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17 Nov 2005

Seventh Day Adventure: Rivalry Week

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Russell: Gosh, is it rivalry week already? Where has the season gone? Maybe I'm confused because it's still 65 degrees here in New Jersey in mid-November (no global warming jokes this time around).

Vinny: Well, it's 15 degrees with the dreaded wind chill in Chicago today, and it's sleeting horizontally as we speak. Rivalry weekend time sounds right to me.

Russell: This is the best Saturday of the college season, with tradition-steeped games all over the dial. You've got the Apple Cup, the Iron Bowl, the Civil War, and a little game up in Ann Arbor as well.

Vinny: And don't forget a bunch of University of Miami football players recording a not-so-demure rap song. Now that's a proper nod to tradition. Somewhere, Luther Campbell is smiling ... if he's even alive at this point.

Russell: Ah, you gotta love "Da U." Somewhere, Dennis Erickson is raising a beer (hopefully not while driving). This is a family website and all, so you'll have to do your own Googling to find that tune.

#25 Oklahoma (+7.5) at #19 Texas Tech, 12 p.m. ET, FSN

Russell: Trivia time -- what's Texas Tech's best win this season? Would you believe a three-point squeaker over Nebraska? I'm not sold on Mike Leach's club at all, especially not after the offense was shut down by Oklahoma State last week.

Vinny: The Red Raiders were somehow held scoreless in the first half -- and only scored 10 offensive points -- against Oklahoma State. Tech quarterback Cody Hodges said the Raiders were confused by the Cowboys' Cover-2 defense and disguised coverages. I'm confused how Hodges is still in college -- he looks like 41-year old car salesman.

Russell: Oklahoma, meanwhile has played pretty well since getting off to a difficult 1-2 start. The Sooners are 5-1 since, with the only loss coming to Texas. People forget how much talent Bob Stoops lost to the NFL off last year's team (11 draftees, plus quarterback Jason White). I think he's done an excellent job keeping this team competitive after it stumbled out of the gate.

Vinny: The Sooners defense has nearly squandered a big lead in each of the last three weeks. Texas A&M almost rallied from 21 points down in Norman last week on Dad's Day. (What the hell is that? Moms don't get a day? These are Red State values?) Regardless, I'm casting my lot with the Sooners against Tech. Oklahoma covers.

Russell: Adrian Peterson has been dinged up all year, but even without him to pound the ball, Oklahoma is a far more physical team. Getting more than a touchdown against a team that hasn't beaten anybody decent all year is too much to pass up. I'll take the Sooners and the points.

#7 Ohio State (-3) at #15 Michigan, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Does Senator Tressel really own Lloyd Carr? He's won three of four against Michigan, winning in years when he appeared to have the better team (2002) and also in years (2001, 2004) when Michigan appeared to have the edge.

Vinny: On the flipside, he coaches on a campus where students still aspire to take part in the world's biggest pillow fight. Get a life, people! I've seen many predictions of a double-digit Buckeye win. A.J. Hawk will have a haul of post-season awards, but I have to admit to being a Nate Salley fan. The senior safety is absolutely fearless. If there's one thing that surprises me about the stellar Sweatervest defense, it's that they've only forced 12 turnovers all year. Meanwhile, Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn Jr. terrify me in the return game.

Russell: I think Lloyd's coming into this game relaxed. After the year got off to a miserable 3-3 start, he seemed to just tune out the critics and do things his way, and Michigan has responded with four straight wins. Ohio State, meanwhile, comes in on a huge roll, scoring points in bushels and shutting opponents down with abandon.

Vinny: After the high standards he set as a true freshman, Chad Henne has been disappointing this year. And it would have been far worse if not for Jason "Plastic Man" Avant bailing Henne out with sick catches all season. The Michigan brain trust has been understandably reluctant to let Henne throw the ball over the middle. But you can't make a living throwing to the boundaries on Ohio State -- they're just too fast. Avant and tight ends Tim Massaquoi and Tyler Ecker have to get behind the Buckeyes linebackers on Saturday, and Henne has to be on his game.

Russell: Home underdogs are rare in this series and it's tough to ignore Michigan getting a field goal in the Big House. The Wolverines have done a much better job against scrambling quarterbacks this year, and I'm still not sold on the Troy Smith Experience. On offense, Michigan emptied the playbook last week to give Ohio State plenty to think about. Steve Breaston also remembered that he's Steve Breaston. If he can do another passable impression this week and Mike Hart -- expected to return from an ankle sprain -- is a factor, I like Michigan to win outright.

Vinny: If right tackle Jake Long, Michigan's best offensive lineman, isn't healthy, Hart probably won't find much daylight. The Michigan defense is coming on strong behind defensive lineman Alan Branch. They've actually defended mobile quarterbacks well this season. We'll see if they can do it against Smith, who looked like Steve Young against the Wolverines last year. Literally. (OK, not literally.) This is the first time Michigan has been a home underdog since it hosted Penn State in 1998 (a 27-0 Michigan win). Curses be damned (famous last words), I'm also going with the Wolverines at home.

Russell: There you have it, Ohio State fans, you can't accuse us of trying to put the reverse hex on our squad. Of course, I'm presuming that you people know how to use a computer, which is a bigger stretch than both of us picking Michigan. (I kid! I kid! Well, sort of.)

Washington State (-3) at Washington, 3:15 p.m. ET, FSN

Russell: Rivalry line alert. On paper, Washington State is more than a field goal better than Washington, which got its first conference win only last week. But the game's in Seattle, and the Apple Cup is always hotly contested, hence the narrow line.

Vinny: A rough year for both of these teams. The Huskies haven't mounted much of a ground attack until lately -- tailback James Sims ran wild (200 yards) in the win over Arizona last week. Wazzu, however, boasts the No. 1 rusher in the land, senior Jerome Harrison (169.3 yards per game). Granted, that's against Pac-10 defenses, which are generally as impotent as any Nevada boxing commissioner.

Russell: Washington State can score points in bunches, but the Cougars can't seem to put anyone away, blowing late leads against Oregon State, UCLA, and Cal on their way to a seven-game losing streak. The Huskies, meanwhile, have played well in stretches, but haven't been able to put full games together. They hung with Notre Dame for a while, and should have beaten UCLA, but ended up fading in both contests. Ty Willingham has a lot of work to do to get this program back to the status it used to enjoy.

Vinny: What is it about the Palouse that breeds good quarterbacks? Must be some good recruiting and a great offensive staff led by coordinator Mike Levenseller. Quarterback Alex Brink (who got out from under Mike Bellotti's nose after growing up in Eugene, Oregon) is having a fine sophomore season for the Cougars.

Russell: I'm wary of overlooking the home dog in any rivalry game, but I just don't know that Washington has what it takes mentally to put a complete game together. I'll take the Cougs.

