Thursday, December 29, 2011

Behind Frenemy Lines: UGA Q&A

I wanted to do a Behind Enemy Lines piece this past year with every team we played, but really only got to it once. It is our good fortune bowl-wise that MSU plays Georgia this year though because our friend Kevin over at CollegeFootballZealots loves all college football, but is a Dawg at heart. He agreed to do a few questions with us. You can check out our responses to his questions here and follow him on Twitter here.

Just like MSU, UGA lost the conference title game and got kicked all the way down to the fourth best bowl appearance in it's conference. Does the team appear to have a bit of title game loss hangover?

CFBZ: I don't think they do. Georgia played LSU better than anybody else in the country for one half. Georgia had some great opportunities in the first half that they didn't capitalize on and then in the second half they just got caught in an avalanche and were a bit shell-shocked as the #1 team in the country poured it on like they've done against everybody but Alabama. 

Georgia has a very young team. They only have two seniors on the two deep depth chart on defense, they have a soph starting at QB, their leading receiver is a true freshman and their leading rusher is a true freshman. I don't have any inside knowledge but I think Georgia sees this as a chance to cap off a really good year and set themselves up for next year.

Of your 10 wins this year, which would you identify as being UGA's highest quality win taking into account both performance and quality of opponent.

CFBZ: Auburn. Auburn came into the game ranked 20th and had recently beaten #10 South Carolina (before Lattimore got hurt for the season) and Florida. Georgia just thoroughly dominated them from start to finish. Auburn came into the game averaging 191 yards rushing per game and 354 yards per game. Georgia held them to 51 yards rushing and 195 total yards (76 of these yards came on Auburn's first drive). Georgia dominated time of possession holding the ball for over 40 minutes. It was 35-7 at half-time and it was over at that point as Georgia eased off the gas en route to a 45-7 win. Murray threw 4 TDs to 4 different receivers, two RBs went over 100 yards, Jarvis Jones had two sacks, Bacarri Rambo took an INT back for a TD. It was the most complete game Georgia played this year and to dominate a rival like that was very satisfying. 

There was some scuttle that Richt was interviewing for the A&M job. While it appears that this was false, do you think there is/was truth enough to even be a little concerned about his future with UGA?

CFBZ: No, I really don't. The A&M thing was all smoke. Richt and AD Greg McGarity seem to have a really good working relationship and getting back to double-digit wins did nothing but cement that. I have no concerns about Richt leaving. He's at Georgia as long as Georgia wants him and as long as he has that fire to coach college football.

Later Georgia self-reported a violation that Richt was paying his assistants under the table (only in the NCAA could paying your employees a bonus being a violation), have either of the two aforementioned things appeared to have any impact on the team leading up to the game?

CFBZ: Basically what happened is the athletic department decided not to pay bowl bonuses to non-coach staff due to economic conditions back in 2009. Richt asked for a list of who would not be getting their bonuses and paid them out of his own pocket.There were some other instances where Richt felt that his coaches compensation was inadequate compared to like positions and petitioned the athletic department for increased compensation but was denied so Richt paid them out of pocket. It should be noted that this all happened under the watch of the former AD Damon Evans (the one that got canned). If anything, I think this would have a positive impact on the coaching staff. I mean, who doesn't want to work for a boss that has your back?

Aaron Murray filed draft paperwork but claims to be not interested in leaving after this year. My question is do you believe him?

I do believe him because I simply don't think he'd be a high pick (probably somewhere in the middle rounds) and I think he's too smart to go pro simply to go pro. I think he's just trying to see where he's at so that he can make an informed decision next season (which will be his red-shirt junior year). Murray has had games this year where he's looked like he can play at the next level but he still struggles with consistency from quarter-to-quarter and from game-to-game and he doesn't have that prototypical QB height that makes him a sure fire first rounder. I'm not sure what his NFL future is but I think he still has a lot to prove in the eyes of pro scouts.

Looking at this game, where do you think Georgia matches up most favorably?

