(+1) closes off the outside. Hunt is forced into a sea of bodies, picking up two.|
|Morelli rolls from the pocket, finding Norwood open in front of Trent(-1, cover -1). Short by like an inch. Stung by a failed sneak last week, PSU punts.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, End of 1st Q.|
|O20||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||15||PA Out|
|Trent(-1) again picked on, giving a big cushion to Williams and missing a tackle. Adams cleans up. (cover -1)|
|They run; guess who snuffs it out? Alan Branch(+1), disengaging from his block even though he's well sealed and closing down a running back.|
|O38||2||7||Base 4-3||Pass||-12||Sack (2)|
|Tim Jamison(+1) is basically unblocked, closing off the outside. He doesn't go wild and shoot past the quarterback, though, closing in sensibly. As Morelli tries to step up Taylor(+2), who's blown past his blocker, explodes into the backfield and sacks Morelli. (pressure +2)|
|Woodley(+3) powers through the tackle and croosh silly bug man with ball. (pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: That's Damn Right It's a Punt, 7-0, 9 min 2nd Q. Fourth and 33.|
|O14||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||-9||Sack (2)|
|Uh, yeah, blocking Woodley(+2) with Tony Hunt is not a good idea. He powers through the attempted cut, sacks, and strips Morelli. Only a hugely fortunate bounce prevents this from being a game-killing turnover. (pressure +2)|
|Perfect example of how defensive tackles never, ever get any credit no matter how damn good they are. This is a draw against six guys in the box, and neither linebacker is touched because Branch(+1) and Taylor(+1) both occupy two guys the entire play. Burgess makes the stick and Musberger talks about our awesome linebackers. BRANCH FOR HEISMAN.|
|Utterly BS PI call on Trent on a ball that's eight yards past the receiver. To boot: this contact is completely wussy and incidental. Words cannot express the contempt I have for this call. (IN)|
|Defended decently by Trent. (CA)|
|Actual successful run play! Reason: Jamison(-1) is irresponsible. He's doubled on the edge by Brown and a TE so he decides to spin inside. Corner = ceded.|
|Taylor(-1) caves on this play, eventually getting pancaked five yards downfield. With a DT giving that much ground there's a crease for Hunt.|
|Biggs(+2) defeats the right tackle much like Woodley did on his first sack, driving inside of him and into the quarterback. Morelli had time to throw... but not much. (cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Ack. A very late developing, slow screen lets everyone get into their zone drops. Play was going for a first down as soon as Hunt released but Mundy's (-1) foolish attempt to hurdle a blocker instead of get outside and force the play back into pursuing defenders probably resulted in 15-20 Yards After Mundy.|
|Morelli half rolls, finding Norwood open in front of Trent. The pass is short-hopped. (IN)|
|Dropped by Quarless. Adams(+1) had good coverage and was going to hold this to 3 or 5 yards. (cover +1)|
|Crable-Woodley stunt picked up well by the PSU OL, opening up the right side of the field for Morelli to roll into. He does and finds an open Norwood. Can' reall blame Mundy(+1) for the coverage, as it was a zone. He reacted quickly enough to prevent YAC. (pressure -1, cover -1)|
|Burgess(+1) does well to stand up his blocker and disengage to tackle. Taylor, doubled, is blown off the line but Hunt goes the other way. Branch almost had him at the LOS.|
|Trent(-1) badly beaten. Biggs(+1) was coming and would have had another sack if we had good coverage. (cover -1, pressure +1)|
|Uh, okay. Branch(+1) bursts through the line into the backfield. Hunt cuts up past him; Harris and Taylor are waiting (+1 each).|
|Trent(+1) has Williams locked down this time. Woodley(+1) battles through a block to pressure Morelli, forcing him to throw it away. (TA, cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Brandent Englemon(+2) breaks on the ball, knocking it down. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-3, EO 1st Half.|
|We stunt past some trap blocking here â€“ our rock, their scissors. Woodley(+1) into the backfield, drawing the attention of a guard and allowing Graham(+1) to come unblocked and make the TFL.|
|Play action to Hunt. Levi Brown decides not to block Jamison for some reason â€“ we're not even threatening a blitz that might cause PSU to shift its protection -- leaving Hunt alone trying to block him. He easily sidesteps Hunt and makes the sack. (+1 Jamison, pressure)|