Vinny: Yep, Wazzu is the pick.

#8 Alabama (+7) at #13 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Russell: Wow, talk about one injury changing the course of a season. With Tyrone Prothro, Alabama bombed Florida, 31-3. Without him, the Tide is allergic to the end zone, coming off its first loss of the season, and finds itself a full touchdown underdog against archrival Auburn. 'Bama gets no love from Vegas -- last week the Tide were three-point underdogs to LSU at home, despite being 9-0.

Vinny: Brodie Croyle was running for his life most of the game against LSU, getting sacked five times. And even when he bought some time, the Tide receivers couldn't make any plays. I didn't like the third-and-2 pass call by Mike Shula in overtime. Kenneth Darby was having a good day (104 yards on 21 carries) -- you have to trust him to get two yards in that situation.

Russell: For sheer hatred, it's tough to top the Iron Bowl, especially when both teams are good as they are this year. Auburn proved something to the doubters -- people like me -- who questioned its soft schedule by winning between the hedges at Georgia last week. The Tigers are really rounding into form after dropping off the national radar by dropping their opener.

Vinny: The Tigers are going for their fourth straight win in this series, and Auburn is 5-2 against Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tommy Tuberville's team leads the SEC in scoring and total offense, despite losing his entire offensive backfield from last year in the first round of the draft.

Russell: Auburn looked good last week, but I still think this team is a year away. Brandon Cox and Kenny Irons won't find much success against Alabama's awesome defense. Seven points is way too many in a rivalry game. I like Alabama.

Vinny: I just don't see how Alabama will solve its offensive woes. I still don't like Cox's long, slow release -- it's like watching Will Clark swing a bat. But there's no denying he's improved over the course of the season. Give me Auburn.

#4 Penn State (-7.5) at Michigan State, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: I've been biting my tongue on Michigan State all season. As a Michigan fan, I didn't want to pile on. But now that the Spartans sit 5-5 and are UM's only hope of getting into the BCS, I can't hold back. Memo to Michigan State players, coaches and fans -- this is why you get no national respect! You pull this crap every year, beating some good team (this year it was Notre Dame) before folding up like a cheap suit, yapping all the while about how you're an elite program. You're not an elite program. You're a dog of a program, probably the most underachieving program in the nation.

Vinny: Harsh, Russ. But well-deserved. The Spartans are clear winners of the Biggest Fraud on the Public Since One-Hour Martinizing Award this year (not Texas, like I called at the start of the season -- oops). I'm not sure who threw in the proverbial towel more convincingly last week, Michigan State's football team (in a 41-18 pasting by Minnesota) or their Sports Information Department, which put out a measly half-page of game notes afterwards.

Russell: I'm full of venom this week -- must be rivalry week. But there's no excuse for MSU to continue stinking up the state the way they do. The facilities are top notch. They get plenty of TV exposure. The school sits in fertile recruiting territory. And still, all they achieve is mediocrity. Vin, any chance MSU will be inspired by my comments this week?

Vinny: Doubtful. John L. Smith has to be coaching for his job Saturday. I don't see how he's still slapping players on the sideline next year if he fails to take the Spartans to a bowl game for the second straight year with the talent at his disposal.

Russell: I don't think there's much chance of a letdown by Penn State here. They're one win away from an unlikely BCS bid and total validation of JoePa's decision to hang around. They won't slip up here, not against a team that does not play defense. Penn State rolls. I'm even making this my Fred Edelstein Lock. Vin, I really feel you should do likewise.

Vinny: The "Double Freddy"? The last time I disrespected JoePa like that, a girl half the size of Mary Lou Retton hurled a pitcher of Yuengling Lager at me at the Shandygaff. (The year was 1993). The Nittany Lions thrash the Spartans, but I won't make it my lock.

Russell: Vin, as I recall it, I hurled the insult at JoePa, and she hurled the pitcher at me. You have my cat-like reflexes to thank for the fact you got doused.

Oregon State (+13.5) at #10 Oregon, 6:45 p.m. ET, FSN

Russell: Oregon-Oregon State is another very underrated rivalry game. Any time the fans of one school (Oregon) are accused of throwing bags of urine at fans of the other, you know you have something. For a bunch of Nike-wearing, dope-smoking, peace-loving hippies, those Oregonians sure know how to get after it come football season (sorry, rivalry week again!).

Vinny: Uh ... I don't have anything to add to that.

Russell: Oregon has to be the quietest one-loss team in the country. Everyone, it seems, who didn't write the Ducks off after they lost to USC at home surely did so after they lost quarterback Kellen Clemens. But Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf have led Oregon to several come-from-behind victories.

Vinny: The Ducks may be quiet, but Oregon is still ranked 10th in all the major polls. I know they might sneak into a BCS bowl, but I'm not buying any Ducks stock. Their best win to date may be over Fresno State, whom they edged 37-34 at home.

Russell: It looks like Oregon State will turn to Ryan Gunderson, who will be making his first career start, at quarterback. Gunderson does have the best receiver you've never heard of -- Mike Hass -- to throw to. Hass, a scrappy receiver in the Sean LaChapelle/Chris Doering mode, is the first wideout in Pac-10 history to have three 1,000-yard seasons. He's a great player, but I don't like the green QB going against the Autzen crowd. The number's high for a rivalry game, but I have to go with Oregon.

Vinny: I thought Mike Riley's team turned the corner with a 23-20 win at Cal, but they've lost three of four since, with their only win coming in Seattle. Home field has carried the day the last nine times in the Civil War. The Ducks will be testy after getting hammered 50-21 in Corvallis last year. Whether it's Gunderson or a gimpy Matt Moore, I don't like the Beavers' chances here. The Ducks paddle to an easy win.

Clemson (-2) at #23 South Carolina, 7 p.m. ET, GP/PPV

Russell: This might be the nastiest rivalry on the slate Saturday. These teams engaged in an ugly post-game brawl after Clemson's win last season, and both schools ended up declining bowl bids as a result. This year, South Carolina is one of the feel-good stories in America after the OBC (Ol' Ball Coach) knocked off Florida and Tennessee in recent weeks, while Clemson righted a shaky season as Tommy Bowden beat Papa's Florida State team last week.

Vinny: I'm wondering if Big & Rich will play the halftime show of this one. How did they get so big? They're brutal.

Russell: Memo to ESPN: Bring back Bubba Sparxxx! Clemson has owned the Gamecocks of late, winning seven of eight in the series. Spurrier's team doesn't wow you, but they are finding a way to win games, a sure sign that Spurrier is working his magic.