CFBZ: I like the match-up of Georgia's front seven on defense against the Michigan State OL.Georgia's DL has been getting better and better as the season has progressed. JUCO transfer (NG) John Jenkins has really started to make his mark in the second half of the season and Sophomore DE Garrison Smith is another guy that has really started to show up on film recently as he's gotten more playing time. The LB corps has been a work in progress for Georgia this year because of injuries. Alec Ogletree is the best player on Georgia's defense and he broke his foot in the Boise State game (was it a coincidence that the Broncos had 0 points when he was in the game?) and was out until mid-season. Couple that with other injuries, Georgia was playing walk-ons and true freshmen early in the season. Since Ogletree has come back, he and Jarvis Jones have been reeking havoc on opposing teams and back-ups have stepped up since they've had real game experience. If Georgia can make Michigan State one dimensional by stopping the run (which Georgia has done a really good job of this year), it could be a long day for the Spartans.

The other match-up I like for Georgia is Orson Charles against who-ever he is matched up against. Charles is one of the premier Tight Ends in college football. He's too big for a Safety to cover and too fast for a LB. Georgia's OC Mike Bobo sometimes forgets Orson is on the field, but since this might be his last game as a Bulldog I think Bobo will make an effort to get the ball to Orson and if he does it will open up the field for everybody else.

What concerns you most about playing Michigan State?

CFBZ: To be honest, I'm not as concerned about Michigan State as I am about certain areas of the Georgia team. That's not a knock on Michigan State as much as it is the confidence that I have in the talent that Georgia has put together but talent doesn't always win football games (just ask Florida). 

The first area is Special Teams. We came into the year with arguably the best kicker/punter combo in the Nation in Blair Walsh and Drew Butler. Butler has been solid this year except for a couple of times where he out-kicked his coverage (can you say Honey Badger?). Walsh on the other hand has been awful. As a soph and junior, Walsh made 40 of 45 FGs. This year he's only 19 of 31 (including a miss in a 3 point loss to South Carolina). Georgia has also given up 4 returns for TD this season. Georgia has been working on Special Teams a lot going into the bowl so I expect coverage to be better but practice isn't going to help a FG kicker who is in a funk. The other area of concern is our offensive backfield but I will get to that next...

Who needs to step up and have big games if Georgia wants to win this game?

CFBZ: The answer here is the entire RB corps. Georgia has done it with smoke and mirrors at the RB position a lot this season. They've had multiple suspension (Crowell, Thomas, Malcome) and injuries (Crowell, Samuel) galore. It looks like everything is now taking shape for everybody to be healthy going into the bowl game. True Freshman Isaiah Crowell is the one who gets all the hype but he's been somewhat of a disappointment to Georgia fans because of his constant nagging injuries and repeatedly asking out of games. When Crowell is healthy, he is a game changer. I'm of the mind-set that he's a 15-20 touch a game back (he's not a workhorse type back like Marcus Lattimore) and if he gets that in this game then he could be trouble for Sparty.

Just when Richard Samuel (who switched from RB to LB and then back to RB this year due to lack of depth at RB) hit his stride against Florida, he was lost for the season with an injury. He should be back for this game and if he can run with the bad intentions that he did against the Gators then he will help to open up the play-action game for Aaron Murray. Another guy to keep an eye on is RS Frosh Ken "Boo" Malcome (he was highly recruited out of HS and had offers on the table from Bama, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Oklahoma, West Virginia, etc). Malcome has struggled to get on the field this year (30 carries for 123 yards) but is currently taking snaps at #1 RB. Maybe a message is being sent to Crowell from the coaching staff but Malcome has been good in the minimal action he's seen in the last three games (Kentucky, GT and LSU) and I expect him to get a chance to run the football some in this game. He's a hard runner and more of an inside the tackles guy than Crowell is. They actually complement each other fairly well.

Between these three guys (and change of pace back Carlton Thomas) if Georgia can establish a running game then Aaron Murray can do what he does best and that's spread the ball around (12 different receivers caught TD passes from Murray this year, 7 of which caught at least 2 TDs) and keep Michigan State's defense off balance.   

Finish this thought..... Georgia wins this game if....