|O15||3||19||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||24||Deep out|
|Harrison blitzes from the corner. A Jamison-Branch stunt gets Branch(+1) free. He buries Morelli and ends his night, but not before he manages to get off a quail of a pass that somehow finds its way to an open reciever. Johnny Sears(-1), replacing Trent, is victimized. Unless Morelli keeps his brain in his left shoulder, this is not anywhere close to a flag. (pressure +1, cover -2)|
|Hall(+1) reads this and closes off the outside; Burgess(+1) ges through a blocker and pounds Williams.|
|O39||2||10||Nickel||Run||4||Zone read keeper|
|Burgess and Harris are weirdly passive on this play. If they had been more aggressive they definitely could have closed this down for no gain, and with Clark just in the game you have to figure run.|
|Harrison(+1) gets a hand in, breaking up the play. Clark was late, staring his receiver down. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|O21||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||-7 + 15||Sack|
|Crable(+2) blitzes into the backfield like a shot, taking Clark down. Taylor(-1) picks up a dumb personal foul for falling on Clark after the play.|
|Hall makes an immediate tackle. (CA)|
|Branch(+1) is on the quarterback far too quickly for this screen to get set up. The throw from Clark is panicked and inaccurate. Hall(+1) has going to crush this for a loss if complete. (pressure +1, cover +1)|
|Biggs(+1) unblocked on the backside as PSU rolls the pocket away from him. Clark hesitates a moment and is lost. (pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|Both DTs doubled again â€“ Taylor(-1) driven back as a result. This allows the guard to get out on Harris. Hunt has a hole until Mundy(+1) fills smartly.|
|They're double-teaming the crap out of Taylor, but this time Branch(+1) and Woodley(+1) drive their men back and converge at the LOS.|
|Clark's pass is ill-advised and overthrown, as Trent(+1) has excellent coverage. Butler is forced to take an offenisve PI to prevent a pick. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 13 min 4th Q.|
|O20||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||1||Shovel pass|
|Biggs(+1) avoids a pulling guard and closes the shovel pass down quickly. Will Johnson(+1) also there to help.|
|Nice throw and catch. Decent but not great coverage by Trent.|
|Johnson(+1) gets enough penetration to disrupt the pulling guard, leaving Harris unblocked at he LOS.|
|We miss the first bit of this play because we are checking out Lisa Salters as a PSU basketball player. When we come back, Clark is scrambling out of the pocket for a few yards, then getting pounded. He leaves the game. (cover +1)|
|Crable(+1) reads the quarterback's eyes, stops reacting to an underneath route, and gets in the passing lane here, deflecting the ball and nearly intercepting it. Nice play. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7 min 4th Q.|
|O47||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||5||Pitch sweep|
|At this point in the game we're set up for pass rush with wide splits on the DL and only a few guys in the box. Williams gets the pitch and has some room; Jamar Adams reads and fills nicely but his tackle is lame: a shoulder block that manages to trip Hunt up. Wrap up! [/spielman]|
|Hall(+1) plays this coverage very tightly, wrapping up and tackling Williams short of the first down. (cover +1)|
|I'm not sure who to blame. They set this up nicely, but we're only rushing four. Crable gets chopped, as does Harris. He's into the secondary. Harrison and Mundy are converging from the left, Adams(-1) overruns the play, allowing a cutback lane. Sears, Harrison, and Adams all dive at Hunt's feet, but no dice.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-10, 3 min 4th Q.|
|Jeez. First of all: how did Brandon Harrison not sack Ciancolo? He comes in unblocked, but runs right by the QB, who's not moving. He then plows into the back of an OL and goes down like a ton of bricks. Pure slapstick. Then: how does Jamar Adams not intercept this pass? It's right in his hands. (+1 for the Adams PBU, cover +1)|
|Mundy(+1) in good coverage and makes a quick tackle.|
|Hall in better position than the wide receiver, who tackles him to prevent a pick. No flag this time. (Hall +1, cover +1).|
|Pass to a double-covered Norwood is well over his head. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, 17-10, EOG.|
No kidding. 184 total yards of offense, two quarterbacks woozy on the sideline, and only a persistently irritating vulnerability to screens standing in between Michigan and complete domination.