Vinny: I gave Lou Holtz credit last week for bringing in his buddy Spurrier to replace him. This week, I have to rip Holtz for getting the Gamecocks three years of probation for 10 violations committed during his watch in Columbia. I wonder if he'll have any comment during ESPN's College Football Scoreboard. And memo to the ESPN folks: it's not a good sign when your host (Rece Davis) provides far more insight than your analysts (Holtz and Mark May).

Russell: Holtz can still come up with a gem now and then though, like last week's line that beating a big rival is "like your mother-in-law forgetting your address." (Hat tip: Pete Fiutak.) I learned my lesson last week. I realize Clemson probably has better personnel, especially if quarterback Charlie Whitehurst can take care of the football. But no way I'm overlooking the Gamecocks as a home underdog for the second straight Saturday. The OBC will carve another notch in his visor after beating the Tigers outright. I'll take SC and the points.

Vinny: I think the Gamecocks come back down to Earth a bit this week. Clemson covers.

#17 Fresno State (+23) at #1 USC, 10:15 p.m. ET, FSN

Russell: You have to love the attitude Pat Hill brings to the Fresno State program: any team, any time, anywhere. By taking all comers, and beating most of them, Hill his built a very successful mid-major program. Plus, he has the best sideline 'stache in America. If Dave Wannstedt would go with the Hill Fu Manchu, Pitt might not be getting waxed by the likes of Rutgers.

Vinny: No, they'd probably still get waxed by Rutgers. Poor Wanny.

Russell: There's not a whole lot more to say about USC that hasn't already been said: unbelievable offense, with NFL talent all over the field. Spotty defense mostly due to injuries and inexperience. I don't expect USC to have too much trouble dispatching the Bulldogs.

Vinny: This is the list of Fresno State's opponents since losing to Oregon: Toledo, New Mexico State, Utah State, Idaho, Hawaii, San Jose State and Boise State. Now they play USC. As Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn learned in Major League, it's a big step up from the California Penal League to the Show.

Russell: Despite all the blowouts this season, USC is just 5-5 against the spread, while Fresno is 8-1. Still, I can't see Carroll letting off the gas in this one, not with two weeks to prepare for the season-ender against UCLA. There's a huge gap in athletic ability between these clubs. Fresno will keep it respectable for a while, but USC pulls away late. It's a tough call, but I'll lay the big number.

Vinny: LenDale White seems to have taken on a bigger role in the Trojans offense after his mock suicide. I guess it worked. Reggie Bush will need at least one more big performance this year, as Vince Young continues to gain in Bush's rear view Heisman mirror. USC in a cakewalk.

Russell: Vin, you still need a Fred Edelstein Lock. Who's the unlucky team this week?

Vinny: Hmmm ... I'm going with Washington State.

The Picks
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" in bold)
Game Vinny says Russell says
#25 Oklahoma (+7.5) at #19 Texas Tech Oklahoma Oklahoma
#7 Ohio State (-3) at #15 Michigan Michigan Michigan
Washington State (-3) at Washington Washington State Washington State
#8 Alabama (+7) at #13 Auburn Auburn Alabama
#4 Penn State (-7.5) at Michigan State Penn State Penn State
Oregon State (+13.5) at #10 Oregon Oregon Oregon
Clemson (-2) at #23 South Carolina Clemson South Carolina
#17 Fresno State (+23) at #1 USC USC USC
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 2-5-1 (1-0) 34-49-4 (4-7)
Russell 2-5-1 (0-1) 31-52-4 (6-5)

Posted by: on 17 Nov 2005

81 comments, Last at 22 Nov 2005, 2:21am by Erasmus


by I.K.S.R.F.O. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:04pm

so no virginia-virginia tech huh?

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:08pm

Russell: You'd be surprised. Ignoring the CS labs (most of the students in the program won't admit they're buckeyes after graduation anyway), the public labs are ALL DEAD. The only lab that gets consistent heavy traffic is the new one in the language building, because all the asian students/language students use because they're set up for foreign languages already.

Then again, my data might be skewed because I usually had a gap between my classes around 2, which is, of course, around the beginning of drinking time.

by Dave Glass (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:24pm

I just KNEW that at long last you'd put the double-whammy on PSU. MSU is dangerous anyway because they can pile up the points, now thay've got that PLUS the reverse-curse of SDA. BOOOOOOOOO!!! ;P

by DMP (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:29pm

Fellas, I'm an MSU grad and follower, and I couldn't agree more. Any MSU fan without an inferiority complex should: as you say, all the pieces are there, all the facilities are brand new, there is a mega student-only academic center co-sponsored by Steve Smith, they play top-level competition in the Big Ten with UM and OSU in the schedule every year, and they play ND, so there is plenty of TV to go around, there is even a decent tradition, so there is no reason that the football program to be the discombobulated mess it usually is. I would much rather have the program be about respectable student athletes who compete hard than a shady program competing for a national title every year. Having both would obviously be ideal. I get more upset that I don't know if I'm getting the former than the latter.

There is also no reason to have the wheels come off whenever they lose to UM. Compare MSU's path after a UM loss to PSU's path, who had a wretchedly painful loss that could have had them undefeated if not for 1 second left on the clock. PSU rebounds, MSU collapses. Consider even how UM fought through several games that could have gone the other way, in ugly fashion, after everyone left them for dead. I'd have to say this ultimately rests on how coaches approach things.

Now I don't like Carr (whiny, arrogant, over-conservative with the talent), but if I were a UM fan, I don't know why wouldn't (reputation and results). In the end, the mega-prestigious Land Grant Trophy is at stake (!), and so armed with the Russell and Vinny level 2 double kiss of death, I'm settling in for an MSU win, baby! After all, it is recent MSU tradition to beat top 10 teams just to leave you wondering in pain of what things would be like if they played at that level every week.

PS: Your amount of venom clearly shows you are more concerned about MSU than you consciously admit. Now that's a UM tradition!

by houlie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:32pm

this is not really on the topic of this week's games, but i didn't know where else to ask... I was considering picking up the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia, I've heard some good things and some bad about it, any opinions out there?

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:55pm

DMP -- well put. Trust me, I'm not rooting for it to happen. Michigan hasn't been able to kick around Ohio State or Notre Dame much the last few years, so we kind of need to keep MSU where it is, but I really believe that program is a sleeping giant, especially with all the money that's been put into facilities in recent years.

And, if Michigan somehow survives the double hex Vin and I put on, we'll be hoping against hope for MSU to show up at 4 and at least make things interesting.

by Doug (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 5:38pm

What about BYU and Utah in the Holy War? Okay okay, I'm a BYU alum so I give this rivalry a little more weight than it deserves, but you've got to tell us who will win! Go Cougars!

by Ferg (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 5:38pm

Re 1: I guess that game is not quite so interesting as it was two weeks ago. Although Darryl Tapp against cousin D'Brickashaw should be a good matchup.