CFBZ: If Special Teams takes care of business, Georgia is able to establish a running game and the offensive line (I'm looking at you Justin Anderson) does an adequate job of protecting Aaron Murray. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Know Thy Enemy: Georgia vs. Florida Film Review(1st Half)

Today we sit down to Know Thy Enemy. I've completely beat to death the past few weeks that the MSU-UGA game should be two teams playing each other in a mirror statistically. That hasn't changed. I was able to get some screencaps on the UGA - FLA game from earlier this year. For those of you who read my Film Review of MSU-Wisky earlier this year. I'm messing with the format a bit. Defensive narrative notes, then picture examples, repeat for offense. I think it flows a bit better.

Florida is a poor man's Michigan State this year.  They had the 25th scoring defense, and the 71st scoring offense. Michigan State had the 9th ranked scoring defense and the 38th ranked scoring offense.  So while the gap in total production was significant, the trend of a team with a markedly better defense than offense seems reliable. So too is the Weis-ening. Which involves putting the burden of NFL playbook on the QB's shoulders and then yelling at him when things don't work out. Weis ran a pro-style offense at ND and obviously his time in the pros.

Florida runs a 4-3 and is a decent defensive analog for MSU. MSU finished 12th in rushing defense compared to 39th for Florida. In passing defense, Florida finished 10th and MSU finished 12th. So again the pattern of a team that has a strong D that performs very strongly against the pass and well against the run holds true. Both defenses rely on their D-Line to drive their pass defense.

Game Notes(UGA)(per @CFBZ)

  • Starting Safety Shawn Williams was suspended for 1st half (along w/NG Kwame Geathers). 
  • Starting ILB Alec Ogletree's 1st game back since injuring foot at Boise.
  • Best WR, true frosh Malcolm Mitchell, also didn't play due to injury

Narrative Defensive Observational Notes
  • UGA has missed a fair number of tackles. On Florida's opening play of the game, a Georgia linebacker straight whiffs a tackle that allows Jeff Demps to go for 72 yards. At 11:01 to go in the first, UGA's missed tackles allowed for two first downs.
  • UGA also blitzes a lot. A lot. This is a key feature of the 3-4, but you can count on probably a fourth and fifth on 2/3rds of plays. Interestingly, most of the blitzes I've seen thus far have all come from linebackers. That's a variance from MSU, they do tend to mix it up with some safeties and corner blitzes.
  • UGA let up a 4th and 19 touchdown. UGA sent the house and Brantley(Florida's QB) somehow got through it. It was a super flukey play, I'll hope for one of those this week.
  • The middle of the field is open like 7-11. See below.

Oh Dan France, You Are Going to Have Your Hands Full

Dan France. Jarvis Jones. Jarvis Jones. Dan France. This is what Jarvis Jones did to Florida's poor left tackle just a couple months ago.

Jarvis Jones has a red arrow around him at all times. Not a bad idea for the offense if they can swing it between now and Monday.

The ball snaps and Jarvis just straight rushes the QB. The LT drops back into pass protection.

The LT engages Jones and it looks like the FLA RB joins in the fun, but he actually sneaks behind this world collision to try and get open in the flat.

LT engages in some pretty serious hands to the face, but whatever man.

A whopping 3 tenths of a second later, Jones gets his feet wide and gets underneath the LT which throws him off-balance.

Jones shoves LT to his right, your left and does a quick little redirect and then sacks Brantley.

This was a display of athleticism that I think only young Mr. Gholston can really represent for MSU. Jones straight up manhandled this dude. France and Roushar are going to need to figure out an answer for Jones that doesn't involve bringing the RB over to stop the pass rush. We will need to count on our RB and TE's to be open for safety throws.

The Middle of The Field is Open Like 7-11

The Gators go five wide. You see this look on 3rd and 2 all the time MSU fans.

The 3 down lineman and one of the edge rushers go, I believe it's Jarvis Jones stays back in pass coverage. Weirdly the dudes to the left with the red arrows pretty much stand still.

Jones has to pick between one of the two Florida dudes and decides to go with the one to the right, for obvious reasons.

Player cuts to the inside which is filthy wide open, there is literally no one for five yards.