Was it really that dominant a performance?
Well... while a good portion of the sack parade was impressive Michigan play, a few times Penn State either didn't block anyone or put themselves in a position where Tony Hunt was trying to cut a defensive end. And once Morelli went out so did 80% of the Penn State playbook. Michigan did get more pressure than they did against Michigan State and Minnesota but not drastically more. The mobility of Stanton and Cupito's ability to make quick throws on three-step drops turned sacks into hurries and fourth and 33 into (occasional) first downs. Penn State's wobbly offensive line and immobile, inexperienced quarterback doomed them to failure from the start. Neither Iowa or Ohio State will heistate to move their quarterback and both schools have more experienced offensive lines. I wouldn't expect a repeat.
|Woodley||9||9||Two sacks, another TFL, and consistently strong against the run.|
|Biggs||6||-||6||Wasn't blocked on one sack but the other was impressive.|
|Taylor||6||3||3||Good, but got blown back a bit when doubled.|
|Branch||7||7||Didn't appear much on the statsheet but has made running inside impossible virtually all year.|
|Johnson||2||2||Had a couple nice plays in the third quarter.|
|Jamison||2||1||1||Definitely relegated to Biggs' backup now, but that says more about Biggs than Jamison.|
|C. Graham||2||-||2||Seems healthy again.|
|Hall||6||-||6||Have come around: he's really, really good.|
|Englemon||2||-||2||Important PBU in the endzone.|
|Trent||2||3||-1||Tough game early. Got pulled in favor of Sears on the possession Morelli got knocked out on.|
|"Pressure"||15||1||14||Uh... yeah, when you get seven sacks and don't blitz all that frequently this is what you see in this category.|
|"Coverage"||13||8||5||Shaky when Morelli was in the game. After he left, the hesitancy and questionable arm strength of his replacements allowed Michigan to close on receivers.|
The screen difficulties should be charged to the linebackers and safeties but assigning specific blame is hard for me. Also, the linebackers didn't get much in the way of plusses because Penn State didn't run that much, Michigan didn't blitz that much, and a huge percentage of PSU's throws were easy-to-read outs. With the DL crushing the run and pass game nearly by itself, all the linebackers had to do was flow to the ball and tackle. This they did.
As noted above, "coverage" was dodgier than it appears. Both Clark and Rudy stared down their receivers badly, allowing players to break on obvious routes. When Morelli was in there were problems with cornerbacks not named "Hall."
OMG Defensive Line.
Seriously. What more is there to say? Can we point out that Rondell Biggs has five sacks and is playing at an all-conference level himself? He is the easy winner of the Bennie Joppru award (given to the most inexplicably great senior) this year, one of those three-star no-hopers that panned out in a big way. Preseason we were all screaming for Jamison; now that looks about as silly as "Iowa... #2!"
But that second corner spot...
Looks much shakier than it did after the Wisconsin game. Charles Stewart was torched when pressed into service versus Minnesota, and when Morgan Trent came back from a completely non-fictional hand injury his game slipped versus Michigan State and Penn State. Johnny Sears was inserted for one third-quarter drive in Happy Valley and ceded a third and 19 completion on a desperate, looping pass from a freshly concussed Anthony Morelli.
It's not a huge deal... but it's a weakness.
I know we shouldn't be looking ahead, but does anything here have bearing on the OSU game?