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 5:40pm

Re: 7

You want us to tell you who will win? Have you been paying attention to this column?

I like Utah, so slap your money down on BYU. Wait, I don't think that's legal in Utah, is it?

by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 6:09pm

If MSU is a sleeping giant, what's Illinois? A sleeping midget?

by Kevo (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 6:12pm

I'm still baffled at the idea that PSU-MSU is actually considered a "rivalry." It's too bad my Nittany Lions can't play Pitt every year like they used to.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 6:15pm

Also, I just wanted to comment on the The U situation. How many of us can honestly say that we don't have one or two rap recordings floating around that we might be a bit embarrassed about? Judge not, lest you be a judge, I say!

by buddha (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 6:39pm

Illinois? Football? Not unless they start seriously paying players again.

It would befit the grand MSU "tradition" to have them stun the Nittany Lions, only to have Michigan beat OSU as well. Thereby having MSU's victory give the Big Ten title to Michigan. So even in MSU's finest hour, all anyone will talk about is UM.

And then Sparty can sit and stew about "media bias" and all that other junk as they prepare to get beat by 40 in the Who-Gives-A-Shiite Bowl.

by Opiwan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 7:03pm

MDS, I believe that makes Illinois my 18 month old daughter in the grand scheme of things (she's almost the size of a midget and does sleep an awful lot), though I think she's tougher in the trenches than the Illini... or will the NCAA smite me down for saying that biased, evil Indian name?

by Brad (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 7:20pm

Illinois' recruiting has picked up under Ron Zook (as one should expect). They have the 5th ranked or so quarterback recruit in the country along with a couple OL who know what the word "block" means (defensive recruiting isn't as hot yet though). I think it's safe to say that 6-5 would be attainable in a couple years.

Illinois may be a basketball school but 2 of the 5 best CFB players of all time did play there (Butkus and Grange). There is at least some talent and tradition in the state to get it going.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 7:23pm

Also, I just wanted to comment on the The U situation. How many of us can honestly say that we don’t have one or two rap recordings floating around that we might be a bit embarrassed about? Judge not, lest you be a judge, I say!

I'm going out on a limb to say that most posters here are like me and have not spent any significant time in a recording studio, let alone produced a rap track. I'll go even further out and state that I doubt that any of us have the lyrical acumen to get a rap album produced.

by John (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 7:24pm

Is there anything worse that innocently opening your column and discovering that you are both picking Oklahoma to cover? (unless you root for Tech). How much for you both to pick Texas Tech?

by David S. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 7:59pm

I just wanted to chime in to pose a question? Is Joe Ayoob the worst QB in college football? I would say worst QB on a top 25 team, but because of Ayoob Cal is not a top 25 team this year (the rest of the team is). It is incredibly mind boggling how awful he is. Joe Ayoob might be the reason you guys didn't pick a winner of The Big Game, because it's Ayoob who blew away Cal's season and turned it into The Meaningless Game that Might Decide Which School From the Bay Area Might Make it to a Bowl Game. Joe Ayoob kicked my dog, that jerk.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 7:59pm

#17: I think the better question is how much did they wager on Texas Tech.

No one is buying any Oregon stock right now. The sad thing is they won't really have a chance to prove how good they really are. If they win and go to 10-1, barring a BCS miracle, they will go to the Holiday Bowl. There the best they can hope to play is a 20-something ranked 8-3 Oklahoma squad. Even if they win by 2TDs, it was Oklahoma on a down year. But thanks to the RaVUAP (Russell and Vinny Universe Altering Power), they may not even make it to 10-1.

by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 8:04pm

Come on, nothing on Vandy at Tennessee for last in the East?

Sorry, I just wanted to see how that looked written out. I can only imagine the shame UT must feel having to play us on rivalry week.

by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 9:13pm

What are people's thoughts, in no particular order, on the top five rivalries, year in and year out, in college football?

While thinking about this, I'm talking about every year without exception these teams hate each other...not just this year b/c both teams happen to be ranked, and you wouldn't leave them out this year b/c both teams are having off years.

Limit it to five, otherwise we could go on and on and list every rivalry in college.

Mine, in no particular order:
Ohio St. - Michigan
Texas - Oklahoma
Florida - Florida St.
Alabama - Auburn
Oregon-Oregon St.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 11:16pm


Illinois is hamstrung by several factors:

--the obvious entrenched top echelon tops who have their pick of the best Midwestern talent (Michigan, OSU, Notre Dame)
--the aggressive recruiting of the next level of teams who have a recent history of success (PSU, WI, MN)
--no talent pipeline outside of the Midwest to offset the big boys national range. As one example, WI was able to pull in players from the upper Northeast (Dayne, Antaj Hawthorne as two quick examples) Purdue goes into Texas with some success.
--Champagne doesn't have the charm or "wow" factor of other Big Ten schools (or so many, many coaches have told me)
--no "tag line" exists. You go to Michigan or OSU because you want to be with the elite. You go to Purdue to throw the ball around. You go to Penn State to be coached by a legend. You go to Wisconsin to run the ball and party til you puke. You go to NW to be a brainiac playing big-time football. Illinois doesn't have a story to tell. Makes marketing the program tough.

Zook is going to have to work his *ss off AND get lucky to turn Illinois around.

by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 11:22pm

Re Illinois Football, I wrote this last week in Confessions, but it was posted late in the week, so I doubt anyone saw it. Anywho, here's what I wrote last week on Illinios' struggles:

I’m not an Illinois fan, but I went to high school in suburban Chicago and now live in Chicago, so I think I can shed some light on this. For Illinios to be succesful, they have to either win the Chicago recruiting battle, or get lucky with prospects from downstate that aren’t as widely recruited (just in case anyone from downstate Ill is reading this…yes, there are exceptions, there are good high school programs downstate, but far and away the best high school football talent is in the Chicagoland).

Downstate Illinois is “Illini territory.� Kids down there want to go to Champaign and represent the state school. In the Chicago area, this is simply not true. Generally speaking, Michigan, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, and lately Iowa, out-recruit Illinois for the top prospects in Chicagoland (that’s not to say there aren’t exceptions). Until Illinois wins the recruting battle in its own state, they are never going to be a power year in and year out. Sure, they may have a great year every so often, but they are not going to compete for the Big Ten title on a yearly basis until they start winning the Chicago recruiting battle.