The UGA coverage comes up and SHOULD make a tackle here, but through a combination of using the Umpire for a pick and a kind of eh tackle by the Georgia guy allows the WR to get out long downfield and turn this into a 20 yard pickup.

Narrative Offensive Observational Notes
  • At the end of the first quarter, 100 percent of UGA's pass attempts had come out of the shotgun formation. This is something I remember from charting the UGA-MSU game in 2009 with Ty after the Lions drafted Stafford. They throw almost exclusively from the shotgun. When Trenton Robinson pops off about the simplicity of the Dawgs offense, I would guess this is what he was referring to. At the end of the second half, they had yet to throw a successful pass from something other than the shotgun.
  • Isaiah Crowell has really nice vision and MOAR speed than Bell, he is slighter and more likely to go down after the first hit. His running style reminds me a lot of Montee Ball. The primary difference is that Crowell goes down far more often after contact.
  • In the second quarter, UGA attempted one pass out of the I-Formation on playaction. Murray was sacked.
  • Murray is not as good as Cousins. He's no slouch either, he's probably the second or third best QB MSU will play this year. I feel it fair to say that Murray is somewhere between .75Cousins and .9Cousins.

Isaiah Crowell: He's Got Talent 

Run out of the I-formation

Crowell runs into the pile, which looks stupid until you see the Grand Canyon open out on the other end of the pile.

He comes shooting out, and number 22 for Florida sees that Crowell will read his block and head for the sideline

Here's where this showcases the talent part of Crowell's talent, the DB #14 to the far left disengages his WR target and also heads for the sideline.

Crowell ends up beating both 14 and 22 to the sideline and ends up getting forced out by his own momentum. He had 14 and 22 beat.

Michael Bennett: Nice Catch

None too shabby.


I'll work on the second half over the next few days to have ready before the weekend. I was not real impressed with Murray, was very impressed with Crowell and their defense is quick. They're missing two starters I might add. Cousins will need to get the ball off quickly.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you and yours. If Christmas isn't your holiday of choice, enjoy your your winter solstice in whatever holiday suits you. We'll be back next week with lots of Outback Bowl prep.

Enjoy your holiday folks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts

Work has been soul-crushingly busy leading up to the Holidays and is over for the year tomorrow. My wife suggested that I do something that I enjoy in the middle of the day today to avoid leaving a trail of end users in my jail-bound wake.

The Defense of Isaiah Lewis

It looks like Dantonio spent a deal of time in today's presser defending Isaiah Lewis' play in the Big Ten Title Game. Despite my twitter barf in the minutes immediately following the game, there's really no defense needed. He had two bad plays in the most critical moments of the game. The one below, eh, he might have been blocked into the punter, but it wasn't obvious. If it should have been called back it's because of the punter's obvious flop, there's no way the refs could have caught the below.

If you'll recall, Lewis was responsible for the interception returned for a touchdown to make the UM game 28-14. Further, he caught Wilson's moonball in the fourth quarter of the MSU-Wisconsin game. These are two I can think of off the top of my head. There are certainly others. No defense needed Lewis nets out as a plus player for MSU by a lot.

Bowl Practices

As with every bowl practice season, there are rumors of position changes. It sounds like Tony Lippett has been practicing at WR this off-season and that will be his position next year. I really hope this is because he is filthy talented at WR and that CB is coming along nicely. The idea of moving our third best corner to WR makes me a bit itchy.

There are rumors that Darien Harris has been playing at RB, this was the position he played in HS. I'm not really sure what to make of that. MSU didn't take a running back in 2011, but like, the Bell, Baker, Caper, Hill logjam will still be right in front of Harris in 2012. By 2013, it'll still be Bell and Hill and Tompkins and others should be making some headway by then. Hopefully, this is some college experimentation in a consequence free environment.

Micajah Reynolds is back at DT with the injuries to Pickelman and Strayhorn. Huge dap to him for being able to play whatever position needs help. I do hope they settle him somewhere soon, he'll be a junior next year, the clock is starting to tick.