Probably not, sadly. Penn State's offense resembles OSU's in no way whatsoever. One thing: Hall's continued high-level of performance is encouraging. I expect him to see a lot of Gonzalez. Trent has the speed to deal with Ginn and his weaknesses on breaks are matched by Ginn's less than amazing routes. I think we match up decently well there except for one niggling issue: our nickelback is 5'8" and their slot receiver, whoever he is, is well over 6'.
And what does it mean for Iowa?
I don't know what's happened to their offense. Drew Tate's off, their receivers are pedestrian, and their starting running back is wounded. Freshman WR Dominique Douglas and left tackle Dace Richardson are also questionable for the game this weekend. Iowa's flipping their offensive line around, trying to find a combination that actually works. It all implies more doom for an opposing quarterback... but NSFMF!
Iowa has the potential to pose a threat if they can find a competent wideout or two. If Tate plays like he did last year, he'll find open territory on the side of the field not occupied by Leon Hall. Our linebackers are sometimes vulnerable to Spaethian tight ends like Scott Chandler. Backup running back Damien Sims is a little darting guy very capable of turning the corner, unlike just about everyone else we've faced so far this year. Penn State is probably going to be the outlier for quarterback annihilation this year and Iowa will get some yards. Probably.
I hope Young doesn't play much, not because I am worried about Iowa but more because I'm interested to see what Sims can do against the Michigan defense. The closest thing to a scatback we've seen this year is Amir Pinnix, and while his big chunks of yards were more due to clever formations convincing us to misalign ourselves than any perimeter weakness, Antonio Pittman is a faster, more nimble player than Hunt or Hill.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Fallers: Say goodbye to Iowa, Georgia, and Missouri, all plummetting out of the poll after losses. Florida is judged harshly for a close road loss to a quality opponent and bombs downward seven spots to #9. We're no more merciful than the AP and that makes bear sad.
Risers: The weeks biggest winners are... Rutgers and Wisconsin? I guess. They both rise five spots, benefiting from their shiny records in a world of things like losses to Vanderbilt and Indiana. Auburn reclaims a spot in the top ten by beating Florida.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- You know that victory chain that goes USC > Ark > Auburn > Florida > Tennessee > Cal? That's #3-8 on Corn From A Jar's ballot. Regrettably, this makes Arkansas the #4 team in the country.
- Ramblin' Racket chose to see the Florida game as incontrovertible proof that the SEC is terrible, dropping Florida 13 spots... and Auburn one.
- My Opinion On Sports has Iowa #15... they lost to Indiana! As a man who ranked the Hawkeyes #2 at the start of the year, I'm all for irrational Ferentz exuberance, but Indiana, man.
- The Cover Two has BC #8 and Texas #17. More on him later, as he won the Mr. Bold award.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Brief comment: damn right Arkansas is at the top of this thing. What do you do with a team that beat Auburn by three scores, squeaked by Vanderbilt, would have lost to Alabama without an epic meltodown from a kicker named "Tiffin," and was crushed by USC? I have no idea. You can put them anywhere from #6 to #20 and I could say "yeah, that's reasonable."
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is The Cover Two. Primary irregularities are Clemson #6, Boston College(!) #8 (!!!), Boise #12, Cal #14, and Texas #17. The folks over there were kind enough to explain themselves and they even included a bigass table to warm the cockles of my reptilian-engineer heart. In brief:
How the hell can Texas be ranked #17 and Boston College be ranked #8? Well, here is the half-witted explanation. I felt the way I was ranking teams was biased based on hype and name and had very little to do with what teams had earned on the field. So, I kinda, sorta took cues from other blogpollsters who looked at the resume of each team being ranked without knowing who that team was. I, knowing all things (ha!), knew who each team was just based on the resume, but I tried my hardest not to allow that to influence my opinion of that resume.
Later, on Texas:
Do you seriously think Texas is the 17th best team in the country? No. I think Texas is likely one of the top five teams in the country. In my opinion, however, they have the 17th best resume in the country at this point.