I believe this is a large reason why Illinois hired Ron Zook. While he may not be the best in-game coach, he is a master recruiter. Two factors to watch out for in the next few years: (1) The Wisconsin situation. Barry Alvarez routinely out-recruited Illinois for the best players in Chicagoland. Now that Alvarez is gone, can Zook convince those players to now come to Illinois? (2) Charlie Weiss. While the Notre Dame name may have lost some prestige nationally over the last 10 years, ND has not lost their prestige in Chicago at all. So watch for Weiss to recruit heavily in Chicago, to the detriment of Illinois.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 12:31am

Just to clarify wht Griff said, the city of Chicago is actually relatively poor when it comes to producing football talent. City teams are usually all thrashed by suburban squads fairly easily in the playoffs. Where the recruiting wealth is in Illinois is in what Griff referred to as "Chicagoland" -- the group of counties that surround the city from Wisconsin to Indiana. DuPage County in particular has been very productive over the last decade.

In that part of the state, Madison is actually closer than Champaign, and Northwestern is more prestigious. It is as easy to get to Iowa City or South Bend from this area as it is to Champaign; remember all the bellyaching the Bears did when they had to play their 2002 season in Champaign while Soldier Field was being overrun by the alien spaceship that now sits there. Illinois basketball has also had a checkered history with recruiting in the Chicago area. Even though Lake County on the Wisconsin border is considered "downstate", they certainly don't think of themselves as akin to the farm country around Champaign up there. Zook has got his work cut out big time; any UF background on how well he recruits?

by Slippery Pete (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 3:51am

As maligned as Ron Zook was as coach at Florida, the one thing everyone agreed upon is that he could recruit. That's why the expectations for Urban Meyer were so high because Ron Zook left the Florida program stockpiled with talent that he recruited.

I strongly believe that Illinois can become a good football program. Maybe not UM/OSU good, but bowl-game-every-year good. If Northwestern and Iowa State can be good at football without having to recruit questionable athletes, then I don't see why Illinois can't. Like GatorGriff said, they have to recruit well in their home state since there are good players there.

I agree with GatorGriff's point about why Illinois hired Ron Zook. The most important part of any football program is getting talent, and Ron Zook can get talent. So even if he sucks as a game coach, if he can bring in good talent when Illinois fires him he will set up the next coach with some players to work with.

At least there's always basketball season.

by Brad (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 4:56am

Wow, didn't think I'd get this many responses.

You guys have made some good points. Chicago will never be "reclaimed" by Illinois because it never was Illinois' in the first place. This doesn't mean Illinois can't recruit out of Chicago, it just means Illinois can recruit out of it at the same level as the rest of the programs, which will probably me enough.

Unlike the basketball program, where Illinois can be elite just off chicago talent (though it will never happen and this hurts Illinois basketball because of the perception they should focus on chicago even though they keep whiffing) the football program definitely has supplement with talent from elsewhere. Illinois football needs to be a regional power. Zook has approached it like this and has treated the other metros in the midwest (especially St. Louis) as being almost as important as Chicago. Not putting all of Illinois' eggs in one basket will payoff eventually because Zook *does* work his butt off. That's the scouting report on him - tireless recruiter but iffy game coach.

At this point, I'll take an iffy "X's and O's" coach if it means no more games like Penn State.

I meant to mention this point above but forgot. Illinois' best recruting get for this year to actually step onto the field has been Derrick McPherson from MD and Zook got several other guys from FL who either didn't qualify or are '06 recruits.

by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 1:51pm

Re #24 any UF background on how well he recruits?

With Zook's 3 recruiting classes, and after going 7-5 in 2004, Urban Meyer and the Gators were preseason #4 this year. That should tell you all you need to know about Zook's recruiting abilities.

by Russell Levine :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 2:07pm

Wow, so I took some shots at both Ohio State and Michigan State, and all I get in response are comments from Ohio State and Michigan State fans agreeing with me?

It's rivalry week people!

by ChrisS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 3:02pm

I agree with your MSU comments. But they now have the hoops program to point to with Sparty pride so football is not as crucial. Here is something interesting from the Freep about John L's record
in 2003 MSU started 7-1, finished going 1-4; in 2004 started 4-3, finished 1-4; in 2005 started 4-0 last 6 games 1-5; Heckuva job Smitty!

If Breaston, Hart and Long are healthy then UM should win easily. Without them the OSU defense will dominate and the UM defense is good but not good enough to shut down Ginn and Holmes the whole game.

by bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 3:49pm

Sweet C. Montgomery Burns reference: "as impotent as a Nevada boxing commissioner." Oh, hey, wait, you said my Huskies will lose? Oh well, it was still a funny line!

by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 4:25pm

Release the hounds!

by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 4:26pm

Re: 18, Ayoob has been pretty bad, but isn't he only a sophomore? Give him some time.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 5:14pm


Griff, not a flame, but what has Meyer proven, ie, what programs has he built. Sticking at place for two years at a time and never going through a full recruiting cycle (at least 5 years) to see what kind of talent evaluator he is would scare me if I were a Gator fan...

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 5:16pm

Or what program has he built, etc, etc... Sticking at a place, etc.

My brain is fried. Shouldn't have gone to see Goblet of Fire last night.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 7:05pm

Wow, you consider that taking a shot at OSU? You're slipping, man. I was just going to let it hang awkwardly there, and let the chorus of crickets be the appropriate response, but since you're begging for attention, so desperate to have your pitiful UM-based thread graced with fans of The Ohio State University, I might as well indulge you. After all, you were nice enough to hex PSU, so tOSU will likely be going to a BCS bowl after taking out the trash Saturday.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an OSU/UM party to get to. We would start earlier, but we have no idea what intensity is, seeing as how we're all a bunch of midwest hicks and not east coast sophisticates.

The matchup that scares me the most is Ashton Youboty against Avant/Breaston. Youboty looked like he was going to be a great one, and had an outstanding game last year, but lately he's been getting burned. Maybe I'm putting too much weight on the Minnesota game, but their offensive plan was basically to find him and throw it long to his receiver. More often than not, it worked. If that happens Saturday, it could be trouble.

I am as bewildered as anyone about the lack of turnovers. They only forced 12 so far this year, and four or five of those were against Texas (now, where the hell was this offense during that game?). They didn't even force one against PSU (!), which wound up being the difference in that game (the 3-play, 1-yard TD drive off a horrible Smith INT). It's baffling. I guess as long as they force 3-and-out a lot, they don't need a ton of TOs, but it sure would be nice to jump routes better, strip the ball more effectively, etc. Maybe they emphasize sure tackling over forcing fumbles, and try to keep the missed tackle from allowing a big play?

Anyway, that's all the analysis I have to offer right now. Sorry, I was stranded in New Hampshire for a week (while my luggage and equipment was going through Baltimore, Nashville, and I have no idea where else), and didn't have the inspiration or stable wireless network connection necessary to do full research. Oh well.

by HLF (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 7:18pm

A young man dreams of playing Division 1-A college football.