The Changing Recruiting Landscape

Seriously, go home and make sure your loved ones haven't bolted for OSU.
Well, Urban Meyer makes phone calls and brings kids to OSU. The Pittman thing, was, crappy. The following will sound a bit like denialism, homerism, etc. That's fine. This is a Michigan State blog, so I write it that way.

Here's the first couple sentences of Pittman's recruiting article from SpartanMag.

"Michigan State landed what can be deemed a surprise verbal commitment from Canton (Ohio) McKinley four-star defensive end Se'Von Pittman on Sunday afternoon. "


When did it hit you that Michigan State was the right choice for you?

Pittman: If you would've asked me this question yesterday, I wouldn't have had no type of answer for you. But just sitting there with my parents (on Sunday) and we just talked about my top five and colleges that best fit me, and my mom kept telling me that she felt Michigan State was and she gave me some reasons and stuff like that, and I agreed. So we made the decision I should commit a couple hours before I committed. 

The following is a timeline for the majority of MSU summer commits.
  • Kid comes to campus (1 to n) number of times and shows off why he deserves a scholly to Mark Dantonio and staff
  • Mark Dantonio calls kid at some future date and says "Hai there, come on up to MSU, we need to have a talk" Knowing full well what this call will be about the recruit schedules a time, brings parents and comes up.
  • Kid is given offer and told to go home before committing.
  • Mark Dantonio follows-up with visit/phone call/handwritten letter/smoke signal/telegraph/box of chocolates.
  • Kid commits usually soon, one week or less.
I'm not going to graph this, no one wants to see a single bar of me being right on this. It's pretty solid if you follow MSU football recruiting at all. There were several things about this commit that seemed a bit fishy. One, the whole we just talked about it on Father's Day and now I'm committed to MSU thing seems and seemed weird to me. Two, the whole snagging an Ohio kid with a real Ohio State offer thing seemed fishy. OSU would have needed to be down for a couple years for me to feel like we weren't stealing one. Finally, he and Adolphus Washington for months talked about playing together despite Washington showing no real interest in MSU. The writing was on the wall a bit before Meyer became the Mayor of C-bus. Afterwards, Meyer is the Unicron of good midwestern recruits.

Which brings me to my next point. Meyer should absolutely fight to get every Ohio kid he wants that is not going to school at OSU next year. Recruiting committed players to or from schools with coaching changes has always made sense to me. When a new coach enters the equation, they haven't had their shot yet. Still, anyone who coached in the SEC isn't above commit poaching and I think he better be careful he's not TOO successful at it in the 2013 class. If a half dozen schools put elbow grease into negative recruiting it will add up at some point.

Our Struggling Pretty Average Offensive Line

I have to say, the most improved position group from Youngstown State to Wisconsin Part Deux: The Cheese Filled Nightmare was the Offensive Line. The pass protection of our offensive line at year end was a plus and the run blocking improved quite a bit and was probably average. MSU's depth at Offensive Tackle is still frighteningly thin. Interior line has better depth, but loses Foreman next year. MSU returns four starters next year though and this group should pick up right where it left off. 

Enjoy the hot MACtion of the bowl games, film breakdown coming soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MSU, The Outback Bowl, and some Cobain Angst

Yesterday, two executives from the Outback Bowl flew up to Okemos to do a press conference. Bloomin' Onion's were cooked, served, etc. Chris Vannini wrote a pretty thorough article covering the bases on his blog. The not-so-subtle message is that with only 5,000 of 11,500 tickets sold and people making their holiday plans that people need to get in line and buy their damn tickets. The Outback Bowl is the Big Ten's third bowl tie-in and a New Year's Day game. Vannini pointed out on twitter, this is MSU's third New Year's Day game in four years after one in 18 years. A good chance for Dantonio to get his first bowl win against a quality opponent. These are good points, and if you have the means to comfortably go, you should.

The game should be incredible. Statistically, the only difference between these two teams is what they each had for breakfast this morning. Incredible defenses and good offenses. It could very possibly be a quality defensive 10-7 type game.