This, of course, gets into poll philosophies and such that we've never really resolved at poll headquarters. I think Texas at #17 is silly; I also think Texas #2 is silly. But since I don't vote strictly on resume or strictly on futures it's hard to say either is impossible.
Mr. Numb Existence is BGSU blogger the DJL Zone. Goooo Falcons.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award goes to Badger Sports for featuring Wisconsin #12. I'm not too angry since after about #10 you wade into a sea of deeply flawed teams and Wisconsin has stomped everyone they've played other than Michigan (and... uh... San Diego State).
Straight Bangin' Award has finally been relinquished by the horde of Georgia bloggers (who totally told us so), as everyone's given up on the Dawgs after losing to Vanderbilt. Our new winner: Boi From Troy. Last week, he had USC #1. A 28-21 victory over an Arizona State team which may be a Glorious People's Republic led by Subcomandante Carpenter but is not in any sense of the word "good" at "football" yields a nine-spot drop to #10. Theory: BFT's prescription for something ran out. Prozac?>
Swing is essentially the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic-Depressive is also Badger Sports. The competition is narrowly edged out thanks in large part to a gargantuan swing downwards for WVU (from #4 to #16) that I believe is caused by a voter switch, as the proprietor of Badger Sports had a guest fill in his last two ballots. Also: silly faith in Georgia and Iowa (#13 and #14) is replaced with hatred (gone, gone).
Mr. Stubborn is Bruce Ciskie's. This week it's a "ha ha, I was right" ballot that had already dropped Georgia and only suffered to include Iowa at #23.
Notes: Removed Washington, replacing them with Oklahoma. Bumped Wisconsin and their flimsy resume down a couple spots; moved the Big 12 teams up relative to Wake and Rutgers.
1. Calvin Johnson, GT
Off week. Still the platonic ideal when it comes to terrifying wide receivers. And velociraptors.
2. ALAN BRANCH IS IN ALL CAPS, MFERS
(Sorry, Mike... but it's badass.)
He didn't get any of the million sacks Michigan racked up versus Penn State but he was crushing the interior of the Penn State line the entire game. He had three QB hurries, including the thudding blow that removed the last of Anthony Morelli's sanity. He was double teamed in the run game and gave no ground. What does he have to do, return punts?
3. Troy Smith, OSU
...is not being asked to do much, but has been implausibly efficient when directed to use his robot body to robot throw the robot ball. Still, numbers seem sort of hollow to me. That's just me.
4. Lamarr Woodley, Michigan
He's tied for eighth in the nation for sacks and he's better against the run. Two defensive linemen from the same team on one MaxwellBallot? Shameless homerism? Perhaps, but with Peterson and Wolfe gone, but one quarterback really asserting himself, and only Johnson checking in at WR, the field is wide open for defensive players.
5. um... er.
Is there anyone left?
5. Steve Slaton, WVU
He's fast! He's playing against children!
Programming note: due to DVR hijinks -- I'm trying to figure out which roommate I need to kill -- PSU-UM didn't get taped. Vijay has been kind enough to provide a copy, but UFR is going to be Wed/Thurs this week.
I have almost but not quite brought up the whole Whitlock-Scoop thing about six times but decided my time was better spent elsewhere. But, uh, this interview with Scoop is amazing. Like good God, man:
Actors such as Deniro, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman all vary in style, ESPN is nothing different. Coaching styles are different. Sometimes differences are hard for people to swallow. My style of writing is being presented in a whole different light. I try to do things differently....
Scoop, would you say your style of writing is different or the same? Great. Now let me ask you that question six hundred times in a row. Not two sentences later he then displays his gigantic modesty:
To certain individuals it's unique, but to others my style makes them uncomfortable. Very similar to when Hip Hop came on the scene, or when Prince came on the scene. Jazz is the classic example. When Charlie Parker and Miles Davis were doing their thing, it wasn't avant garde. There was a resistance of the masses, but they got it. Ali came along and people weren't comfortable with the way he chose to live his life, but they ended up getting it.