He calls up the Coach of Baylor and asks about his chances of playing football there. The Baylor coach asks him, "Son, are you a baptist?". The young man says, "No, coach, I'm not". The coach replies, "Well, I'm sorry son, you can't play here then; have you tried SMU?"

The young man then calls the athletic department at SMU and is put through to the head coach of their football team. He asks the coach about the possibility of playing football at SMU, and the coach asks him, "Son, are you a methodist?". The prospect replies, "No, coach, I'm not", and the coach says, "I'm sorry son, have you tried maybe BYU?"

The young man asks the same questions of the head coach at BYU, and again is asked, "Son, are you a member of the Latter Day Saints?" The young man again says no, and the coach sighs and says, "I'm sorry son, but that means you can't play for BYU.". The young man says, "Well I'll be a son-of-a-bitch", and the coach quickly says, "Have you tried Ohio State?"


by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 7:40pm

Re #33: I'm not so worried about what kind of talent Urban brings in. Just by being the head coach of Florida, by default, he's going to bring in talent. On Tuesday Meyer got an oral committment from the #2 ranked player in Florida (he's a WR/DB). And the #1 player in Florida, a QB from Jacksonville, is deciding between Alabama and Florida...and this is a guy that every team in the South was recruiting. Today Urban also got an oral committment from one of the top WR in Georgia, who chose Florida over Georgia. My point...it doesn't matter who the coach is at Florida, they will get talent, always have.

I'm more worried about what Urban does with his talent. This year's team is VERY talented and he's coached them to a very paltry 7-3 mark (5-3 in the SEC, which is what counts).

I'm also worried that his offense is too gimick for the SEC.

However, I've said from day one that I will reserve judgment on Urban until the 2007 season for two reasons (1) he will have 2 full recruiting classes by then (2) the schedule is a little kinder than 2006 (in 2006 Florida plays @Tenn, @Auburn & @ Florida St., and hosts Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, and plays Georgia in Jax).

So while I'd prefer to win now, who wouldn't, I'll reserve judgment until Urban Year Three.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 1:02am

As a Notre Dame fan who grew up in Ohio, I'd like to point out that past four times ND has thrashed Michigan, the Wolvergirls also crapped the bed against the Buckeyes. Sayeth Burns, "This will be like stealing candy from a baby...say, that sounds like a lark."

by admin :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 1:59am

I don't have a lot of fond memories of my year DJing in Daytona Beach but the week of the Florida-Florida State game was a lot of fun. I literally was the only person in town who did not care which team won. No disrespect to Michigan-Ohio State, but those in-state rivalries really pit friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor. The morning show had a Seminole fan and a Gator fan and they hosted a party for the game at a local sports bar, half the bar one set of colors, half the bar the other. The only thing Seminole and Gator fan can agree on is that everyone from "The U" is a criminal. Oh, and since this is rivalry week, I want to say that Columbia sucks.

by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 1:49pm

With all of the great rivalries today, why is GameDay in East Lansing? Please tell me it's not because the MSU-PSU game is on ESPN later today.

What about Auburn, or Ann Arbor?

by DMP (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 2:34pm

Russell #28:
Yes, I agreed with you, but I also implied UM fans are a bunch of coniving untruthful neurotics. I was going to leave it light, but if you want it, there it is! I can't go with the standard MSU nuclear option insult to a UM guy since I happen to be married to a beautiful and lovely UM girl.

Aaron #39:
All the more reason it sad to me MSU hasn't stepped up more against UM. I've been to MSU-UM twice at Spartan Stadium and once at the Cramped House, and it's just like that: you see a whole family tailgaiting, half wearing a set of colors, the other half wearing the other set of colors, cousins making fun of each other's preference, always a substantial stadium invasion by the road team fans. Good times.

GatorGriff #40:
RESPECT the Land Grant Trophy!!!!

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 4:33pm

I have no problem admitting that Michigan is lucky to be in the game at halftime after getting dominated in the first 30 minutes. Michigan needs to get some more pressure on Smith and needs to find a way to run the ball at least a little bit if they are to have a chance.

But they're only down 5, and it could have been much worse.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 5:09pm

Kudos to Syracuse defensive tackle Tony Jenkins, who just foiled a Notre Dame third down attempt by recognizing a screen. He had a clear shot at Brady Quinn but realized that if he took it, Quinn would lob a pass over his head to the waiting running back. So instead, he held back, Quinn couldn't find the running back, and Notre Dame was stopped on the play and missed the subsequent field goal attempt. I don't know why so many defensive linemen fail to recognize screens, but it happens all the time.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 5:56pm

These celebration penalties have gotten ridiculous. Santonio Holmes dives into the endzone in front of a Michigan player and gets flagged. Holmes didn't look at the guy, didn't spike the ball in his face and didn't say a word, but Michigan gets a free 15 yards on the kickoff. That's crap.

by Sam (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:04pm

After Santonio Holmes dove for the TD, a ref flagged him for unsportsman-like conduct. Despite the fact that a Michigan safety was closing in on Holmes, the refs didn't even discuss the call. I believe Michigan started their next drive at about mid-field after the 15 yard penalty. Ridiculous. But at least we are molding these athletes into virtuous, upstanding citizens.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:06pm

When I was watching LSU-Tennessee I thought it was one of the great games of the year. Little did I know it was one of the most shocking outcomes of the year. What happened to Tennessee since then?

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:14pm

Quick! Somebody hide all the pills and knives in Russ's house.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:18pm

Wow, the Notre Dame left tackle is grabbing the Syracuse right defensive end's jersey so much I'm amazed he hasn't torn it off yet. Feel free to take your flag out of your pocket any time now, ref.

Gary Danielson really needs to give a moment's thought to football strategy. Brent Musberger says Michigan should let Ohio State score, and Danielson immediately says that's a bad idea. Then, the next words out of Danielson's mouth are, "Ohio State should take a knee."

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:29pm

Big ups to the Harvard Crimson. They trailed 21-3 in the third quarter and overcame four turnovers to win 30-24 in triple OT.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 6:59pm

Thanks for your concern Harris, but I'm fine. I'm definitely taking these things better as I get older. I scream and throw things during the game, but I start to feel better right after they end.

Can't argue that the celbration call is stupid, it's a stupid rule. But the "unnecessary dive into the end zone" is specifically banned, so according to the letter of the rule, it was the right call. But still, the defensive players were close enough the ref could have kept that flag in his pocket.

Funny how Michigan's inability to run forced the Wolverines to be more aggressive than they usually are with a lead. I can't fault anything Carr did offensively. I didn't like the soft defense on the final Ohio State drive, but I also think that was more about Smith making plays than Michigan failing. For the second year in a row, he was the difference. Although I was really pleased with how well Henne played today as well. Certainly can't blame him for the loss.