I respect the hell out of this 2011 Spartan Squad. I thought their regular season ceiling was 9-3 and I thought all three would be in the Big Ten. A win at OSU? Unpossible! Four in a row against UM. Very Difficult! Getting the monkey off our back at Iowa. Eh. Not very likely. Yet, we did ALL of those things and we played in the first ever Big Ten title game. So it feels cheap to draw my line in the sand on this issue.

Yet, I laid out my Herculean Effort to go to the game a few weeks ago for the game in Indy. I blew out my voice in the concourse leading the Go Green/Go White cheer before kickoff. I like the rest of Spartan Nation had my still-beating heart ripped from my chest with unfathomable sadness. The promise of a good game, while likely, is as of right now an empty promise. Unless I was burning Benjamins to run my furnace, I don't think I'd go to the Outback Bowl.

It's not the Outback Bowl's fault. I wouldn't be excited to go to the Sugar Bowl either. The Cap One Bowl three years out of four does not a good time make. I think this is MSU's best matchup and opportunity to create a competitive and interesting bowl game. Yet, I'm just kind of numb to the whole thing, or was kind of numb until yesterday. Now I'm pissed, again, not with the Outback Bowl.

The Argument

"MSU's fans need to show up so future Bowl Selection Committees don't view MSU as a school who won't support their team."

My blood boiled a bit after reading this argument.  Here's a fact. "The Spartans have ranked among the NCAA's top 25 in attendance each of the last 55 seasons, including 19th in 2010, averaging 73,556 fans per game."    Well fine, that's home attendance, we'll overlook the fact that the Football team has sucked for probably half of those years.  Rexrode dropped this nugget a few days ago: "MSU fans have done well in Florida recently, bringing an estimated 30,000 to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando in 2009 and 2011.A Capital One Bowl exec gushed to me about MSU fan support a few weeks ago, saying it kept MSU in the discussion for that game despite the fact that MSU has been in Orlando in three of the past four years (the Spartans played there in the Champs Sports Bowl in December of 2007)." I was at the Big Ten title game, I feel comfortable saying that was 60/40 in favor of MSU.

We travel. We show up. We support our team. In 2006, when MSU went 4-8 and John L slapped himself out of a job, 70,819 fans showed up on average to all the games. That's 94.4 percent of the stadium in a year where MSU almost lost to Idaho. Don't even get me started on how well supported the basketball team is.

It's cliche and shitty to argue that the bowl system sucks without offering another alternative, but explain to me how this makes more sense than nothing? If MSU's attendance numbers don't speak for themselves, what will? Are we short the requisite number of fairweather fans? If that's the problem, maybe we're better off that way.

Anyway, go to the game if you have the means, it should be a good one. This is not a crusade to persuade people to stay home. This is a complaint that the notion that MSU doesn't travel off these sluggish sales for it's team is stupid and petty. For my own part, I'll be at home, having an ironic Bloomin' Onion party and rooting like hell for my Spartans. But don't question the MSU fanbase, we've been rocking out the NCAA attendance top 25 since before this game was called the Hall of Fame Bowl and we'll continue doing so long after Outback has sold the naming rights to someone else.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rant: OSU and How the Rich Got Richer

As with all these rant type posts that say rant at the front. If that isn't your bag, you probably best move along. No harm meant, but some sentiments can't be contained in traditional King's English.

Maybe you're a recruitnik. I used to be, I used to be more worried about making sure we had the "best" players coming in the door than about winning football games. Maybe you're not interested in recruiting at all and all that matters to you is that we have players and coaches who can win games. I've gravitated to this philosophy over the past couple of years. I don't care how many offers a kid has. Can he play winning Big Ten football, this is the paramount question.

Either way, there's some hot, steaming bullshit in Columbus this weekend. You see, while Luke Fickell and his staff are preparing for the Urban Meyer bowl against Florida on New Year's Day. Urban Meyer and his staff are out hitting the recruiting trail. The below is a list of official visits taking place this weekend, shamelessly stolen from the Ohio State rivals site.

If this was a whole recruiting class you'd be set to win a Big Ten title.  