Um. Next, he points out that he didn't say the "resistance" to his style was just like the resistance all those people went through:
I bring up these great people to make a point. Obviously, I'm not comparing myself to their collective greatness.
Except that part just there where you did. The capper:
My style is not an urban style, it's not a Black style, it's "originatic" if you will.
"Originatic." So it's like something that's orginal... but isn't.
When I wrote the story about there being a lack of sports editors, I wasn't the one who broke the story. Norman Chad from the Washington Post broke the story. He didn't get the type of attention that I received did he? No. I'm the one who came across as controversial because I'm a Black man writing on Black issues.
Gist of Chad's article: "it's disappointing there are no black people in this survey and something needs to change." Direct statement from Scoop's: "You have a better chance of being an NBA player than a sports journalist, black children of the world." (No. Literally:
Then I make a point.
"Do you know why you can't name 300 black sportswriters?" I say to them. "Because 300 of us don't exist."
The room becomes less quiet. Mumbling. Private conversations break out.
Then I make the point: "Which means you all have a better chance to make it to the NBA than you do doing what I do for a living."
) Gee, I wonder why one of these articles garnered little notice and the other a flood of condemnation? Could it be because one of them is the stupidest thing written in the history of the English language?
I want people to finish reading all of my stuff and one day maybe say, this dude was a genius.
I give up. Where's Ashton Kutcher?
I'll take "Succinct Summaries Of Fallen Programs" for 200, Alex. Tomahawk Nation, an FSU blog:
I'm scared of Wake Forest.
"Rambling Rants On Outlaw Programs" for 600. Clemson blog Sporting Gnomes:
Larry Coker's head. Plate. NOW!
"Stunning Lack of Optimism" for 800. Stolen from Winged Helmet, an Iowa fan on this weekend's game:
"If Iowa scores more than 2 TDs, I will cut off my left arm and mail it to whomever wants it."
"Injury Report" for 200: the Iowa depth chart for this week is missing RB Albert Young, DL Mitch King, WR Dominique Douglas, and some guy named Richardson who I've not heard of. Iowa fans are not happy.
"Potpourri" for everything: Russell Levine invokes '97 in the New York Sun; Warren St. John has a hilarious article on some youth football coaches (they're coaching nine-year olds and the story contains the word "spread"); Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel guy offers a Drew Henson mea culpa; Michigan Monday @ the OZone; Penn State fans (mostly) believe Michigan is better than OSU.
So... yeah. the unholy hell that is USC > Ark > Auburn > Florida > Tennessee > Cal has finally blown this poll wide open. There is no semblance of sanity left, this I warn you.
- Oklahoma is an oversight and will be inserted in the high teens.
- Yes, you can point to any number of teams and go !!!! same number of losses and X beat Y, but at this point in the season the quality of the rest of the schedule and their performances versus the rest of their schedules have a major influence on me. So Arkansas, stomped at the hands of USC and possessors of the squeakiest of wins versus Vandy and Bama, is ranked below Auburn, etc. Likewise Florida is above Auburn, as their loss was more competitive and their win over LSU more decisive, and Tennessee is above Florida, as their loss was the most competitive-est and their thumping of Cal progressively more impressive. Does this make me seem less retarded now?
- Yeah, I do think Wisconsin is that good. They're WVU except they've played Michigan.
Games Seen: Auburn-UF, BC-VT, and Michigan-PSU.
Note: I hardly saw anything this weekend due to a road trip and hate the ballot above; help is requested.
So Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog -- no, that's not a typo, and yes, I am somewhat upset at Mr. Steinberg that I have to explain this, but no, as the proprietor of something called "MGoBlog" I have little room to complain and yes, this is a long aside indeed, isn't it -- has posted an "Oddsmaker's Top 25" the past couple weeks. (Note to anyone wishing to deploy the "Vegas sets lines for action, not based on who they think will win" argument:
Also bear in mind that these guys don't set the lines; they advise sports books. The sports books will then take into account things like popularity and fan base, but these LVSC guys are going strictly based on their analysis, as I understand it.