Go Penn State!

by LTA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 7:11pm

Is alabama having a bit of a hangover from that LSU loss or are they simply getting exposed today? I vote for a little bit of both. They do not look very good at all on either side of the ball.

Stat of the day: the Alabama defense has given up 59 points in SEC games up until today (per announcers). Today, the Alabama defense has given up 28 points in the first half!

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 7:26pm

Does Syracuse have the most limited offense of all time? Teams in Tecmo Bowl used a bigger playbook.

by DMP (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 8:01pm

Wow, seems like all the analysts and the announcers at the game have piled on MSU to start things, and MSU has been happy to oblige them with a giant poop bag of a game. This is hard to watch. I feel like lashing out hysterically. I blame it all on going with Bobby Williams after Saban left. The man was an asset in recruiting but a disaster at coaching. So by elevating him you lose a good recruiter because there is no going back after he screws up coaching. There is a subsequent talent drain as he leaves, John L. can't seem to find any defensive recruits who can run better than a 5-second 40, and he is also on the hook for 3.6M for another 3 years. Yikes.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 8:18pm

I'm 12-8 coming into this week. Didn't have a chance yesterday, so I'll pick a few late games.

I like Mississippi (+17), Oregon State (+13.5), and Fresno State (+23). Not at all sold on these games, but I'll take my shot.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 9:22pm

Congratuations to the Penn State players and coaching staff.

Good luck in January. Defend the honor of the Big Ten!!

by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 9:25pm

I agree with Russell, Carr coached a great game, but can we get a Hermann award for the prevent defense that outright loses a game?

A couple of other notes...

Ohio State is the one of the best tackling team I've ever seen. They just don't seem to miss...

That celebration penalty was garbage...

It seemed like every five minutes there was an injury...

Is there an Illegal Touching penalty in college? If so did Gonzales step out of bounds before catching that pass at the end? I couldn't really tell from the replay.

Finally, It's funny how I'm more nervous when Michigan is winning late rather than behind...

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 9:26pm

If you have ESPNU, flip over right now for overtime of Bethune Cookman-Florida A&M. I'm really enjoying it, although there was a terrible call at the end of regulation that cost Florida A&M a pretty good shot of winning. Florida A&M kicks a field goal to tie the game with about 10 seconds left, then kicks off, and the Bethune-Cookman returner fumbles and Florida A&M recovers, in field goal range, with four seconds left. But somehow the officials ruled that the return man was down by contact, even though he clearly wasn't. If it had been ruled correctly, Florida A&M's kicker would have had three consecutive plays where he kicked: A field goal, a kickoff, and then another field goal. I don't think I've ever seen that.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 10:06pm

Re: 56

The rule in college is that if the receiver is forced out of boutnds by a defender, he can come back in and be the first to touch the ball (different from the NFL rule), so that was a legal catch by Gonzalez.

Good for Penn State, I'm much happier to see them carry the Big Ten flag in the BCS than Ohio State (and yes, there's some sour grapes involved in that).

Hopefully they'll get Miami or Notre Dame and not get stuck playing the Big East team.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 10:08pm

Oh, if Oregon-Oregon State is on your local FSN, it's worth watching beacause a) it's a fog bowl, and b) Oregon has broken out some even uglier jerseys.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 10:44pm

Why does Oregon keep going with the QB shuffle? Bellotti needs to pick a QB and stick with him for a game.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 10:49pm

Re: 60 ... I'm not a big fan of the QB rotation either, but it definitely seems to be working tonight.

Oh my god are those Oregon uniforms bad. I didn't notice the veritcal "OREGON" on the pants the first time I looked. Hideous.

Miami has also joined the court jester club with VaTech and Florida. Don't these schools have a problem dressing exactly like some other Nike school?

by Dave Glass (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:26pm


I've resisted this all season, figuring it all had to come apart sooner or later. I thought the last-second loss vs. Michigan might ruin the whole thing..insted PSU fought back like champs and won the conference. It means even more to us PSU fans given the 'dark times' since 2000. Congrats to JoePa, way to show everyone!!

Last but not least, a heartfelt thanks to all the UM, MSU, OSU, and other Big Ten fans who, instead of knocking JoePa and the Lions have been respectful and downright nice the last couple of weeks. Nice to know there is still good sportsmanship left in the world. I'll be rooting for all the big 10 teams this year in bowls (well, maybe not Michigan ;)

by admin :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:05am

Oh my god. Oregon has been taken over by Intellivision Football.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:39am

Aaron, I know you don't have college stats available, but if you had to guess, how many points did Ohio State's special teams cost them today? One missed XP, one missed 46-yard FG, two fumbled punt returns and another bad return for total -34 yards, and one punt for 18 yards. I can't remember seeing a special teams unit play worse, especially one that was such a strength going into the game. It's hard to imagine how a team could get such a horrible performance like that, and still win. At Michigan, no less. I mean, you would have thought going in that OSU's special teams would play well, but they did everything possible to throw the game away, and throw in two fumbles leading to short UM scoring drives, and you really have to be amazed that they could win.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 3:48am

USC confuses the heck out of me. So sloppy. You keep playing with fire, you eventually get burned. UCLA found that out. USC might come back and win here, but I don't see them winning it all.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 4:04am

I went 1-2 this week. Ah well. What can I expect when I'm left with so few choices? But I did get the USC game right, big time.

by the K (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 4:24am

The INT ices it. Fresno State was sure game though, eh?

by the K (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 4:26am

Also. HA on Intellivision Football. I wondered how many people remembered that...dear God I must have played a few hundred (thousand) games of that when I was a tyke.

And kudos to Penn State. Anyone still calling for Joe P.'s retirement?

by Sam (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 5:04am

Fresno State just couldn't stand beating up on USC. I think Fresno's QB threw 4 interceptions in the second half, at least 2 in the red zone. And USC was still only able to win by 8! As a Texas fan, I'm feeling a little better about the Rose Bowl. (Of course, my home teams haven't fared too well this year. The Astros got swept in the World Series. And then, of course, there is the other team from Houston --- the one whose name we do not speak).

by buddha (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 7:29pm

When Michigan didn't get the first down after having the ball at midfield to start that last drive. I turned off the TV and took out the garbage. They should have gone for it on 4th down.

Can anyone here tell me why Michigan would play the exact same prevent defense at the end of the game that gave up scoring drives to:

Penn State
Ohio State (on the previous possession)

I know Jim Herrman will be given a nice hefty raise from Lloyd (after all, that's how Lloyd used to coach defense) but this is ridiculous.

Is this the same coach that ran the 1997 defense?

by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 10:49pm

And kudos to Penn State. Anyone still calling for Joe P.’s retirement?

Penn State fans aren't. A lot of non-Penn State fans think that Paterno will retire now that he's won another championship (yah, just Big Ten, but hey).