I don't fault Meyer for this, as a football coach your job is to win football games. To do that it is your responsibility to leverage every advantage available to you. However, if you may recall, this is a program on probation for fucking cheating. Where is the oversight? This is like Meyer calling up and being all "Hai guyz, since I cant use drugs, cars or tats as recruiting tools anymore, what if I had extra coaches instead?" The answer should have been a laugh, long and resonant, with perhaps some guffawing. This, followed by a click and a dial tone in Urban's ear.

None of this touches on the fact that Meyer IS the coach of OSU now. While Meyer has not coached a down in the Big Ten, it does seem fair to suggest that Meyer will be an upgrade. So, here's the lesson to be learned. Build your program up by combining success with cheating, lie about the cheating, fire the coach who knew about the cheating and lying, hire a better coach and then allow them to temporarily have TWO staffs. That's crap.

Am I jealous? Are these sour grapes? You're damned right. Anything that causes me to side with Dave Brandon is a powerful evil indeed. So a mock congratulations to OSU, may your Urban Meyer tenure be an adventure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time for a METAl Post

Hey folks, the regular season is over and we're moving into Bowl Season. On January 3rd, we begin the long winter, spring and summer until we take on Boise State in August. Sure, there will be recruiting talk in Feb, Spring Ball, etc, but we're beginning to focus a bit on next fall already.

In 2012, we will be doing picture pages each week. We're also looking for ways to write better MOAR science based predictions using math instead of monkeys to make our picks. In the offseason we'll have lots of preview-type material as well as review based material. Ty and I have briefly talked about doing a podcast, but we'll need to figure out a way to make it sound better than the two whitest dudes you know on the internet sitting in a basement talking about football.

We're always looking for suggestions to improve the blog, but right now is one of the times of the year where I will straight up ask in a post for them. If you have anything you'd like to see in the blog, we're all ears. Thanks and Wisconsin Game Film Review will be up sometime next week.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Big East: Ted Kaczynski's Favorite Football Conference

So the news broke earlier today that the Big East will be adding the following schools to their conference, San Diego State, Boise State, Houston, Southern Methodist University and Central Florida. 2011 has been the year of WTF in the College Football world. From Sandusky to the BCS Title Rematch to Conference Realignment to this:

This is what the Big East thinks of you The Fan.

This move by the Big East is so ridiculous to me because it's so nonsensical and unnecessary. The new boundaries of the Big East ladies and gentlemen.

Kind of looks like the Budweiser logo.
Who could ever forget that thrilling overtime game between Boise State and Louisville. The real rivalry shared by UCF and SDSU? By my approximation this puts the center of the Big East a little east of Tulsa. So congratulations Talequah, Oklahoma, you're the home of the BRAND NEW BIG EAST TITLE GAME!

Self-dubbed the "City Of Firsts" Talequah would be the perfect home for the new Big East Title Game. The weather on December 6th, 2011 is a balmy 32 degrees, well suited from getting away from the 68 and sunny of San Diego in early December. As the home of Northeastern State University Hawks 7-5 Football team, we know a thing or two about mediocre football! Come and shop at Talequah's cozy downtown shopping district.

Felt's Family Shoes, proud sponsor of the Big East Title Game since 2011

Tahlequah has the distinction of being the capital of both the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, according to wikipedia. Which is actually kind of cool. 

Big East football is old Uncle Ted's (not that Uncle Ted) favorite kind of football. It's going to survive, even if it means consuming things that no right-minded human should honestly consider. I'm looking at you Central Florida. It's a little crazy, maybe not quite right-minded. But it will survive, oh will it survive. It will fence off 2/3rds of the United States and pick a tiny little town in America as the home of it's title game. It's not above sending the occasional letterbomb to someone who's hurt it in the past. (I mean 27 million dollars to leave. Does the Big East even net 27 million in a season?) And if that let's the Big East give the finger to fans who enjoy College Football, so much the better.

Bonus Links

What is Your Profession has a little recruiting scuttle to run down.
- There are three new Spartan Blogs in town. Welcome to The Little Brother BlogBeat ChUMps and Spartan Problems. A lot of Michigan hate, not enough Michigan State in the titles of those blogs. But welcome anyway.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

MSU - Georgia: The Outback Bowl

The Bloomin' Onion Bowl

Michigan State and Georgia will play in the 2012 Outback Bowl on Monday January 2nd, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. To say this was MSU's first choice would be simply untrue, but Georgia is a quality opponent and we have similar strengths. Of course there will be a very real game preview later down the road as well as five questions with College Football Zealots. For now statheads here are some similarities between these two teams.