That's from the comments of the above link, if you're searching from it.) He debuted it with the OMG controversial(!) assertion that maybe we should use the wiseguys to determine the composition of the BCS:
I don't see how you could argue with this. If the oddsmakers say West Virginia is the 13th-best team in the country (as they do), how can they possibly be considered for the national championship game? And if the oddsmakers say Texas is the second-best team (as they do), well, get ready for a Ohio State-Texas rematch.
Texas blogs, noticing Texas is #2 in the Oddsmaker's poll, think this is just brilliant:
Now this is interesting. And about the sexiest idea I've heard in well over a year.
(OMG Justin Timberlake is sooooo going to PWN you, BON.) In related news, CFR spanks the BCS for placing the unimpressive-to-date Trojans #2, in the process succinctly stating the criteria he and many others would like to see employed:
And yet, that's not really what should be considered when humans (through the AP and Coaches polls) rank a team.
Who is best? Put them No. 1. Who is next best? Put them No. 2. Continue until you're at No. 25. Repeat the next week.
This is the principle that is theoretically the basis for all BlogPoll rankings. It is a useful an interesting thing to see deployed by a team of experts who make their living at this. Its earthly avatar is the Oddsmaker's Top 25.
And it must never, ever be suffered to determine a matchup as piddling as that of the Motor City Bowl. The proof of this lies before your eyes. The most recent top ten:
1. Ohio State (7-0) (1)
2. Texas (6-1) (9)
3. Michigan (7-0) (3)
4. California (6-1) (10)
5. Louisiana State (5-2) (18)
6. Southern Cal (6-0) (2)
7. Florida (6-1) (6)
8. Tennessee (5-1) (11)
9. Louisville (6-0) (7)
10. Notre Dame (5-1) (8)
Guess who LSU lost to? Florida and Auburn. Guess who's in front of Florida and Auburn? LSU. It may be true that LSU outplayed both teams in their games and was struck down by ill-fortune. I have no doubt that the men who assemble this poll are serious indeed and have better analysis chops than I do. It may well be true that if you put LSU and Florida in an empty stadium and had them play 100 times, LSU would win 54 of those. But in this universe they play once and Florida won by 13. In an alternate universe similar to this one where Dan Steinberg is the absolute despot of everything and Cal, Michigan, and Texas suck, LSU and their impressive wins over nobody and their impressive losses to anybody who isn't nobody is #2 and in line for a national championship slot.
Once we go through the looking glass and judge teams solely based on how neato we think they are (and seriously, folks: Texas racked up 200 yards offense versus OU and rode a fortuitous turnover blizzard to the win... they aren't the #2 team in the country or anywhere close), we traipse down the road to figure skating. In this poll, you can see that the madness at the end of the Oregon-Oklahoma game matters not one bit (last week UO and OU were 12 and 14, respectively) but an injury to Adrian Peterson (which dropped OU down to 17) does. If Michigan were to walk into Ohio Stadium at the end of the year, get dominated, and win, they would not move up, and in Steinbergland they would enjoy their Rose Bowl bid as a team they defeated played for "the national championship." While I have no doubt a universe ruled with an iron fist by a man with the good nature and wit of Mr. Steinberg would be far preferable than this one in which Joe Theismann is allowed to run amok, tongue intact*, college football would be a poorer, more fanciful sport favored only by men who like nothing more than a good cry and really fashionable belts.
Striking a balance between style-point madness and rote you-win-you-stay is a delicate thing. While you can very plausibly argue the latter holds too much sway in the BCS selection process, the oddsmakers are the communism to our current fascism: yeah, they're diametrically opposed, but neither is a good idea. Steinbergland is a place where Doug Flutie's Hail Mary doesn't matter one damn bit. And that's not a universe I want to live in, tongueless Joe Theismann or no.
*(Assertion that Steinberg would mandate the painful removal of Theismann's tongue on national television purely speculative. But I'm pretty sure he would.)