... but of course, that's crazy. This team's young, and now a whole slew of the players are starting to come into their own. Their biggest losses for next year are the quarterback and offensive/defensive line - which sounds like a lot, but hey, having a workhorse running back will get you far in college football.

Paterno will retire in the next few years, once his health starts declining. For me, though, the big question is whether or not Penn State fans have finally realized "it isn't about winning. it's about doing things the right way." I guess I'll find out if Paterno slips up and has another losing season.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 12:43am

While everybody was trying to point out the Tyrone Protho injury as the reason the Alabama offense went downhill, they neglected to actually watch a game and see that the offensive line was slightly average and it went to below average when J.B. Closner went down. 2 Redshirt Freshmen at guards, a former DT at center, a RS soph at LT (who has been terrible all season against speed rushers) and another former DT at RT (though he played RT all last season as well).

The strangest thing was that Alabama actually seem to go away from what it was doing all season and that was keeping a TE or even 2 into help block. Then (depending on the set) having either a FB or HB stay into block as well. It seemed like we never did that in the Auburn game and instead tried to spread them out. Auburn smartly just led their speed rushers run past our tackles and hit Brodie before routes can be set up.

Though I think Darby proved why he was the best back in the SEC this season-he barely has those holes that every other back seems to have.

Alabama defense came out flat early (though a terrible roughing the passer call helped out). But it had to deal with bad field possession and almost no breaks either as the offense was not doing anything in the 1st quarter. After the 1st quarter, Alabama outscored Auburn 18-7-but Alabama is not a team built to comeback from behind.

I hate to say there is must-win game for a season before it even started, but Alabama has to beat Auburn in 2006. Its going to be a young team-but its going to have more highly recruited (and supposedly talented) players on it then the teams of these past 3 seasons did.

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 9:21am

Prothro was their best offensive player. Losing him was the main reason their offense imploded. They may have had other problems, but none was as significant as losing Prothro.

by Domer (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 12:27pm

Bama '05 = ND '02. Smoke and mirrors finally exposed. I hope, for your sake, that you build from it, rather than deteriorate, as ND did in '03 and '04.

by chris (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 1:05pm

Before Sam in Texas gets too confident (#69), he should note that Fresno State is probably better than any non-OSU team on the Longhorns' schedule.

Meyer (#37): Perhaps this is revisionist history, but at the end of 2004, wasn't Urban the guy who deserves a blank check because he could raise the dead and cure cancer? But the board is telling me that "The Wiz" needs two seasons before he can win the SEC East?

Spartan woes (#53): So, the previous coach is to blame for the team's inability to finish strong over the last three seasons? Okay, I saw the word "hysterical". That explains the comment.

One-Hour Martinizing Award: If Michigan State had a twin, it would be Virginia, though there should be a distinction between the two types of frauds. There are Gerry Cooney frauds -- Texas Tech, 1990s Kansas State teams -- and there are Hashim Rahman frauds, like MSU and UVA.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 1:11pm

So you think Protho can pass block? Brodie had no time to set up against Auburn and having Randy Moss and T.O. would not have helped the offense in that situation.

I agree that in games prior (re Ole Miss and Miss. State) the lack of Protho hurt the offensive production, but at the same time-the bad offensive line was not helping either.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:34pm

I was (unfortunately) at the Michigan-Ohio State game and also thought the Michigan defensive approach in the 4th quarter was far too soft. Having re-watched portions of the game, however, Jim Hermann did send blitzers (David Harris and Shawn Crable primarily) at Troy Smith more than a few times. The blitz was picked up, the blitzers took bad angles or had too much depth before they started their pass rush, or Smith evaded them on every one of those plays. It was not a prevent defense.

You have to give credit to Smith (and Tressell) for having another great game against Michigan, and to OSU's lines, which thorougly whipped Michigan in the trenches.

by el carg (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:45pm

The Iron Bowl was a given.

Auburn was the better team all season. They destroyed nearly everone -- South Carolina 49-3 -- and won at Georgia and nearly at LSU when they missed 5 field goals. Cox learned from the Georgia Tech game and threw one less interception the rest of the way. Plus Kenny Irons barely played that game.

Alabama played no one on the road and was destined to have the "smoke and mirrors" --thanks Domer-- exposed like that. It WILL get worse for them.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:54pm

What will get worse for Alabama? You do realize that they had a top 15 recruiting class last season and this was the first season that Shula was able to really redshirt players. The 2005 version of Alabama seniors had 2 highly recruited players: Croyle and Roach-everyone else was not seen as a top player.

Smoke and mirrors? Maybe on offense and even then I have no idea what those smoke and mirrors were. The defense had one bad quarter (and terrible field position) and now it was smoke and mirrors?

The funny thing, is I think it WILL get better for Alabama. Another 8 or 9 win season next year, followed by another run for the title in 2007.

by el carg (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 8:03pm


Unfortunately most of those highly regarded recruits failed to qualify and haven't come back. This year's Bama team had 20 seniors with lots of experience. Next year's team whic will have potential but little experience, could just as easily have a losing record.

Go ahead and sign Shula long term, because the SEC loves him. I don't know who looked more like a deer in the headlights, him or Croyle.

The bottom line was the Florida win was the season for Bama. They were all right at home, but Ole Miss and Miss St played with Bama, and Auburn crushed them on the road.

This was with 20 seniors who had tons of experience.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 2:21am

Sorry, already got facts wrong. Mike Ford and Nikita Stover are coming in for spring. Lorenzo Washington and Brandon Fanney are on the team and were redshirted this season. Roy Upchurch had ankle surgery and is redshirted. Chris Keys is playing, Jimmy Barnes was redshirted. I am not sure about Jeramie Hollifield. Curtis Dawson sat out a year for discipline reasons and is coming back. I am trying to think of anyone else who did not qualify-if I am missing any please tell me because those are the top ones I know of who did immediately enroll with Alabama after signing.

20 seniors, you make it sound like a lot. 10 of those played a major role on the team. Make it 11, I think we lose a good long snapper. Of course those are 10 good ones as well. I agree experience is going to be hurting as Roach, Ryans, Peprah, and Harper have been essentially starting since they were Freshman.

The bottom line was that Alabama won 9 games 2 years removed from major probation and there are still recovering from it. Alabama was actually able to redshirt players on defense for what felt like the first time in forever.

Alabama has to go to LSU, Tennessee, and Florida next season-thats going to hurt. The nonconfernce schedule (Hawaii, Florida International, Duke, and Lousiana-Lafayette I think) is a joke and thats 4 wins right there. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are wins, thats 6 wins right there. We get Vandy as well-thats 7 wins. That leaves Arkansas, LSU, Florida, and Tennessee on the road, and Auburn at home.