Well shit, it looks like we'll be playing ourselves. That should be interesting. I welcome the opportunity though to play the SEC runner-up in the Outback Bowl. On paper, this should be a remarkably good game.

Other Bowl Thoughts

Big Ten

- Getting passed up by Nebraska kind of sucks. Orlando four times in five years though wasn't a good fit for anyone, IMO.

- Purdue vs Western Michigan. Watch yer ass, Purdue.

- The Kraft Hunger Bowl - 6-6 Illinois vs. 6-7 UCLA. This should seriously be the worst football game ever.

- The Gator Bowl - OSU vs Florida in the Urban Meyer bowl. Bonus for Charlie Weis being rolled to the game instead of airlifted.

- The TicketCity Bowl - Penn State should not have fallen this far. It's weaksauce for that to happen. PSU will still travel and casual fans will still drink egg nog and watch the game. A 9-3 PSU deserved better as Lloyd would say.

- Speaking of, it's time for the elephant in the room. UM jumping MSU is crap, not because it's U of M, but because it's crap. The BCS is crap, we all know it. If we were in UM's position and vice versa I'd be happy for our team so I can't say all this without some hypocrisy. I was really hoping UM would get Houston. Michigan's losses were to Iowa and MSU. The best two QB's MSU Michigan played?* Iowa and MSU. VT's QB is crap and UM will probably win. Good for the Big Ten, a little bit of a stinger for my rivalry based heart.

The Rematch

I will not watch this game. Not as a trainwreck, not as a point of fascinating failure. The only thing I can do to discourage them from allowing this to ever happen again is not watch. I encourage you to do the same.

* - Thanks to Commenter BeGreen for catching my mistake with the MSU/UM thing.

MSU: Always A Bridesmad, Never a Bride

The Mrs. had something to say about last night's game and a clever way to say it, so she gets a bit of airspace to do so below. Enjoy and if you like, leave her a comment telling her so.

Who doesn’t love this movie?
(Editor's Note: I can't say I don't, I wouldn't watch it.)

Okay, Jim doesn’t.  But being a bridesmaid is awesome, and I’ll tell you why.  First of all, it’s way cheaper.  Average cost of a wedding in MI: $26,000.  Average cost of a bridesmaid dress in MI:  $190.  Average cost of a round trip flight to CA: $600.  Average cost of a round trip flight to FL: $90.
How much fun is it being a bridesmaid?  The bride’s sister can go out on the dance floor with a swarm of men around her.  No one’s going to fault her for getting trashed and maybe making a bad choice or two.  The bride can’t get wasted!  She’s got a marriage to consummate!

So who could fault MSU for having outstanding seasons (2009 & 2010) and getting stuck in BCS bowls against Georgia and Alabama, opponents we didn’t stand a chance against?  And what can you really say about the B1G championship game?  We played our hearts out.  We fell short of the win.  Yes, the ending made me feel like I had been punched in the gut, but I can’t complain about yet another season where we outplayed all expectations.  Who expected us to go undefeated in October?  We may have missed the altar again, but we’re still on one hell of a good bender.  As the (sometimes) bitter bridesmaid stands stoically behind the bride, we Spartans will remain stoically behind our team.

So where does this analogy end?  While every bridesmaid patiently waits for the right man to come along, we Spartans have found Mr. Right.

Editor's Note: Mr. Right is also a serial killer?

Mark Dantonio has not just sculpted a couple of good teams; he’s building us a good program.  Like our beloved Best Man, Tom Izzo, Mr. Right is committed to this relationship, for better, for worse, in good times and in bad.
The first time MY husband bought me roses was our wedding day (and my 27th birthday).  We almost got them this weekend, but there was a delivery error.  Still, I have no doubt Coach Mark Dantonio and my beloved Spartan football will be bringing us roses soon enough.  I do.